Saturday night entertainment is always a tricky thing for any broadcaster to get right, but the BBC thinks it may well have pulled it off.
Tonight it airs a new gameshow called Prized Apart which takes ten couples – mothers and daughters, husbands and wives and so on – and puts one through a series of challenges in hot and sweaty Morocco before subjecting the other to general knowledge questions in order to keep them in the competition.
Presented by Emma Willis and Reggie Yates, it combines elements of I’m a Celeb-style daredevilry and emotion with all the tension of a show like Pointless. Also, the prize money isn’t small – there are 100,000 smackers at stake for the winning couple to take home.
So how does it work? Here’s our definitive guide:
Who are the contestants?
The show features ten “couples” of any description. Mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, partners – anyone who loves each other, basically. This series the line-up is:
Aaron and Sat – a mother and son from Birmingham
Craig and Chris – identical twins from Manchester
Elizabeth and Sandra – civil partners from Brighton
Joelle and Marino – married couple from Hertfordshire
Jonny and Andie – a London couple
Kate and Andrew – married couple from Wales
Katie and Alan – an Essex couple
Kennedy and Julia – Mancunian mother and daughter
Leon (pictured below) and Andrea – husband and wife from Middlesex
Steffan and Nicky – Husband and wife from Wales
Why are they prized apart?
The couples are separated for a maximum of six weeks without any contact but, even at a distance, they are still working as a team.
Each couple comprises an adventurer and a studio player. The adventurers compete in a set of physically and mentally challenging tasks in Morocco with Reggie Yates on hand to support them – their aim is to stay in the competition as long as possible and avoid being sent home to the UK until the last episode. The studio players remain in Blighty, watching the week’s action unfold in the studio, and could find themselves answering make-or-break questions posed by Emma Willis to keep them and their partner in the competition and in the running for the prize.
How do you stay in the competition?
The adventurers are split into two teams. The successful team stays in the competition until the following week but each member of the losing team must complete the terrifying canyon swing, which requires contestants to use a wire to pull themselves over a 200ft deep canyon before summoning the courage to unclip from their seat and swinging over the terrifying chasm. The adventurers who jump in the quickest time are safely through to next week, while the three contestants who are placed bottom must fly back to the UK.
What happens next?
Once the bottom-placed “adventurers” have returned to Britain, it’s the turn of the stay-at-home players who must keep their pairing in the competition by answering a set of “nerve shredding” questions in a head-to-head studio round with the other partners and friends. If they succeed, their loved ones get back on a plane to continue the game – the carbon footprint of this show isn’t exactly small – but if not, they’re out.
How do you win?
The elimination continues until the final episode – one couple per programme but with a shock double elimination in week three. The grand final takes place in a studio and involves physical tasks and questions which will see one of the couples advance along a runway. The aim is to get to the final “gate question” where one right answer wins you the £100,000.
What does the BBC say about it?
BBC head of entertainment Mark Linsey believes Prized Apart could work – and will mean that Saturday nights are not just wall-to-wall talent shows.
“We’ve had a great ride with talent shows and they still deliver well, for us and ITV, but it’s time to try something different,” he says. “We want a wide audience to enjoy the show and talk about it. The Saturday night audience are very demanding – they want scale, ambition, emotion and jeopardy and we think we’re giving them all those things in this.”
BBC1 controller Charlotte Moore adds: “I’ve been looking for an entertainment format that feels genuinely game-changing and Prized Apart delivers to the max. Jeopardy, heart and high emotion come together inside the studio and out.”
Watch tonight and let us know if you agree.
Prized Apart airs on Saturday nights on BBC1 at 7pm