Flash Review January 1, 2024

UK Jeopardy!: The Great British Quiz-Off

The latest adaptation of America's Favorite Quiz Show delivers top-tier quizzing action in a uniquely British way.

A new year brings a new (old) quiz show to UK screens: the fourth or fifth attempt to bring Merv Griffin’s ass-backwards quiz to His Majesty’s realm. Helmed by the delightfully intelligent Stephen Fry, ITV’s latest attempt to port over Jeopardy! does something that hasn’t ever been done before:

They made it like America’s!

OK, not exactly like America’s. For one thing, the runtime is nearly doubled, and the money amounts are quartered. There are three main rounds of gameplay: two rounds of Jeopardy! with one Daily Double, with values from £25 to £150 in a slightly strange ramp-up; followed by a round of Double Jeopardy! with two Daily Doubles and doubled values.

But the core gameplay is there. Cleverly-written clues in a variety of categories show up in their signature blue and white art cards, and players race to buzz in and respond in the form of a question. Correct responses bank the players their money, and incorrect responses put players in jeopardy by removing that value from their bank. Play continues until the board is clear, then a new board is loaded into the game with new material.

Playing Jeopardy! for money is actually a rarity in the United Kingdom. The first attempt to bring Jeopardy! across the pond saw players playing for points, with the winning player winning a flat cash prize and the opportunity to play again. For the first three versions of the game in the UK, players wouldn’t even know their opponent’s scores, which made wagering for Daily Doubles kinda weird. I’ve always said that Jeopardy! can work in the UK if they just carbon copy the US version as best they can. Play for cash, let players know their scores, returning champions, clever clue writing, the works. The round format not withstanding, this is really the first time that the format for Jeopardy! has been brought over as is to the UK, and if the first episode is anything to go by, I was right all along.


Stephen Fry naturally shines in the role of Jeopardy! host. Unlike some former hosts of the American Jeopardy!, Stephen Fry has been up-front with his knowledge and adoration of the game and the show, often praising the performance and legacy of Alex Trebek in promotional materials for the show. His ebullient manner when throwing out additional tidbits of knowledge hearken back to Trebek’s quips, but with the time and the room to flesh them out. It feels like he’s back at the helm of QI, and it’s delightful and comforting.

The pace of the show feels slow to those who are used to the blistering pace of the American version, which on its best days blazes through 61 clues in about 22 minutes. With a comfortable 45 minute runtime, UK Jeopardy! gets an extra 30 clues in without feeling overly rushed. If the US’s Jeopardy is Chopped, then the UK’s is Bake-Off. Just as competitive, not as frantic.

With all the additional time, the clever category games are allowed room to breathe. Included are standard trivia fare like geography, literature and history. Other clues allow the writers to be more clever with the topics on hand (“Longer Than Liz Truss’ Premiership” was a highlight) or the premises (In one category, three things were listed in a foreign language and contestants needed to identify what they were; for instance manzana and naranja were fruits). Some categories feel like Richard Osman’s House of Games, but contestants can jump to and from them as they want, which I appreciate.

The intro uses a modified version of the US’s Season 38 intro with the Season 37 theme but with images of Stephen Fry hosting as well as stock footage of intellectual things like pandas and rocket ships. The sound effects are exactly the same. The typefaces are almost exactly the same, except instead of using Swiss 921 for the category titles, they use Helvetica Condensed Black. The current music is used for Final and commercial transition. If you weren’t paying attention, you’d think you were watching US Jeopardy!.

It’ll be interesting to see the reaction of the general UK public with the show—everyone loves Stephen Fry, the casting folks are finding good solid quizzy folks, the material is strong and engaging. ITV has faith in the show. As a former Jeopardy! contestant and lifelong fan, it gets my stamp of approval.

Jeopardy! airs weekdays for the next month at 4 PM GMT on ITV1 and ITVX.