"Wise Old Owls"
Television Appearance #1
"15 to 1" (April 1998)
Jones went on this Channel 4 show, the most prestigious on British TV
since the demise of 'Mastermind', in April 1998. Click
on the image for a larger version (Chris appears on the extreme right of
'15 to 1' has been on air since the latter half of the
1980s, and takes as its premise the whittling down of fifteen contestants
until one winner emerges. Elimination of the competitors is a key
feature. The final segment of each show does not commence until
twelve of the contestants have been eliminated.
The quiz begins with fifteen competitors, numbered 1 to
15 arranged in a semi-circle facing the host William G. Stewart (lots are
drawn in the Green Room to see who takes which number).
Competitors stand behind a podium bearing their allotted number and three
lights, each light representing a "life".
Beginning with contestant number 1, the host asks each
in turn a singe general knowledge question. They must answer
correctly within four seconds or loose a life. After all 15 have
been asked a question the host goes back to contestant number 1 and
repeats the process. During this second pass, anyone who got their
first question wrong is eliminated from the show if they fail to give a
correct answer to their second question.
As the second pass comes to its conclusion the
show goes into the second of its three phases.
The host now asks the lowest numbered competitor still
in the game a question. If they get it wrong they loose a life and
the host goes to the next contestant and asks a different question.
This continues until someone answers correctly (again within four
seconds). Once a correct answer is obtained that person is asked to "nominate"
someone else to receive the subsequent question. That person must
then answer correctly or loose a life (in which case the nominating player
picks another victim). If they get it right, however, that player
gets to choose the next victim - although they are not allowed to choose
the person who nominated them.
This process continues, with contestants answering
correctly or incorrectly, either loosing lives or breathing sighs of
relief, until all but three of the contestants are eliminated. This
marks the conclusion of the second part of the show.
last stage begins with the three survivors ranged side by side facing the
host. At this point William G. Stewart (left) is armed with a final
40 questions. Each survivor is given three "fresh lives"
and, for any lives they carried with them into the final segment, they are
awarded a point. Thus, in the event of a tie at the end of the show,
whoever carried forward the most lives wins.
The final segment begins with questions being asked and
it is open to any of the finalists to buzz-in with an answer. If
they get it right they score ten points. If they get it wrong they
loose a life. Once just one of the players has given three correct
answers a bell sounds and from that point onward persons answering a
question correctly are asked to "answer or nominate".
Players can either chose a rival (who they perceive to be vulnerable) to
answer the next question, hoping they will loose lives and eventually be
eliminated, or take the question themself in order to score points.
This latter course is favoured by confident players who aim to amass an
unassailable score (remembering there is a limited number of questions in
the final), assuming they can repeatedly answer questions correctly.
If more than one player is still standing at the end of
the 40 questions then whoever has the highest score wins. In the
event two do get knocked-out, the remaining contestant is invited to
continue answering questions - until they either run out of questions, or
lives - to see how high a score they can get, The reason for this is
that the 15 winners with the highest scores get to take part in the
end-of-series Grand Final. However, regardless of what
score they finish with, or whether they subsequently run out of lives, the
winner is invited to return and take part in one of the heats in a
subsequent series (until recently only Winners got to appear on the
Tactics always play a big part in the final of each show
because a point may be reached where there are insufficient of the 40
questions remaining to allow a trailing player to catch up with someone
who's surged ahead. In such circumstances a player's only option is
to try and seize the initiative, by getting a question right, and then nominate
their rival, hoping they'll slip up and loose a life or two.
Alternatively, a player with what appears to be an unassailable lead may
be happy to surrender the initiative and nominate rather than risk
loosing a life. However, as an added sweetener, there is a prize for
the person who finishes the series with the highest final score, and a
prize for the Grand Final winner. So there are definite
potential rewards for players willing to 'take it on'.
When Chris went on the show he had the misfortune to
find himself up against a certain gentleman ("Bill") who was
twice a winner of a 15 to 1 Grand Final and who was making his eighth
appearance on the show!
Nevertheless Chris acquitted himself rather well,
managing to reach the final of his show without loosing a single
"life". In the final he was the first to answer three
questions, sweeping into an early lead. But then what to do, answer
or nominate? With Bill such a seasoned campaigner there appeared
little option but to "answer", since nominating would risk
surrendering the initiative to a former Grand Champion! However, an
awkward question cost Chris his first life. Another was then lost on
the buzzer (due to a misunderstanding) before he could wrestle back the
initiative, and the lead. But then disaster, after having switched
to the less adventurous policy of nominating (having only one
remaining life and so being vulnerable), another awkward question
eventually came his way via an opponent having nominated him and he
Bill then stepped up and took control of the game,
correctly answering some 15 questions in succession before finally
slipping up himself (thus, apparently, vindicating Chris' earlier
The conclusion to the show was electric. With two
questions remaining Bill had an unassailable lead but had just lost his
second life. He now only had one left. His opponent, Garreth,
then buzzed-in and correctly answered the penultimate question. It
was now his decision as to who must answer the final question.
Garreth surely had to nominate Bill because a wrong answer would
hand him (Garreth) the game regardless of the scoreline. However,
inexplicably, he took the question himself (and a real stinker it was too,
see below) and got it wrong.
Bill, to his credit, admitted he didn't have a clue as to the correct
answer either! Anyway, Bill ran out winner, and deservedly so!
But what was Garreth thinking of?
Click image for full size version (from left to right, Garreth, William
G Stewart, Bill, & Chris).
In case you were
wondering, that final question was ….
In the New Testament, the name Gethsemane
means "the place of the …" what ?
Rest your curser on the
sky-blue panel to reveal the answer