The Chair (game Show)
Get The Chair Game Show essential facts below. View Videos or join the The Chair Game Show discussion. Add The Chair Game Show to your topic list for future reference or share this resource on social media.
The Chair Game Show
The Chair
The Chair logo.png
GenreGame show
Created byJulie Christie
Darryl McEwen
Brian Bigg
Written byPhil Andres
Charles Bacer
Robert Hammersley
Gary Stuart Kaplan
Gary Lucy
Teresa Strasser
Directed byMichael A. Simon
Presented byJohn McEnroe
Composer(s)Allan Ett
Scott Liggett
Timothy Winn
Country of originUnited States
New Zealand
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes13 (4 unaired)
Executive Julie Christie
Darryl McEwen
Andrew J. Golder
Gregory V. Sherman
Ann Miller-George
Paul Wernick
Craig W. Hoffman
Running time44 minutes
Production Touchdown Television (Touchdown Productions)
Trailpolis Entertainment Group
Target Distribution, Ltd. (William Morris Agency)
Original networkABC
Picture formatNTSC 480i (4:3)
Original releaseJanuary 15 (2002-01-15) -
March 4, 2002 (2002-03-04)
External links

The Chair is a New Zealander game show that was created by Julie Christie, Darryl McEwen and Brian Bigg.[1] Although The Chair was originally developed in New Zealand, the first country where the program aired in was the United States. The American version, which was hosted by former tennis champion John McEnroe, aired on ABC for nine episodes from January 15 to March 4, 2002; the American version would be cancelled with four episodes remaining unaired of its original 13-episode order. McEnroe would later host the British version, which aired between August 31 and November 9, 2002 on BBC One.[2][3] Among the show's writers was writer/actress Teresa Strasser, who had served on ABC's Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? and later hosted While You Were Out.


Prospective contestants underwent extensive medical examination before appearing. They were given intelligence tests and had their heart monitored for several hours, among other diagnostic procedures to see how they would react to sudden surprises. If they were declared fit, they moved on to the game.

Question round
Question Value Redline
Redline penalty
(per second)
1 $5,000 160%-170% ($100) $10,000
2 $10,000 155%-165% $20,000
3 $15,000 150%-160% ($200) $35,000
4 $25,000 145%-155% ($300) $60,000
5 $40,000 140%-150% ($400) $100,000
6 $50,000 135%-145% ($500) $150,000
7 $100,000 130%-140% ($1,000) $250,000

Once seated in the Chair, the contestant found him/herself looking up at a large video screen on which the host's image was displayed, as well as the information for the current question. He/she began with a stake of $5,000 and could increase it to a maximum of $250,000 by answering a series of seven multiple-choice questions. The contestant's heart rate was continuously measured throughout the game and compared to a "redline" threshold. This value started at 60% (later 70%) above the resting heart rate, and it was reduced by 5% of the resting heart rate after each question (with a maximum redline threshold of between 130% and 140% for the final question). For example, a contestant with a resting heart rate of 80 would have an initial redline threshold of 128 or 136 (160% and 170% of the resting rate, respectively), which would drop by 4 (5%) after each question.

For each question except the fifth, a list of four possible answers was presented, and then the question itself was read. The host would then tell the contestant whether or not an answer could be accepted, depending on their heart rate at the moment.

Money was subtracted from the contestant's total for every second that his/her heart rate exceeded the redline value ("redlining"). In addition, he/she was ineligible to give an answer during this time; only while the heart rate was no higher than the threshold number could an answer be given. Redlining between questions, or while a question was being asked, mostly carried no penalty; the penalty goes into effect after the answer choices had been read. The third question involved recalling information from a series of images that appeared on the screen above them and required the player to remember something specific or particular details about one image, the fifth required the player to list items pertaining to a given category, and the seventh involved choosing which event occurred first or last (this question type was eliminated later in the show's run). After the fourth question, the host made a one-time offer: keep the redline rate constant for the next question, at a cost of $25,000; this offer was rarely accepted.

