Red or Black?



Ant & Dec


Voiceover: Phillip Hurd-Wood (2012)


Syco and ITV Studios for ITV1, 3 September 2011 to 29 September 2012 (14 episodes in 2 series)


Ant & Dec host as one lucky contestant is given the chance to win £1 million on a 50/50 gamble.

"We approve that this show is a money maker...NOT!!!"

By some unknown method, an initial field of one hundred thousand applicants is whittled down to 10,000 or so who are invited to Wembley Arena. During the course of the evening, a series of rounds are staged in the arena, each comprised of an event with a 50/50 outcome. Choose the wrong answer and you are eliminated, choose the right one and you progress to the next round. After a series of these 50/50 rounds has narrowed the field further, those who remain move onto the next stage, which sees proceedings move to a number of different locations around the UK. In each location, further 50/50 rounds are staged, which narrow the field yet further, to numbers that are manageable in the studio.

A perfect reconstruction of this show's viewing figures.

Once in the studio, and for the first time live on TV, eight contestants a night for seven nights are again systematically whittled down, until just one remains each night. Though earlier rounds change from night to night, the cut from two to one is always by "Duel", trying to expose four segments of red before showing four segments of black (or vice versa.)

The pie colours all, the pie eats all.

This contestant is then presented with a tenth and final 50/50 gamble - choose red or black on the spin of a roulette wheel. If the wheel stops on their choice, they pocket £1 million, if if stops on the opposite choice, they leave with nothing.

Roulette in Pee-Wee Herman form.

Spin again?

After an unenthusiastic public reception, Red or Black was almost completely changed for its second series. Now, just eight contestants are in the game, and they're invited to predict which of "red" or "black" will complete a You Bet!-style stunt first. The players are able to make their predictions once the challenge starts, but only half of them can choose each colour.

Geez, the revival of Telly Addicts isn't what it used to be.

The best four predictors come back for another round, and the two who get that right take part in Duel - no longer a random guess, but a test of remembering something the players saw for a fleeting moment.

Red or Black?In that time, we will know if a third series is commissioned.

The champion gets to play The Vortex, where they send a large metal ball into a bowl. It will stop in the centre of the bowl, and that centre has a red light that blinks on and off at a steady rate. Pick a colour, pick a strength, pick a release point.

Red or Black?She's a pinball wizard baby.

Key moments

The programme had already found itself mired in controversy after it emerged that Nathan Hageman, who won £1 million on the first episode, had served time in prison for assault. It was reported the producers were aware of this fact, but not who he had assaulted. As a result of the media furore over Hageman's win, the programme-makers re-assessed the contestants due to take part in the subsequent episodes. Two contestants were withdrawn, according to the hosts, 'due to unforeseen circumstances', and seven contestants competed in the episodes affected instead.

During the second edition of series two on 25 August 2012, Chris Fryer won the show and had a chance to win £500,000 on The Vortex. In this game, the ball was about to land on Black but the colour changed to Red and Chris went home with nothing. After the show, the independent adjudicator had a look back at footage from a smaller camera beneath the Vortex, and found Chris's ball landed on Black just milliseconds before it changed to Red. After looking at the footage, the producers reversed their decision and gave Chris the £500,000. Interestingly, the rollover stood, adding half a million to the prize pool, which rolled over the next week, and the week after.

On 8 September 2012, Red or Black made television history when it became the first British game show to give away a cash prize of more than a million pounds. Graham Fletcher, a carpenter from Reading, won the double rollover jackpot of £1,500,000.


Simon Cowell

Theme music



Reportedly the most expensive game show ever, costing £15 million to stage.

Despite the original end game using a piece of equipment which is inherently linked to gambling, the programme carefully avoids the strict laws surrounding gambling, as the contestants are not risking their own money.

Voted the Worst New Show in this site's Poll of 2011

Web links

Wikipedia entry

The show publicised the hashtag #redorblack.

See also

Heads or Tails - which also offered £1 million on a 50/50 gamble.

Red or Black? reused the names of other game show elements - Duel had been a primetime show on ITV, and The Vortex first appeared on The Adventure Game.

Weaver's Week reviews: 2011 and 2012


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