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Top 10 Hardest to Win UK Game Shows

VO: Richard Bush WRITTEN BY: Robert Palin
Whether it’s down to obscure questions or ridiculous challenges, there are few things more bittersweet than seeing someone else fail on a game show. Hello and welcome to WatchMojo UK and today, we'll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Hard to Win UK Game Shows. For this list, we have not taken celebrity shows into consideration so, as tricky as Stephen and Sandy’s questions may be, “QI” doesn’t feature today. Special thanks to our user WordToTheWes for submitting the idea on our interactive suggestion tool: WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Hardest to Win UK Game Shows


Whether it’s down to obscure questions or ridiculous challenges, there are few things more bittersweet than seeing someone else fail on a game show. Hello and welcome to WatchMojo UK and today, we'll be counting down our picks for the Top 10 Hard to Win UK Game Shows.

For this list, we have not taken celebrity shows into consideration so, as tricky as Stephen and Sandy’s questions may be, “QI” doesn’t feature today.

#10: “The £100k Drop” (2010-15, 2018-)


Previously called “The Million Pound Drop”, this agonising game show has enough jeopardy to make you want to watch from behind your sofa. Contestants start with £100,000 and are given a series of difficult and often obscure multiple-choice questions. The probability of losing money is pretty high as the contestants must put as much of the cash as possible on what they think is the correct answer. Anything put on an incorrect answer drops and disappears, creating plenty of heartache and tension, and a lot of sore losers. Winning anything is hard; winning the lot is almost impossible.

#9: “Countdown” (1982-)


One of the UK's longest running game shows, Countdown sees two contestants go head to head in a words-and-numbers battle to score the most points. They must select and sort through nine letters and find the longest word, as well as the odd maths round thrown in for good measure. All while the notorious “Countdown Clock” plays its very recognisable theme, which surely must be a distraction to anyone playing. It sounds basic, but to win this game requires an in-depth knowledge of the dictionary and top notch calculating skills. Or maybe you just need to be Moss from “The IT Crowd”.

#8: “The Krypton Factor” (1977-95, 2009-10)


A true test of physical stamina and mental ability, this very hard-to-win show took its name from the fictional home planet of Superman. And you certainly needed superhero skills to stand a chance of being the victor. Requiring both brain and brawn, it is fiercely competitive, with challenges ranging from memory and observation tests to intense obstacle courses. Hosted by Gordon Burns throughout the 70s, 80s and 90s, and Ben Shephard during its short 00s revival, whoever would eventually win the series could certainly consider it a huge achievement!

#7: “The Chase” (2009-)


Hosted by the charismatic Bradley Walsh, this show involves a team of contestants trying to take home as much cashola as possible whilst being pursued by surly and serious brainboxes. Each member must come head-to-head with one of the chasers, whose intimidating nicknames include “The Beast”, “The Dark Destroyer” and “The Governess”. Typically, at least one person gets a shot at the final round, but the questions can be very tricky indeed. And the notorious chasers are frustratingly smart… well, most of the time!

#6: “The Cube” (2009-15)


This is probably the only game show that can be described as a mix between good old-fashioned pub games and a strange enclosure at your local zoo! Each contestant enters a clear Perspex box a la David Blaine, before trying to defeat a series of increasingly difficult challenges which test balance, memory, reaction and so forth. Up until its first hiatus, only one person had won the full jackpot on the UK version - none other than the legendary Olympian Mo Farah on a celebrity special, who came away with £250,000 for charity.

#5: “Ninja Warrior UK” (2015-)


A true test of strength and agility, this game show, based on the Japanese programme “Sasuke”, requires superhuman abilities, concentration and strength. Contestants face a series of obstacle courses, which become more and more difficult as the heats progress. The final games are enough to make your arms ache just watching them, showing that to win requires practice and immense focus. The lesser-skilled challengers, however, provide plenty of slapstick humour, which cracks up the hosts, whose line-up includes the legendary Chris Kamara.

#4: “Eggheads” (2003-)


The bafflingly smart Eggheads, a team comprised of people you wouldn’t want to face in a pub quiz, make this incredibly difficult to win. Individual contestants from the opposite team take turns facing one of the Eggheads, with the loser of the head-to-head facing elimination. In the final round, the surviving contestants play the last remaining Eggheads, which is more often than not an advantage to the latter. If this doesn’t hamper their chances enough already, the questions require some very obscure knowledge. Plus, the Eggheads are ruthless!

#3: “Mastermind” (1972-)


Starring surely one of UK television’s – or perhaps television in general's – most famous chairs, this quick-fire question game is renowned for its difficult questions on very specific topics. It is even said that the creator, Bill Wright, came up with the idea based on his World War II experience of being a prisoner of war in Germany and the way in which he was interrogated. The setting is definitely an intimidating one, with its dark room, pressure-inducing spotlight and chilling, ominous theme tune... Under this kind of scrutiny, even the brainiest can stumble over simple questions.

#2: “University Challenge” (1962-)


Led by the famously intense Jeremy Paxman, who acts more of a demon headmaster, two universities send their brightest four students to answer some extremely arduous questions. Getting onto the show is tricky enough, let alone winning it, as those who get to meet the producers are given a written test to see if they have the correct ‘baseline of knowledge’. Famous former contestants include Stephen Fry and Christopher Hitchens, while the programme has been ripe for parody through the years, such as when Scumbag College showed down against Footlights College in a particularly well-known episode of “The Young Ones”.

#1: “Only Connect” (2008-)


Named by The Guardianas one of the hardest ever UK game shows, this true test of cranial tact requires some serious general knowledge. Some of the rounds include finding the link between facts that otherwise appear to be clumped together at random, as well as completing sequences. So, are you up on your key parts from previous Olympic opening ceremonies? Or do you know what links the intensity of cosmic microwave background radiation, Norwegian banknotes and gestures made by footballers? If so, this is the quiz for you!
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