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The quiz begins with six players. In the first round each must declare how much money (up to £25,000) they would like. This is important as a lot of money is needed to bet on questions during the show. The person who asks for the largest amount is removed from the show before getting the chance to answer a single question.
Then the remaining five contestants are asked incomplete questions that they must bet on. After all players have placed their bets on each question it is completed, and whoever staked the most money can answer it. If their answer is correct, the amount they had bet is added onto their score; if they answer incorrectly, the money is taken away. After one question has been asked for every player still in the game, the person with the most money chooses a player to remove from the game. Then all the contestants are given the same amount of money as the leader, and the process continues until there are two contestants left.
The final round takes the form of a type of Prisoner's Dilemma. The two remaining players stand behind podiums opposite each other; they are playing for the amount of money the leading player had at the end of the previous round. Each of the players is asked if they wish to "share" or to "shaft". If both players decide to shaft, both players walk away empty-handed. If one decides to share and the other to shaft, then the person who shafted wins all the prize money; if they both decide to share the money is divided equally between the two players.
Kilroy-Silk's actions on the show were frequently mocked on Have I Got News for You in late 2004, particularly his delivery of the show's tag-line, "Their fate will be in each other's hands as they decide whether to share or to shaft", and the associated hand actions. During several episodes, a clip of this was inserted into the show at some point, occasionally the clip continues to surface in the show.
The show was dropped four episodes after it started in 2001, and was listed as the worst British television show of the 2000s in the Penguin TV Companion (2006).
In 26 October 2012, Richard Osman, writing for The Guardian named Shafted among four of UK TV's worst ever gameshows.
An Australian version of the show starring Red Symons ran from February to April 2002 on the Nine Network. If, in the final round of this version, one contestant decided to shaft while the other contestant decided to share, the person who shafted would not only win all of the cash, but would get to play in the next game with the title of "Master Shafter". When the series started, the other contestants knew who the master shafter was, and that person was regularly eliminated first. This was later changed so that the master shafter was not revealed to the other contestants until the very end of the show. The show was suspended in April 2002 due to very bad ratings. Only one time in the show, two contestants chose to share and won a lot of money. They hugged in the end unlike the other episodes.
Also in the Australian version, contestants can bid up to $500 where the contestant who makes the highest bid gets eliminated in the first round. From round two onwards, the current player with the highest amount picks one of the four topics where a set of questions are given out for the contestants to answer. Before this could happen, contestants must make a bid as to how much money they are willing to risk for every question they get correct. If two or more pick the same bid, the one who locked their bid the fastest will get it and the next contestants bid will be $5 less to avoid two or more players having the same bid. During the set of questions, contestants buzz in for a chance to answer and win or lose their bidding amount for every question they answer correctly or not. After this, half of a question is read for the contestants where they must bid an amount to have the right of answering the question. The highest bidder gets a chance to answer it with the second half of that question revealed. After this, the contestant with the highest score has the right to eliminate another contestant. That eliminated contestant has thirty seconds to persuade that contestant to stay in the game. (One time a contestant didn't bother and wanted to be eliminated.) Then the contestant must decide whether to stick with their decision or change their mind, if they change their mind, that contestant is eliminated and gets no say to save themselves. At the end of the round, all contestants have the same amount equal to the leader.
- Friend or Foe?, American game show similar to Shafted
- Liar Game, Japanese manga about a game show with games based in game theory.
- Golden Balls
- The Bank Job