British Game Show Wiki
Alexander Armstrong
Richard Osman
BBC Two: 24 August 2009 – 26 August 2011
BBC One: 29 August 2011 – Present
Pointless Celebrities.jpg
BBC One: 4 July 2011 – Present
Brighter Pictures (2009)
Remarkable Television (2010–Present)

Pointless is a quiz show where you have to give the most obscure answers to the questions. This show has both a civilian format, and a celebrity format.


Four teams (five in the first series) of two contestants compete to give answers that are correct and obscure to win.

Before the show, 100 people are each given 100 seconds to provide answers to the questions that will be asked to the contestants during the show. Each person who said that answer is worth one point. To survive a round, teams have to achieve a score as low as possible, for the team with the highest score is eliminated after each round. Each time they give a pointless answer (a correct answer that scores zero points, hence the name of the show), money is added to a jackpot, which can be claimed at the end of the show.

During the show, Osman provides information about the answers that are given, as well as statistics at the end of each round on the most common and most obscure answers.


The game is played in three rounds (four in the first series).

Elimination Rounds

The teams are given a subject, and each team chooses one contestant from their team to answer the question first. Then the question within the subject is revealed. The order of play is determined by drawing lots in advance of recording. Play starts with the person at the podium nearest to Armstrong and ends at the farthest podium; this is called the "first pass". After this, the contestants at each podium switch to the second contestant, and the order is then reversed for the "second pass". During each of these rounds, the teams may not confer.

For each person who gave that answer, the team gets one point; if it's an incorrect answer, however, they get 100 points.

At the end of each round, the highest scoring team is eliminated. If there should be a tie, the teams give extra answers until the tie is broken; this is the only time in these rounds where the teams can confer. In the rare occasion that neither team can give a final correct answer to the round's question, Osman provides a substitute question.

After each round, Osman reveals all the pointless answers, or the three least popular if there are no pointless answers, plus the top three answers, which would be worth the highest amount to any contestant.

For the next elimination round, all of the remaining teams scores are reset to zero and the process repeats itself.

Round Formats

The elimination rounds have had five different formats.

  1. Original Format (Series 1 – Present) – Uses open-ended questions. The contestants give a free choice of answer. This was the only format in the first series. From the second series onward, it is only played once.
    • In the seventh series, a variant of this format was introduced: a list of categories appear on the board, and the contestants give answers that fit any of those categories. This variant allows the people who write the questions to combine several smaller categories into a round, or narrow down a wider category.
  2. Possible Answers (Series 2 – 5) – The board displayed seven possible answers (hence the name). Each contestant chose one of the answers and scored accordingly. After the first pass, Osman would reveal the values of the remaining answers, and the other contestants were given a new set of answers to choose from. Each set of answers had one incorrect answer (usually with an indirect link to the question), and one pointless answer. Because contestants could only chose from the provided answers, this format allowed categories to be used in which no commonly agreed definitive list of correct answers exists.
  3. Clues and Answers (Series 3 – Present) – The teams are given a two-part subject, and then a list of names relating to part of the question. The contestants must select an item from the list and give the corresponding half of the answer. All the options have a correct answer, and a more obscure answer will score fewer points. An incorrect answer to any question scores 100 points. After the first pass, all the correct answers and their scores are revealed, with a fresh board of names for the second pass. Unlike the "possible answers" format, there is no guarantee that there will be a pointless answer on the board. Seven clues are provided on each pass if this format is played in the first round, and six if it is played in the second round.
  4. Linked Categories (Series 5) This was a rarely played format and was only played in the first round. In this format, the teams were given two categories that had a linking word. The first category was played on the first pass, and the second one was played on the second pass. The questions were played in an open-ended format.
  5. Picture Board (Series 7 – Present) – Only played occasionally. The contestants are shown one/two picture(s) that has/have many people or objects in it, and have to guess the lowest scoring one in it. This question replaces Original Format when it is used.

The first five series had their games arranged in a specific order as follows:

  • The first series used three rounds of Original Format.
  • The second series used a round of Original Format and a round of Possible Answers.
  • The third series used a first round of either Original Format or Possible Answers, and a second round of either Possible Answers or Clues and Answers, depending on whether Possible Answers was played in the first or second round (since it would not be played twice in the same show).
  • In the fourth and fifth series, the first round was either Original Format (or Linked Categories in the fifth series) or Possible Answers (depending on the episode) and the second round was Clues and Answers.

