A Q&A game featuring contestants trying to remove counters from a giant coin pusher.
Contestants must answer questions to win counters worth £50 each to drop into the coin pusher machine, dropping them into their choice of four drop zones and hoping to push piles of them off a pair of moving shelves and onto a lower red zone (referred to by Shephard as the "win zone"); the more they collect, the greater the eventual prize fund. The player who has 'won' the least amount of money in each round is eliminated until only one player remains.
In Series 2, a new element was added: three "mystery" counters, coloured black and bearing a question mark (?) logo are present in the machine (two on the upper shelf, one on the lower) at the start of the game. If one of these counters enters the win zone, the player in control of the machine wins the mystery prize. Such prizes have included cases of wine, short holiday breaks, etc. If any counters enter the win zone when not in play (excluding the final round), they are declared null and void and are removed from the machine, they are called an ambient drop. As of Series 5 a new feature has been added in which two tokens (one on top shelf, one on bottom) has x2. Whatever falls in that turn when the x2 falls that total will be doubled. E.G. If 6 tokens fall including the x2 = £300, that will be doubled so £600 for that turn.
In Round 1, the four players are each given three counters. Questions are then asked and the first to sound their buzzer may answer. If they answer correctly, they must choose either to play one of their own counters if they feel the machine will pay out or, if they feel the machine won't pay out, may instead nominate an opponent, forcing them to use up one of their own counters. In either case, the relevant player chooses which of the four drop zones they want to drop a counter down and then presses their buzzer to release the counter into the machine.
In the event of an incorrect answer, one of the player's counters goes into a penalty pot. At the end of the round, all the counters in the penalty pot are put up for grabs on a final question 'on the buzzer'. If two players are tied for third place, three players are tied for second place, or all four players are tied for first place, a sudden death question is asked on the buzzer with no counters. If a player answers correctly, they move on to the next round but if they answer incorrectly, they are eliminated.
In Round 2, whoever is in the lead of the three remaining players (or if there is a tie, whoever was first to give a correct answer) decides the order of play. In turn, each player is given 30 seconds of rapid-fire general knowledge questions, with each correct answer earning one counter When the time is up, the players use their accumulated counters to try to win more money in the machine by moving counters over the Tipping Point, at the usual rate of £50 each. As before, if two players are tied for second place or all three players are tied for first place, a sudden death question is asked.
In Round 3, the two remaining players are asked six questions alternately, three to each player. A player can opt to answer the question themselves or, if they feel they don't know the answer, can pass it to their opponent. A correct answer gives control of the counter to the player, while a wrong answer hands control to their opponent. Counters are still worth £50 each. Again, if both players are tied for first place, a sudden death question is asked. Only the winner keeps their money.
In the final round, the winning player is given a jackpot counter (a larger gold-coloured counter with a red star), which is dropped into the machine. The aim is to get the counter back out of the machine in order to win £10,000. The player is given 6 categories of questions (for example, Comedians, Films, Food, Politics, Sport and Words). The player can answer the questions in any order and can nominate how many counters they wish to go for (an easy question for one counter, a medium question for two or a hard question for three). A correct answer gives the player the number of counters they nominated, a wrong answer gives no counters.
Any counters which drop in the process of trying to get the jackpot counter out are counted, worth £50 a piece. If the player manages to remove the jackpot counter, their winnings are augmented to £10,000. Beginning in Series 5, if the Double counter falls with the jackpot counter, the player's winning are augmented to £20,000.
If the player uses all six categories and fails to remove the jackpot counter, they can choose whether to keep the money they have accumulated or gamble on three more counters; in this instance, it would be for £10,000/£20,000 or nothing, since any regular counters that fall into the win zone are worth nothing.
This is a celebrity version, show in primetime, with some changes to the format:
- There are only three contestants rather than four.
- Contestants are playing for a nominated charity.
- All of the amounts earned are worth double.
- There is a live studio audience; the regular shows just use an applause track.
- In the final round, if the contestant loses, they still get £1,000 for their chosen charity.
- To compensate for the presence of only three contestants, the person in last place after round 1 continues to play into round 2.
- The losing contestant after rounds 2 and 3 still takes home the money they have accumulated for their chosen charity.
- Mystery counters now give smaller prizes - or occasionally give a mystery question about the player, giving him or her the chance to drop another counter into the machine.