As long as the contestant had money in the account and continued to answer questions correctly, the game continued until all seven questions were answered correctly. The game prematurely ended when a contestant answered a single question incorrectly, lost all of their money due to redlining, or committed a third violation of the countermeasure rule.

If the contestant answered a question incorrectly, he/she left with whatever amount he/she had "stabilized" (see below). Correctly answering every question awarded the contestant all of the money in his/her account, for a potential top prize of $250,000 if he/she had no redlining penalties.


At two points during the contestant's campaign, a "heartstopper" event took place. These were designed to raise the heart rate (coming face to face with an alligator or a hive of bees, a large pendulum swinging just overhead, having McEnroe serve tennis balls at the contestant's head, etc.). Precautions were taken to ensure the contestant's safety during these events, such as a pane of heavy plastic being set just in front of his/her face as McEnroe served. If the contestant could endure the event for 15 seconds (20 seconds in some versions), the event would end. If he/she went over the redline rate, the event continued until the heart rate was under control, and the contestant lost money at the rate for the previously answered question. In the Korean version, the host is responsible for initiating the heartstopper by saying, simply enough, "start the heartstopper", at which point the countdown begins. If a contestant is redlining, the heartstopper is not officially over until the contestant lowers their heart rate back into the "safe zone". In some international versions of the show, a contestant must answer rapid-fire free-response questions in a 45-second bonus round which is designed to increase the redline threshold. In the New Zealand version, the contestant must answer 7 questions on one of the three subjects on the screen above him/her. Each correct answer it was given, he/she will earn money but with each wrong answer to each question, he/she will be monetarily penalized from his/her banked winnings.


After answering the $15,000 question correctly (for a potential prize of $35,000), the contestant earned the chance to "stabilize". Once during the rest of the game, he/she could exercise this option after a correct answer; if he/she missed a question or received their third violation of the countermeasure rule, he/she would leave with the money won up to the "stabilize" point. However, if the contestant redlined in the interim and went below the stabilized amount, the stabilized amount would fall and match the current prize amount.

In the British version of the show, a contestant was required to stabilize after correctly answering the fifth question if he/she had not yet done so by that point.

Countermeasure rule

Contestants were required to stay alert during the game at all times. If a contestant tried to close his/her eyes or perform some other task in an attempt to lower the heart rate, the host gave a warning. If a contestant received a third violation, he/she was disqualified from the game; contestants could still leave with their stabilized amount. The latter never happened, though one contestant on the US show received two violations and was almost disqualified for the above actions. On the first episode, one contestant closed her eyes for the entire time on the one heartstopper she reached and was not penalized. In the Korean version, that warning rule only applied in heartstoppers.

Broadcast history

The Chair aired for nine episodes on ABC between January 15 and March 4, 2002, but not before two people managed to answer the final question correctly; Kris Mackerer won $224,600 (equivalent to $319,260 in 2019) on the fourth episode that aired on February 5[4] and Steven Benjamin won the maximum $250,000 (equivalent to $355,365 in 2019) in the ninth and final episode that aired on March 4. A week before Mackerer's $224,600 win, another player, Dean Sheffron,[5] reached the last question with a total of $132,200 but lost it all due to redlining.

Thirteen episodes were taped, but only nine were broadcast. Many episodes were taped during post-midnight hours to hurry production in order to compete with Fox's show The Chamber (which was cancelled after three episodes of its six-episode order were aired). Both programs would air during NBC's coverage of the 2002 Winter Olympics, which resulted in low ratings and became a factor in the cancellation of both programs (along with high production costs).

The Chamber vs. The Chair

The Chair premiered around the same time as Fox's torture show The Chamber. The production companies fought over this, each claiming the other show was a rip-off of theirs.[6] A lawsuit was filed against Fox and the production company of The Chamber by the New Zealand production company of The Chair, Touchdown Television,[7] but nothing became of it.

