Last year Red or Black debuted to harsh words from critics and viewers alike. Billed as a TV event, the series was annoyingly placed over a five-night period. What viewers and critics (like myself) cottoned on to very quickly was the simple fact that the format, the style and virtually everything little detail about the series was hugely boring, flawed and just another vehicle for Simon Cowell to plug acts like Leona Lewis and One Direction.
The idea that viewers would be on the edge of their seats as they watched players chose red or black was a ludicrous one. Why should I care what colour they pick? Why should I care what they win? Red or Black required no skill from those playing unless all the contestants were colourblind of course. Couple this with the OTT tension that has become a trademark of Cowell’s TV offerings and the lavish studio setting and it all fell flatter than Mary Byrne on a bouncy castle.
Not long after it finished in the summer rumours where swirling and tweeters were speculating whether the series would return. Surely not? How it could it possibly? Surely ITV would brush the massive failure off and move onto pastures new. Flash forward to a dreary Monday in March. I was innocently browsing the web, checking my email and trying to be hilarious on Twitter when my worst fears where confirmed. Simon Cowell has proven once again how powerful he is and the viewing public will soon be subjected to a “tweaked” second series of the doomed game show.
So what are these tweaks are hear you cry. Well the second series will air weekly rather than the nightly primetime slot it had in 2011 and the prize money is lower but will roll over to the following week if no one has been lucky enough to chose the right sodding colour!
The press release also promises more “high octane games”, celebrity appearances and musical That’s assuming One Direction and Susan Boyle aren’t busy that week.
Red or Black did pull in good figures for episode 1 but they dropped off sharply once audiences realized much like Cowell it was all mouth and high trousers. I should probably say at this juncture that I don’t dislike Simon Cowell, nor do I begrudge his control over Saturday Night Television but I do object to something as dismal and unsuccessful as this coming back purely because he’s at the helm. If the series had been produced by anyone else it would be an unpleasant but distant memory but such is Cowell’s stranglehold on ITV that this comes back with adjustments. Broadcasters are often too quick to pull the plug on series nowadays but when something quite clearly didn’t work first time round I don’t feel there’s any wrong in saying we’ve tried it, it didn’t work as well as we’d hoped so lets move on.