Danielle de Wolfe learns more about what to expect from the new format as the BBC game show “Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel” prepares to air.
Michael McIntyre exclaims with alarm, “I don’t know how you found out; I thought I just told one person,”
“But yes, I made it up in the bathtub.”
The “it” alluded to by the British comedian and star of Michael McIntyre’s Big Show is his new BBC One primetime game show, Michael McIntyre’s The Wheel.
Three contestants compete alongside a series of celebrity “expert” guests in this format, never before seen on television, to win life-changing amounts of money.
The twist is that a revolving wheel is strapped to the celebrity guests.
“I didn’t want to be a game show host, I just wanted to be me and host a game show,”I didn’t want to be a game show host, I just wanted to be myself and host a game show.
I just thought, for game shows, quiz shows, there are no brand new formats – and they’re so famous and always do so well.
So I was thinking, ‘I’m going to try to come up with one.’ And I did – actually, I was thinking of two in a bathtub…. It sort of looked like a roulette wheel for humans.
“I have to say that I enjoyed wandering around; I feel a bit like Noel Edmonds when I do that.”
There’s more to this game show than meets the eye, aside from the initial descriptions.
There are three contestants in each episode who find themselves on a wheel positioned just below the primary celebrity wheel.
They are lifted to the center of the celebrity wheel above after one person is randomly selected and stay there until they incorrectly answer a question.
“The theory was that you build a good relationship with these three people and start rooting for one of them, and besides, only one of them can win and two of them can’t,” says McIntyre.
“To be honest, nobody felt sick. I mean, a couple of people looked a little ropey at the beginning because we were spinning them too hard for punches beforehand, so I held them off.
“I don’t want everyone to start the show giddy and confused.”
It is then up to the contestants, with the help of one of the seven celebrities who are on the wheel, to choose a subject, answer their question, and build up the prize fund.
But because each celebrity specializes in a different subject area and the wheel is spun to pick the helper randomly, if they land on a celebrity who has absolutely no idea about the chosen topic, there is a risk that the contestant may be hindered rather than helped.
“We’ve had Carol Vorderman on numbers, Professor Green on rap music, Chris Kamara on soccer, Joey Essex on dating, Mel B on the Spice Girls, Dermot O’Leary on World War II – he says he’s an expert, we’ll find out,” he says.
“We had trouble getting certain bookings because we had a vertigo problem,” the comedian confesses, even though the wheel is at ground level and spins horizontally.
I bumped into David Walliams and he just said, “Are you going to cut my head off?”
“I said, ‘You don’t seem to understand what I’m trying to explain to you, it’s just spinning in circles!’ It’s like a giant teacup.'”
But then comes a final twist, when the celebrities are the target of investigation – who have been playing along all along, secretly answering every question with their keyboards.
“I don’t know if they just didn’t explain the game to [the celebrities], but there’s a wonderful moment at the end,” he says.
“We tally up their scores and then I announce the ranking of their performance – from best celebrity expert to worst – and I tell you how their bodies contort in their chair. They look around and say, ‘No one told me we were going to be ranked here!'”
To answer a final question, the contestants then have to pick either the highest, middle or lowest celebrity helper – and their choice affects the final reward pot – you’d think the crowd will be at the end of their wits.
“It’s a very strange situation,” the comedian says.
There’s an audience in the studio, but they’re not even with us, they’re just masked behind a wall. This is a very grim situation.
I thank them so much for coming, but they are there to build an atmosphere—so we just can’t hear them.
“I love the audience – that’s why I did the Big Show in a theater. I don’t want to be in a studio. The more people laughing, the more relaxed I’ll be.”
But maybe this is the mix of an awkward pro