Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Can I Poke a Friend on Facebook, Chris?

A new series of blog favourite Deal or No Deal started on Monday. (I use the phrase 'blog favourite' only to annoy everyone else who contributes to this blog.) I found it slightly disturbing watching it really. You see, I occasionally have dreams where I'm watching TV shows, and these shows are invariably different in subtle, slightly freaky ways. These are really astonishingly mundane dreams, but that's not the point. The point is that Deal* has been made slightly different in largely the same way. These are not changes what would concern any normal person - the set is slightly new, the opening credits are a bit different, some new incidental music, and the phone-in competition has been changed to appease ICSTIS (see How Dare You Mislead The Very Stupid? below) - but they concern me. Why can't everything just stay exactly the same?

In a move desired to drive lovers of routine and of slightly tired game show formats to nervous breakdowns, the same has been done to ITV1's premiere quizzer Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, only, this being ITV1, they've done it to a much less forgiveable degree. When Millionaire* returns on Saturday (with a special celebrity edition of course; this is ITV1) some changes will be afoot. Most notably, contestants will only have to answer 12 questions to win the prize. Cleverly, this has been accomplished by removing the first three questions that are pathetically easy anyway, so that the first question is now worth £500. Hopefully, this has been done with an eye to getting through more contestants and more interesting questions, but a more worrying and likely scenario is that it is so the show can be padded out with more crap like the 'text game' that has blighted recent series.

Not content with this change, the middle rungs of the money ladder have also been messed with. instead of the pleasingly mathematical-looking £4k-£8k-£16k-£32k-£64k-£125k-£250k-£500k-£1m, it will apparently proceed: £5k-£10k-£20k-£50k-£75k-£150k-£250k-£500k-£1m. While I can see some kind of logic in switching things around to put a smaller increase after the last milestone (now £50k) where there's no effective risk anyway, this clearly is just change for change's sake. It's wrong. I'm personally too old to be said to have grown up with Millionaire, but I assume kids today are born with an innate knowledge of the rules of the show in the same way I was with The Crystal Maze or Family Fortunes. I'm sure ITV1 will say they're trying to 'refresh the format' and 'shake things up', and the falling viewing figures may seem to justify this. That's all well and good with The X Factor. But there's a higher responsibility here. ITV are messing with our culture! (More specifically, 2waytraffic are, having recently bought the rights to the format from creators Celador. Just so you know who to write in to.) I frankly don't care if their viewing figures fall to three people and their pets. This sort of fiddling isn't going to help. Neither is finding contestants by audition as is now going to happen - it would take an entire new rant to cover what's wrong with that.

So stop it, ITV. Stop being useless. Please.

*Why anyone uses abbreviations like DoND and WWTBAM is beyond me. Look how stylish I look referring to Deal and Millionaire like that. Lovely.

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