A quiz show that aired on Britain's Channel 4
for (fittingly) 15 years, from 1988 to 2003. Fifteen contestants started out with three lives each, and getting a question wrong lost a life. The idea was basically to be the last one standing. (Oh, and if you actually made it to the final round, attain a high enough score to get on the Finals Board and hopefully qualify for the Grand Final.)
That was it, really. But it worked
The rounds were as follows:
- Round 1: Each of the 15 contestants were asked two questions. Getting one wrong lost a life, but getting both wrong automatically eliminated you.
- Round 2: A contestant was asked a question. If they got it wrong they lost a life, but if they got it right they nominated whoever they wanted to answer the next question. If that person got it wrong the nominator got to choose somebody else, but if they got it right they took control. If a player lost all three lives, they were eliminated. This kept going until there were only three people left.
- Round 3 (also known as The Final): The remaining three players were given one point for every life they had left and were restored to three lives. The round had 40 questions. A wrong answer cost one life (losing three lives eliminated you, regardless of your score), while correct answers scored 10 points. The questions were played on the buzzers until one player gave three correct answers. After that, the player had a choice to take the next question themselves or nominate someone else to take it. Taking a question and giving a wrong answer put the game back on the buzzer, while nominating someone else and them giving a right answer would give them control. The last player left, or the one with the highest score after the 40 questions were exhausted, was the winner. (In the Grand Final it was much simpler: All 40 questions were on the buzzer.)
- Home Game: There were several tie-in quiz books. Making a conventional home game would have been a bit difficult, what with the whole "15 players" bit.
- The Announcer: Laura Calland (Stewart's wife) and Philip Lowrie took turns handling the announcing duties, with Sarah Wynter as an occasional substitute.
- Game Show Host: William G. Stewart.
- Studio Audience: There originally was one, but it was abolished after the first few series after they whispered answers too many times (or alternately, when their snores started showing up in the broadcast). Canned applause was used for most of the show's run.
This show provides examples of:
- And Your Reward Is Pottery: The prize for winning the Grand Final was a piece of ancient pottery. Finishing the series with the highest score on the Finals Board netted some glassware.
- The only reward for winning a normal episode was an invitation to play again in the next series.
- Author Filibuster: Stewart once quipped that should the first round ever eliminate twelve people, he'd fill the time that would otherwise have been used for the second round by speaking about the Elgin Marbles. In 1996, he got the chance to use the programme as a device to deliver an hour-long lecture, complete with fifteen replicas of the Marbles at the podia in the place of contestants.
- Catch Phrase: Almost every episode would adhere to the same terse script. Hence almost every segment has recurring phrases.
- Fifteen people "are all here to play Fifteen To One"
- "Twelve down, three to go."
- "You'll need to see this as well as hear it"
- "Accurately, and in full please ..."
- "The three surviving contestants in today's Fifteen to One final are..."
- "Question or nominate?"
- Closing Credits: Despite taking up 30 seconds of screen time (at first; by the final series, the usual sequence lasted about 5 seconds), they didn't say very much. The usual credits sequence, in its entirety: "Fifteen To One, Developed by Regent Productions from a format by John M. Lewis, Produced by William G. Stewart, Directed by (director's name)."
- Intro Dump: The opening sequence lists all 15 contestants, along with their hometowns and occupations.
- Also, the intro to Round 3, which typically described the three remaining players' hobbies.
- Long Runner
- Rearrange the Song: The electronic theme tune was changed to an orchestral version of sorts towards the end of 2000.
- Rules Spiel: "Two questions each in the first round, one correct answer from you to survive."
- Serious Business: The show was possibly the toughest, most pressure-packed quiz on television.
- Shown Their Work: Stewart is a keen classicist, setting many of the questions in this area himself.