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Series / The Cube

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Can you beat The Cube?

An ITV Game Show where players try to perform various physical and mental challenges. Completing a challenge allows the player to go on to the next level (and increases their potential winnings), or else they lose one of their nine lives. Completing all 7 challenges earns the player a grand prize of £250,000, while losing all nine lives ends the game. Players also have chances to simplify a task or practice it beforehand.

There's one more thing, however: the contestant also has to do these challenges inside a giant four metre wide acrylic glass cube. Plus, unlike most game shows patterned off of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, every level is All or Nothing, there are in fact no safe points at all (unless you bail out before you commit yourself to the next game, which is the only time you're actually allowed to quit by the way).

For what The Cube may or may not lack in originality (stunt game shows are not a new idea; see Beat the Clock), the show's production style more than makes up for it, with clever use of CGI and innovative camerawork. Plus, a lot of the challenges are quite ingenious in their own right.

The show was quite a hit for ITV, running from 2009-2015. It has also spun off several international versions, most of which were filmed on the set of the British version. Over in America, CBS had greenlit a pilot for an American version with Neil Patrick Harris as host not long after the first series wrapped in the UK, but Minute to Win It likely stole their thunder.

In 2020, The Cube was revived as The Million Pound Cube; its top prize was increased to £1,000,000, and the game is now played by two-player teams (with some games played solo, and some played by both). The second series revered back to the original money tree. In 2021, TBS picked up a long-awaited U.S. version of The Cube, with Dwyane Wade as host and a $250,000 top prize; in 2022 it was renewed for a second season.

This show provides examples of:

  • All or Nothing: Every task is an all-or-nothing gamble, and once you decide to play, you can't back out. There are no safety nets if you lose all your lives.
  • The Announcer: Colin McFarlane, personified as the voice of the Cube itself.
  • Art Major Physics: One contestant, Nicky (series 6, episode 2), playing Pendulum for £2,000, had her boyfriend telling her to throw the ball hard. She did, and it went way over the target ball. Then both she and her boyfriend kept talking about whether to start the swing higher or lower, resulting in her sending the ball way over the top of the target ball repeatedly. Anyone who's taken an introductory-level physics course would know that the harder you throw the ball, the higher up it's going to go.
  • Broken Masquerade: The original Body's Secret Identity was finally revealed in 2020: model/singer Andrianna Christofi.
  • Camera Tricks: This show is probably the only excuse to use advanced camera trickery outside of The Matrix. And yes, they can do Bullet Time too.
  • Celebrity Edition:
    • There have been quite a few celebrity editions, though they've frequently involved actors from Coronation Street. A few specials also featured British athletes in honor of the then-upcoming 2012 Olympic Games in London.
    • One of these Olympics specials featured British runner Mo Farah. With six lives to spare, he became the first and only contestant during the show's original run to beat the final round and win the £250,000 grand prize! He would go on to win gold medals for Britain in the men's 5,000 meter and 10,000 meter events in both 2012 and 2016.
    • The second season of the US version has traded between celebrity teams and civilian teams.
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger: Notably averted in the UK version. Commercial breaks are generally scheduled after a challenge has been presented to the contestant, but before the player decides whether to play on, take the money and quit, or use the Trial Run. The US version has been prone to cutting to commercial in the middle of an attempt, but because of the nature of the game, Wade doesn't announce the cut to commercial like hosts for similar game shows might.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The voice of the Cube in the US version plays this up, and is an equal opportunity snarker towards Dwyane and the contestants.
  • Dueling Shows: Minute to Win It started out in early development as an attempt by NBC to rip off The Cube using items you can find around your home for the stunts, although it later evolved into something more like Beat the Clock shortly before its premiere. Ironically, ITV picked up Minute for its digital channel ITV2, but it faced Adaptation Distillation and turned into something that some people think came out better than the US version.
  • The Faceless: The Body, a woman wearing a silver mask who demonstrates the tasks in clips, allowing the contestants to judge if they will go on or not. However, she has revealed her mouth once - to demonstrate a stunt involving blowing a ball into a glass of water - so she's not that shy, maybe.
    • The 2020 revival takes it one step further, with two Bodies demonstrating two-player games. The original Body had collar-length brown hair visible behind her mask, but these two wear hoods that cover the backs/sides of their heads so that only their hands are exposed.
  • Game Over: When a contestant runs out of lives, the Cube announces, "Contestant defeated!" (As you lose your lives, the Cube announces how many lives you have left.)
  • Hard Mode Filler: The final level will always end up being the game you had the most trouble with. To make it worse, it's a tougher version too.
  • Home Game: There's a "Family Electronic Game" as well as an iOS version.
  • Let's Just See What WOULD Have Happened: Inverted; the "Trial Run" gives the contestant a chance to see how he might do before committing to a decision.
  • Lifelines:
    • "Simplify" (makes the stunt easier in some way) and "Trial Run" (allows the player to practice the stunt once before deciding to play on or not). While initially believed to be removed on the last level, yes, you can still use any remaining helps on it.
    • In the revival, Trial Run is no longer available, and due to the fact the game is now played in pairs, there's a new lifeline, Swap, where one player can trade places with the other (for single-player games only).
    • The US version is also played in pairs, with Trial Run replaced by "One Shot", where Dwyane Wade steps in rather than the other teammate (in single-player games, he would play the game himself). Starting in the second US season, Trial Run is unlocked as a third lifeline after beating the fourth game.
  • The Load: Series 6 has seen a pattern of contestants bringing along friends and family who give them outright terrible advice and are generally worse than useless. (See Art Major Physics above for an example.)
  • Lovely Assistant: Played with. "The Body" is a woman in a full-body jumpsuit and featureless silver mask who demonstrates each game. She never speaks, and her name is never given. In the revived version, there are now two-player games, and therefore a second Body. The Body's hair is no longer visible, because there's now a different person under the mask.note 
  • Nintendo Hard: All of the stunts have been tested prior to production. In the later stages of the game, they make it a point to use challenges that gave the testers the most trouble - to the point that the contestant would have to do better than the testers in terms of average lives used to complete the stunt.
  • Only Known by Their Nickname: The Body's real name has never been stated on camera or listed in the credits.
  • Rule of Cool: Watching someone count to ten seconds? Dull. Watching someone count to ten seconds in the Cube? Awesome.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: When they began straddling games over two episodes, the trailers for the following week's episode often gave away at least some of the contestant's future progress. This has since been subverted in the UK version; if a player's campaign is interrupted at the end of an episode, they'll go straight to the credits now. The US version will still play this straight.
  • Who Wants to Be "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?": As stated in the intro, this game contains many elements of this type of show, with the theme of physical and mental challenges.
    • The first series of the 2020 revival raised the top prize to £1,000,000.