Going For Gold – Show Format

7 10 2008

Hi all

As part of my Going For Gold week, I will be writing articles about this exciting game show which will be returning on Five on 13th October. Today, is the first of many parts and what I will be looking at is the show format of Going For Gold. So, for those who don’t know how the game show works, this is an opportunity to get to know it! So let’s dive right in!


Going For Gold is a British television game show revolved around a general knowledge game.  The show which first broadcast in October 1987 on BBC One saw a number of contestants selected from countries around Europe who would each have to pass through a series of elimination rounds, being tested on their trivia in order to win the show and progress further in the contest.  Despite the contestants being cast from different European countries the show was broadcast completely in English with contestants being fluent in the language and hosted by Irish broadcaster Henry Kelly.  The final series broadcast in 1996 only featured UK contestants.


Going For Gold was broadcast on weekdays in the early afternoon.


Going For Gold consists of four rounds each aimed at reducing the number of contestants and attaining the show’s winner.  Each show begins with seven contestants.


The first round simply known as the ‘Opening Round’ sees only four of the seven contestants eligible to qualify in competing in the second round.  The questions posed to the contestants test their ability to identify an object, animal, person, place or event and the questions start with phrases such as “What am I?” or “Who am I?”  Henry Kelly would provide further details progressing onto more giveaway hints as to the identity of the answer thereafter until a contestant buzzed in and successfully identified the answer.  If the contestant failed they would be ineligible to try at the question again and other remaining contestants would hear further clues to the identity of the answer.  A contestant had to answer only one question successfully to proceed to the next round.  The first four to do so would play the second round.  The remaining three would be knocked out of the show.  However the show adopted a repechage format which meant these three contestants had the opportunity to return on the next day’s show to have the chance to play again.  This opportunity was granted for failing contestants up until the end of the week.


The Opening Round was played rapidly with no time imparted by Henry Kelly to find out further about the background of the contestants.


The second round of Going For Gold is known as the ‘First Round Proper’ and sees the four qualifying contestants from the Opening Round battle against each other for only three available places in the third round.  This round features questions divided among subjects.  Henry Kelly would begin the round with posing a question in a ‘general knowledge’ subject, i.e. not specifying to the contestants beforehand what the question would be about.  When a contestant thought they knew the answer they would have to buzz in and if they correctly answered they would earn one point.  If they failed to answer then they would be ineligible to try again at this very question with the other remaining contestants would have a chance instead.  On a contestant correctly answering, Henry Kelly would state the subject of the next question, e.g. ‘arts’, ‘science’, ‘entertainment’, to that contestant and ask him/her how many points they would like to win should they answer it correctly.  They had the choice of one, two or three points.  Should they fail to answer correctly, questioning would be open to all the contestants and the subject of the question would revert to the ‘general knowledge’ subject and be worth one point.  All this would continue until the first three contestants scored six points in total and proceed to the next round.  The remaining contestant would have the chance to play from the opening round on the next day’s show within that week of shows as part of the repechage format.


The third round called ‘Four In a Row’ saw the remaining three contestants play individually correctly answering as many questions as they could within a time limit but with a clever twist.  From a choice of four preselected categories the first contestant (the one who first scored six points in the First Round Proper) would have first choice of the category they wanted to answer questions in.  They would then have a maximum of forty seconds to try to score four points, one point earned for each correct answer.  If a question was answered correctly their score would be one point and if they succeeded at answering the consecutive question the score would proceed to two points and so on.  However the twist is that if a question was answered incorrectly at any point regardless of the contestant’s score (except four of course) then their score would drop to zero and they would have to build up their score again one point at a time.  The score they would thus have earned at the end of the forty seconds is the score they managed to build up to accounting for any drops to zero.  Of course, if a contestant scored four points their round of questioning would end.  The next contestant to play would have a choice of the remaining three categories while the third contestant was left with the remaining two.  The two highest scoring contestants would qualify for a place in the final round while the losing contestant would be able to come back to play again starting at the opening round on the next day’s show within that week.

  Should there be a tie which couldn’t decide which two contestants made the final round a general knowledge play-off would be contested with questions of a format used in the Opening Round posed to determine the qualifiers.


The Final Round had a unique style and is one of Going For Gold’s trademark features.  It is also complicated to explain.  Henry Kelly would pose a question which took the format similar to the Opening Round questions in which the contestants had to identify a person, animal, object, place or event based on a running description of the answer with more hint-worthy information later in the description.  The first contestant (the one who scored the highest or won a play-off tie first in the Four In a Row round) would be told the subject of the question and asked whether to “Play or pass?”  To play would mean they would be first to play solely for the chance to answer the question while the other remained ineligible.  To pass meant relinquishing this control to the opponent.  Thereafter Henry Kelly began his question while an onscreen graphic vertical gauge slowly decreased in level – the gauge consisted of four sections: a top section comprising the larger proportion of the gauge marked ‘4’, a slightly shorter section below it marked ‘3’, an even shorter section below marked ‘2’ and the smallest section below that marked ‘1’.  When the contestant in control of answering buzzed in they would earn the number of points marked on the section of the gauge that the level had decreased to, so if the gauge level was stopped within the ‘4’ section, four points would be awarded for a correct answer.  Should the question be answered incorrectly control would pass to the other contestant and Henry Kelly would continue his question while the gauge level continued to decrease further (thus dropping the points value of the question).  As one can work out, more suggestive information of the answer in the question posed would occur when the gauge level was at a lower points value.  

  To complicate this further, additionally the gauge would be staggered to show who had control of the individual sections of the gauge.  To illustrate this, assume contestant A decides to play.  The gauge is staggered so that contestant A has control of the question while the gauge level is in the ‘4’ section and ‘2’ section while contestant B would have control while the gauge level is in the ‘3’ and ‘1’ sections.  Each respective contestant can only answer while the gauge level is in their respective sections.  Should a contestant attempt a question during their respective section and fail the gauge would show that section shift to the other contestant hence giving them control of the section and answering the question.

  The round would end when a contestant manages to score nine or more points in total.  This contestant is declared winner of the show.  The losing contestant has the chance to play again from the Opening Round on the next day’s show within that week.


The Final Round also featured a little tip for viewers where Henry Kelly would alert viewers to a clue displayed onscreen, usually one worded, to the answer of the question before he posed it to the contestants.  Obviously, the contestants weren’t able to see this clue.


The series essentially saw contestants battle to earn places in the final show at the end of each week and winning these earned contestants a chance to play in more coveted shows later in the series.  There was always a star prize like a holiday (examples included a trip to the Summer Olympic Games in Seoul in the 1988 series and a trip to Australia in a later series) for the overall series winner.  No specific prize was given to contestants who won the individual shows however.

And there you go! If you have managed to get to this paragraph, well done! You now know everything about the show format of Going For Gold! Tomorrow, I will be putting up a picture gallery to show the different rounds of the game show and to give you a better understanding of the rounds mentioned above!

Come back soon for more Going For Gold!




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