Red or Black?
(2011-present) was a British Game Show
(aired by ITV
) created by infamous The X Factor
/former American Idol
judge Simon Cowell; who has devised one of the most diabolical and incredibly easy ways of becoming a millionaire on national television: guess what color the ball on a giant roulette wheel will land in. If you're correct, you win £1 million. If you're not... well, you don't. Of course, in reality, there's quite of bit of work to do before one even makes it that far, as you have a 1 in 1000 chance of even making it that far; even if all of the prediction games you face along the way are only 1 in 2 chances.
There were 10 elimination rounds; all involving the outcome of an event (often involving celebrity guests) with a 50/50 outcome (with any needed choices being either made by the contestants or randomly forced upon them; that's how luck works). A group of 1,000 start their game at Wembley Arena, where they must partake in three rounds to cut down the field. Then, the remaining players go to a second stage of rounds at a location elsewhere in England, eventually whittling the field down to eight live in-studio contestants, who partake in challenges to get them down to two. The final two then partake in a final "Duel" round; which involves revealing pieces of an eight-segmented pie; whoever revealed his half of it first got to play for the million pounds. And then, the final player faced his destiny: a giant roulette wheel, 16 red spaces, 16 black. Correctly pick the color in which the ball lands, you win. It's just that simple.
The show was a ratings success for ITV 1 (well, "success" being relative of course); during its original weeklong event, ITV managed to get a larger audience share than BBC One on five out of seven nights, topping out on its first live show with 6.93 million viewers, but progressively dropping throughout the week. It was somewhat better than how ITV was doing the week prior, though. Cowell thought it did well, noting that he had already gotten at least three offers from U.S. networks wanting to produce an American version. However, critics felt it shouldn't even be able to leave the country, considering the show to be "dull" and "a mess", and criticizing the fact that the game was way too dependent on luck. As such, ITV's chief programmer Peter Fincham demanded changes for the show's eventual return.
The show returned in 2012 with some tweaks; it wasn't live anymore, and it got downsized—with only eight contestants in the beginning. More importantly, anything that even smelled
like a Luck-Based Mission
was expunged from the game; while still maintaining the "red or black" theme, all of the challenges became prediction and observation challenges (some of which incorporated the musical acts within them as a subject). The first three challenges were worth 1, 2, and 3 points respectively, after which the bottom 4 players were eliminated. The final two played a modified version of the Duel round (expanded to 10 slices, and the players got to memorize the board because not luck-based) to decide who played for the big money. This time, it was played for a progressive jackpot starting at £500,000, and wasn't roulette anymore either. Now, it's a skill game known as "The Vortex"; a giant bowl with a circle flashing between red and black at the bottom. The contestant now must adjust the parameters of a launcher and send the ball into the Vortex, and then hope that the color matches up with their guess when it rests in the centre.
The second series only managed to top out at 3.30 million viewers (prior to its premiere, a certain sporting event happening in London
caused ITV to suffer its worst weekend of viewership ever
). The second series did bring about at least one historic moment: Graham Fletcher became the biggest winner in the history of British game shows with his prize of £1,500,000. That's about it, however. There has not been a third series.
This show provides examples of:
- Artifact Title: The element that inspired the show's concept (the roulette wheel), and its name, was dropped in Series 2.
- Downer Ending: Whenever the million pounds was not won...which only happened three times.
- Golden Snitch: Averted with the 1-2-3 point format for the first half of the game on Series 2; it was possible to get tied at 3 by getting only the first two rounds right. Said contestants played a tiebreaker round involving stopping a bar going back and forth as high as they could.
- Luck-Based Mission: Played straight by Series 1, subverted by 2 in that The Price Is Right-like "yes, you can beat it with skill because it's obviously a game of skill, but you'll probably fall back on pure luck because you're unsure of yourself" way
- Product Placement: Most of the performers who appeared during the live portion of the show were ones discovered through Simon Cowell's other franchises; namely The X Factor, Britain's Got Talent, and America's Got Talent.
- Two Act Structure: The first series British version divided each episode into two halves: an hourlong show which detailed the elimination rounds, and then a half-hour live show later in the night with the final eliminations and the big spin (along with some performances to pad things out, too). On the premiere at least, The X Factor was sandwiched in between.