The axing of Quizmania

Quizmania in the early days My views on quiz channels are fairly well documented on this blog. But among the shameless scammers and gormless presenters there was one clear ‘least worst’ phone-in quiz programme — Quizmania. And it’s been axed. The final programme is on tomorrow at 10pm.

What does it say that the one quiz programme that seemed to care a little bit about its viewers and paying contestants is the one that had to be dumped by ITV? Most quiz channels part viewers with their cash by setting puzzles that look easy, but are actually extremely difficult. Difficult because they never tell you the method of getting the answer.

Add the numbers is a notorious example. It is said that producers sometimes decide to count hidden Roman numerals in a piece of text as numbers! Count the pennies is another one. You really might as well just pick a random number, which is what many callers undoubtedly do. Ofcom regulations say that games must involve skill and not luck. Luck would make it a lottery and the quiz channel would have to give much of its taking to charity. Quizmania was different. It never got any worse than the relatively innocuous “tower” games.

But that wasn’t the reason I liked Quizmania. The reason was that Quizmania was genuinely entertaining. Due to the nature of the genre, quiz television is probably the closest television comes to the style of presenting more common on radio. By necessity, you get to know a presenter’s on-screen persona pretty well. This helps if a presenter actually has a personality.

Most quiz channels are fronted by totally gormless presenters who have nothing to say. It is more like World Championship Stare-Out than a phone-in quiz.

Quizmania, on the other hand, has the amazing Greg Scott (warning: link contains music that automatically plays!). What a guy. Scary inside-out knowledge of gameshows. Here is ten minutes of him in action:

Flash in action! Part of what made Quizmania amazing was the way the crew got involved as well. Other programmes may try to involve the crew, but they will never do it as well as Quizmania has done it. Flash is incredible! Who knew that a camera operator could be so entertaining?!

When the rockstar in waiting was allegedly banned from appearing on camera he got around the ban by holding cardboard cutouts and doing hilarious impressions of Morgan Freeman (“I played God!”) and Paul McCartney. Flash ought to have his own programme really.

This week probably hasn’t been a pleasant one for the Quizmania crew, as one by one the regular presenters have done their last shows. It is clear that everybody involved in the show genuinely loved working on Quizmania. Poor Lee Baldry was in tears.

Meanwhile, Make Your Play, which is what has replaced Quizmania on ITV1, is an utterly characterless programme. It reminds you that at its heart, quiz television is all about making money from callers; not keeping viewers entertained. Quizmania was a gem because it did both — and it wasn’t as deceitful at parting viewers with cash as many other quiz programmes are.

Don’t forget that Quizmania is the programme that was so successful for ITV1 that it led to the launch of ITV Play. It feels like an injustice. There will be many who think that Quizmania should not be forgiven for being part of the phone-in quiz disease that’s ruined late-night television over the past couple of years. But I think it should be applauded for making an otherwise dire format fun.

Luckily, many of Quizmania’s best moments have been immortalised on YouTube forever, and I present a mini Quizmania YouTube extravaganza below the fold. Unfortunately, many of my favourite moments of the past year and a bit aren’t on YouTube, but I’ve done the best I can.

The time when the Quizmania crew made fun of rival channel Quiz Call, which has inexplicably replaced its regular presenter with a bikini-clad fug who could only repeatedly say, “Come on!”

21 comments

  1. I can’t believe the big QM’s gone.. It’s a shame so many people seemed to lump it in with all the other quiz shows, as it was genuinely entertaining, as you said, and Greg Scott in particular is an incredible presenter.
    Still, Quizmania.tv has some vague message about ‘more fun and games from the QM team in the not-too-distant future’ and Debbie King seems quite keen to get it back on air so there may be some hope of seeing it again.
    Great post, btw 🙂

  2. The whole show was a work of art. As well as everything else about it that has been mentioned, the music jingle tracks were excellent.

  3. Absolutely gutted the big QM was axed, as you say it actually entertained and you felt you knew everyone. I am going to be lost without Debbie, Greggles and Flash – Flash is a legend!

  4. This programme, and in particular Greg Scott, proves that talent alone does not guarantee success in Britain. If it did, Quizmania would still be on and Greg Scott would be on prime time television.
    It seems to be successful in showbusiness here, you must be a “robot”, complying completely with your masters’ wishes and feeding the viewers the required tripe.

