Beat the Brain is not really a typical quiz, because it is not a game based on general knowledge. It is not a game that you can revise for.
Hosted by Countryfile’s John Craven, the show see a team of four players taking on a set of questions which have been set by “The Brain” – which is actually a computer graphic of a brain voiced by comedian Josie Lawrence. However, instead of testing the players on their knowledge of history, geography or culture, they face a series of IQ test-style mental challenges that each fit into a particular category or “Zone”. These are “Logic”, “Memory”, “Orientation”, “Observation”, “Language” and “Multi-Tasking”.
Each question the contestants get right adds three bonus seconds to their “Brain Bank”, which gives the players added bonus time in the final round. The finale sees all the contestants having to answer similar style questions to those they have already faced previously. The total amount of time to do it is two minutes plus the amount of seconds they won in the “Brain Bank”. The jackpot is £3,000, but once they use use all the money in the “Brain Bank” and start using their allocated two minutes they lose £25 per second.
Once you get over the slightly daft idea of a computerised brain providing the questions, the quiz itself becomes rather enjoyable. The main reason for this is because just about anyone can have a go. Whether you know all the prime ministers or the elements of the periodic table is irrelevant. It is all about mental ability, short-term memory, basic arithmetic, spelling and so forth. The other thing is that everyone has a strong subject and everyone has a weak one. I for example was hopeless at “Multi-Tasking” – talk about fulfilling the male stereotype.
“The Brain” herself does seem a bit daft at first but you eventually get over this, and Craven and Lawrence both make the show entertaining. If there is a problem it is that because this is a BBC game show they cannot give away a huge amount of money. The total jackpot may be £3,000, but that is split between all four contestants. That means the maximum any individual can get in this show is £750. If winning more money is what you want, you are better off taking part on another show.
But as the format and the questions themselves go, Beat the Brain is a pleasantly enjoyable show.
Beat the Brain is on BBC Two at 18.30 on weekdays