The Cube (game show)

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The Cube
The-Cube-ITV.jpg
Created by Adam Adler
Presented by Phillip Schofield
Voices of Colin McFarlane
Theme music composer Nick Foster
Ken Bolam
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 9
No. of episodes 79
Production
Location(s) Fountain Studios
Running time 60 minutes (inc. adverts)
Production company(s) Objective Productions
Distributor All3Media
Release
Original network ITV, STV, UTV
Picture format 576i (SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Audio format Stereo
Original release 22 August 2009 (2009-08-22) – 8 August 2015 (2015-08-08)
External links
Website itv.com/thecube

The Cube was a British game show that aired on ITV from 22 August 2009 to 8 August 2015 and was hosted by Phillip Schofield. The show offers contestants the chance to win a top prize of £250,000 by completing challenges from within a 4m × 4m × 4m Perspex cube. It is based on the idea that even straightforward tasks become extremely challenging when confined and put under pressure inside a small, enclosed area whilst surrounded by a large live studio audience. Once inside, contestants can feel both claustrophobic and disorientated, affecting their concentration and abilities. Using "state-of-the-art filming techniques", the show aims to demonstrate the intense anxiety which contestants undergo as they progress through each task. The challenges involve catching, throwing, estimating, reacting, memorising, balancing, etc. Colin McFarlane provides the disembodied voice of The Cube, who explains the rules of the games.[1]

In June 2016 it was reported that The Cube (amongst other ITV shows) was being put on a hiatus, it is unknown if it will return anytime soon under any capacity.[2] The show returned on challenge in August 2017.

Format[edit]

The game is played by a single contestant within a transparent Perspex cube that measures 4 meters along each edge. The goal is to complete a series of seven games, each of which awards an increasing amount of prize money, before failing a total of nine times. Games are pre-selected for each individual contestant before the show to test their mental and physical faculties in various ways. A typical episode consists of two contestants' games.

The contestant begins with nine lives, and loses one for every unsuccessful attempt at a game. The contestant must repeat the game until they either complete it or run out of lives; in the latter case, the game ends and all money is forfeited. When a contestant succeeds, they are shown a preview of the next game and can decide to either stop playing and keep their winnings, or continue and risk the money. During a preview, the game is named and described by a male computer voice (provided by McFarlane) and demonstrated by "The Body," a woman dressed in a full-body jumpsuit and featureless metal mask. In the original series, McFarlane described the Body as "an expert in all games played within the Cube"; her real name has never been stated on camera or listed in the credits.

Schofield occasionally comments on the difficulty that past contestants have had with a game and notes the average number of lives lost while playing it, in order to help the contestant decide whether to continue or stop. Friends and family members in the audience may offer advice on decision-making and techniques for playing the games. Certain games have specific restrictions added to increase their difficulty, such as a time limit or allowing the use of only one hand. If the contestant violates any such restriction, they immediately lose a life.

The contestant is given two forms of assistance, each of which may be used once. "Simplify" reduces the difficulty of a game, such as by allowing more time or increasing the size of a target zone, and may be used after any unsuccessful attempt. The simplification remains in effect until the contestant either completes that game or runs out of lives. "Trial Run" allows the contestant to make one practice attempt at a game with no lives or money at stake, then decide if they want to play or stop. This assistance becomes available after they complete the first game, and can only be used upon the introduction of a new one.

The seventh and final game is worth a jackpot of £250,000; contestants who complete this game are said to have "beaten the Cube". It is a more difficult version of one of the six games a contestant previously played, and struggled to complete. Only one person has successfully completed the seventh game: runner Mo Farah, who appeared in a special episode of a celebrity series in 2012 that featured British gold medallist athletes as contestants.

Filming[edit]

Objective Productions first approached Channel 4 in 2008 with the format. It was made into a non-televised pilot by the channel,[3] and was hosted by Justin Lee Collins. Channel 4 eventually decided not to commission the show because it would have been too expensive.[4] In February 2009, ITV purchased the rights to the show and filming began during April 2009 at Wembley's Fountain Studios. The Cube is one of the first shows to use the game freeze filming technique on a frequent basis, such as when a contestant jumps in celebration. The technique used is called "time slice". Using specially designed cameras, it allows the viewer to see one side of the Cube before the action is frozen, spun to another face of the Cube and then resumed. Slow-motion shots are again common to show action replays of the task a contestant just completed, or the critical moment of a game, to heighten the excitement of whether the contestant will succeed or fail. The show makes extensive use of CGI to project images onto the walls and ceiling of the Cube, while a screen on the floor is also capable of showing images. These film techniques make the seemingly simple tasks that are put before the contestants seem much more exciting than they would normally be.

