Best TV game shows to win cash prizes
Ever fancied appearing on your favourite TV game show? From The Chase to Pointless, we'll show you how to apply and how easy it is to win big money.
If you find yourself sitting at home coming up with pointless answers or beating the chaser, you could turn your knowledge into serious cash by appearing on a show yourself. It's not as difficult as you'd think...
TV channels are always on the lookout for fresh faces to appear on game shows, and since you're bound to be wondering what to do in your free time at uni, you're in the perfect position to attend auditions and filming.
In most cases, you simply fill in an online application to get the ball rolling, and you could be on your way to winning tens of thousands of pounds tax-free as a TV game show contestant.
What's in this guide?
Best UK game shows to win money 2022
To increase your chances of winning big cash prizes, these are the best game shows to apply for in the UK:
Pointless is all about finding the most obscure answers to questions.
You compete on Pointless in teams of two – so whether it's your best mate, girlfriend, brother, dad or nan, you'll need to find someone willing to brave the show with you (and preferably someone with different knowledge and interests to you so you can cover more bases).
Prior to the show, each question is posed to 100 random people in a survey – for instance, 100 people are asked to name as many Christmas number ones as they can in 100 seconds.
Your goal is to come up with an answer that no one else in that 100 did. The number of points you get corresponds to the number of people in that 100 who also got that answer, with the aim being to accumulate as few points as possible.
In the final round, you must get at least one 'pointless' answer (an answer that no one in the 100 got) to win the jackpot.
How easy is it to win money?
In the final round, you're offered a few topics to choose from. You're then given three sub-categories related to your chosen topic and must provide three answers within 60 seconds – these can be for all the sub-categories, or just one or two.
This means that there's a fair bit of scope to get a question that you're knowledgeable on and, what's more, you're free to confer with your partner for the duration of that 60 seconds.
However, the catch is that at this stage, you don't just need a correct answer – you need a pointless one. In many cases this can be down to luck as much as your own knowledge – it might be a really strong answer, but if even one person also got it, the money's gone.
The good thing, though, is that if you don't make it into the final round on your first go, you get to appear on the show a second time to have another stab at it!
How much can you win on Pointless?
The jackpot is initially set at £1,000, but £250 is added to it whenever a team provides a 'pointless' answer throughout the show.
If the jackpot isn't won by the team in the final round, the money rolls over to the next show and is increased by an extra £1,000.
The largest jackpot to date was £24,750 in 2013, so there is a chance of winning some serious cash here if you're lucky. Once the money is won, the jackpot resets to £1,000 – so how much you're competing for will vary depending on how recently someone else won.
How to apply to be on Pointless
Once you've found someone happy to appear in a pair with you, you just need to click the link below to see whether Pointless is currently accepting applications.
The Chase (ITV)
Hosted by Bradley Walsh, The Chase is an ITV quiz show where you compete against professional quizzers (known as 'chasers') to win a cash prize. Four people appear in each episode, taking it in turns to answer questions and amass money for the overall prize fund.
You have one minute to answer as many questions as you can, with each correct answer worth £1,000. To bank that money, you have to beat the chaser by advancing the money along a board, answering questions correctly to stop the chaser from catching up with you. If they do, you're eliminated.
Once all four contestants have had their go, those who made it back then have to beat the chaser by giving more correct answers than they do. If they do, the prize money is split equally between the surviving contestants.
How easy is it to win money?
It's fairly common for people to win on the show, but the chasers are professional quizzers and you'll need to have your general knowledge wits about you.
How much can you win on The Chase?
The biggest solo win on the show was a whopping £75,000 – three contestants were wiped out in their individual chase but Judith scooped her haul of money in a nail-biting final chase.
In another episode, all four contestants survived their individual chase and secured £100,000 (£25k each!) by beating the chaser in the final round.
There are lots of variables on this show – for instance, you can increase or decrease your prize money by choosing to give yourself a bigger or smaller head start from the chaser – but the chance to win big money is there.
How to apply to be on The Chase
If you think you've got what it takes to beat the chasers, hit the button below to see if The Chase is accepting applications.
This classic game show from the 80s was revived in 2013 and is now hosted by Stephen Mulhern. For our money, this is the best show to go for if you're not a huge general knowledge whizz.
The aim of the game is to be able to guess catchphrases (which include things like song titles and film names) based on pictures and animations on the screen – say what you see, basically.
How easy is it to win money?
It's actually pretty easy to win money on Catchphrase!
Three contestants start the game and, as long as you don't finish last in the first round, you can make it into the game and start winning money. From that point onwards, you'll win money for every answer you get right, and even if you don't make it to the final, you'll take your winnings with you when you're eliminated.
Plus, spot prizes like holidays, festival tickets and experience days are awarded throughout.
How much can you win on Catchphrase?
There's no set jackpot because your total is based on how many answers you get right throughout. In the first round, you win £100 for every catchphrase you guess, plus an extra £500 if you guess the bonus catchphrase.
In round two everything doubles, so each catchphrase is worth £200 and the bonus is worth £1,000. In round three, every answer is worth £500.
If you make it to the final round, there is the chance to win a total jackpot of £50,000 – but this has only been achieved a handful of times. That said, you can win anything between £2,500 and £50,000 depending on how far you get, so that's still some serious cash.
How to apply to be on Catchphrase
Head to ITV's 'Be on TV' page using the link below to see whether Catchphrase is currently accepting applications.
Tipping Point (ITV)
Remember those two penny arcade machines where you'd tactically try to stack up coins in front of a moving shelf, praying that a bunch (along with a prize) would eventually be pushed off? Well, Tipping Point is a whole game show based around that.
