Simon Cowell Launches Red or Black?

By Heather Hughes

May 04, 2011

Not satisfied with his current programming portfolio Simon Cowell is launching yet another TV show. The intense new quiz show, Red or Black?, will film over the summer and air later this year on ITV1. But don’t panic, Simon Cowell--who’s currently filming a US version of of The X Factor and producing Britain’s Got Talent as well as a host of other things--says he’s not taking on too much (or heading towards a heart attack like his mum claims). Indeed, he reckons: “I’ve had an easier year this year. No problems.”

Despite spending seven years trying to get Red or Black? commissioned Cowell won’t be able to spend much time on its filming as he’ll be in the States working on The X Factor. Unlike a lot of his other shows, the format of this series--which is created by his production company Syco (the same one that makes I’m a Celeb and The X Factor)--means he isn’t required as a judge. ”It’s not that kind of show,” Cowell said at the launch, though he did joke he’d strap himself to a rocket for one of the series’ tasks “if his mum allowed”.

Britain’s Got Talent and I’m A Celebrity hosts (Cowell’s clear favourites) Ant and Dec are presenting the series, which requires 7,000 members of the public to take part. Each of the entrants will be given a series of "red or black" choices, which will whittle them down to eight finalists. Which train has money on it? Where will a parachutist land? “There’s no talent involved,” Ant McPartlin admits, “it’s all down to luck”. And the lucky finalists will each get the chance to win £1 million by answering one last 50/50 question live on TV.

The gaming concept for the show is, on the surface, very different to Cowell’s existing talent and celebrity-based shows. Some elements are very similar, however. For starters, ITV have announced they expect it to be one of the biggest event shows this year (usually praise reserved for The X Factor and Britain’s Got Talent), and the same sort of build-up music used on Cowell’s current shows is used in all the promos for this new one. The bond you form with contestants on Syco’s other shows are also expected to be built here. “You’ll want to be emotionally involved with their story,” Declan Donnelly told press at the launch; “you’ll feel the same emotional attachment as with Britain's Got Talent and X Factor constants.” “No, you’ll like them more,” Cowell interjected, not wanting to undersell his new money-making project. He added further intrigue by saying that there would be "a big celebrity component” within at least one of the tasks too.

So there you have it, there is no stopping Simon Cowell. As well as this show, he’s considering a Top of the Pops-type talent series. “But it’s not cost-effective doing [that] just in the UK,” he admitted; “this isn’t for now, this is for a year down the line.” In December 2009 he told BBC's Newsnight he fancied doing a politics debate series too. What do you make of Cowell’s latest series? And what would you like him to do next?

If you fancy entering Red or Black? You can do, over at ITV.com/RedorBlack.

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