  5. […] All the while, Ofcom turn a blind eye to — if not positively encourage — phone-in quiz shows that pollute commercial television stations. These are genuine dangers to the public interest. They don’t serve the viewers one iota (apart from the relatively decent Quizmania, which has been axed), and they downright swindle the poor people who phone in. […]

  6. i loved quizmania and i love debbie king and greg scott, debbie because she is so very very fit and funny and greg because he was so funny. the show was fun and not dull as f**k such as make your play with the poor mans Johnny Vaughan, paul burrells love child and attractive girls to make the lads watch. Quizmania had style interaction and i hope itv bring it back for a new season and get rid of glitter ball and make your play!

  7. I am still coming to terms with the fact Quizmania has gone off the screen..It was the only really entertaining quiz show on the tv. The Mint and Make your Play are nothing compared to Quizmania..What on earth were they thinking, taking it off. The other quiz shows are not even worth looking at, with there boring presenters who try to be like Greggles and Debie because they are the best..Give them back to us. We didn’t even have a say in the matter..GET THEM BACK, PLEASE.

  8. I can’t believe that they have gotten ride of QM. The crap that they now have on the tv is nothing compared to it. The mint and make your play are thee most boring tv I have watched in a long time (And believe me I have watched enough tv to now what I am talking about) They messed us about by moving QM to ITV play then back to ITV for weekends and now they have taken it off all together this was the one thing I looked forward to after I had been done the pub for more or two too many beverages.
    RIP Quizmania

  9. I for one am glad to see the back of “Greggles” from our TV screens. I know this guy and he is not a nice person. I feel sorry for his wife, she is nice. Long may he stay away from our screens.

  10. Well i emailed, got an xmas card to say thnakyou, and got a debbie king corset as a goodbye present. Anyone who says this show doesnt care is a retard.

    View my videos of some of my emails at http://www.myspace.com/timothyrawlinson

    Ben baldwin is the master of staring into the camera cause the shows so sh*t he cant do anything else except say the phone number.
    09013261122 they should get me on that s*** id mess around and actually ENTERTAIN people, and if the producer has a do ill tell him to lump it. Im on the contract lol.

  11. im missin quizmania loads mainly flash he was soooooo funny he just 2 hav me cryin and so did lee when them pair ust 2 act daft wiv the puppets and that top guyz both of them r.i.p quizmania xxxxxxx

  12. HI FELLOW QUIZMANIACS.

    I KNOW HOW YOU ALL FEEL, I ALSO MISS QM TERRIBLY EVEN AFTER SIX MONTHS I AM STILL MISSING IT,ESPECIALLY FLASH (TOTALLY FIT AND A FUN GUY),GREGGLES AND LEE BAWLDRY ( THOUGH ALL THE PRESENTERS ARE BRILLIANT LETS FACE IT) I CANNOT BELIVE THEY AXED IT,IT WAS BRILLIANT,BETTER THAN THAT S**T THE MINT (AND THAT IS GETTING ANOTHER SERIES.CAN YOU BELIVE IT?) AND ALL THE OTHER S***E THEY HAVE PUT ON IN PLACE OF IT. R.I.P QUIZMANIA YOU WILL FOREVER BE REMEMBERED. RACHAELX

  13. “”I agree bring em back coz the shower they av now r borin 2 the heart ” the comments of my boyfriend whos from dublin and i have to agree for once

  14. Quizmania was the best show ever on TV. It was totally different to the boring hard sell quizing employed by the rest of the genre. It aimed to entertain more than anything else and that it really did entertain.

  15. Dear Sir/Madam,

    I’m writing to say, how suprised I was, about QuizMania being axed from television, as everything about it, from my point of view, was so entertaining, and quite honestly, rather than having it as something, you can only play online, I would love to see it back on television again, for everybody to enjoy.

    When I last saw Quizmania, it was on ITV, and can’t understand, why they stopped showing it, not enough viewers?, no-one will ever know, but now that we have Challenge TV on Sky, which is full of game shows, that could be the only alternative channel to show the programme, if no other television channel agreed to screen it, but the only thing about that, would be, is that, people who don’t have Sky Television, would be missing out, which would be slightly unfair.

    Currently, I watch Challenge TV on Sky, which has game shows on it, which were screened around the 1980’s, or 1990’s, and people still enjoy them, which is fantastic, don’t you agree? I’m sure if Quizmania was shown on Challenge TV, on Sky, Channel 125, it would bring in the audiences, like nobody’s business, and if they missed it on Channel 125, they would be able to see it, an hour later, on Channel 152, this is why, I see no harm in giving what I suggested a try.

    Kind Regards

    Alexander Hickson