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Series / Richard Osman's House of Games

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A BBC Two early-evening Game Show that began in 2017, hosted by Richard Osman. It is, as the name suggests, essentially a Minigame Game where four celebrity contestants compete in a series of games (including general knowledge rounds with some kind of twist, word puzzles, maths, geography, history and music); the show airs every weeknight, and each week's episodes feature the same celebrities, with an individual winner for each episode (who wins an Osman-branded prize from that day's selection of daily prizes) and an overall winner at the end of the week. The contestants are generally TV presenters, personalities and comedians, with actors, sportspeople and singers also in the mix.

A BBC One spinoff, retitled Richard Osman's House of Games Night, began in 2020, with various gimmicks added for the move to primetime including a house band, guest experts and rounds involving props.


Compare with Taskmaster, a panel show with a similar premise of comedians and actors vying for points over the course of several episodes.

Let's meet this week's tropes:

  • The Ace: Angela Barnes won every single episode in her week, the only contestant ever to manage this,note  and never with less than a seven-point margin over the runner-up (in one case with a fifteen-point margin).
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  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Several of the daily prizes, with the House of Games-branded smoking jacket being particularly popular.
  • And Your Reward Is Edible: Several of the daily prizes are food and drink, although they don't tend to be chosen much, with Richard himself sometimes warning the contestants that they're cheap rubbish.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The whole point of the Where Is Kazakhstan? round. Contestants have to guess where a particular geographic feature, country/city or landmark is. Sometimes the only reason they even get the right continent is because the show provides a map to narrow it down a little bit.
  • Bragging Rights Reward: Largely averted with the daily prizes, many of which are genuinely nice and useful things to have, and are sometimes even things the contestants genuinely need - the wheelie suitcase rapidly became one of the most popular prizes ever upon its introduction. Played straight with the overall winners' trophy, which is frequently the subject of jokes about its low quality (upon winning it, Alex Horne discovered it unscrewed into three pieces quite easily).
  • Dark Horse Victory: Scarlett Moffatt and Rickie Haywood-Williams both managed improbable overall wins (in the latter's case despite only winning a single episode).
  • Department of Redundancy Department: One of the regular music rounds is "Broken Karaoke", where a song must be identified from the initial letters of the words. When Aretha Franklin's version of "Respect" was one of the songs, the first line of letters was obviously just "RESPECT", with Osman lampshading that it was basically a question of who could hit the buzzer first.
  • Dynamic Difficulty: On Mondays, when the contestants are just warming up, Richard will tend to be a little more lenient (giving them a little more time to answer in buzzer rounds, and not deducting points for wrong but reasonably close answers in Answer Smash).
    Richard [after awarding Charlie Brooks a point in Rhyme Time despite initially misidentifying Chris O'Dowd as Chris O'Connell, and having to be told by the other contestants the answer to the other clue]: Just so you know, that was very much a Monday situation going on there! We're not going to be doing that sort of thing by Wednesday, I can tell you.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: The first series had photos of the guests on the leaderboards instead of minimalist drawings, and the answers in Answer Smash could be smashed together in either order (nowadays it's always word clue, then picture - except in the primetime spinoff, where it's the other way round). There were also fewer games, so some of them would be played two or three times in the same week, whereas later series have enough to avoid repeats.
  • Epic Fail: Melvin Odoom holds the dubious distinction of being the first contestant ever to finish an episode with a negative score. (Kate Robbins later managed the same feat, but made up for it by winning the following day's show.)
  • Fascinating Eyebrow: Richard's face on the show's logo gives one in the intro sequence.
  • Flawless Victory: As of this writing, Angela Barnes is the only contestant to have ever managed a clean sweep of five victories in a row. Several contestants before and since came close, but ended up losing on one day. Whereas with Angela, no-one ever even came close.
  • Flipping the Table: Rufus Hound missed an opportunity for a 5 episode sweep on a Thursday when he stumbled on his answer (by saying "Kings of Leonardo DiCaprio" rather than "Kings of Leonardo da Vinci") - he ends up flipping his chair and runs around the studio screaming skywards. At the end of his week, Richard and the other three contestants pay homage to that moment and flip their chairs as well.
  • Friendly Rivalry: Everybody is so genuinely nice to each other. Perhaps best shown by the attempt to invert "The Nice Round" into "The Not So Nice Round" in which a contestant would be given clues to a film by the others and, in theory, take a point off whoever gave them the worst clue. Except nobody wanted to take a point off their rivals, so in the end absolutely no points were deducted at all, and "The Not So Nice Round" was never tried again.
  • Gold-Colored Superiority: The House of Champions special weeks, featuring former winners, had gold lighting on the set, gold tasselling on Osman's chair, and gold-coloured versions of the usual prizes (plus some noticeably higher-end-than-usual special prizes). The games themselves included several new rounds which had been rejected from the regular version specifically because they were felt to be too difficult.