For series 8, which premiered on 1 March 2014, the show received a revamp, including a new studio set (the wave lines in the background were replaced by a circular replica of the letter C), new opening credits, a redesign of graphics and several new games. The seven game format and prize money structure remained the same.

Transmissions[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes
No. Regular Celebrity
1 22 August 2009 3 October 2009 7 7 0
2 19 September 2010 2 January 2011 12 9 3
3 3 April 2011 11 June 2011 9 8 1
4 30 October 2011 31 December 2011 9 8 1
5 14 April 2012 23 December 2012 9 6 3
6 2 March 2013 13 April 2013 7 7 0
7 20 April 2013 22 February 2014 8 5 3
8 1 March 2014 19 December 2014 10 4 6
9 3 June 2015 8 August 2015 8 8 0

Prize money[edit]

Since the first episode, The Cube has had a prize money structure starting at £1,000 and ending at the £250,000 jackpot. Below is a breakdown of the prize money structure, showing the game number and amount of prize money that can be won for successfully completing that game. If a player loses all their lives at any point during the game, they lose all the money they have accumulated to that point.

Stage Amount
Game 1 £1,000
Game 2 £2,000
Game 3 £10,000
Game 4 £20,000
Game 5 £50,000
Game 6 £100,000
Game 7 £250,000

Text Santa special[edit]

On 19 December 2014 as part of the annual ITV Text Santa charity appeal, The Cube was played with a two player team made up of Paddy McGuinness and Alesha Dixon. The format was adjusted and consisted of only three games worth £1,000, £50,000 and £100,000. The players were given five lives and the "Simplify" lifeline.

Reception[edit]

Readers of ukgameshows.com named it the best new game show of 2009 in their "Hall of fame" poll.[5]

Awards[edit]

Year Group Award Result
2010 Broadcast Awards Best New Programme Nominated
Rose d'Or Best Game Show Nominated
2011 RTS Awards Best Entertainment Show Nominated
Broadcast Awards Best Entertainment Programme Won
BAFTA Best Entertainment Craft Team Won
Best Entertainment Programme Won
2012 Best Entertainment Craft Team Won
National Reality TV Awards Best Game Show Nominated
TV Choice Awards Best Game Show Won
Rose d'Or Best Game Show Nominated
National Television Awards Best Entertainment Programme Nominated
2013 Best Entertainment Programme Nominated
2014 Best Entertainment Programme Nominated

International versions[edit]

The format has been successful with international broadcasters. As of 2017, eleven countries have produced their own versions of the show which have all ceased broadcasting and in the case of the US version have not even been shown (only a pilot was filmed).

Below is a breakdown of the countries that have created their own versions along with other information including the Jackpot available and broadcast dates.

Legend:

     Currently airing  
     No longer airing  
     Non-broadcast pilot  
Country Name Host Channel Top prize Premiere/air dates Status
 Arab World[6] The Cube Dhaffer L'Abidine Dubai TV Dhs250,000 2 February – 27 April 2014 No longer airing
 China 梦立方
Mèng lìfāng
Cheng Lei Dragon TV Prize[a] or ¥250,000 13 May 2012 – 4 September 2013[7] No longer airing
 France Le Cube Nagui France 2 50,000 1 July – 30 August 2013 No longer airing
 Germany The Cube – Besiege den Würfel! Nazan Eckes RTL 250,000 29 April 2011[8] No longer airing
 Hungary A Kocka Nóra Ördög TV2 10,000,000 Ft 23 November – 23 December 2015[9] No longer airing
 Italy The Cube – La Sfida Teo Mammucari Italia 1 100,000 7 – 28 September 2011[10] No longer airing
 Portugal O Cubo Jorge Gabriel RTP 30,000 16 May – 11 July 2010 No longer airing
 Russia[11] Куб
Kub
Dmitry Kharatyan Channel One 3,000,000 30 March – 30 November 2013 No longer airing
 Saudi Arabia المكعب
Al Moukaab
Faisal Al Issa KSA 1 SR250,000 17 March – 8 July 2010 No longer airing
 Spain El Cubo Raquel Sánchez Silva Cuatro 150,000 8 February – 14 August 2012[12] No longer airing
250,000
 Ukraine Куб
Kub
Maksim Chmerkovskiy STB 250,000 21 November 2011 – 24 December 2012[13] No longer airing
Dmitry Tancovich 500,000 26 August 2013 – 29 December 2014
 United States The Cube Neil Patrick Harris CBS $500,000 N/A Non-broadcast pilot
Note
  1. ^ For example, the prize of the first 5 games for the very first contestant were football boots, complete set of freestyle football equipments, freestyle football party, replacement of old home appliances and a freestyle football studio respectively.

