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The genius of game shows with Simon Craig
Development producer Simon Craig has a keen ability to create game shows and make existing ones better.

If you were to ask one hundred people what type of television program is most appealing, you might get a hundred different answers but the truth is obvious, game shows. Think about it for just a moment; these programs cross nearly every demographic. You're as likely to find your grandmother sitting in her Barcalounger watching as you are to see a group of frat boys screaming out the answers at the TV.

A game show is not specific to race, religion, economic status, or any other divisive factor. That sounds high minded to development producer Simon Craig. He simply views his work on numerous game shows as an opportunity to be creative, making something interesting, informative, and amusing. Craig has developed a number of the most beloved and well-received game shows on British television. It has created the unusual circumstance of his work accumulating admirers from all walks of life, at least from those who are aware that he is the mastermind behind the scenes of these programs. He concedes, "I'm more apt to get requests for free tickets than for an autograph, but I'll take it. It means that they love the show and that's the goal of what I do." 

One of the most popular and successful game shows on British air waves is Pointless. Nick Mather, ex-Managing Director of Remarkable and Head of Entertainment at Expectation Entertainment, proclaims, "Pointless is a beloved staple of UK television. That it exists at all is in large part thanks to Simon." It's been nearly a decade since Simon and his team went into a room to formulate a new type of quiz show. They studied numerous gimmicky shows with giant piggy banks, spinning wheels, and the like; rejecting them in preference of the polled question and answer formula. The point (no pun intended) was to turn the idea on its head and offer something new. Accompanied by two colleagues and a blank piece of paper, the premise of one of the UK's most popular game shows emerged. Simon explains, "Game shows are one of the trickiest types of show to develop, given that they're about math and logic, and must be airtight in order to work. A real breakthrough moment with Pointless came when we asked a junior member of the team to write down a list of all the Tom Cruise films that they could think of in a minute. Sure enough, all of Tom Cruise's big films were on the list: Top Gun, Days of Thunder, A Few Good Men. But there were also a few more obscure real answers on that list. This made us ponder: what if there was a quiz which rewarded people for knowing the more obscure answers? What if there was a quiz where the contestants were attempting to find the answers that were correct, but which were given by as few of the people we polled as possible? With the best answer being a 'Pointless' answer, i.e. an answer that was correct but which nobody who we polled wrote down." 

Pointless has aired for twenty seasons, appearing on both BBC one and BBC two. Hosts Alexander Armstrong and Richard Osman guides two teams through their search for the most obscure answers to each question with the winners receiving a cash jackpot in the final round. At its peak, the shows audience exceeded seven million viewers and spawned a celebrity edition entitled Pointless Celebrities with eleven seasons thus far. 

Following the success of Pointless, Craig began working on the game show Tenable. Specifically, he was brought aboard to work with host and acclaimed actor Warwick Davis who is known for his roles in Star Wars: The Force AwakensRogue One: A Star Wars Story,The Last Jedi,Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2, and the title role in Willow. Warwick wanted to take a more creative approach to hosting Tenable by creating a fictionalized version of himself to portray. It was Simon's task to not only help fully realize this concept but to also write dialogue and joke ideas for this heightened version of the host. Several shows had failed in the time slot which Tenable was to appear in and there was the sense throughout the production team that they needed to offer more than the standard fare. The solid structure of the game was matched by the self-aggrandizing yet sympathetic host. Warwick himself credits Simon stating, "Simon's creative contribution to Tenable has turned what could be 'just another quiz show' into something altogether remarkable." 

What's most memorable about Tenable are the personalities. There's the host who wants the contestants and audience to see him as immensely wealthy and famous, more so than he has ever been. When a team of five drag queens competed on the show, they went toe to toe with Davis in terms of witty banter. Even former Parliament members like Ann Widdecombe are quick to appear on the show, challenging the show itself on the accuracy of the answers in true political fashion. This BBC Elstree Centre production shows five players with some type of prior relationship competing to complete lists of ten. The premise is interesting enough to attract viewers while the personalities and relationships of players and host bring them to blossom in front of the camera. With three seasons to date, Tenable has commanded its time slot to become one of the most beloved game shows of recent times. 

When he started this career course with game shows, Simon Craig had never envisioned such success in Britain, or the rest of the world for that matter. The format for Pointless has been sold to eleven territories worldwide, resulting in offers from numerous international entities. Tenable'sfilming location at Pinewood Studios afforded Simon continual interaction with Hollywood professionals who were filming Solo next door, via Warwick's relationship with the Star Wars brand. Simon has quietly created a place for himself as one of the most talented and innovative development producers in the industry. David Flynn, ex-Executive Producer of Pointless and MD of Youngest Media, proclaims, "Simon has one of the finest creative brains I've encountered in the industry. If I'd never hired him, Pointless quite simply would not exist."

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