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Simon Cowell's 'Red or Black?': The £15m gameshow

By and Tom Mansell
Simon Cowell

© Rex Features

Simon Cowell, in typically understated manner, gathered the nation's media in Central London yesterday to launch his new super-sized £15m gameshow Red or Black?. The project, which has been seven years in the making, promises to be one of the TV events of the year. Stripped across seven nights in September on ITV1, Ant & Dec could potentially be crowning seven new millionaires, who have done nothing to earn their money other than 'be lucky'. Featuring celebrity guests, "monstrous" challenges and maybe even Cheryl Cole strapped to a rocket, it looks destined to be another TV hit for the Syco empire. Want to know more? Here's a quick overview of how it will work.

The concept
Cowell has been determined to create this show ever since 2004 when British gambler Ashley Revell became a news sensation in the US. The Kent native bet everything he owned on a roulette wheel in Las Vegas and came away winning. The X Factor boss wanted to make a show where it would ultimately come down to one person having a final 50/50 decision, red or black. If they choose right, they win untold riches; if they choose no, they lose everything. Cowell wanted it to be "big event TV", he wanted a big prize that people could actually win and he wanted a show that forced people to make an all-or-nothing gamble. What's taken seven years has been "finding the front to match the back" and an overall format.

The format
Red or Black? is intended to be the biggest gameshow ever, but it is also one of the simplest. UK residents can apply to take part now at itv.com/redorblack and if successful they will head to Wembley Arena in September to play the game with hosts Ant & Dec. The lucky ticket holders will watch a series of gigantic challenges, all of which have a 50/50 outcome, and must guess which way the event will unfold. Some of the potential challenges include people being strapped to rockets, a football ground-sized pinball machine and cars being dropped from airplanes. As the tasks go on, the contestants will eventually be whittled down to one last man or woman, who will spin a giant roulette wheel for the opportunity to become a millionaire. Or they may leave with absolutely nothing.

Ant & Dec and Simon Cowell explain how Red or Black? will work:


Will it work?
With Cowell, Ant & Dec and a massive million pound prize, it would be shocking if Red or Black? wasn't, at least initially, a mega ratings hit. Cowell's vision of a person winning or losing with the spin of a wheel will basically be like the tension of an X Factor Deadlock verdict multiplied by a million. Being an ITV/Syco production it will also feature the usual bangs and whistles that have made BGT and X Factor such hits, with musical performances, celebrity guests and probably a Peter Dickson voiceover. Of course there are always doubts when it comes to gameshows. There was a definite whiff of Channel 4's Famous and Fearless about the challenges, which can never be a good thing. Meanwhile, hosting a show in an arena is always a tricky thing to negotiate as it usually ends up looking like a rehash of Gladiators. Like all Cowell projects, it's bound to cause controversy and divide viewers. But come September, one thing is for certain - everyone will be talking about it.

Are you excited about Red or Black? Has Cowell created another hit? Share your views below

> Simon Cowell: 'Red or Black is a risk'
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> Simon Cowell: 'X Factor USA lineup revealed this week'

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