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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.

A comprehensive episode guide, including synopses of all the games and full details on the contestants, prizes and results, can be found here.

Compare with Taskmaster, a panel show with a similar premise of comedians and actors vying for points over the course of several episodes (and which Osman himself appeared as a contestant in its second series).

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). (She did, however, fail to repeat the feat when she returned for a House of Champions week, finishing a distant third on the Wednesday; whilst she won the other four shows, two of them were by a significantly narrower margin.)
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Several of the daily prizes, with the House of Games-branded smoking jacket being particularly popular. It's not unusual for someone who wins one to wear it for the following day's show.note 
  • 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.
  • And Your Reward Is Interior Decorating: Furniture and interior decoration is yet another category of daily prize; examples include the duvet and pillow set, shower curtain, pot plant and dartboard.
  • 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.
  • Author Catchphrase: The same "Well done if you got any of the answers right at home" (and variants thereof) returns from Pointless (given they're both game shows, it can't be helped).
  • Boring, but Practical: Several of the daily prizes fall under this; it was a Running Gag in Joe Thomas' week that he went for them over the flashier ones (including the reusable coffee mug and the shopping bag).
  • 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.
  • Double Entendre: "Richard's Junk", is this from its name alone. Richard usually takes it further by beginning with "I'm going to show you a picture of my junk", as well. Contestants giggling at the name is a reasonably common occurrence.
  • 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. 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.
    • The first series of House of Games Night was largely a straight transplant of the BBC Two format to BBC One with a few new gimmicky rounds. The second series used a different set, theme tune and opening titles, added a studio audience, featured two different sets of celebrities with three episodes with each group, the games were almost entirely unique (apart from Answer Smash), and the prizes were noticeably higher-end (including a beer keg, a pizza oven, and the addition of a cheese and chutney selection to the fondue set).
  • 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.)
    • The 6 October 2022 episode had perhaps the worst round of "King of the Jumble" ever. Only 2 of the 7 questions were answered correctly; three of the players couldn't wrap their heads around the answers being anagrams of each other, and the fourth was actively throwing the game because he'd won the previous three days. (And he still won that day!)
  • 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.
  • Four More Measures: Frequently catches out contestants in "Win When They're Singing".
  • 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.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: The contestant line-up always comprises two men and two women.
  • Genre Savvy: Some contestants manage to score points through making reasonable assumptions about the format, rather than actually having the knowledge they need. For example, Ed Gamble managed to score two points on the "Highbrow Lowbrow" round by guessing that the answer to the highbrow questionnote  was Iago, on the basis that it was the only Shakespeare villain he could think of whose name would fit into a lowbrow question - correctly predicting that said lowbrow question would be "What was the name of the parrot in Disney's Aladdin?".
  • 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 special prizes such as the amulet and the atomiser). 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 each given in a different foreign language. 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.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: On House of Games Night, it's a Running Gag that David O'Doherty leads the house band and sings the music cues despite being a musical comedian with a small toy keyboard, while the rest of the band is made up of professionals with proper instruments. After a while, Richard lampshades this and has the professionals do some of the cues instead.
  • 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.
  • Innocent Innuendo: "Richard's Junk". He really wants you to stare at his junk for 15 seconds. (He of course means an assortment of random items that will be the answers to the clues given after.)
  • Loophole Abuse: "All in the Details" is a team game requiring one member of the team to guess the answer based on clues their teammate filled in before the show. The only proviso regarding the clues is that the writer can't directly state the answer, so many of them resort to writing things that don't even attempt to fill in the blanks but obliquely hint at the answer; it's arguably more effective than writing the actual correct answers in because even if you do know the answers chances are your partner doesn't.
  • 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.)
  • No Fair Cheating: In a House of Games Night round that was a variation on "The Nice Round", the other panellists deliberately misled Ed Gamble with their clues. Richard twisted the round to allow Ed to deduct a point from the panellist of his choice (he chose Dara Briain, who had first come up with the idea).
  • 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. The latter was slightly tweaked to become "Who's on First?"note  only for that version to suffer the same fate.
  • 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, and the more recent "Sounds Like..."note  also appears to have quickly become another choice.) The second game in each episode is always a game where the contestants play in pairs (whoever is losing at that point gets to pick their partner), and the final game of each episode is always Answer Smash.
  • 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.
  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: If one contestant is running away with the score after two or three episodes, it's not uncommon for the others (and the tone of Richard's commentary) to gang up on them - though it often depends on the attitude that contestant is taking to their wins.
  • 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 (who as a general rule tend to do rather poorly); 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, presumably the Geography based Where Is Kazakhstan? , 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).
    • In "Richard's Junk", the contestants are shown a variety of items which will be answers to the questions in the round, then have 15 seconds to memorize them, with a bonus point for naming all the unused items at the end of the round. JJ Chalmers managed to get the bonus point immediately (as well as answering several tricky questions correctly), then revealed that the game was similar to Kim's Game... which he'd used as a memory exercise when he was in the Royal Marines.
  • 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.
    • His penchant for saying "Well done if you got that at home" after difficult answers led to the phrase actually becoming the title of a game (where contestants attempt to identify a piece of media from a word cloud made of viewers' one-word descriptions).
  • 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.
  • Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: In the week featuring Joanne McNally, Bill Turnbull, Michelle Collins and Reginald D. Hunter, the Thursday episode ended in a tiebreak Answer Smash between the former three. Bill and Michelle both buzzed in but got the question wrong, meaning Joanne won without even having to answer the question. She gleefully lampshaded the nature of her victory.
    Joanne: No actual ability at all!