play for time

Playing for Time

Playing for Time was a BBC Television daytime quiz programme that aired on BBC One from 13 November, 2000 until 23 July, 2001. The programme was hosted by Eamonn Holmes.


The game is played in a best two-out-of-three rounds format. In all three rounds, each player is allotted 60 seconds; when one player runs out of time, the other player wins the round and keeps the time left on their clock.

Play for Time (Rounds 1 and 2)

Eamonn asks a three-choice question. Both players' clocks start simultaneously; when a player selects their answer, their clock stops. If both players are right, Eamonn asks another three-choice question.

If a player answers a question incorrectly, they are asked "Time-waster" questions, "brain-bender"-style questions, until they get one right, thus resuming the three-choice questions.

If both players are wrong, the Time-waster question is asked in a buzz-in format; a correct answer forces their opponent to answer a Time-Waster correctly; a wrong answer forces them to do so themselves.

If one player wins both rounds of "Play For Time," they win the match; if they split the first two rounds, they play "Extra Time."

Extra Time (Round 3; only if necessary)

As before, both players start with 60 seconds. Starting with the player who won less time, Eamonn asks general knowledge questions. When a player answers a question correctly, they stop their clock and pass control to their opponent, similar to a chess clock or the game show Grand Slam. When one player runs out of time, the other player wins the match, and keeps their remaining time as usual.

The winning player is permitted to see the next contestant in line, and some biographical information on that contestant, and then has a decision to make: either use the time that they won to play the bonus round, "Playing for Time Away," for a trip, or face the new contestant to try to win more time, knowing that should they lose against the new contestant, they must leave the show, and that in any event, they are only permitted one attempt at the bonus round.

Playing For Time Away (Bonus Round)

Before playing the bonus round, the player selects one of three trips that they would like to go on, provided that they win the round. The player must answer 5 questions correctly to win the trip; their time limit is equal to the time that they won in their match or matches. Whether they win the trip or not, they must leave the show after attempting the bonus round.

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