Sunday, July 03, 2016

Adventures in TV: The National Lottery Who Dares Wins


A few weeks ago, faithful travelling companion and I went along to the BBC Scotland studios in Glasgow to watch a recording of an episode of my other favourite TV show (which isn't The Chase) - The National Lottery Who Dares Wins.  I've been a fan of the show for a few years and have blogged and tweeted about it during that time.  If you are not familiar with the show - faithful travelling companion had never seen it either - then I'll just give you a brief description.  Two people who have never met each other are brought together to compete as a team against the reigning champions (who also initially met as strangers).  The teams are then given a topic and asked how many they can name on a list, e.g. artists with no.1 albums, FA cup winners,, films by a particular director, you get the idea.  The couples then say how many they can name and the couple with the highest number will be challenged to name them.

The winners of the best of 3 rounds become the champions and go on to compete for potentially large sums of money up to £50,000.  And as long as the couples are champions they will continue to compete and potentially win more money.  On the down side, this can mean that successful teams can be reigning champions across a whole series - who can forget the notorious Chrissy and Joe for example?

It's a very simple format, but a successful one.  The show has run since 2007 and I believe that this will be the 9th series.  A couple of years ago, I noticed that episodes were being recorded but due to other commitments I was unable to go along at that time to watch the recording. Therefore when the opportunity presented itself again, I made sure not to miss out this time.

Many networked TV quiz shows are recorded at BBC Scotland's studios (pictured below), including National Lottery 5 Star Family Reunion, In It to Win It and Eggheads.  The studios are located on the banks of the River Clyde, just along from the STV studios, and just across the river from the three big concert venues, the SECC, Armadillo and Hydro.  I took this photo of the BBC studios from the Bell's Bridge.

If you ever attend the recording of a TV show, you need to be very patient indeed.  For there is a lot of waiting.  As three shows were being recorded that day, the recording of the first show over-ran which impacted on our afternoon recording, and delayed the start by 45 minutes.

We were all eventually guided into the studio.  The stage is actually smaller than it looks on TV but there are tons of lighting rigs etc hanging from the ceiling.  As photography was strictly forbidden, I found this photo on Google to give you an idea of what the stage set looks like.

The warm-up man was none other than Des Clarke (pictured above) who is a very familiar name up here thanks to his TV appearances, Daily Record column and he also co-presents the Capital Scotland breakfast show.  It didn't take him long to get the audience laughing.  He is a very funny stand-up comedian with a good line in Glaswegian humour.  We were also briefed what would happen in the recording of the show - when to clap, when to cheer and when to keep quiet!

Presenter Nick Knowles (pictured above) finally took to the stage and was a sharp-dressed man as always, in his dark tartan suit.  After recording some show trailers it was finally time to record the show.  The competing couples took their seats within the 'Pods' (areas with round windows) and the quiz began.

TV shows may look slick and smooth, but there was a lot of stopping and starting with everything from rearranging the set to reapplying make-up.  It must be quite frustrating for a presenter if the they are being asked to re-record links - but Nick remained a very professional and unflappable host.  Nick isn't prone to Bradley Walsh-style giggling fits and "Who Dares Wins" is a lot more 'serious' than "The Chase" but it is still a very good quiz show.  I would imagine it would probably take hours to record "The Chase" with all those unintentionally funny moments!

Des Clarke made a few appearances to keep us entertained during recording breaks. He and Nick also had a good rapport going. And we also got to see another side of Nick as he introduced his lovely little boy Eddie during a couple of the recording breaks. Needless to say he stole the show.

I won't go into detail about how the actual show went - that's top secret!  What I will say is that TV editing makes it look as if contestants come up with answers quickly, but it's not always as easy as it looks.

For a show which lasts approximately 50 minutes, the recording took a total of 2½ hours from beginning to end.  Recording a TV show is a long drawn-out process, even longer than I imagined - but this gave us a fascinating glimpse into the workings of television.  We just wondered, how many people standing around holding clipboards does it take to change a lightbulb?  (Only joking - I'm sure they all have a very important job to do...!)

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