Are Game Shows Getting Too Big (& Loud) For Their Boots?

After enduring an hour of Channel 4’s latest quiz show offering one thing is clear; Watching people open boxes is an entertainment phenomenon that is here to stay.

The Bank Job follows in the footsteps of such box-opening greats as Deal or No Deal but, crucially, offers viewers the chance to waste even more hours chasing after a “life changing sum of moneyâ€?. Teaming up with reality TV giant Endemol, Channel 4 has created a multi-platform game which entices viewers into its death squeeze through an addictive online quiz game which pits user against user. OK you might get the sack because you have spent the majority of your day locked in competition with sexkitten456, but you might get the chance to be on telly so it’s GOT to be worth it.

The quiz show has undergone a facelift that Dolly Parton would be proud of. Gone are the days when a starry-eyed contestant could expect little more than a printed name card atop an illuminated podium and perhaps a four slice toaster if things went well.

What with the likes of The Bank Job, DOND, Red or Black? and The Cube on the scene, shows are becomingly increasingly obsessed by contestant back stories and all the limelight on offer is breeding a whole new generation of fame-seeking wannabes.

For the hosts, it is all about getting to know the contestants and learning about their tactics, dreams, hopes, aspirations, family life, shoe size, favourite sexual positions…And all this as the contestants walk around waving their arms and whooping at their own good/bad luck as it unfolds.

No self-respecting fame-seeker would even consider Big Brother these days. Channel 5, pah! But a show which offers the chance to showcase intellect and charisma PLUS the chance to win that all-important “life-changing sum of money” seems much more appealing. After surviving the first round, contestants on The Bank Job are treated to a screening of a two minute VT about themselves. Each video features a variety of cringeworthy shots and catchphrases which could be mistaken for a glamour model casting video in some cases.

In fact, intellect is generally the last thing on display.

For all the flashy sets and loud music (Red or Black? reportedly cost an outrageous £15m to stage), the concepts are getting progressively more basic. But some of the greatest quiz shows of all time were, of course, based on simple ideas. Fifteen to One was the epitome of simplicity. William G. Stewart, or some such stalwart, asks a question. Jerry from Wisbeech answers. The BOOP of doom blasts and Jerry’s light goes out. Or perhaps he answers correctly and we see Jerry in the next round.

Jerry has fulfilled his purpose as a contestant and had a good time. End of story. He would never had dared to wink at William G.

No. It is the head-spinning combination of loud music, flashing lights, colossal audiences with the uneventful opening of a box and the uncomfortable exposure awarded to each contestant which makes for tedious, and frankly embarrassing, viewing. Red or Black? evidently pushed things way too far when it tried to make a game show out of a simple choice between two colours; The show lost over a million viewers after its launch. But it will no doubt return with a few tweaks.The Bank Job has already interspersed the brainless box-picking with a few rounds of trite questioning.

But one wonders how long the luck of the rock star game show will last?