From the sixth series onward, the rounds are Original Format (or Pictures starting in the seventh series) and Clues and Answers in either order.

After the elimination rounds, the remaining two teams compete in the head-to-head round.

Head-to-Head Round

This round has had three formats as follows:

  • Format 1 (Series 1) – The lowest scoring team overall was given a choice of two categories and would pick one; they were allowed to confer in this round. Each team took in turns to give as many correct answers as possible to the single question while still keeping their scores as low as possible. When one team went above 100 points after both teams have had the same number of turns, the round was over. If both teams went above 100, then the team that was nearer to 100 would be the winner.
  • Format 2 (Series 2 – 5) – The round was played in a best-of-five (best-of-three from the third series) match with multiple questions. The team who acquired the fewest points in the first two rounds would go first. A question was asked with a minimum of four correct answers, then the teams would confer and give one answer in turn. The scores for both answers were then revealed and the team with the lower score scored one point and the opportunity to answer first on the next question. The first team to score three points (two from the third series) won the game.
  • Format 3 (Series 6 – Present) – This round is still played in a best-of-three format but the questions are played in the Clues and Answers format. This round has three kinds of questions as follows:
    1. Pictures – Until the tenth series, this was always the first question of the round unless it was used in previous rounds. Nowadays it is always played as the second question. In this round, five pictures on a common theme are shown, labelled A to E, and the contestants must identify the subject of the picture.
      • On the celebrity version, this is sometimes replaced with a music round where themes or songs are played, briefly, and the contestants have to identify the tune.
    2. Facts About a Subject – Five clues to these facts (essentially questions about the subject) are presented, and each pair must give an answer to one of them.
    3. Word Puzzles – The answers are typically titles of works, quotations, or names of people, and the clue might be an anagram, an initialism, or might have alternate letters missing, or all words except one of the quote or title.

The winning team receives the Pointless trophy and advances to the endgame.


To start, the team is given a choice of categories. After they choose one, they are given the question, and have one minute to give three answers. If any of them are pointless, they win the jackpot. There have been two formats for this round.

Format 1

In the first nine series, there were three categories to choose from, and they stayed either for five shows or until they were picked. From the sixth series, there were five categories to choose from and any that weren't chosen returned at irregular intervals, instead of consecutive shows. In either case, the team then had to give any three answers from that category, and if any of them were pointless, they won the jackpot.

Format 2

On 7 June 2013, a new format was introduced and it is still being used today. In this format, the team is given four categories to choose from and are given three subcategories in their chosen category. They then have to find a pointless answer by picking three answers from any or all of them; however, they are also required to state which subcategory each answer belongs to, and it must be pointless within the nominated subcategory in order to win the jackpot. If an answer is named under a wrong subcategory, it is considered as an incorrect answer.

All teams that appear on the show are given two chances to make it to the endgame; however, they must leave the show if they do so on their first attempt.

Jackpot Prizes


In most episodes, it is a rolling jackpot that begins at £1,000 and grows by £250 for each pointless answer given in the frontgame, and £1,000 whenever it isn't won in the endgame; however, for the 1,000th episode, it began at £2,500 and grew by £1,000 for each pointless answer given in the frontgame, but did not roll over to the next show.

Pointless Celebrities

In most episodes of the celebrity version, the jackpot begins at £2,500 and (like the civilian version) grows by £250 for each pointless answer given in the frontgame; in the specials, the values double to £5,000 and £500, respectively. In either of these cases, however, it does not roll over to the next show. Also, if the winning team fails to win the jackpot, they still win a consolation prize of £500 for their respective charities.

International Versions

France was the first country to get a localised version of Pointless titled Personne n'y avait pensé ! (No one had thought of that!). It aired on France 3 from 2011 to 2021.

An Australian version hosted by Mark Humphries aired on Network 10 from 2018 to 2019. It never gained significant popularity and was axed after two seasons.

Other countries which have had a local version of Pointless include Czechia, Croatia, Denmark, Germany, Italy, the Republic of Macedonia (now North Macedonia), Netherlands, Poland, Serbia, and Switzerland.


Official Site

YouTube Links

Full Episodes


Full Episode from Series 1
Full Episode from Series 2
Full Episode from Series 4
Full Episode from Series 5
Full Episode from Series 7
Full Episode from Series 8
Full Episode from Series 10
Full Episode from Series 11
Full Episode from Series 14
Full Episode from Series 15
Full Episode from Series 16


Full Episode from the Celebrity Version