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The Quiz Show

The Quiz Show

Su Holmes
Series: TV Genres
Copyright Date: 2008
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    The Quiz Show
    Book Description:

    Despite its enduring popularity with both broadcasters and audiences, the quiz show has found itself marginalised in studies of popular television. This book offers a unique introduction to the study of the quiz show, while also revisiting, updating and expanding on existing quiz show scholarship. Ranging across programmes such as Double Your Money, The $64,000 Dollar Question, Twenty-One, The Price is Right, Who Wants to be a Millionaire and The Weakest Link to the controversial 'Quiz TV Call' phenomenon, the book explores programmes with a focus on question and answer. Topics covered include the relationship between quiz shows and television genre; the early broadcast history of the quiz show; questions of institutional regulation; quiz show aesthetics; the social significance of 'games'; 'ordinary' people as television performers, and questions of quiz show reception (from interactivity to on-line fandom). Key Features*Represents one of few book-length studies of the quiz show*Offers an accessible introduction to the genre for undergraduate students*Draws upon new archival research in order to contribute to knowledge about the early history of the quiz show*Demonstrates why the quiz show matters to Television Studies*Brings together key approaches in the field with new interventions and areas of study (such as the quiz show in the multi-platform age, and the study of 'ordinary' people as performers).

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-3157-5
    Subjects: Performing Arts

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Figures
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. Introduction: Game On
    (pp. 1-10)

    In the summer of 2005, Big Brother was enjoying its sixth series in the UK. In one edition, the voice-over explains how the time is ‘3:21 pm, and the housemates are playing a quiz game in the garden’. Housemate Derek beams ‘Welcome to “Quizmaster” on a sunny afternoon’ (addressing both his fellow contestants and the home audience). Having elected himself as host and question-master, Derek promptly splits the remaining housemates into two teams, and then explains the rules of the game. Questions will cover a range of subjects and ‘on certain questions, there will be no conferring’. With the ‘contestants’...

  6. 1 Genre and the Quiz Show
    (pp. 11-31)

    This chapter examines the relationship between the quiz and game show and television genre, while also using the quiz and game show toe reflect on the concept of television genre itself. Although Chapter 2 offers a more explicit engagement with questions of history, Chapter 1 introduces aspects of change and development in the field, such as thee increased prominence of the television format, the flow of global formats, and the rise of the ‘reality game show’.

    Genre is a French word meaning ‘type’ or ‘kind’, and the concept has been widely used in the study of media forms such as...

  7. 2 Quiz Show Histories
    (pp. 32-57)

    In the year 2000, Judith Keppel became the first contestant to win the top prize on the UK version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire (hereafter Millionaire). Keppel’s win boosted media interest in the already popular show, and press critics continued to discuss the influence of the programmee in ‘injecting new life into the genre and pitching it back into prime-time’ (Thynne 2000: 22). In the UK, a number of new quiz shows emerged in the wake of Millionaire, ranging across The Weakest Link (BBC1/2, 1999–), The Syndicate (BBC1, 2000), The Chair (BBC1, 2002), No Win, No Fee...

  8. 3 Quiz Show Theory: Approaching the Programme Text
    (pp. 58-85)

    The previous chapter examined some of the contexts from which the broadcast quiz show emerged, but this chapter is more concerned with the quiz show as it appears on screen. This involves asking questions about how we approach the analysis of the quiz show text, and what the purpose of this analysis might be. What critical and theoretical approaches can be used to analyse the quiz show, and what does their application reveal about its generic conventions, aesthetic construction, cultural politics?

    In studying the quiz show, we have at our disposal a range of approaches which are used more widely...

  9. 4 Knowledge in the Quiz Show
    (pp. 86-117)

    In the 2002 Christmas Special of the British sitcom Only Fools and Horses (BBC1, 1981–2003), the central character of ‘Del Boy’ Trotter appears as a contestant on a big money quiz show called Goldrush (hosted by Jonathan Ross). Clearly intended to be Millionaire in all but name, Del is hopeful that the show will make the Trotter family ‘millionaires’, a dream which represents an ongoing narrative in the sitcom itself. Del is confident that he is doing well and when the host asks him, ‘What state was President Kennedy in when he was shot?’, Del responds, ‘Well, he was...

  10. 5 The Quiz Show and ‘Ordinary’ People as Television Performers
    (pp. 118-139)

    Geraldine Bell’s description of ‘ordinary’ people in The Guardian indicates how responses to ‘ordinary’ people on television are often couched within discourses of (class) taste. The references to ‘elasticated waists’ (read unfashionable, cheap clothes) and ‘fish fingers for tea’ (read unfashionable, cheap food) are far from neutral. But Bell is also pointing to what she sees as the disappearance of the ‘ordinary’ on television. Reality TV has developed an appetite for the type of ‘ordinary’ people that can guarantee something close to a semi-professional performance. As press critic Ian Parker puts it, ‘the real person who cannot rustle up a...

  11. 6 ‘Asking the Audience’: Quiz Shows and Their Viewers
    (pp. 140-161)

    These responses offer fleeting insights into audience, as well as contestant, relationships with quiz shows. Although academics and press critics also provide evidence of quiz show ‘reception’, audience responses have been all but invisible in academic work on the genre. This is despite the fact that quiz shows might be described as one of the more obvious sites for audience research. Many shows are designed to encourage us to ‘play along’ while viewing, and quiz formats often encode the participatory presence of the viewer into the text itself. Furthermore, in sometimes appearing as contestants and players, quiz show viewers can...

  12. Conclusion: ‘Not the Final Answer . . .’
    (pp. 162-165)

    Despite its enduring popularity with audiences, the quiz show continues to have an uneasy place in television studies. It has been the intention of this book to offer an introduction to the study of the quiz show, while also contributing to the scholarly visibility of the genre. Furthermore, the book has also aimed to reflect back on the study of television itself. Whether with regard to television history, issues of institutional regulation, television aesthetics, the circulation of programme formats or fan research, the quiz show has much to teach us about television as an object of study.

    Skovmand (2000) is...

  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 166-174)
  14. Index
    (pp. 175-184)