Perfection (game show)

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Perfection BBC.png
Genre Quiz show
Presented by Nick Knowles
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 5
No. of episodes 240
Running time 45 minutes
Production company(s) 12 Yard
BBC Scotland (2012–5)
Distributor ITV Studios
Original channel BBC Two (2011–2, 2015)
BBC One (2013–4)
Picture format 16:9
Original release 17 January 2011 (2011-01-17) – 30 March 2015 (2015-03-30)

Perfection was a BBC quiz show, hosted by Nick Knowles, that was first shown on BBC Two from 17 January 2011 to 10 February 2012, then shown on BBC One from 2 January 2013 to 31 October 2014 and then back on BBC Two from 2 to 30 March 2015.


Main game[edit]

Four players, referred to by the host as the "usual suspects", compete. One contestant is chosen at random from the four to compete in the main game on stage, while the other three play against the contestant from their soundproof booth. In each of the three initial rounds of the game, the host starts by turning off the booth, so the usual suspects can neither hear, nor see anything happening on stage. The contestant is then given four true-or-false statements to answer in 45 seconds. Only the first "true" or "false" utterance is accepted for each question; "yes", "no", "that's right" etc. are ignored. Once all four answers have been given, the booth is turned back on so the usual suspects can see the contestant's answers. S/he will then ask them if they would change any answers or not.

The host then reveals how many answers the contestant got right, but not which specific ones. If all four are correct, the contestant wins the round immediately. If the contestant gets zero correct, then the usual suspects win automatically as they could simply take the opposite answers. In any other case, the usual suspects have the chance to change the contestant's answers, with the knowledge of how many he/she got wrong. Should the usual suspects correctly change the contestant's answers, they will win the round. If they get one or more wrong, then neither the contestant nor the usual suspects win. The winning side (if any) then gets to choose two categories from a list of 12 to place on the board for the final, with the assumption being that the contestant wants to choose categories that they will know, and the usual suspects want to choose categories that would make the game harder for the contestant. If nobody won the round, then the two category choices are carried over to the next round. If in the third and final round nobody wins, the contestant and usual suspects take turns, starting with the contestant, until outstanding choices are used up and the board is full.

The final[edit]

The contestant then plays the final for a rolling jackpot that starts at £1,000 and rises by an additional £1,000 for each game not claimed. In order, the true/false questions behind the six categories are revealed. There's no time limit, however, once an answer is given, it is locked in. Once all six questions are answered, the usual suspects are brought back one last time. They will each give their opinions on whether the answers are correct or incorrect, though, they are not allowed to comment on whether specific questions are right or wrong. Each of the three is also given the option to offer assistance in changing any answers they believe are wrong, by negotiating a price for their assistance with the contestant. However, in some cases, it is in their best interest to not offer assistance, since any usual suspects left in the booth stay for the next game. Should the player accept any assistance offered, the player who offered comes out of the booth and is allowed to suggest changes to any answers they believe are wrong, although the main contestant has the final decision if there are any disagreements. After the change, or if no assistance is offered or accepted, the answers are revealed. If any one answer is wrong, the contestant (and helper, if assistance was accepted) leaves with nothing. If all answers are correct, the contestant wins the jackpot, and if assistance was accepted, he/she will split it with the helper.


The first series was commissioned for a 30 episode run, and was originally due to be shown in autumn 2010. However, it was reported that after 26 episodes had been filmed, it was noticed that some contestants in the studio could see a video screen that was supposed to be hidden. The video screen showed the answers to the questions being asked, and therefore could have been used by those contestants to help them in the game, thereby giving them an unfair advantage. As a result, at 12 Yard Productions' expense, the 26 episodes already in the can had to be scrapped, and re-filmed, which resulted in the series being pushed back to January 2011.[1]


From series 1-4, players remained on the show as long as they were usual suspects and when one of them was chosen to play, they left the show. However, from series 5, each of the usual suspects will have an 8-game limit and will have to play their game or assist another player in the final by the time they reach their eighth game. Any usual suspect that is chosen to help a player in the final also leaves the show.


Largest win[edit]

The largest amount of money won on the show was £21,000 by Lynn on episode 23 of Series 5 broadcast on 22 October 2014, beating the £19,000 by Meg (£10,000) and Michelle (£9,000) on episode 57 of series 4 broadcast on 14 March 2014. Lynn achieved perfection on her own, despite the usual suspects choosing all of her final round categories, with all of the usual suspects ruling themselves out from helping her, and despite being far from confident on a question about Konrad Adenauer being Chancellor of West Germany. On 14 March 2014, Meg needed the help of Michelle after she had a question about In The Night Garden incorrect.

Achieving perfection[edit]

Perfection in all three rounds was first achieved in the first game of episode 57 by a contestant named Pat, though she did not achieve perfection in the final round and thus did not win the jackpot. The following game in the same episode saw contestant Niall become the first to achieve perfection in all three rounds and the final, winning £7,000.[2]

In the episode broadcast on 15 January 2014, a contestant called Detta achieved perfection in all three rounds and in the final. However, she accepted help from a usual suspect, who persuaded her to change one of her answers, therefore denying her the prize money of £3,000.

In the episode broadcast on 1 February 2013, a contestant called Sharon achieved imperfection in the first round, answering 0 correctly and allowing the usual suspects to win automatically. However, in the third round, she achieved perfection, scoring 4 out of 4. In the final, none of the usual suspects chose to come down and Sharon won the prize fund, achieving perfection and winning £1,000.

Longest appearance[edit]

Aubrey and Jane of series 2 both hold the record for the longest run as a usual suspect before they were chosen. That record is 16 games. Under the current rules, this record cannot be broken, as players are allowed to take part in a maximum of eight games. Since this rule was introduced, six contestants - Ann, Emma, Phil, Beth, Sarah and Tracy - have played all of their eight games.


Series Start date End date Episodes Notes
1 17 January 2011 25 February 2011 30 Series 1 aired on BBC Two at 4:30pm.
2 2 January 2012 10 February 2012 30 Series 2 aired on BBC Two at 4:30pm.
3 2 January 2013 21 August 2013 60 Series 3 aired on BBC One at various time slots and took breaks from 4 March – 12 May, 27 May and 3 June – 16 August.1
4 22 August 2013 19 March 2014 60 Series 4 aired on BBC One at various time slots and took breaks from 13 September – 4 October, 21 October – 6 December, 23 December 2013 – 3 January 2014 and 22 January – 3 March.2
5 22 September 2014 30 March 2015 60 Series 5 aired on BBC One at 2:15pm and BBC Two at various time slots and took a break from 3 November 2014 – 28 February 2015.
^1 3:45pm (Episodes 1–23), 3:15pm (Episodes 24–39), 2:45pm (Episode 40), 3:00pm (Episodes 41–57) and 2:15pm (Episodes 58–60)
^2 2:15pm (Episodes 1–2, 4–16, 27–31, 49–60) 1:30pm (Episode 3), 3:15pm (Episodes 17–26), 1:45pm (Episodes 32–36) and 3:00pm (Episodes 37–48)


  1. ^ "UK Gameshows". Retrieved 15 June 2014. 
  2. ^ "UK Gameshows". Retrieved 20 February 2012. 

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