Ask the Audience (by Derren Brown)

We’re going to veer away from the world of the pub quiz night for this post (but will come back on topic next time). I noticed that ‘Who Wants To Be A Millionaire’ is taking applications for shows in the summer: details on their website. But that isn’t really what this post is about (well not entirely). If you do apply, and get on, here’s a little strategy that might help you out.

Imagine you are in the hotseat, you are doing well, but up comes a question that stumps you. You’ve still got lifelines left, but you don’t fancy using 50:50  because you don’t feel 50:50 will really help. Perhaps you are pretty sure that one of the four options is wrong, but you can’t really choose between the other three. You don’t think any of your Phone-a-Friends will know this either. And you still have your Ask the Audience lifeline left but you are pretty convinced that this audience won’t know the answer (either because you can just tell the question is genuinely hard, or because you have been unimpressed by this audience’s efforts to help out a previous contestant – or a bit of both).

I’ve seen occasions on the show when a contestant has said “I have a feeling about option C – I think I’ve read that somewhere” and then, lo and behold, 70% of the audience vote for that option – and turn out to be wrong.

So – you have a question that stumps you, minimal confidence in your audience to help you, but that crucial feeling (or even certainty) that one of the four options is definitely wrong.

Try this: announce confidently that you are pretty sure it is option A (where option A is the one you are sure is wrong). Come up with some spurious reasoning to make it sound convincing. Now is the time to Ask the Audience. Those in the audience who are like sheep will have been convinced by your reasoning and will vote for A to “help you have confidence to go for your answer” or because “I’m pretty sure that sounds familiar as well”. I reckon Derren Brown would agree that this is how many people in the audience would behave if you managed to do your manipulation effectively earlier on whilst thinking outloud.

So, in one fell swoop you manage to divert all the people in the audience who don’t know the answer onto the one option that you are convinced is wrong. Those who do actually know the answer (and you can be pretty sure that there will be some people in the audience who do actually know the answer) will of course choose the option that they think is correct, which, with luck, is not the one you are sure is wrong (and the one that the sheep in the audience have voted for).

To find the correct answer then just go for the highest Ask the Audience vote that isn’t the one you have diverted the sheep onto.

It could, of course, go horribly wrong, but could be one of the greatest moments in quiz show history if executed successfully. If you get onto the show, and try this, and win big, then remember where you got the idea from…

Do you have any cunning strategies of your own to help you navigate the ups and downs of big money quiz shows?



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