What exactly is Babushka? Everything you need to know about Rylan Clark-Neal’s brand new game show

“The rules are very simple,” says Rylan. Well, we’ll explain them anyway…

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Babushka is the brand new quiz show that, somewhat controversially, has replaced The Chase on ITV for a month.

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Rylan Clark-Neal is turning game show host for the very first time, and has already told RadioTimes.com that he would describe the show as “a Deal or No Deal for the modern times”.

And just like the dearly departed DOND, Babushka is initially a bit confusing to understand. So, here’s our handy guide as to just what the show is all about:

How does Babushka work?

Like most quiz shows, the aim of the game is to win as much money as possible. The pairs of contestants have to answer true or false questions for the chance to open Russian dolls (yep, that’s right) and try to win the money inside. That’s basically it… although obviously it’s a bit more complicated than that.

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What are the Russian dolls on Babushka all about?

So here’s where the money is hiding. There are 10 dolls in total, all with overtly Russian names like Tatiana, Katya, Viktoriya, Olya or Natalya. A bit like DOND, all of the dolls contain different amounts of money.

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The contestants have to decide which eight of the ten dolls they want to open, based on nothing but their instincts. Two have absolutely nothing inside them, two contain £500, another two are hiding £1,000, two more have £2,000 inside, one of the dolls contains £5,000 and the final one has £10,000 in it.

How do people win money on Babushka?

The contestants have to first pick from a category board, which can include subjects like numbers, mountains, sweets or underwater. After picking the category, they will then answer a true or false question about that topic. If they get the question right, they choose one of the dolls to open.

If the £500 doll pops up, they have a decision to make. Do they bank that £500, or risk opening that doll to see whether there’s a £1,000 doll hiding inside or nothing?

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If they open the £500 doll and it’s empty they’ll lose everything. But if there is a £1,000 doll inside, they’ll then have to decide whether to risk opening that doll to discover whether a £2,000 one is lurking in there, and so on. The decision comes down to how brave they’re feeling, because if they decide to take a chance and open the £500 doll to find it’s empty, they’ll lose everything they’ve accumulated so far.

Similarly, if they happen to pick one of the two big, named dolls that contain nothing or if they get their true or false question wrong, they’ll also automatically lose any money they’ve won at this point. Basically, there’s more ways to lose money than win it in Babushka. 

There is some help at hand, though…

As Rylan explains, there is some assistance at hand. Similar to 50:50 or Phone a Friend, there are three so-called ‘helps’ in Babushka.

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The first is ‘Peek’. This means that at any point in the game, the contestants can open any doll they’re currently playing to see whether there is another doll inside or not, risk-free. 

The second is ‘Switch’. If they don’t like the look of one of the questions they’re asked, they can ditch it and change it for another question in a different category. Lastly, there’s ‘X-Ray’ which is only made available if they have got £5,000 currently in the bank at the halfway point in the game.

If they do, they earn the X-Ray, which means that when it comes to choosing their final Babushka doll they will be able to see everything inside one of the remaining dolls.

And there’s one final twist!

If that wasn’t dastardly enough, the couples are faced with one final dilemma at the end of the show when they’re given the chance to either double their money or lose everything.

They don’t have to take Rylan up on his offer, but if they decide to take the risk, they are faced with a mini white and mini black Babushka doll. They must pick one, and if it contains a golden Babushka, they go home with double whatever they’d won up to this point.

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If the mini Babushka is empty, they go home with nothing. No wonder Rylan told us he thought the show was “this country’s most brutal game show”!

So has Babushka replaced The Chase for good?

Nope, only temporarily! Every summer, The Chase has a break and takes a month off air. A different game show always replaces it and whereas last year that honour fell to Bradley Walsh’s new programme Cash Trapped, this year we’re getting four weeks of Babushka. So never fear, The Chase will return in June.

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Babushka airs at 5pm weekdays on ITV