It’s a game show, it’s aired on a Saturday night and Davina plays host – so far, so average. But what is it that makes The Million Pound Drop a BAFTA award-winning feat of television?
The metaphorical eye that this show opens is staring aghast at the questions involved: “Which sauce do most British men prefer in a bacon sandwich – brown or tomato?” Gripping, not because I harbour an inexplicable, yet zealous, fascination with the condiment choices of the lipid-loving males of the species. Rather, I was astounded by the discovery that it is the job of a person who does not work in an eating establishment – it is their actual paid, this-is-how-I-validate-my-existence occupation – to walk around asking unknown men which flavour sauce they would prefer punctuating their layers of bread and meat before, rather than assembling said, fully-fitted bacon sandwich, passing the answer on to a bunch of statisticians going by the name YouGov (who, incidentally , do not go on to produce said, fully-fitted sandwich either). Pretty cheeky, I’d say.
My suggestion is that it is simply the visual of dropping a million pounds that stirs and stokes the greedy impulse in us all. As with the clichéd fairground ride, it is the prospect of a speedy plummet that makes that lingering moment at the summit ever tenser. It was when Chris Tarrant started waving signed cheques around that stomachs began lurching – more than any amount of dramatic music and strategically (read, “irritatingly”) timed ad breaks can achieve. Now we have the physicality of bricks – solid, green, “hold-me-now”, bricks – of Real Hard Cash to lure audiences in. Every answer incorrectly guessed does not only snatch from the contestants a blurry, transient dream of a new tumble-dryer. Now, it wipes from within their grasp RHC.
So, here’s my suggestion to the broadcasters (all of you powerful media types reading this article – I know, I know): extrapolate the model. Wouldn’t Take Me Out get a lot more media attention (“all press is good press”, the age-old maxim that every hack giving evidence at Leveson has admirably restrained themselves from blurting out thus far) if those lip-liner-wearing dames and their hair extensions fell through trap doors when the Prince turned their light out? They did say they wanted to be taken out.
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