NOT since Simon Cowell’s infamous Red Or Black game show? has a television program budget likely to put its broadcaster out of business.
But it looks like the short-lived, high-risk concept – which is said to cost upwards of £15m – now has stiff competition in the form of Limitless Win.
Led by presenting duo Anthony McPartlin and Declan Donnelly, ITV’s latest surefire hit – the duo’s first new project in 10 years – offers no jackpot totals and the chance to increase contestant winnings exponentially .
“It’s the first unlimited jackpot in the world,” enthuses McPartlin (46), who also hosted Rouge ou Noir? with Donnelly.
“That was the selling point for us, that’s what got us hooked – the fact that there’s no top prize and if you play this game well you could win millions and millions. million pounds.”
“It gave us sleepless nights at times,” adds Donnelly (46).
“We were worried about putting ITV out of business,” admits McPartlin.
But if anyone can make a show stand tall, it’s this Bafta-winning duo.
An unstoppable presenting force, the Geordie duo – dubbed Ant and Dec – won their 20th straight Best TV Presenter award at the National Television Awards last year.
Other accolades include three Bafta wins and eight nominations for their hit jungle series I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here, primetime light entertainment show Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway and Cowell’s now-defunct reality series Pop Idol.
Limitless Win was the first new show that “really tickled them” in years, Donnelly says, with the opportunity to step into the shoes of the contestants by finally selling them the concept.
“Most of the time the questions get harder the further you go, because there’s more at stake – that’s not the case with this one,” says Donnelly. “The answer to every question is a number; no matter how long you stay, they don’t get harder. The questions may get a little weirder or a little more abstract, but they don’t get harder on their own. C is playable for everyone.”
Correct answers allow contestants to bank the money they have accumulated and earn five extra lives. Guess too high and you are instantly eliminated. Guess too low, you still have a chance to climb the prize ladder and win big – if your answer is close enough to the correct answer.
“Most of the time the quiz masters have the question in front of them with the answer and they test the contestants, as we go on the journey with them, we go with them,” says Donnelly. “Every show is unique, no two shows are the same, so I think that’s what sets us apart from most quiz shows.”
Describing how the presenters met with the producers and “made a few changes” in order to refine the format, Donnelly says the end product is something they believe will be “very exciting, quite fun, yet dramatic and still a quiz-filled of Perils Show”.
“It was great to try out this quiz format and work your muscles differently,” McPartlin acknowledges. “Hosting I’m A Celebrity is different from hosting Takeaway, and in turn, it’s different from hosting Britain’s Got Talent. This, again, is different again. So that was good to familiarize yourself with that, because it’s a different discipline.
“When you’re sitting there with the family or whatever, everyone has an opinion on what the answer should be,” Donnelly concludes. “Everyone is screaming at the TV, so it’s a really good collective watch.”
:: Ant & Dec’s Limitless Win airs Saturday nights on ITV.