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The bong game is a phone-in game show created in the 1980s by the London-based radio station, Capital Radio. It is a game based purely on chance, but remained suspenseful because both rewards and risk increased as it progressed.
The game was invented by David Briggs, a former traffic reporter for Capital FM who went on to create Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? He also provided the smooth voice on the recordings. The contestants were primed by Capital Radio's Breakfast Show host, Chris Tarrant, whose collaboration with Briggs led to him becoming the presenter of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
How it works
A recorded voice reads a sequence of numbers, representing an amount of money, that increases in value by irregular amounts.
For example: £1, £4, £20, £31, £70, £72, £300, £301, £600....
The recording ends, at an unpredictable point, with a "bong" sound. If the player shouts "stop" before the "bong", he or she wins the last sum of money mentioned. If the player waits too long and is interrupted by the "bong", he or she wins nothing. Contestants who shouted "stop" would then be played the rest of the tape to see how much more they could have won.
The numbers would go up in varying increments, sometimes 3 or 4 numbers differing by only a few pounds, and then a jump of several hundred pounds. There were also various special tapes that had holidays on them, if the contestant waited long enough (without being bonged out).
An additional variation was the "Bouncing Bong" which, instead of just going up, went up and down randomly, with the contestant having no idea whether the next number would be higher or lower than the current one. Again, if the tape "bonged out" before the contestant said stop, they received nothing.
- The New Treasure Hunt
- Deal or No Deal
- A variant of the Bong Game was used in the daytime version of The People Versus. Contestants would choose one of three sequences, one of which would permit the entire sum of money previously won to be retained before the "bong" was sounded.
- Colour of Money, which started in 2009, uses an extended version of the same principle, in which winnings are accumulated through repeated playings of the Bong Game.
- Who wants to be a millionaire?, Evening Standard, 13 January 1999