Don't Scare the Hare
Don't Scare the Hare Genre Game show Presented by Jason Bradbury Narrated by Sue Perkins Theme music composer Marc Sylvan
Country of origin United Kingdom Language(s) English No. of series 1 No. of episodes 9 Production Producer(s) Neil Gallery
Location(s) MediaCityUK, Salford Running time 35 minutes Broadcast Original channel BBC One Picture format 16:9 HDTV Original run 23 April 2011– 22 October 2011
Don't Scare the Hare was a 2011 British television game show produced by Initial Scotland for the BBC, hosted by Jason Bradbury and narrated by Sue Perkins. The programme was aired on BBC One on Saturday evenings and was first transmitted on 23 April 2011, before the first episode of the 6th series of Doctor Who. This series was originally billed to run for 9 episodes but was taken off air after 6 episodes because of poor ratings. The remaining 3 episodes were rescheduled for broadcast in October.
In the show, contestants must successfully compete in a series of challenges to win prize money of £15,000 - failure to successfully complete these questions and physical challenges risks "scaring" a giant robotic hare. The programme has been described by its host as "fantasy based toddler telly with an adult twist". It was the first series to be made at the BBC's new studios at MediaCityUK in Salford.
The format subsequently underwent further development. In November 2010, the Manchester Evening News reported that television production company Endemol was producing a new game show for Saturday evenings at the area's new MediaCityUK studios. In December, The Guardian reported that a giant robotic hare had been seen at the complex in Salford. Jason Bradbury was named as host in January 2011, while some newspapers identified comedienne Miranda Hart as the show's narrator. Ultimately, however, the role went to Sue Perkins.
Announcing Don't Scare the Hare, BBC Entertainment's executive editor Alan Tyler said the show "cleverly captures the spirit and fun of interactive family video games that has been sweeping the nation. [...] We're excited about bringing this experimental new format to early Saturday evenings on BBC One", while Nick Mather, head of entertainment at Endemol called the show "an innovative new format and said he was "highly excited to be making this large scale studio show for BBC One."
The programme is presented by Jason Bradbury, who explains to the viewers that he lives in an underground forest with his "mate" the Hare (a giant robotic Hare on wheels). He likes to invite people to "do a whole bunch of crazy stuff" (play a few games), but there's one important rule. They must not scare the Hare.
The main part of the show involves two teams of contestants playing three rounds against each other, each round involving a physical challenge. Sometimes these tasks involve a puzzle or memory element which one member of each team must complete. For example, in the first episode the games involved hopping around in sleeping bags to stop alarm clocks from going off, remembering a sequence of lights and using them to "cross" a pond of lilypads, and hooking carrots with fishing rods. A wrong move on any of the tasks will set off a loud noise, "scaring" the Hare, which runs around the studio squeaking and rolling its eyes. Three of these forfeits will lose the contestant that particular round. Noises include ringing alarm clocks and croaking frogs. These games are narrated by Sue Perkins, who is styled as "The Voice of the Forest".
Points are awarded in the form of giant plastic carrots. Successfully completing each of the first two rounds will earn the team three carrots, while the third round is a head-to-head where several points are on offer. Generally this involves a member of each team collecting up to 18 carrots from the Hare's allotment.
The winning team goes through to the final round, where they have a chance to play for £15,000. This round involves the team members answering a series of multiple choice questions, with each contestant in charge of a plunger which corresponds to an A), B) and C) answer. They must answer three questions correctly, each correct answer allowing the Hare to advance along a course which will ultimately trap him. The first correct answer lets Hare into the garden by opening a gate. The second raises a net and the third traps Hare, winning the team £15,000. Incorrect answers detonate dynamite - three incorrect mean that teams walk away with nothing.
- Alarm-a-geddon: One player from each team has to turn off alarm clocks, which turn themselves on, until the sun rises. If three alarm clocks go off, Hare is scared and the team wins nothing. If the sun rises before Hare is scared, the team wins three carrots.
- Allotment Impossible: One player is suspended above Hare's allotment in a harness and must then collect up to 18 carrots from "electrified" boxes using prongs. Touching the sides of the box forfeits the carrots which must be returned to Hare's bin. Successfully extracted carrots can be placed in a team's basket.
- Bangers and Smash: A member of each team must throw apples at a series of fireworks, toppling them before the fuse burns down. If they fail to dislodge the firework before the fuse expires, it explodes frightening the Hare.
- Cash and Carrots: In this final round, qualified teams must answer three general knowledge questions correctly. The first correct answer lets Hare into the garden by opening a gate. The second raises a net and the third traps Hare, winning the team £15,000. Incorrect answers detonate dynamite - three incorrect mean that teams walk away with nothing.
