Warwick Davis

Sally Lindsay (stand-in, 2021)


Initial (part of Endemol Shine Group) for ITV, 14 November 2016 to present

as Tenable All-Stars: 5 May to 29 December 2019 (3 episodes in 1 series + 1 special)


Teams try to complete top ten lists, with a possible prize of £125,000.

The team gets to see the question, discuss tactics, and then the captain nominates one of their colleagues to play the list. The initial target is five correct answers. This secures the player's place in the final, and adds £1000 to the team prize fund.

Further correct answers will add money to the pot - £2500 for six answers, then £5000, £10,000, £15,000, and £25,000 for completing the top ten list entirely.

Tenable Looking for another Colin Firth movie...

Each player has some advantages. They're allowed one incorrect answer. But the player must tread carefully, as a second incorrect answer will eliminate them from the game and lose any money they've won.

Before they reach five right answers, further advantages are available. Three times across the game, the player can nominate a team-member to give an answer, and the player doesn't have to submit this idea. And the captain can buzz in to over-rule one answer in each round, and replace it with one of the captain's choice - both answers are tested against the list.

After all of their team have had a go, the captain takes a turn. Five correct answers will allow the captain to take money, or to buy back players who lost their individual round earlier.

Tenable Today's captain will want to bring people back.

For the final round, the team will take turns to step up and give an answer. An error eliminates that player, so it's useful to have as many brains as possible. Should the team complete the list entirely - all ten answers - they'll win the money.

Tenable does lots of things right. Top ten lists are a welcome change from quickfire trivia: long enough to provide minutes of entertainment, but small enough that we can see the end.

The questions are well-chosen, appropriate for the audience, and avoid survey questions. Some commentators are worried that Tenable will run out of material after a few hundred episodes, as there's only a finite number of fact lists. We're sure the producers will cross that bridge when they get there. (Ed: From the 2020 Christmas special, some lists simply called for ten non-list answers, such as 'ten one-hit wonders of the 1980s'.)

Final lists are calibrated to be challenging and not impossible. When a team only has two players, we can be reasonably sure that they won't be winning big bucks - but never certain, one player knows a lot about a topic and wins big. The first series had five wins in 20 episodes, that feels about right.

There are a few irritating things - a chord progression works up the top ten list every single time, and it gets wearing towards the end of the show. We can sometimes tell a team is not good by the amount of chat and filler at the start of the programme.

Tenable Warwick introduces the show.

The atmosphere is good - teams know each other, they bring their own friendship and in-jokes to the studio. Warwick Davis can harness the existing emotions to make engaging television.

Tenable rated well, attracting almost a million viewers in the difficult 3pm slot, between Judge Rinder and Tipping Point, until Lingo began at the start of 2021 and dominated with twice as many viewers, ITV favoured future series and endless repeats of that instead of Tenable, which was slowly slipping off our screens in its later lifespan, we're worried if it will get another series or not.


"That's an untenable answer."

"It saddens me to say, you're terrible at Tenable."

"Is what they said Tenable?" (Sometimes Warwick would say exactly that if the contestant had given a particularly difficult-to-pronounce answer.)

"You're the only one of your teammates left to play, so let's hope you're the right person for this one."

Key moments

The infamous 'Iceland vegetables' question, which had the following 50-second-long rubric read out by Warwick: "The 10 frozen vegetables after broccoli sold at Iceland. We'll just clarify this for you. We're looking for the 10 vegetables that come after broccoli which are sold separately at Iceland, as part of their own brand range. This list is based on the following search on the iceland.co.uk website: first under 'Frozen', then under 'Vegetables and Rice'. Finally, then under 'Vegetables'. We're not including vegetables sold on any other pages of the website. There are no potato products on our list. This is according to the iceland.co.uk website as of 10th February 2022."

Other brilliant questions include 'The 10 things that the singer is "too sexy for" in Right Said Fred's single "I'm too sexy"' and 'The 10 British bird species which have 'tit' or 'thrush' in their common name'.

Title music

Chris Lewis and Daniel Marantz are credited for Music


The show's working title was Tower of Ten.

Graphics by Endemol Shine Design. The first series was recorded at BBC Elstree Centre, subsequent series were filmed at Pinewood Studios.

Yes, we know the show's title is linguistic nonsense. "Ten" comes from the Old English "tien", and lexicographers trace it back to the Sanskrit dasa, Greek deka, and Latin decem. "Tenable" has a completely different root - it's from French "tenir" and Latin "tenere", to hold. Aren't you glad we don't do this for every pun?

Three special 'All Stars' episodes were made for Sunday evenings in May 2019, complete with a group singing "Tenable! All Stars!" in the theme tune and throughout. One episode, a politicians special (featuring four politicians and John Sergeant), was left unaired - a contestant, Cleverdicks host Ann Widdecombe, had come out of retirement to run in that year's European Elections, and went out shortly after the Christmas special, in December 2019. These three episodes would not be aired in the right order until Christmas 2020. The 2019 Christmas special replaced "Tenable! All Stars!" with "ho ho ho"s.

The highest jackpot won was £57,500, while the highest jackpot lost was £50,000. Five teams have won £1,000, of which three had only two players in the final, while none of the four teams who played for £500 were successful.

For the first four series (up to and including the 2019 Christmas special), the five contestants sat on a sofa; episodes from and including the 2020 Christmas special featured the contestants in individual chairs, irrespective of bubbles. Rescheduled filming dates as a consequence of COVID-19 meant that the last 25 episodes of series five were hosted by Sally Lindsay as Warwick was busy with pre-production for the Willow remake and couldn't fly back and forth. One of these episodes included five contestants from BBC2's teatime quizzer Lightning, including £160,000 Greed winner Alison "Pooee" Pitman, who had the team name "The Game Show Must Go On", while a Soccer Aid special was kept back and aired at the start of September 2021 with the rest of that year's Soccer Aid specials.

The sixth series (or the September 2022 run, if you want to be pedantic about the Soccer Aid special the previous June) was delayed by six weekdays by the death of Queen Elizabeth II, with the exception of episodes 25, 26, 27, 28, and 29, which were delayed by 229 weekdays (i.e. they had to wait until the beginning of September 2023 run), presumably because Riddiculous had already been pencilled in for 24 October. From that series, losing quintets took home Tenable tea towels. Its ninth episode featured the first £10,000 teammate, i.e. the captain scored a perfect ten but only added £15,000 instead of £25,000.

Web links

Wikipedia entry

Episode guide

See also

Weaver's Week review


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