While half an hour of radio took about an hour to record on Saturday night, half an hour of TV took well over two hours. The quiz show takes the “we asked 100 people” elements of Family Fortunes, but pitches seven people against each other, eliminating one in each round. Big set, knobbly chair, a table that looks like something out of Blakes 7, beams of light cutting through a continuous supply of dry ice, and a selection of zany contestants.
Given the elongated time it takes to film, perhaps the most fun moments came when things went wrong. Contestants fluffing their introductions (again and again) along with cheeky one-liners (“my radio’s covered in spit” from Jonie voicing his dislike of Nolan’s morning radio show). Update - they included a few of his other quips including his comment on Nolan's walk down the runway at the beginning of the show - "you've more mince than my fridge". And a wonderful moment when a male on-screen vox-popper was mis-labelled as Rebecca ... requiring fifteen minutes of head scratching and a new set of videos and questions to be brought forward from the next night’s filming. Bet someone had a busy Tuesday getting the original fixed!
New quiz formats are rarer than hen’s teeth. Something as good as Who wants to be a millionaire comes around every five or ten years. And this, along with its “Don’t panic” catch phrase isn’t in that league. But cut down to half an hour, it'll have more action than an episode of Deal or No Deal!
Update - having seen the completed show, it's been very well edited together, capturing the best bits, plenty of cheek, allowing personalities to shine through, and keeping it fast-paced by removing unneeded parts (like not bothering to show Ann walking off set - which took about ten minutes to get right on the night).
There's the odd shot that could be improved - Round 2: Play or Panic - the background in the side shots of the contestants sitting at the Blakes 7 table look very grey and bland in comparison with the bright blue behind Nolan. And the explanation of the Round 2 rules takes too long and loses some of the pace the show had built up.
And you've got to remember that Northern Ireland’s all about the local, all about townlands and suburbs and people with the same accent. And on those terms, Panic Attack scores highly with a very non-Belfast feel to it, and plenty of geographic variety. Should do it no harm in the ratings.
Tune in at half nine from this Friday on BBC One if you want to join the more-loyal-than-you-could-imagine Nolan fan club who’ll be glued to their sets. I smell success for the newly formed (?) Lucky Monday Productions.