- Hot Hare Balloons: In this final qualifying round, up to 18 carrots are available. One player is sat in a chair suspended by balloons above the Hare's allotment. The player must take the carrots from the allotment using long hooks, whilst avoiding motion sensitive lasers, putting it in the bin next to their chair. If the lasers are activated, an alarm goes off, and the carrot(s) must be forfeited to Hare's bin.
- Party Poppers: It's Hare's birthday, and his party is missing balloons! One contestant from each team must maneuver a balloon through a thorn bush without popping it and deliver it to Hare's party. One balloon safe is enough to win three carrots. However, pop all (three) balloons in the thorn bush, and the game is lost.
- Pond Memories: One player from each team must memorise a sequence of lily pads, which light up. If they make a mistake, a frog chorus goes off, scaring Hare. If the contestant gets across all the lily pads without scaring Hare three times, they win three carrots.
- Running Yolk: One player from each team must transport three eggs across a farm yard obstacle course, first from the chicken coop, through a gate and over some rollers, over a hay bale, over spinning stepping stones and onto egg cups before the bread in a toaster rises. Each new egg is larger in size than the last. Each broken egg scares Hare once - three scares and no carrots. Three eggs and the team wins three carrots.
- Vase Attacks: One player from each team must transport three paintings to hooks on the other side of the room before the time runs out. Each painting is larger than the last. However, in between them and the hooks are lots of fragile vases. Each vase broken scares Hare once - three scares and the player gets nothing. Three carrots can be won if all three paintings are hung without scaring Hare or running out of time.
- What's Up Shock: In this final qualifying round, one player from each team must attempt to take up to 18 carrots from Hare's allotment by taking them from electrified wires. If the ring attached to the carrot(s) hits the wire, the carrot(s) must be forfeited to Hare's bin. Successfully won carrots can be deposited in a team's basket.
Airdate Round 1 Round 2 Qualifying Round 1 23 April 2011 Alarm-a-geddon Pond Memories Hot Hare Balloons 2 30 April 2011 Running Yolk Pond Memories What's Up Shock? 3 7 May 2011 Alarm-a-geddon Vase Attacks What's Up Shock? 4 14 May 2011 Bangers and Smash Party Poppers Allotment Impossible 5 21 May 2011 Vase Attacks Running Yolk Hot Hare Balloons 6 28 May 2011 Bangers and Smash Pond Memories Hot Hare Balloons 7 1 October 2011 8 8 October 2011 9 22 October 2011 Highlights
The first episode received overnight ratings of 1.93 million viewers, a 15% audience share. Although hot weather was given as a possible reason for the low ratings, it was reported that many viewers were unimpressed with the show, assuming it was a one-off to tie in with Easter (since the tagline used to promote the show was "this year, the Easter bunny has competition"), and were surprised to learn that more episodes were scheduled to be broadcast. Justin Mason, critic for ATV, said, "I don't think I've quite seen anything like Don't Scare the Hare. I was wondering who on earth dreamt up the idea... it looked like a cheap, children's quiz-show that would be better placed on CBeebies than prime-time BBC One." Jim Shelley of the Daily Mirror was equally as critical, summing up his review as follows: "The idiots playing might have enjoyed themselves but even toddlers would have found the games dull and Jason creepy."
A review in The Stage observed: "The actual games are pretty feeble and uninspired, leaving the poor hare and his robotic novelty value to carry the show. Unfortunately, the hare is far from impressive either. Doctor Who's tin dog K9 managed more personality and manoeuvrability, and he was operating within the confines of seventies technology." John Anson of the Lancashire Evening Post opined: "If you’re going to have a gimmick in your game show at least make it entertaining. Surely this is a programme which would have been ideal for CBeebies. Make the questions simple, involve bunches of kids and hey, presto it works... But primetime Saturday night viewing it ain’t." Digital Spy's Alex Fletcher noted: "Not since the days of Mr Blobby and Ice Warriors have weekends been filled with such peculiar antics."
The second episode, aired on 30 April, achieved an audience of 1.39m (10.5%). By the fourth episode, the viewing audience had declined to 900,000 viewers (a 5.9% audience share). Because the show has been so poorly received, BBC One decided to reschedule it to an earlier timeslot, beginning on 14 May. Don't Scare the Hare was moved from 17:25 to 16:40, while the second series of So You Think You Can Dance? – whose ratings have also struggled – was aired earlier. The schedule change was spurred on by the broadcast of the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest. which aired on 14 May. On the previous day, 13 May, the BBC had announced that the series would be cancelled after only three episodes had been aired. Speaking about the programme on an edition of BBC Breakfast, the BBC’s entertainment controller Mark Linsey said: "Obviously Hare is not going well. It was a huge risk we took – it’s co-hosted by an animatronic hare – and while it’s proved successful with children, we were hoping there would be enough knowingness within the show to draw in the adults. There wasn’t enough of that, which is where it fell down." The final 3 episodes which hadn't aired were rescheduled for October.
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