For his new quiz show Think Tank host Paul McDermott makes no apology for the fact there are no cars, money or washing machines to give away to winners.
“The prize is me darlin’!” he laughs.
“The ABC doesn’t have that facility, but we have a trophy which is an impressive Brain reproduced in beautiful perspex.
“I think you know the limitations of the ABC and the reasons why we don’t give away cars.
“I tend to find there’s an ‘ugliness’ to it for my money. But if you think of Think Tank as a ground for going onto more ‘odious’ quiz shows to chase cash and money, then you can get a bit of training from this show.
“It gets incredibly tense on the floor. We run it like every game is for a million dollars! The commercial quizzes are great, good on them, but they do have a different agenda.”
The new show, boldly running for an hour in a weeknight 6pm slot, will take on news bulletins and TEN’s Family Feud.
“We’re trying to offer an alternative to the 6pm News which is an historic slot in my view because of The Goodies and Doctor Who. That was hallowed ground for me as a child and it demands a lot of respect,” he insists.
“We’re hoping it will be a family show.”
Filmed in Sydney, Think Tank is produced by ITV Studios Australia (also behind The Chase), and is based on a UK format. Each game sees 3 contestants answer general knowledge questions, aided -or perhaps hindered- by responses from an 8 member panel who have all given responses to questions prior to production.
“If you imagine it is a Pub Trivia night then the Think Tank is your team”
“If you imagine it is a Pub Trivia night then the Think Tank is your team. Sometimes they get answers right, and sometimes wrong. If an answer rings a bell for you, then great,” McDermott explains.
“In the first round we show the contestants the question and the answer will be in there somewhere. Sometimes it will be 7 out of the 8 responses. Sometimes it will just be 1.
“In the second round the Think Tankers all have a question they have written for the contestants, from their own interest area. The person doesn’t get any help but if you know their area of interest such as Sport, Politics Music or History, you can ask that person and hopefully the question syncs up with you.
“The third round, is a question asked of all Think Tankers. One answer is right, one is incorrect. Contestants have to decide which is right.”
After one contestant is eliminated there is a final playoff of 5 questions before the last standing faces off against ‘Question Impossible’ -a question none of the the Think Tankers answered correctly.
While there are elements of multiple choice, and perhaps even hints of Einstein Factor‘s own brains trust, McDermott says the appeal for him is in the ordinary Aussies who make up the Think Tank. 8 are pooled from a rotating team of quiz experts.
“They are smart, funny, sassy and very engaging”
“They are smart, funny, sassy and very engaging,” he explains.
“They all have different professions and outlooks on life, but they are all quiz mad, and that’s what unites them.
“There’s a bit of frivolity but at the same time we’re after that tension that comes from a nail-biting question asked of someone who is vexed by it.
“At the end of the show hardly anyone gets the Question Impossible because they are so obscure and niche.”
“Buckets of zing”
There is no studio audience for the new show, but McDermott assures that recordings have still delivered plenty of tension in the battle to become champion. The Australian production has also reworked parts of the British format.
“We’ve taken a look at the show and reorganised it a bit, bringing some other elements into play. It will be quite a different affair to the English show.
“Hopefully it will be a little bit more fun. I think we have buckets of zing.”
6pm Monday February 5 on ABC.