Totally Top Trumps



Andy Goldstein


Captains: Rob Deering and Dan Clark

Scorer: Jack Waley-Cohen


Princess for Challenge, 2004


For those of you too young to remember it from first time round, or who haven't been given a pack as a stocking filler, or who don't have an intimate knowledge of British pop culture minutiae, Top Trumps is a fun and entertaining card game for between two and six players. The players are dealt a pack of themed cards, such as "Fighter Aircraft," each of which is rated in half a dozen categories. For instance, "Formula One Racers" might be rated by year first race, number of pole positions, number of wins, points scored, races run, number of finishes, interest factor. The player would look at their top card, list a statistic they thought they could win in, and the highest card in that category would win, and choose the next category. First player to take all the cards is the winner.

File:Totally top trumps 5.jpgAndy Goldstein. Mugs: 1

To add to the entertainment, each card contains a brief description of its contents; the card from the "Political Pundits" pack for Peter Snow says "Revived the swingometer, flaps his hands about, sings very low." In recent years, the format has been revived, and there are specialist packs for pop culture phenomena such as "Buffy" and "The Simpsons," and old classics such as "The Beano."

File:Totally top trumps 2.jpgPrincess Productions' trusty kidney-shaped table. Known game shows: 3 (Totally Top Trumps, Show Me the Money, Why Weight?)

Challenge TV, in its latest attempt to find a winning but cheap game show, has commissioned a television series loosely based on the card game. The emphasis is more on the cheap than the winning, but not by much.

Jack Waley-Cohen. Weight without book: 150lb. Weight with book: 420lb.

There are four rounds to the show. In the opening segment, our teams are given four things and a category, and simply have to name the top trump. Which of these Premier League teams has scored the most goals? Which has the most fans in London? Round two is almost completely unrelated, featuring as it does lists of items, and the panel being invited to buzz in and name the category they're all from.

File:Totally top trumps 7.jpgDeering, Goldstein and Clark. Tipits: None

Round three follows the commercial break (and inevitable teaser for the audience). In this round, some people are invited into the studio to perform a brief stunt, and the teams have to write down who they think will win the challenge. In the final round, the host gives an item and a number, with the teams having to work out how they relate. So, for instance, if "Manchester United" and "Nil" appear together, Danny Baker will be very pleased.

Deering and Clark. Nonchalance factor: 8

Danny Baker, however, is not the calibre of celebrity that Challenge can afford just yet. The host is Andy Goldstein, and the regular captains are Rob Deering and Dan Clark. All three gentlemen look familiar from somewhere, but we can't quite place our finger on it. The appearance of Robert Llewellyn (from Scrapheap Challenge) was about as high profile as the series has made. (Coincidentally - or was it? - Llewellyn also did a show called Top Trumps for Five, but it wasn't really a game show as we'd recognise it - more a "wow, look at this amazing engineering thing!" show comparing amazing engineering things in a vaguely Top Trumps way, but not really.)

File:Totally top trumps 1.jpgDan Clark and some bloke. Recognisability: 0

No expense has been spent on the scores, which are ably chalked up by TV quiz regular and resident boffin Jack Waley-Cohen on his blackboard. Curiously, the buzzers used in round two are replaced by "entertaining" musical instruments in the final round. They're not entertaining, nor are they particularly musical.

File:Totally top trumps 3.jpgJack Waley-Cohen. Appearances on this page: 2

A serious, geeky show would be wrong on so many levels - Top Trumps has always been a fun game, originally depending as much on the luck of the draw as the skill of the players. Perhaps the greatest advantage of Totally Top Trumps is its very flexible formats - a stats-based quiz can take you anywhere. Perhaps TTT might have jammed in a fifth round to appear more quick-moving and less reliant on its script. We look forward to more.

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