Tom Allen


Narrator: Laura Shavin


CPL Productions for Channel 4, 14 May to 29 December 2021 (5 episodes in series + 1 special)


A buzzer quiz, with a twist.

After we meet the four contestants, the quizzing begins with signature round Subbly Jubbly. Here, many of the words in the answers will begin with three specific letters. The contestants are to substitute sillier words wherever these appear. So, for instance, the "Can't stop the feeling" singer isn't Justin Timberlake, but "Jerky Turkey".

The show's host, Turkey Allen.

Brain Chain follows next. The twist in this round is subtle. All of the answers are quite simple, but they're to be added on to the end of the list of the previous answers. It can quickly be seen that the answers build up to a coherent sentence; whoever finishes this sentence gets a bonus point.

Risky Quizness requires the players to be very sure of their answers: it's one point for a correct response, but two points away for an error. The twist? Most - but not all - of the answers in this round are the same.

Double Trouble comes next. Tom will ask a question, and the answer will be one of the three displayed on screen. The contestants don't give this response, but they give the answer to the question beneath it.

An example.

"In rowing, who sits facing the rowers and steers the boat?" The cox, so answer the question beneath. "Captain Birdseye". The comedy point: an absurd and surreal answer to a sensible question, one that might be offered by a contestant flailing around at the limits of their knowledge and ability.

Whichever contestant is flailing around the most leaves the show here, but not before making one last silly noise to earn a Tom Allen Pocket Square, a silken square with many images of Tom Allen.

Doubly Jubbly is next: Subbly Jubbly, but played with different words, and with some questions played for double points – two, rather than the usual one.

Pundreds and Thousands, a round built around the pun. Tom will ask a question, to which the answer is a spectacularly awful pun. For instance, "Which kitchen appliance would you use to clean a trout?" A fish washer, obviously. Contestants pilfer points from each other in this round.

The contestants stand in little arches.

The lowest-placed player leaves after this round, and again has the chance to earn a pocket square.

Dental Mexterity is a round of spoonerisms. "Which two countries make up the Iberian peninsula?" - "Sportugal and Pain". That kind of thing. Two points for a correct answer, two points away for an error.

The lower-placed player leaves with a pocket square.

The winner takes on the final round, Super Subbly Jubbly. Both of the sets of substitutions from earlier in the game, plus three new ones. Seven correct answers in 90 seconds to win the jackpot of £25,000; if the contestant doesn't reach that mark, they get a consolation £1000.

A circle lights up more rings to mark progress.

Channel 4 promoted Quizness as the show where contestants make fools of themselves. This might not be accurate: if you concentrate on the game, it all makes a lot of sense. Only if your attention wanders do you find it a surreal and baffling experience.


Dan Maier, a leading comedy writer.

Title music

Dan McGrath and Josh Phillips, who wrote a brassy original music score.


One of Channel 4's occasional forays into entertainment television, Quizness went out at 8pm on Friday nights. Ratings fell from 1 million to barely half that over the course of the series.

There was supposed to be a money tree (£100, £500, £1000, £2000, £5000, £10000, £25000) up until very late in the day, so much so that you can actually see leftover graphics that had been made on that basis.

Web links

Channel 4 programme page

See also

Weaver's Week review


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