Patrick Kielty


Hungry Bear Media for BBC Two, 22 August 2016 to 2 June 2017 (58 episodes in 2 series)


A player is helped to answer questions by a celebrity panel.

The set has video screens and the panel centre-right.

The game's structure is simple to follow. A question is asked, and the contestant can give their views. Then the celebrity panel works out their opinions. They evaluate the options, weigh up the ideas, and eventually give their final answer. The player isn't bound to follow their advice, only the player's answer will win money.

There are three sorts of questions. Round one asks the player to pick the right answer from four options, each question is worth £200. In round two, the player's to put three items in order, a correct order is worth £300. In this round, the panel have physical props to pass between each other.

Today's panel pass the cities around.

Round three's task is to spot the one fact nestling amongst two lies, and there's £500 on a correct answer. The final round is played by the contestant and just one member of the panel. They're shown a question and six possible answers. Between them, they have a minute to pick the three correct answers. Get all three right, and the player wins their accumulated cash - usually around £1,200. Fail, and they leave with Patrick Kielty's thanks.

Most of the shows in the first series were 30 minutes long and had two questions in each round; five shows at the end of the series lasted for 45 minutes to accommodate extended episodes of Make Me an Egghead and had three questions in each round. In the second series, 22 episodes were extended to accommodate episodes of Celebrity Eggheads; all episodes in this series had an extra question in the first round.

Debatable works for a few reasons. The game is simple to follow, and you can tune in halfway through without feeling completely lost. It keeps moving, never getting bogged down on one question, never inflating artificial tension.

The panels are selected to balance each other. There's someone known to the older audience, someone known to younger viewers, and someone to steer the discussion. One panel comprises the macho Gethin Jones (Blue Peter), the hip Alice Levine (Radio 1 DJ), and the experienced Angela Rippon (Masterteam). The same panels recurred through the series - when Gethin appeared, it was always with Alice and Angela.

The main reason why Debatable works? It never takes itself too seriously. Patrick and his panel know that a show has to entertain, and Debatable entertains.

Web links

BBC programme page

Wikipedia entry


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