The Wheel



Michael McIntyre


Hungry McBear Media for BBC One, 28 November 2020 to present


Let's start with a BBC billing.

Michael McIntyre hosts a game show packed with huge stars, big laughs and a colossal spinning wheel. Three contestants hope to answer their way to a fortune, guided by seven celebrity experts. Can the famous faces help them to win life-changing cash? That all depends on the spin of The Wheel.

The star of the show: this ginormous wheel.

The Wheel is a huge construction. It's large enough to hold seven celebrites around its rim. And light entertainment fave Michael McIntyre prowling around the middle. And a contestant in the middle, rising up through a chair on a hydraulic arm.

Let's meet tonight's first player

So, around the edge, are seven celebrities. Each has brought in a specialist subject. Some are obvious (Susie Dent on words, Rev. Richard Coles on religion), some are more left-field (Dermot O'Leary on World War II).

Beneath the main wheel is a contestant wheel, containing three members of the public. One of these three is randomly selected to rise up and join the game.

Our player picks the subject they'd like to tackle first. The expert on that subject is lit up in gold; the player picks another contestant to "shut down" and light in red. And then... let's spin the wheel.

The Wheel ♫The wheel! The wheel!♫

It's twenty seconds of television joy. Paul Farrer's uplifting music plays, we see celebrities having the time of their life, and - just for a moment - everything's right with the world.

Eventually, the wheel comes to rest. If the contestant's unlucky, and landed on a "shut down" celebrity, then their turn is over and they descend back to the contestant pool.

But let's assume the contestant has landed on a valid celebrity - it may or may not be the subject expert. The player now sees a question with four possible answers, and has a little time to discuss the answers with the celebrity.

A sample question.

Our contestant gives an answer. Got it wrong? The contestant's turn ends, and they descend back to the contestant pool. Got it right? Add £3000 to the prize pool - or £10,000 if it's the subject expert - and take the subject off the board.

If the player got the answer wrong, or hit a "shut down" celebrity, a new player will be selected from the pool. There's a 1/3 chance that it's the player who just left us.

All of the other celebrities have answered the question on multiple-choice keypads; they'll be ranked later.

There are a few other rules, introduced as and when they arise:

  • When a celebrity expert gets a question on their category wrong, they're automatically "shut down" on the next spin; the player must still pick someone else to "shut down".
  • On the final category, celebrities who haven't yet faced a question will add £6000 to the prize pool.
  • Should all seven celebrities give a correct answer to one of the questions, a bonus £5000 goes into the prize pool.

Going down.

Whoever answered the final category question correctly gets first dibs on the final round. The celebrities are ranked from best to worst. Only the top, middle, and bottom celebrities remain in play; they're worth half the prize pool, the full prize pool, and twice the prize pool.

Our player picks their helper, and hence their prize amount. A category is spun from four on the board, and one final question is asked. Get it right, they win the money. Get it wrong, they go back into the contestant wheel and could come back out again.

Michael McIntyre.

The Wheel is a big show. Physically big, with a massive prop used throughout the game. It's a loud show, Michael McIntyre's style has always been full-on, relentless, loud and in your face. He has the most wonderful time, larking about with all his celebrity friends. If you like Michael McIntyre, you'll like this show.

It's a show with a lot of luck. A slim chance of spinning to the right celeb. A good chance of seeing the contestant go down and then come back up again. An excellent chance of Michael McIntyre saying something funny, or pointing out an absurdity. And those moments while the wheel is spinning are just [chef's kiss].

Spin on!

The Wheel struck well amongst the audience, scoring over 6 million viewers in its early episodes.

A second series was commissioned, with an additional round. About halfway through the game, Michael will start the wheel spinning quite slowly, and ask the celebrities to provide answers to a question. "ABBA hits", or "London tube lines", that sort of thing. The celebrities give their answers while they're in the winning sector. There's £1000 in the prize pool for each correct answer, increased to £10,000 for going right round the Wheel. An incorrect answer - or no answer at all - will stop the wheel.

Key moments

All of the celebrities singing "The wheel!" in time to the music.

Michael's tantrum when there's no winner on an episode, which at least one episode of It'll Be Alright on the Night thought out-takey enough to sample. (Isn't the idea of that programme to show us bits we haven't already seen?)

The Wheel This was supposed to raise the mood of the nation!

Title music

Paul Farrer, credited for "Music".


There are about seven questions written in each category. They include a very difficult one for the (first) time the subject specialist is spun in for the big money. There's a difficult one if the player's answered a lot of questions correctly. And they have an easy one for when many questions have been answered wrongly and the game feels like going round in circles.

Commissioned to give Michael McIntyre something to do, as the COVID-19 pandemic meant he couldn't do his usual Big Show.

Hungry McBear Media is a subsidiary company of Hungry Bear Media, co-owned with McIntyre.

Michael McIntyre went over to host the American version of this show for NBC.

Andrew Scott's character was The Hot Priest.

The last episode of the first series aired late one midweek night; England got it at 11.25pm on Tuesday 8 February 2022, with Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland getting it 30, 40 and, er, 4385 minutes later (i.e. 12.30am Saturday). The regular Saturday spot was repeating the three "Olympic" episodes they broadcast during summer 2021. We're still waiting on the final episode of series two to air.

The highest amount ever won was £116,000, on 26 November 2022. It might have been even more had Ellie Simmonds not blurted out the answer to "at the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics, the longest individual swimming race was completed over what distance" before McIntyre could read out the options and instruct the others to lock in their answers, and had they all known it to be 400m; we were surprised that they didn't treat that question as 'spoiled' and swap it for a different one.

Web links

BBC programme page

Wikipedia entry

See also

Elements of this format were familiar from In It to Win It and It's Not What You Know.

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