Fifteen to None

Submitted by Matt on Mon, 07/04/2014 - 22:08:44

As an avid fan of TV Gameshows from the 80s, 90s and early 00's, Fifteen to One (along with BlockBusters and Countdown) was staple fare after getting home from school/college/University. Fifteen contestants battling it out against each other over three rounds.  Two quick fire questions in round one, and then nominations throughout round two until the fifteen contenstants had been whittled down to just three.  After a commercial break, host, William G Stewart would spin through 40 general knowledge questions until either all three contestants had lost their respective three lives or the question set had been exhausted.

The no-nonsense approach of Stewart with minimal "chat" with the contestants made this a fast paced game with difficult questions being fired one after another for the duration of the show.  It was a "geeky" show for geeks, but with an all-round appeal that attracted a wide audience.

Axed in 2003, I've never felt that Channel Four has managed to replace this show with anything near the substance or staying power that Fifteen to One had, and despite rumours of a return, nothing ever materialised until yesterday. 

I noticed on my Freesat box that Fifteen to One had been scheduled, so I set series record.  On the "information" screen, it said that Sandi Toksvig would be hosting the revival.  Sandi Toksvig has also been pretty regular entertainment consumtion for me, she was in Number 73, Call My Bluff and I love to hear her on the Radio 4 "News Quiz", but even I was surprised and perplexed that she had been chosen as a replacement for William G Stewart on Fifteen to One. 

Sadly, my fears were realised.  Having watched the first two shows I'm so disappointed, it's untrue.  Not only does Toksvig seem awkward reading the questions from her iPad, her futile attempts to make comedic small talk with the contestants is wholly unwelcome on this show.  My thoughts on the new show are as follows:

  • Small talk should be kept to a minimum; the draw of the show is the difficult questions and the fast pace.
  • There appears to be too many "glances at the scoreboard".  All I want to see is where we are at the end of round one, and two.  Nothing else thanks.
  • The studio set up seems to concentrate too much on funky lighting effects as opposed to assisting the way the game runs.
  • What the heck is "Lights out for you?".  There's no need for cheesy catchphrases in this show!
  • Why on earth are people coming back for three tries?  Stewart's game had a strict no-reappearences rule, which, ony a couple of finalists who didn't get a look in when Daphne Fowler and Bill McKaig exhausted the final question set managed to bend.  We don't want to see people fail three times.  
  • I don't even want to start on what they've done to the theme music.  The saxophone in the later series of Stewart's era over-softened what was an excellent theme tune; the 2014 version is positively awful.

I still have a great respect for Sandi Toksvig, but she is not suited to Fifteen to One and the new rules make a mockery of it.  I've now deleted the series record because the 2014 revival does nothing at all for me.  A great TV show rebooted in an awful way.  Sorry Sandi; I can't see this one lasting.