At the end of a lot of imported American shows on Channel 5 there was a little quiz to win ten thousand pounds. Initially, these quizzes were quite popular, despite the £1 entry fee via the text number.
"People used to like the quizzes," said Channel 5 program director, Anne Cerr. "At first they were something to do with the program that had been on, but people who came in at the credits were missing the important information. Questions like 'What was the murder weapon? A. A Gun. B. Cilla Black. C. David Beckham's goal against Greece'. So we changed them to more generic America questions. They were never very demanding, and we would recoup the ten thousand pounds easily."
By not very demanding, Anne Cerr means that the question might be: "What does USA stand for? A. United States of America. B. Nothing. C. Queen Elizabeth the Second."
In recent months, the number of entrants to the quizzes has been going down.
"We don't understand it," said Cerr. "We didn't make the quizzes any more complicated. Yet, people were getting the answers wrong. We decided that they were too difficult to understand for our target audience."
Channel 5 bosses briefly considered making the questions even simpler. "We considered questions like 'What is a Red Admiral? A. A Butterfly. B. A Butterfly. C. A Butterfly.' However, we realised that we might as well scrap the questions completely."
And this is what Channel 5 have done. At the end of their American imports, there is still 'a chance to win ten thousand pounds', but now there is no need to supply an answer to a question.
"We've made it as simple as our audience," said Cerr. "All you do now is send a text message to the number we show. It's only six digits. We're hoping that this is not too many digits for people to enter. We randomly select a winner from the people who texted in, as we did with the question."
With this simplified version relatively new, it will take time to see if it is working, although initial results are encouraging. One viewer in Blackpool, Stuart Pidd, was still confused, however. "I don't think I know the answer," he said.