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The real reason we’re in a spin about our favourite TV game shows

American actor Rob Lowe is enjoying  hosting <i>The Floor</i>, which is reportedly heading to Australia.

American actor Rob Lowe is enjoying hosting The Floor, which is reportedly heading to Australia. Photo: Fox via Getty

When US actor Rob Lowe pivoted to hosting “physical quiz show”, The Floor, earlier this year, it quickly became Fox’s most-streamed game show ever, amassing 4.5 million viewers in the first episode.

Better known for his roles on The West Wing, Parks and Recreation and 9-1-1: Lonestar, Lowe, 60, says he got contestants “to rise to the occasion” to deliver a TV game show that is “fun and irreverent”.

Based on a Dutch format, the US version is basically a trivia battle in which contestants face off in quiz duels on a giant LED floor divided into 81 squares, each representing its own field of knowledge, and the winner inherits their square (next season has 100 squares).

Expert subjects include cereal, nepo babies, political candidates and famous hair.

The last contestant standing takes over The Floor, and takes home $US250,000.

The Floor Rob Lowe

The last person standing on The Floor takes home $US250,000. Photo: Fox via Getty

Now, an Australian spin-off of the game show is heading to the Nine network, according to TV Blackbox, and a casting call has been issued calling for Aussies living in the UK, Ireland or Europe to apply for “the world’s hottest new game show”.

It follows the announcement last year that a version of the iconic quiz show, Jeopardy! Australia (for the Nine network) was to be hosted by British comedian, actor and writer Stephen Fry, filmed in a regional production hub in Manchester and feature Australian contestants.

All expats living in the UK.

Meanwhile, Irish TV talk show host Graham Norton will front a version of Wheel of Fortune. It is being filmed (also at a hub in Manchester) with more expat Aussies.

Both these shows’ hosts also make a UK version.

“The commissioning of the format Down Under follows a recent trend of local versions filming off the back of international versions using expats living abroad, in an attempt to save on costs by using existing infrastructure,” writes Kyle Laidlaw for TV Blackbox.

Since September, Australian quizmaster Marc Fennell has hosted SBS version of game show, Mastermind, where contestants must answer as many questions as possible on their chosen subject within two minutes.

He tells The New Daily the reason popular quiz shows get made overseas is down to “killing four birds at once”.

“You get access to big marquee names like … Fry and it’s a relatively easy ‘yes’ for the star because they often tack the Australian production on the back of the UK/US versions.

“There’s tonnes of Aussie expats particularly in the UK to use, and it deletes one of the most expensive line items of any studio show – the set.

“It’s easy to see why it makes business sense for the networks.”

A ‘delightful game show’

Nine’s Millionaire Hot Seat, hosted by Eddie McGuire, went into “hiatus” earlier this year, creating a huge gap in the traditional late afternoon TV game show time slot.

It was quickly replaced with Tipping Point, hosted by tennis commentator Todd Woodbridge. Viewers have also turned to Deal or No Deal with Grant Denyer.

Seven’s The 1% Club UK is on at the moment, with a promise Jim Jefferies will return as host later in the year with new Aussie episodes.

The more traditional go-to quiz shows such as The Chase, Mastermind and Hard Quiz (Tom Gleeson) deliver Q&A formats, which don’t necessarily include massive prize money.

But the hardcore viewer wants pure entertainment, a clicking countdown clock, some pure adrenaline from contestants, and a super-stimulating set with flashing lights, bells, whistles, loud music and screams.

And if Lowe, the actor and producer, could be the host of the Aussie version … so be it.

“Some may say The Floor is just another game show in a world with too many game shows, but … it was a perfect pick me up with incredible purpose,” writes Decider‘s Nicole Gallucci, who described it as “delightful”.

“[It] is primarily a comedy, but at times it’s a drama, a thriller, a mystery and a horror. It’s a mindless escape, a wise teacher, and a comforting friend.

“It’s anything you want or need it to be in the moment and though I’m not $250,000 – or even $20,000 – richer after watching, The Floor still left me feeling like a winner.”

Graham Norton filmed a Wheel of Fortune version in the UK with expats. Photo: Ten

When it was announced in July last year that Norton would be fronting Wheel of Fortune, we all fondly thought back to the days of Australian entertainers Tony Barber, Ernie Sigley, Larry Emdur and John Burgess hosting local versions of the much-loved afternoon delight.

It ran from 1981 to 2008.

Aussies applied – but they had to live in Britain, the Channel Islands or the Isle of Man to get on the show.

The UK version also had its own locals hosts over time. But when it premiered on UK TV in January with Norton, fans noticed one major change – there was no assistant to turn the letters.

A Ten spokesperson confirmed the Aussie version was filmed in the UK earlier this year “with expat Australian contestants”.

Fennell says this strategy only works for short-run shows of less than 20 episodes.

“We shoot around 85 episodes a year of Mastermind … five episodes a day for a few weeks and that plays out across the year.

“If they keep this option for shows they can sell as “event” productions with major international star hosts, then it has a role to play in our diet of game shows.”

Topics: TV
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