I was just contemplating The National Lottery’s new game show format: ‘Guesstimation’ and wondering quite how many times they’ve changed the name of the shoddy, clumsily tacked on quiz aspect of the show and whether they needed it at all or if anyone actually watches the blumming thing; or if – as I suspect – people either tune in at the end in order to watch wide eyed and slack jawed as their dreams of retiring to Benidoom with ‘our Tracy’ disappear into the ether like so much Lambert and Butler smoke for another week, when the prole-raffle gets drawn and therefore bypass the quiz altogether.
This then set me off thinking about what my favourite quiz shows of all-time was and a show popped into my mind that I haven’t thought about in quite some time:
For the uninitiated, The 24-Hour Quiz was a doomed show commissioned in 2004 and ran for 5 glorious weeks on ITV.
It was one of those TV moments where one realises that the show you are watching is destined to be cancelled and will in no way and in no part of the world be made again; such was the bizarreness of the format.
It was born out of ‘cultural pioneers’ Endemol’s success with Big Brother and amidst the return to popularity of prime time quiz/game shows. When a particularly ‘shrewd’ and forward thinking TV executive had an epiphany, wherein he took Satan’s gargantuan penis out of his mouth for two seconds, wiped his Harley street smile clean of coal black Demon seed, pushed his hands together into the ‘merge’ gesture and unleashed his idea upon the world, before doing ‘Gun-fingers’ at the dark lord who winked wryly whilst wrapping his huge scaly claw over the top of his head and forcing back down onto his knees….. Probably.
The show itself was set in a low-grade, slumlord version of the Big Brother house named The Quiz-Pod, wherein 3 contestants or ‘Quiz-mates’ had to live, be filmed and perennially quiz 24 hours a day; answering questions none stop for prizes of £1 and up (about 2,080 questions per day on average), including bizarre sleep deprivation pop quizzes from sub-host and ITV2 mainstay Matt Brown, who would ‘pop-in’ at ridiculous O’clock in the morning and force ‘Quiz-mates’ to take part, like inmates of some bizarre trivia centric Japanese Prisoner of War camp.
Each evening, the contestant with the lowest prize-fund would be put up for eviction on the live prime time show hosted by none other than ‘Barry off of Eastenders’ wherein bedraggled participants… sorry ‘Quiz-mates’ had to go ‘head to head’ with members of the public hoping to take part in this madness. If the contestant lost they were evicted, if they won they got to stay. With the goal being to stay in ‘The Quiz-Pod’ as long as humanly possible; or as long as the show stayed on the air. Which, as previously mentioned. Wasn’t long.
This didn’t stop the creators of this televisual nightmare; dreaming of world domination, here’s their pitch to persuade prospective new territories to commission this sure-fire ratings smash:
Anyhow, sorry. Just needed to find a place for this to exist outside of my brain and to share with you something gloriously odd from our collective cultural heritage.