Making 'Break the Safe'

Head of Entertainment, Talkback Thames

Editor's Note - The blog post below is jointly written by Suzy Lamb at Talkback Thames and Alan Tyler from BBC Entertainment Commissioning. 

You may have seen some reports regarding format changes for our new show Break the Safe. In this blog we want to explain a bit more about why they came about.

Break the Safe hit episode three last night on BBC One. It's been a terrific show to make, featuring one of the most challenging competitions on television. And that challenge was reflected off screen too.

Part way through filming we realised that people successfully completing the final - an extremely difficult task - weren't actually being rewarded for that. It was a real conundrum. The problem was that both contestants had to break the safe in order to win. But in some cases one partner would be successful, whereas the other failed. When played out under full studio conditions it felt simply not right that the successful person didn't win anything at all.

We realised that this was wrong and set about solving the problem. So, how exactly do you set about sorting out a change in the format and still being fair, when you can tell one is needed part way through filming a new quiz show?

The first thing was to sort out the format and gameplay for the remaining shows. People successfully completing the final - which was a very hard challenge - would win a cash prize for that. That was fairer as it appropriately rewarded success.

It was also extremely important that any format change should remain fair to all contestants throughout the run. Having taken the editorial decision that the format needed to be amended, we then took the decision to invite back the four pairs of finalists from the shows already filmed, and offered them the opportunity to re-play the final under the new rule.

All four pairs were fully briefed, made aware that there was a format change and the rationale, and given the chance to come back. All agreed and happily came back to have another go at breaking the safe.

The returning contestants all played with their original scores and original prize fund and no other part of the programme was affected. Most contestants were successful. Importantly no contestant who would have won under the old format was disenfranchised under the amended format.

This is an unusual situation but we felt it was of paramount importance to ensure the show was run in the best interests of contestants and to correct any issues which had become apparent.

Suzy Lamb is Head of Entertainment, Talkback Thames
Alan Tyler is Executive Editor, BBC Entertainment Commissioning


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