It's all a game!

TV entertainment shows are an incredibly diverse set of Television programmes. From singing competitions to gladiatorial battles to shows of intelligence to shows of strength, there really is something for all tastes. What people don’t often realise is that there is no set winning formula, and many ideas (or ‘formats’ as they are called) never make it to production. The more promising ones are turned into test episodes, or ‘pilots’ which are then judged by TV executives and if they are lucky, they get ‘commissioned’ which means a first series is recorded. Even then, success is not guaranteed as the format might not be liked by TV audiences and viewing figures may mean a second series never happens.

The holy grail of course is for a hit show to be born, that not only gets great viewing figures and therefore more series, but also often results in the format¬† being sold to other countries who are keen to repeat the success in their own territories. Examples of these include “Who wants to be a millionaire?” and “Britain’s Got Talent”.

Audience Participation

When a format may require the participation of the audience or the contestants, we are often brought in to discuss the technical aspects of the format to ensure the technology can work in the best possible way.

Firstly because TV studios are tough environments for radio signals, with lots of competing equipment and metallic structures, so it’s always a good idea to talk through how everything would work and where we could install our equipment to be as invisible as possible.

And secondly because the way the technology runs has to be very intuitive to the contestants or the audience who have been given a piece of equipment to use. People understandably get nervous when participating on Television and more so if there are prizes at stake.

The 1% Club

When we were approached to talk through the technical requirements for a show provisionally called ‘The 1% Club’ it was clear that this one was different as up until then all formats had only required simple multiple choice voting.

In ‘The 1% Club’ 100 contestants answer a series of questions and are eliminated if they answer a question incorrectly. Additionally, contestants have to type in their answers to many questions as there are no options to choose from.

The Solution

We helped the producers fine tune the format and proposed using a tablet for each contestant. As there are also specific moments where contestants can use a pass to get through a question without answering, it became clear the best way for the format to work was for us to develop the game software and control all aspects of the quiz.

This means the running prize total (the ‘pot’) is calculated by our software and we also maintain a list of contestants and their status within the game. And since both Lighting and Graphics systems need to have live updates, we also developed a way for them to get them from our software.

This morphed into a ‘dashboard’ app that is given to the Host, the Director, the Production Team, and the camera and sound crew, showing who is in and out, their responses, and where they are sitting so the camera team can line up shots accordingly, leading to an extremely streamlined production.

The Results

Although the pilot was recorded in January 2020, the pandemic meant the first series was not recorded until July 2021, and it wasn’t broadcast until Spring 2022.

It attracted high viewing figures and great reviews and a second series was quickly commissioned. And before the second series was even broadcast, the series length was extended and a third series commissioned.

The format has also been sold overseas, to France, The Netherlands, Israel, Germany, Australia, the USA, Spain and Turkey, with interest from other countries as well.

With our dedicated hardware and software, and ability to adapt to any local requirements, we have been directly involved in recordings in several of those countries, with more to come!

"I just wanted to say a huge thank you to you both. You gave 100% to the show! We hugely appreciate the work you did. You are both ridiculously calm and laid back yet unbelievably on it and that was always so reassuring. It's a pleasure working with you and thanks again for delivering a product that allowed the show to work."

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