The UK version of The Cube is also currently being simulcast in Ireland by tv3 Ireland. It is broadcast in New Zealand on TV1, and in Australia on the Nine Network. Old series are broadcast in Bosnia and Herzegovina by RTRS, in Serbia by Ultra TV and in Singapore by MediaCorp Channel 5.

Filming locations[edit]

The German, Italian, Portuguese, Saudi Arabian, Spanish and the U.S. pilot of The Cube were filmed at The Fountain Studios in London using the British set and games. Other international versions have created their own studio sets. The Chinese version of the show is filmed at the Zhabei Gymnasium in Shanghai; the Ukrainian version of the show is filmed at the Antonov Serial Production Plant in Kiev; the Russian version of the show is filmed at the Ostankino Technical Center in Moscow; the Arabian version is filmed at the Dubai Studio City in Dubai and the French version of the show is filmed in La Plaine Saint-Denis, near Paris.

Top prize winners[edit]

Across all versions of the show, 6 contestants have won the final game and taken away the jackpot.

Country Contestant Jackpot game Jackpot won Date
 Arab World Hamad Al Yahmadi Blind Shot Dhs250,000 20 April 2014
 China Chen Kun Extraction ¥250,000 22 July 2012 (Charity special)
Wu Jing Tower ¥250,000 2 May 2013 (Charity special)
 Portugal Vítor Costa Barrier €30,000 30 May 2010
 Ukraine Andriy Serko Rapid Fire 250,000 UAH 29 October 2012
 United Kingdom Mo Farah Barrier £250,000 14 July 2012 (Charity special)

Merchandise[edit]

An electronic board game based on the series was made available in stores from November 2010.[14] As of June 2011, the game has been discontinued by most main retailers.[15] The game comes with an electronic handheld system featuring games such as Time Freeze and Stop Zone, as well as 9 balls- six 18mm blow moulded balls, 1 30mm EVA foam ball, 1 25mm hard ball and one 50mm hard ball. The balls are used for different reasons and the foam ball is used for most games with a ball. For Multisphere, all balls are used unless it is being played in a room with hard floors, in that case eight balls are used. Tubes are used for almost every physical game for starting positions, voids, tubes, towers and columns. Other equipment in the board game are track pieces, discs, clips, z shaped platform pieces, cannons, blocks, a ball flipper, a beam and card pieces,and a 7 cm x 7 cm x 7 cm plastic cube for playing a series of physical games. The cube is used for a container and to connect onto the cube platform for the electronic games. A reducer also comes with the cube, allowing it to reduce the size of the open top of the cube. This is, in almost all games involving the cube, removed in a simplify. Many well known and classic games are here as well as new games such as Roller, Catch, Retrieval and Bounce, everyday life games and interesting and complex games.

Around the time of the release of the board game, a Game App version of the series was made available via the iTunes store for use on the iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad. This app version originally featured sixteen games from the series: Balance, Cylinder, Descent, Drop Zone, Focus, Multisphere, Perimeter, Precision, Quantity, Reaction, Revolution, Shatter, Stabilise, Stop Zone and Time Freeze. The first update for the game came in April 2011 with Pulse added Another update for the game was made available in June 2011, adding a further free game, Succession, and making eight games available via in app purchase in 2 "packs" Exact, Pathfinder, Totalise and Tower in Pack one and Invert, Composure, Calculate and Navigate in Pack two. A further update was made available in October 2011, adding a further free game, Axis. 2 further games followed in 2012, Eliminate in April and Symmetry in October. In February 2013, Chase, which at that time had not been shown on TV, was made available. Almost a year later on 21 February 2014 Avoid was added. The most recent update came on 19 May 2014 when 4 games new games were made available via In App Purchase. These new games were Reset, Plummet, Selection and Tally all which are new games from the most recent series. There are currently 35 games available to play in the App version.

On 9 November 2012, a Cube game was released on consoles for the first time. It was available on the Nintendo Wii, PlayStation 3 and Nintendo 3DS. 33 games are playable in this version including two unseen new games: Flight Path (already played in international versions) and Retrace. If the Cube is beaten, Extreme Mode is unlocked, featuring more extreme versions of five popular games: Revolution, Pathfinder, Perimeter, Rebound and Momentum.

References[edit]

External links[edit]