The Boss



Susan Calman


BBC Studios for BBC One, 24 April to 13 October 2017 (45 episodes in 2 series)


Workforce-based quiz show. A boss is chosen amongst five players (in the first series, most correct buzzer questions after two minutes gets to pick, while in the second series a boss is chosen at random) and answers five questions to determine the value of each question. The amounts on the boss's money ladder were £10 – £30 – £50 – £70 – £100 in round one, £10 – £30 – £50 – £100 – £200 in round two and £10 – £50 – £100 – £150 – £300 in round three and bosses would go down the money ladder if they got something wrong. Contestants face two minutes of multiple-choice quickfire questions, then decide whether or not to challenge to become the boss. If they don't, the boss picks two workforce members to visit the boss's office. The two people in the office face puzzles to determine who leaves the show; first to two correct answers survives. Repeat until two remain.

In Round 4, the two players provide halves of solutions to two-answer questions for fifths of the prize fund. They then decide whether to split the fund equally or challenge for the whole pot, in which case one more puzzle is asked.

Series 2

Lots of changes were made for the second series. The boss's money ladder was changed to £10 – £20 – £40 – £60 – £80 – £100 in round one, £10 – £50 – £100 – £150 – £200 – £250 in round two and £10 – £100 – £200 – £300 – £400 – £500 in round three and bosses stayed where they were if they got something wrong. There was no longer a pause between contestants locking in whether or not they wanted to challenge and their podia swivelling to indicate their decision - but there were longer puzzle rounds, as they were now best-of-five rather than best-of-three. Maddeningly though, the first boss was picked at random, with the two-minute slot for buzzer questions given over to inane, time-wasting chat. Oh well, can't win 'em all.

Unfortunately, the format suffered from the critical flaw that there was almost never any advantage in making a challenge. A flaw which by the second series most contestants seemed to have caught on to, so that was the end of that. It was fun while it lasted.


The credits say "developed by Kieron Collins, Gareth JM Edwards, Ross Haymes, Damon Pattison". Collins and Edwards are also credited as Executive Producers.

Theme music

Marc Sylvan


Calman began a number of shows in the first series by saying "nice guys finish last". No they don't. People who are in the boss's office in the first round and whose opponent was better than them at puzzles finish last. Another of Calman's habits was preceding how much the team had won in a particular round by saying, for instance, "you were playing for £30 per question so if you'd have had a perfect round you would've added £390 into the prize pot". If it'd been a perfect round, they wouldn't have been playing for £30 per question. Most jarringly of all was Calman's light mockery of contestants who just bided their time and never challenged (light mockery, mind - this is Susan Calman we're talking about, she's never going to go the full Anne Robinson and we wouldn't want her to) despite never challenging being far and away the best strategy, meaning that she was effectively mocking contestants for playing the game well. Come on Susan, we know you're better than that!

Web links

BBC programme page

Opening titles from the BBC Motion Graphics Archive

See also

Weaver's Week review


To correct something on this page or post an addition, please complete this form and press "Send":
If you are asking us a question, please read our contact us page and FAQ first.

Name: E-mail:   
A Labyrinth Games site.
Design by Thomas.
Printable version
Editors: Log in