Desperate ITV resorts to yet more new quiz shows

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The Independent Online

First there was Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Then came The Weakest Link. Now, programme makers plan to unleash a new wave of general knowledge television quizzes in a bid for ratings.

Leading the charge will be ITV, with two prime-time game shows, fronted by Robert Kilroy-Silk and Carol Vorderman. Veteran talk show host Kilroy-Silk will present Shafted, a cut-throat quiz with a touchy-feely twist in which contestants will compete for potentially unlimited prize money.

Vorderman is to front an adult version of her daytime show, Britain's Brainiest Kid, which each week will aim to find Britain's most knowledgeable person, with one profession featured each week. The programme, produced by Millionaire creators Celador Productions, is open to anyone from nurses, teachers and traffic wardens to footballers, magistrates and MPs.

Not to be outdone, BBC1 is fighting back with The Waiting Game, a big-money quiz hosted by Ruby Wax. In it, couples will attempt to "psych out" their opponents by deliberately holding back their answers to questions that could win them a £30,000 jackpot.

The first of the new programmes to go on air will be Shafted, which starts a week tomorrow. Each episode will begin with six players nominating themselves an amount of money. The greediest is immediately disqualified, leaving the five survivors to play with the sums they chose for themselves.

The central gimmick of the show is that, during its subsequent rounds, the players are told only the first part of the question they are expected to answer. Each then gambles a certain sum on being able to give the correct answer, and the most daring is left to have a go.

The quiz derives its name from the final round, in which the two surviving competitors are asked if they want to "shaft" their opponent or share their collective spoils. If one opts to share but the other "shafts", the latter wins all the money; but if both decide to shaft they each walk away empty-handed.

Tim Hincks, managing director of creators Initial, the production arm of Endemol UK, whose ratings-winning formulas have included Big Brother insists that despite its "kill or be killed" premise there is a "moral" to the programme.

"This is a real feel-good show," he said. "Sometimes when someone is doing very well by shafting their opponent the audience is with them, because they are evidently playing so well, but it's also uplifting when people decide to play as a team." Mr Hincks said he believed that general-knowledge television quizzes were becoming more popular because they were increasingly adopting the "human-interest qualities" of soap operas.

The exact format of the BBC's latest offering has still to be finalised.

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