The Cube Australia is the nation’s newest game show and it has a simple premise – you don’t have to cook or sing. You just have to hold your nerve.
Hosted by Andy Lee (who also produces) the show challenges everyday Aussies to complete a few simple games while confined to a Perspex cube, with limited time and a whopping $250,000 up for grabs.
The format comes from the British series The Million Pound Cube (known as The Cube from 2009–2015), which has run for 10 seasons and 85 episodes.
Mediaweek caught up with Lee and talked about what drew him to the show, production during Covid-19 and how The Cube is different from other game shows.
Lee said that he first came across the format when filming Hamish and Andy’s Gap Year with Hamish Blake.
“Hamish and I had seen the Chinese version when filming Gap Year Asia and back then we loved it. If you can enjoy the show without knowing what they are saying, then there is something in the format.
“Hopefully as a host I can bring something extra to the show, but if not then I encourage everyone to turn the audio down and enjoy the show.”
Lee said that he has always loved skill games and watching how people react when under pressure, which this show has in spades.
“They are all simple doable tasks, but they have to be done cleanly. The Navy Seals have a saying ‘slowly smooth, and smooth is fast’ and I think that is really true of the show. The people who remain composed and are clear and precise are generally the ones who go the furthest.”
One thing that separates The Cube from some Australian game shows is that it is in primetime and Lee said that while other game shows might only need six cameras for its production, The Cube used 140.
“We associate game shows with that 5 pm slot and Wheel of Fortune and Sale of the Century and stuff like that. Australia doesn’t have many game shows that don’t do trivia, wordplay, or games of chance and this is all about skill and has a lot more action.”
The main theme of the show’s marketing campaign has been that it features simple tasks that anyone can do and Lee said that this was the main appeal of the show.
“You don’t have to be fit, anyone can sit on the couch at home and say ‘I can do that’ and they are probably right. The show requires catching, throwing, balance, a steady hand and there is also a lot of perception games which is interesting.
“We play these games every time we turn the light off and we try to mauver ourselves to the bed without hitting our shins on the base. Those types of games around the house are on steroids because you are in a perspex cube with a live audience and $250,000 up to win.”
The show is produced by ITV Studios Australia who Lee said along with 10 have been super collaborative, and that one of the appeals to the job was contributing as a producer.
“I just love all the behind-the-scenes stuff almost as much as performing in it. When they asked me to do this show, I said if there was an opportunity to produce and learn more then I would love to do that as well.
“I have not done any arena spectaculars before, so I certainly learned more than I was offering to the production but it was also a good chance to put my tone across the show.”
Lee admits the show came at an appropriate time because he was separated from his contestants by perspex glass just like most cafes these days, but he found the morale factor to be the hardest part of the production.
“The audience were all in masks, so you don’t get to see as much raucous laughter from them as you would normally. And I love hanging out with crews and having banter with them, there are about 110 people working on the show and it was a shame that I couldn’t see those smiling faces.
“We were allowed a beer after production ended and we were all sitting backstage on different tables and people would drop their masks to have a beer and I would be like ‘oh my gosh that’s what they look like!’.”
Lee said that hopefully, one thing that the UK and Australian versions both have in common is that they are both a long-running success, but he added the most different thing might be the hosts.
“In the UK, Phillip Schofield is so amazing, but he plays up the drama and keeps the intensity front of mind, for me there is plenty of drama in there but when the money was lower I was happy to muck around. When the stakes got higher I started to panic as well. I didn’t want to make too many jokes when there was a lot of money on the line. This version probably ebbs and flows more than the original.”
While the UK version has had prize money as high as £1m, Lee said that the Australian show has room to grow and $250,000 is a great starting point.
“Needing to take the game up a notch in the future would be a great problem to have, who knows, depending on inflation contestants might be playing for one bitcoin.”
The Cube Australia premiers on 10 on February 24 at 7:30 pm.