CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night's TV

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS reviews last night’s TV: Ant and Dec’s number-crunching quiz will put your head in a spin

Ant And Dec’s Limitless Win

Rating:

Vera

Rating:

Good job it’s Dry January. Anyone still glugging at the Bailey’s wouldn’t have a hope of following Ant & Dec’s new quiz game.

While some of the questions aren’t so difficult, the rules in Limitless Win (ITV) are mindbending. 

As the boys took to the shiny floor with a studio audience around them, a huge ‘totaliser’ stretched to the roof. The concept sounds straightforward: get the questions right and there is no limit to how high the prize money can go.

In theory, players could scoop a billion or more. In theory.

While some of the questions aren’t so difficult, the rules in Limitless Win (ITV) are mindbending

But, in practice, it’s perilously easy to get eliminated. Any guess higher than the actual answer means instant dismissal.

There are also extra lives, clues and lifelines all at play — and if you don’t get the answer exactly right, you don’t bank the money, and . . . Oh Lord, my head is spinning!

Ant and Dec are wily performers, though. They haven’t won the accolade for Best Presenters 20 times in a row at the National TV Awards by accident.

For their first contestants, they picked husband and wife Will and Kathryn. He’s an intensive care doctor, she’s a midwife. The audience gave them a standing ovation just for saying ‘hello’.

The couple wanted to win enough to buy a camper van. If they’d gone away empty-handed, ITV might have faced a riot.

Will and Kathryn didn’t make things easy. They had a disconcerting habit of leaving it to literally the last second before locking in their answers.

For their first contestants, they picked husband and wife Will and Kathryn. He’s an intensive care doctor, she’s a midwife. The audience gave them a standing ovation just for saying ‘hello’

The gaps in their general knowledge were alarming, too. They didn’t have the foggiest about what fuse to put in the plug for a kettle — they guessed six amps, and the answer is 13.

Ant and Dec were tying themselves in knots of high-charged anxiety, covering their faces and whimpering. At one point, Ant was hiding under the desk, he was so desperate to see the pair win. As I say, these boys know how to do TV.

Then, with the prize money at half a million, Will and Kathryn pulled an extraordinary piece of knowledge out of the air — knowing precisely which year Jeff Bezos founded Amazon.

It happened to be the year Kathryn was born, 1994. As well as getting a camper van, the couple could now afford their first house. Ant was determined they wouldn’t blow it. As they struggled with the next question, he warned Will firmly: ‘You don’t know — and even with a lifeline, you are risking half a million pounds.’ They took the hint . . . and the win.

This is a flawed format, and the lads plainly knew it. Every aspect is overly contrived and convoluted. Even the basic idea that all the answers are numerical is confusing, leaving some players tying themselves in knots.

One pair, challenged to name a war movie set in Ancient Greece, said ‘Gladiator’ (the answer, of course, was ‘300’). But Ant and Dec are lucky stars, and they hit the jackpot in every way with this adorable NHS duo. Their success made thrilling TV.

Vera (ITV) tried its mightiest to be thrilling, squeezing every crime cliche into two hours.

We had a missing child, the theft of a lorry-load of heroin from the docks, an improbable DNA breakthrough (with blood from a mosquito) and Emmer-dale’s Charlie Hardwick as the matriarch of a gangland family.

As an eight-part Swedish noir plot, these elements might have knitted together. But with Brenda Blethyn mooching around in her shabby hat and raincoat, clucking over suspects, it was simply a muddle.

When that missing child turned up in the back of Vera’s Land Rover, the scene had all the tension of a school trip gone wrong.

Masterchef of the weekend: Romance and gunfights in The Tourist (BBC1) were briefly placed on hold for a cookery lesson. After Greek gangster Kostas shot a wild boar, we saw the meat pan-seared in butter and brushed with a glaze. It looked tougher than the crooks.

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