Tara Ward checks out Beat the Chasers, the new quiz show starring all five brainiacs from The Chase.
If you think the greatest show on television is The Chase, then you are correct. You are also wrong and must leave the stage immediately, because there’s a new gameshow hitting New Zealand screens that will be all your wildest quiz dreams come true. It’s called Beat the Chasers, and it features every single one of the Chasers.
You heard me. Not one, not two, but all five of The Chase brainiacs have teamed up to stretch their intellectual muscles in Beat the Chasers, an action-packed spinoff of our beloved quiz show. All the brainy eggs are now in one basket, which makes Beat the Chasers more exciting than the time three Chasers turned up on Tipping Point, and tenser than the time Basil Brush beat The Vixen on The Celebrity Chase.
Alas, my giddy gameshow lovers, only five episodes of this masterpiece exist.
It’s all Covid-19’s fault, but these days, what isn’t? The UK lockdown disrupted plans to film a second series, which makes Beat the Chasers the rare white peacock of our sweaty quiz dreams. Beat the Chasers must be treasured and protected until the end of days, in case it disappears forever. It is small but perfectly formed, and as Shakespeare said, it is better to have chased and lost than never to have chased at all.
Last month these five episodes pulled in 5.7 million UK viewers, out-rating the worthy but definitely less quiz-focused drama Normal People. Sure, who wants to watch Connell mope around Dublin when you could watch five brainboxes pushing their buzzers like their lives depended on it? Even Connell’s chain would probably love a bit of Beat the Chasers. Would Normal People treat you to The Sinnaman’s rap about the time he came fourth on Mastermind? No, it would not. Maybe it should. That would be amazing.
Beat the Chasers is a lot like The Chase, if The Chase had four more Chasers, two clocks, a bartering system, a time head-start and a hyped-up studio audience ready for some gameshow smackdown. The delightful Bradley Walsh larks it up as always and the Chasers are as surly as ever, but OMG, the tension. The drama. The heart-stopping pressure as the clock ticks down. Who will win? Who will lose? Who will remember the name of the youngest girl in the cartoon Rugrats?
Each round on Beat the Chasers lasts for only 60 seconds, but it’s the best 60 seconds of your life, and I say that as someone who tried to cook an Alyson Gofton Food in a Minute sausage casserole during the long dark winter of 1998.
The short explanation of Beat the Chasers is that the clock ticks down and there is only one winner. The longer and more complicated version is that a brave contestant is plucked from the studio audience, and after a quick cash-builder round, chooses how many Chasers they want to challenge. Tactics, ahoy. The more Chasers the player faces, the bigger the prize money, but with a smaller headstart on the clock.
After that, it’s a speedy duel of quizzy ping-pong, as questions bounce back and forward between the Chasers and the player. When the player gets an answer right, their clock stops and the questions are thrown to the Chasers. If one side gets an answer wrong, Bradley keeps asking them questions until they answer correctly, while the clock continues to tick down. To win the cash, the player needs the Chaser’s clock to reach zero first.
It’s a fool’s conquest. One person with a regular brain shouldn’t be able to beat five geniuses with ginormous brains, but that’s the beauty of it. Just like The Chase, this is anyone’s game. Stranger things have happened, like the fact we can’t leave the country or pash a stranger at a bar like we used to, but who cares now we have Beat the Chasers? We have facts and information and five geniuses wearing matching outfits as they unleash quiz hell, and in this crazy new world of ours, that might just be all we need.
Beat the Chasers will screen on TVNZ in June.