The rules are quite complicated, with each round working differently. In short, you basically have to answer questions correctly to win counters that get dropped into the coin pusher machine. Any coins that get pushed out of the machine into the 'win zone' are worth £50 each.
How easy is it to win money?
Tipping Point is arguably one of the hardest shows on which to win money. One of the four starting contestants is eliminated at the end of each round, meaning you have to beat everyone else to make it to the final round and actually win the cash.
Plus, as is the nature of arcade machines, how much you win is largely based on luck – how a piece of plastic lands after it's dropped determines whether you win or lose, and no amount of general knowledge will change that.
How much can you win on Tipping Point?
In the final round, you're aiming to win a jackpot of £10,000, which can be doubled to £20,000 if you manage to secure the double counter. It can be done, but as we said, this one mainly comes down to luck.
How to apply to be on Tipping Point
Check out ITV's Be On TV page using the link below to see whether Tipping Point is currently accepting applications.
Impossible is slightly less well-known than the other shows in this list, but that should mean you've got a better chance of getting on.
In the first round, contestants are asked a series of multiple-choice questions, where some of the answers will be correct, wrong or impossible.
An impossible answer is one that simply doesn't make sense – for instance, "Which of the six main Friends characters has the catchphrase 'How you doin'?" with the choice of Rachel, Joey or Lewis. Rachel is incorrect, Joey is correct and Lewis is impossible – he isn't a Friends character.
In the second round, you have to spot impossible questions – that is, questions that don't make sense so can't be answered. For example, "In which year did England win the FIFA World Cup Final for the second time?" is impossible, as England have only won the World Cup once.
Get to the final and your task is simple: avoid impossible answers at all costs.
How easy is it to win money?
Only one contestant makes it to the final round in each episode, but the other contestants get to keep coming back for a week's worth of episodes to have a few more shots at it.
This increases your chances of winning money substantially, but it goes without saying you'll need some sharp general knowledge here.
How much can you win on Impossible?
In the final round, you're competing for a £10,000 jackpot prize – but you'll only win it if you identify all three correct answers to the question.
Fortunately, if you fail to get all three correct but still avoid picking any of the impossible answers, you win the daily prize pot (£100 for each impossible answer correctly identified in round one).
There is a chance to win big here and multiple-choice questions are easier than coming up with your own answers – you just have to be dead on the money to get the full £10,000.
How to apply for Impossible
Head to the BBC website using the link below to see if Impossible is accepting applications.
While these are some of the most popular and profitable quiz shows to apply for, keep an eye out for more niche or less well-known game shows appearing, as there will be less competition for these.
How to apply to be on UK game shows
Each game show will have its own individual application process, which could involve an application form, video submission and audition.
At each stage of the process, the casting team will be looking for people with big personalities who will stand out on screen, but also people who are ultimately 'normal' and that the audience can relate to.
Your best bet is to just be yourself – try to present yourself as confident and bubbly, but make sure you're not pretending to be someone you're not (they'll see right through you).
Having a strong personal story to bring to the table will also help – they're bound to ask you what you would do with the money, so think carefully about this and don't just say "a holiday" or "a shopping spree".
Perhaps you want to treat a family member who has supported you through the tough times. Or maybe you want to buy something really wacky and weird. Or how about spending the money on something really important (funding a degree, perhaps?).
Game show application forms
Application forms for game shows can be quite lengthy, but it's important not to rush through them. Take the time to make sure your personality comes across and provide detailed, thorough answers to each question.
The questions will vary across different programmes' application forms, but there are a few which will commonly come up. To get an idea of your knowledge of certain subjects, they will likely ask you about your qualifications and any hobbies and interests you have.
Also, be honest about any other quiz show appearances you've made! It doesn't rule you out from being on another show, but you can't keep popping up on screens too frequently – and if you lie, the producers are bound to find out.
Expect to be asked about your competitiveness, too. Obviously, they're looking for people with a competitive streak who are really going to care about the show and strive to win – but don't take it too far and come across like a sore loser.
You'll be given space to describe yourself – say something different and try to stand out. Finally, you'll probably also be asked to rank your strength in a range of subjects.
Quiz show auditions
If the team like your application form, they'll invite you to an audition. This is a chance for them to meet you face-to-face and see how well you perform on camera.
Again, auditions vary – but the team will probably explain the show to you, including how it works, before getting you to talk in front of the camera. They might do a practice quiz to test your general knowledge or simply ask you some questions like an interview.
The main things to remember are to smile and look engaged throughout the day, even if there's a lot of waiting around. Ask questions, be friendly and try to stand out but don't go too over the top – just be yourself.
How to prepare to go on a game show
If you're taking this seriously and you're dead set on winning that cash prize, doing some revision before you appear on the show is essential.
Your first port of call is to watch some previous episodes of the game show to get a feel for what kind of questions they ask – don't spend ages on this as they'll never ask the same questions twice, but note down frequently recurring topics and themes.
Next, make a list of your strengths and weaknesses. You'll need to cover all bases, so there's no point in swotting up on music if geography is what you're really rubbish at. Crosswords, online trivia quizzes or pub quizzes and even board games like Trivial Pursuit are all useful ways of boosting your general knowledge across a range of subjects.
If the quiz show is likely to ask questions about current affairs, make sure to read the news extensively in the weeks running up to the show – these are the easiest questions to get right, so don't waste them!
Finally, a good night's sleep and a breakfast full of brain food on the day will help you get your mind in the zone for when the questions start coming.
If you've got the bug for appearing on TV, you could also try making money as a film or TV extra – no acting experience required.