Fifteen to One: by numbers

Jim Regan looks back over 250 episodes,

I’m not bad in a pub quiz, but not as good as I should be. When I sign-off the final cut of each episode of Fifteen to One, I struggle to answer most questions – and I’ve heard the answer at least four times by that point.

As befits the show, and as it passes the milestone of its 250th episode, I thought it would be best to look at the production of the series in numbers:

£40,000 – The prize money on offer for the winner of the Grand Final.

30,475 –  The number of questions we’ve posed over eight series to date.

The show’s question executive Simon Magson has a team of four people who work in-house with another dozen people dotted around the country, some of whom are former contestants who help write the questions for the series. As quiz enthusiasts, they take a real pride in crafting the perfect quiz question.

News is an ever-changing environment and there are always updated politics or showbiz questions. We do enter every question into a database to check and double check that questions haven’t been asked previously. Almost as reliable is Simon’s amazing memory.

1,570 – Contestants have taken part. We find competitors from many different sources. The show has quite a following so we get a lot of responses if Sandi Toskvig does a call out for applicants.

We pride ourselves on being the ‘Quizzer’s Quiz’ so we need to find the highest calibre of super-brains. This is a boom time for daytime quiz shows so we have a lot of competition to fend off when recruiting the best contestants.

Our casting producer Marie Byrne has found creative ways of finding great characters to stand behind the fifteen podiums. Her team has been known to seek contestants at wedding fayres, student unions, cinemas and a Mecca Bingo in Glasgow. We street-cast too; the casting team’s ‘boots on the ground’ tactics have really paid off. We are extremely proud of the diversity of the contestants we find.

25 – aThe number of quiz questions that potential contestants face during their audition.

It is critical that we measure the general knowledge of every contestant because Fifteen to One is a delicate balancing act between the contestants’ quizzing skills and the difficulty of questions they face. We need to eliminate exactly 14 contestants in exactly one hour, getting that right is a science and an art (plus the odd bit of luck).

20 – How many years ago I started watching Fifteen to One as a student. I could never have predicted that 20 years later I would be executive producing one of the longest-running game shows in British television history.

Hopefully, we are inspiring a new generation of sofa-dwelling students to pursue a career in quiz show production.

3 – The number of episodes we film a day. Like most daytime quiz shows, we are a well-oiled machine. However, because we give each contestant three attempts to make it into the final round and hopefully win a place in the grand final, we never know how many contestants we need for each studio day until the night before.

There is an algorithm that only Marie understands that works out the best and worst case scenario each morning, which adds a little frisson of danger to our work day. We have a number of standbys to cover all eventualities and where possible, we try to place the standbys we don’t use on the day in future recordings.

1 – Amazing host; Sandi Toksvig is an absolute dream to work and makes our jobs easy and fun.

Fifteen to One is a serious quiz show but we do everything we can to let Sandi be her hilarious self.

I hope viewers are enjoying the moments of light relief that our brilliant team of editors at Serious Facilities are sprinkling throughout each show. We are very lucky to have Sandi, who is a very in-demand talent.

Jim Regan is an executive producer of Fifteen to One (Remedy Productions)

The eighth series of the rebooted quiz continues at 3 pm on weekdays on Channel 4


26 April 2017 | By Jim Regan