Break the Safe

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Break the Safe
Genre Game show
Presented by Nick Knowles
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 2
No. of episodes 15
Running time 50 minutes
Production company(s) Thames Scotland and BBC Scotland
Distributor FremantleMedia
Original channel BBC One
Picture format 16:9
Original release 27 July 2013 (2013-07-27) – 30 August 2014 (2014-08-30)
Preceded by Secret Fortune
Followed by Win Your Wish List

Break the Safe was a BBC National Lottery game show broadcast on BBC One from 27 July 2013 to 30 August 2014. It was hosted by Nick Knowles.


Each episode has 3 couples ( friends, related or work colleagues, etc.) attempting to take as much money from the safe as possible over a number of question rounds, up to a potential maximum of £100,000. After all 3 pairs have been introduced, the host locks the safe with 6 locks. 4 of those locks will be released over the course of the game with the final 2 locks being released by the winning couple in the final round. A 36-minute countdown clock is then started.

In Round 1, the team members on the left of each contestant podium are pushed back by pneumatics. Nick then asks 12 questions each worth £1,000 and with 2 answers (an example question would be "Which 2 London Underground lines begin with the letter C?", the answers being Circle and Central). When a team buzzes in, the team member in front must give an answer and their team-mate must provide the second answer. If they are incorrect, the question is thrown open to the other 2 pairs. If they are incorrect again, the question is declared dead. After 12 questions have been asked, the positions of the contestants are swapped (whoever was in front is now in back) and 12 more questions are asked, each now being worth £2,000. At the end of the round, the couple with the least amount of money is eliminated, and the winnings of the remaining couples are put into the safe.

In Round 2, the 2 remaining couples decide which of them will be pushed back. Starting with the couple that brought through the most money (or if there is a tie, the couple who had the least money after 12 questions), Nick asks them a question. The team member in front can choose to answer the question themselves for £2,000 or hand it to their team-mate for £4,000 without being able to tell if their team-mate actually knows the answer. This is repeated for the other couple. After both couples have answered a question, their positions are swapped and are asked another question each, worth £4,000 if the team member in front answers or £8,000 if the team member in back answers. Each couple is then asked if they wish to stay as they are or swap positions one more time, with the questions worth £6,000 if the team member in front answers or £12,000 if the team member in back answers. The couple with the least money is eliminated and the winning couple's accumulated money is added to the safe. After this round, the Thunderball draw is shown.

In Round 3, the winning couple is asked 4 questions, however each team member can only answer 2 questions each. A cryptic clue is shown to give an idea of what the question could be about. A correct answer means that the couple can either add an extra £10,000 to their winnings or add an extra second to their window of opportunity to open the safe. They are given one second to start off with, so after the 4 questions have been asked, there is a potential maximum of a 5-second window to open the safe. After the round concludes, there are generally 2–3 minutes left on the countdown clock. Nick then explains how the final round works. Each team member is presented with an activation button. When the countdown clock reaches 30 seconds left, the clock will disappear. The couple then has to continue counting down the 30 seconds in their heads. Once they think the clock has reached zero, they have as many seconds as they earned in the previous round to press their activation buttons to open the safe. Although this was only implemented in Series 2, people watching at home can play along with this section of the game. The 30-second clock remains on the screen and when the safe is able to be opened, a green 'Safe Open' icon appears. After the couple have pressed their deactivation buttons, the National Lottery draw is shown. After the draw concludes, Nick reveals how the contestants have performed. In Series 1, there were coloured blocks on each side of the safe, representing the seconds the couple had to open the safe, but for Series 2 this was scrapped and the 2 remaining locks show if the couple opened the safe or not. Nick will ask if the first team member opened the safe on the first available second, and the coloured block/lock will light red if they did not open the safe at that point or light green if they did. This is repeated for each individual second for both team members until either both have opened the safe, or all available seconds have been used up. If one team member managed to open the safe, they win half of the accumulated prize fund, but will win all of it if both managed to open the safe. But if all their seconds are a red light they both go home with nothing.


Series Start date End date Episodes
1 27 July 2013 14 September 2013 8
2 28 June 2014 30 August 2014 7


Episode Viewing figures from BARB.[1]

Series 1[edit]

Airdate Viewers
weekly ranking
1 27 July 2013 4.07 21
2 3 August 2013 4.55 17
3 10 August 2013 4.34 17
4 17 August 2013 4.28 18
5 24 August 2013 4.47 13
6 31 August 2013 N/A N/A
7 7 September 2013 N/A N/A
8 14 September 2013 N/A N/A

Series 2[edit]

Airdate Viewers
weekly ranking
1 28 June 2014 N/A N/A
2 5 July 2014 N/A N/A
3 12 July 2014 N/A N/A
4 19 July 2014 N/A N/A
5 9 August 2014 N/A N/A
6 16 August 2014 N/A N/A
7 30 August 2014 N/A N/A


External links[edit]