International versions

Country Local Name Host Network Top Prize Premiere/Air dates/First year broadcast
Arab League Arab World
El Kursi [8]
Ibrahim Abu Joudeh Abu Dhabi TV US$100,000 February 17, 2003
 Australia The Chair Unknown Seven Network Unknown 2002
 Austria The Chair: Nimm Platz in der Hölle[9] Oliver Stamm ATV (Austria) EUR25,000 June 2003
Asparuh Minchev NOVA 25 000? 2002 - 2003
 France[11][12] Zone Rouge[13][14] Jean-Pierre Foucault TF1 EUR15,000
January 2003 - April 2005
 Germany Puls Limit: Jeder Herzschlag zählt[15] Peer Kusmagk VOX EUR20,000 April 22, 2003 -- June 10, 2003
 Greece ?
Sta Oria[16]
Kostas Apostolidis ANT1 EUR50,000 October -- December 2002
 India Heartbeat Unknown Star One Rs25,000,000 Unknown
The Chair
Masanori Hamada TBS ¥10,000,000 May 25 - September 28, 2005
 Mexico La Silla[17] Juan Manuel Bernal TV Azteca MX$250,000 2005
 New Zealand
(original version)
The Chair[1] Matthew Ridge TV2 NZ$50,000 April 2, 2002 - June 4, 2002
Fedor Bondarchuk STS RUB 410,000 September 7, 2002 -- August 28, 2004
 South Korea ?
The Chair Korea
Seo Gyeong-seok KBS ?20,000,000 December 14, 2011
Shin Dong-yup ?50,000,000 March 14, 2012
 Spain La Silla[18][19] Constantino Romero Telemadrid
Canal Sur
EUR100,000 June - August 2002
 Thailand The Chair
The Chair Kao-Ie-Ra-Teuk
Noppon Komarachun BBTV CH7 ?3,000,000 July 8 - November 25, 2003
John Rattanaveroj
 Turkey Koltuk[20] Osmantan Erk?r Kanal D lira April 10, 2002 lira
 United Kingdom The Chair[21] Paul Hendy (Un-aired Pilot)
John McEnroe[3]
BBC One £50,000 August 31 -- November 9, 2002
 United States The Chair John McEnroe ABC $250,000 January 15 -- March 4, 2002


  1. ^ a b "Dame Julie Christie: the reality queen's finest moments". June 5, 2017.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "McEnroe brings The Chair to UK". BBC News. BBC. 16 May 2002. Retrieved 2014.
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ Bill Carter (January 29, 2002). "The Media Business: Fox TV Pulls 'The Chamber,' A Reality Show". The New York Times.
  7. ^ Josef Adalian (January 3, 2002). "Webs' reality scuffle tortures 'Chamber'". Variety.
  8. ^
  9. ^ ""The Chair - Nimm Platz in der Hölle" - Reality-Show testet Kandidaten auf Nervenstärke". 17 April 2003.
  10. ^
  11. ^ "Le quizz cardiaque qui angoisse TF1". 17 September 2002.
  12. ^ "The Chair : prochainement sur TF1 ?". 12 November 2002.
  14. ^ "Jean-Pierre Foucault en zone rouge". 15 March 2003.
  15. ^ "VOX startet neue Gameshow "puls_limit: Jeder Herzschlag zählt"". 15 March 2003.
  16. ^ "8 ?, 500.000 ?". Ta Nea. September 5, 2002.
  17. ^ "'La silla' pondrá a prueba el ritmo cardiaco". ElUniversal. September 17, 2005.
  18. ^ "Las autonómicas lanzan un concurso "no apto para cardíacos"". May 23, 2002.
  19. ^ "Constantino Romero presenta "La silla" en las autonómicas". June 1, 2002.
  20. ^ "Hiçbir koltuk bu kadar heyecan verici olmad?". Hurriyet. April 8, 2002.
  21. ^ Deans, Jason (16 May 2002). "McEnroe takes The Chair". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved 2014.

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



Music Scenes