  • Golden Snitch: Downplayed. Fridays are worth double points on the weekly leaderboard; whilst this only means an extra point between each position, that can still be enough to affect who the overall winner is, especially in a close-run week.
  • Gratuitous Foreign Language: "Reichard Ösman's Haus Der Spiele" is a general knowledge round where all the questions are given in foreign languages. To help the contestants out, they play in pairs, increasing the chances that one of them will know enough of the language to work it out.
  • Iconic Outfit: In the week where Jay Blades was a contestant, he wore his flat-cap hat every day, and it was included in the leaderboards' minimalist drawing of him.
  • I Feel Guilty; You Take It: If one contestant is having a particularly good run and winning most of the shows, they may allow a less fortunate opponent to take their daily prize.
  • Moon Logic Puzzle: The "Question Writers' Day Off" round features questions written by the question writers' children. These can be perfectly sensible questions, but they can also often be something like "What starts with j?" (The contestants have a choice of 8, and are given the question writer's age by way of a clue, since the younger children are more likely to come up with these.)
  • Portmanteau: Essentially the whole point of Answer Smash. Contestants are shown a picture and a question, and must "smash them together". In practice, this means answering two questions at once; identifying what or who is in the picture and answering the question below it (or above it in the case of the primetime spinoff) and making a portmanteau of the two answers.
  • Punny Name: Some of the games' titles, such as You Spell Terriblenote 
  • Retired Game Show Element: Owing to the show's Minigame Game nature and the large number of different games, rounds are liable to be retired between series, generally seemingly because they didn't work or were too complicated ("Outplay Osman"note  and "Lucky Dip"note  were both retired after being played once).
  • Serious Business: Some of the contestants take it a lot more seriously than others, regardless of actual skill level.
  • Sigil Spam: All of the daily prizes have the House of Games logo (a stylised image of Osman's own head) on them.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Averted; every week's contestants always have an even gender divide (that is, there are two men and two women).
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Deliberately invoked with "You Spell Terrible", where the contestants play in pairs: general knowledge questions are shown, anyone can buzz in with the answer, but their partner must then spell the word in order for the team to get the point. The answers are always designed to make this as difficult as possible, with words with silent letters being a particularly common trap. (Ade Edmondson deliberately pronounced the usually silent letter in one of his answers in a bid to help out his teammate.)
  • The Stinger: Every episode has a little clip of the episode's winner with their prize after the credits (in the first series this was usually just a silent shot of them holding the prize up, but they have gotten progressively more elaborate as time goes on).
  • Strictly Formula: For a long time, the first game of each week was always Rhyme Time, where the contestants are shown two questions whose answers rhyme with each other. (Later series have mixed it up a bit by sometimes using "Sorry, Wrong Number"note  instead.) The second game in each episode is always a game where the contestants play in pairs, and the final game of each episode is always Answer Smash (where the contestants are shown a picture and a general knowledge question and must "smash" the two together).
  • Sudden Death: Played straight for each individual day's winner: if the leading scores in the final round are tied, they'll usually just play on as normal until somebody pulls ahead, but sometimes they stop and do a sudden-death question just for the tied players instead. Averted if two people are tied for overall winner at the end of the week, when both of them get a trophy.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman:
    • "Win When They're Singing" (where a song starts playing but the music is faded out before the vocals begin, and the panellists have to hit their buzzer at the point where they think the singing starts) tends to be this if there's a radio DJ among the contestants; Scott Mills managed to get his one win of the week by getting every song accurate within a second.
    • "I'm Terrible At Dating": The contestants are given a historical event, closest guess to the correct year wins a point, plus a bonus point if they're spot on. Professional historian Kate Williams was a panellist once, and unsurprisingly aced this one. (Though to counter that, in another round she managed to get the location of Tutankhamun's tomb wrong by about 2000 miles, which even the show's official quiz book lampshades as an Epic Fail).
  • Undesirable Prize: There are a fair few daily prizes which nobody has ever gone for, which usually eventually get retired when the producers get the hint (the steering wheel lock, the water bottle and tote bag are among them). Richard considered the jigsaw such an undesirable prize that the one time a contestant (Elis James) chose it, he let him choose a better prize and threw the jigsaw in as well.
  • Verbal Tic: Richard uses the line "What a great week we're having!" at least once every week. Sometimes more than once.
  • Wine Is Classy: Completely averted; the sparkling wine is the only daily prize which Osman tries to actively warn people against choosing, as it's apparently a very cheap bottle of plonk with the show's logo placed on it.

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