I did actually watch the second half of Break the Safe on Saturday 3rd. It’s a lottery quiz game, so does fall within our remit. Basically, three pairs of contestants answer questions against each other in order to win the opportunity to play for big money in the final game. In the final game the two of them, independent of each other, have to both push a button after a 30 second countdown – when they can’t see the clock counting down. If they both do it before the 30 seconds, they get nothing. If they have answered questions correctly, they get a certain amount of leeway after the time. If one is within that leeway they get half the money. If both are within the margin, then they get all of the money. Got it? Well, it doesn’t really matter, because this isn’t really about that. There was an article in the (say it quietly) Mail on Sunday today. If you want to read it for yourself, try this link
Mail On Sunday Break the Safe Article
What it boils down to is this. The two contestants from Ammanford ( I know it well) , played and got to the final. IN their final the rule was that you either got all or nothing. One of them was within the margin, but they received nothing, because those were the original rules in play. The producers had a change of heart, deciding the all or nothing rule was too harsh, and so brought them back the next day to film the end all over again, with the rule as has been seen on the show, that one person succeeding means you get half the money.
Here’s the rub. In their first filmed ending – one of them managed to be within the margin. They won nothing, because that was the rule at the time. When they were brought back a day or two later because of the producers’ change of heart – neither of them were within the margin. So they still left with nothing. Had the half money rule been in operation when their show was first filmed, they would have won £22,000. Apparently the producers swore them to secrecy. Well, that worked well, didn’t it?!
There are a number of observations to make about this story. I can actually see why the ladies from Ammanford are so upset. To think that, if the rules had only been in place when they first filmed the show, then they would have taken home that much money must be ‘gutting’ for want of a better word. I threw away £15,000 on WWTBAM, and that was entirely my own fault, and that felt bad enough, I can tell you.
At the end of the article it says that a spokesman denied any wrongdoing, and from the BBC’s point of view, I can also see where they are coming from. Look at it this way. I’m pretty sure that the rules – at the time – would have been explained before the end game was played, and that the two ladies understood them and agreed with them. So according to the rules at the time – which are the only rules you can play by – they didn’t win any money on their first go.
When they were asked back onto the show, I would imagine that the new rules were explained to them, and again, by playing they agreed to abide by them. According to the new rules, the second time they played they also lost.
So what we are essentially doing is asking whether the BBC were actually giving them another go at the final game, or whether they were re-enacting the exact game that they had played, just with the new rules applied. The ladies involved seem to be arguing that the latter is the case, and in a way you can see where they were coming from. The BBC insisted that they wear the same clothes, and have the same hairstyles as they’d had previously. The new footage was spliced with the old footage to make it look like one seamless show. The BBC could argue with some justification that things often have to be reshot in quiz and game shows, but this does not constitute cheating or an attempt to deceive the public.
The most noteworthy thing about this, it seems to me, is that the producers would decide to make such a fundamental change to the show’s mechanics at such a late stage. I’m not an industry insider at all, but I would have thought that for what is a prime time game show, they would have sorted out such basic issues as – it’s too hard to win – at the pilot stage. In an interview printed in the Mirror the contestants claim that they were told that nobody had won during the pilot stage either. If it's true, well you have to say that this whole mess was pretty much of the producers' own making, don't you.
We only have one side of the story here, so we don’t actually know whether anyone involved with the programme stopped to think – ‘well, hang on a minute – we do have an issue here. We changed the rules, and if the original rules had applied when they filmed the final for the first time, then they would have won money. Yes, we’ve not done anything wrong as such, but it’s only human nature that they wouldn’t be happy about it. Perhaps this is something we need to discuss and sort out between us.’- Of course, for all I know discussions of this nature did take place at the time. I know that there are clauses in contracts dealing with discussing programme content after the recording, so maybe they were relying on these.
For what it’s worth, I do understand why the two contestants feel as aggrieved as they seem to be. But I do think that you have to look on appearances on game shows and quiz shows like this : -
(In most cases) You applied – and nobody made you go on the show. If you have an issue, discuss it with the producer by all means, but at the end of the day be prepared to walk away, and just chalk it down to experience.
Nobody has a God-given right to win
People who work on these shows are doing their best, but at the end of the day their first concern is to make a good piece of entertainment for the viewers.
You probably have a right to have your expenses paid so that you’re not actually out of pocket. Anything else you take away is a bonus
So if I put it another way, it is very bad luck the way that it all worked out. It isn't the best thing to do to invite people to come and play for a prize that is virtually unwinnable, and it certainly looks like the ensuing mess was of the producers' own making. What exacerbated the situation was that there probably was a better way of working it out so that all parties involved were happier at the conclusion of filming, but it didn’t happen, and that’s just one of those things. It's a bad break, and we all get them from time to time. I understand the grievance, but it really is probably best to just let it go now. Which come to think of it is probably just what the BBC will do with Break the Safe when the last recorded show has been broadcast - if not before.