After 50 years of history, Numbers and letters a new chapter is about to open. Broadcasting daily for decades, the France 3 program will switch from September 3 to weekend programming. Viewers can watch the cult play every Saturday and Sunday at 5:15 pm. For the occasion, some small changes and new features have been made, but the main change is on the side of the members of the show. If Laurent Romejko continues his role in the animation, the two referees in the program will change. If Arielle Boulin-Prat and Bertrand Renard are aired in the first two weekends (the programs have already been recorded), they will be replaced on the screen from September 17. In an interview with Télé 7 Jours, Patrice Laffont, producer in the program, revealed the identity of the new faces of the game and also discussed this new formula for the show.
How do you see this shift to weekend broadcasting for Numbers and Letters, after 50 years of daily presence?
The chain made a decision. Let’s see what it has to offer. On Saturday and Sunday, it’s more complicated. For our audience, who are quite old, Saturday is always the day when people get away from it all. I still think that after fifty years, the show has something to lose. But France Télévisions wants to keep the brand. I love this show too much to keep it alive, and maybe mine for that matter! (laughs) So I thought of a way to make the show different without touching the basics. A 50-year-old game, you can’t reverse it though. It is also necessary to find out how to replace Arielle Boulin-Prat and Bertrand Renard, who are two pillars and memories of the program. But we must go on and on.
Who do you choose to replace him as referees in the game?
The first was Stéphane Crosnier, who immediately forced himself on me. He was a charismatic former candidate, unique in numbers. He was good in many tournaments in Numbers and letters. But he also has a very good sense of TV since he worked as a sports editor at BFM TV and RMC Sport. The second is Blandine Maire, who is a teacher in the small section. He has a great background, because he is a lawyer and also works in television as a journalist, working with Olivier Minne or at Fort Boyard. Funny little anecdote: he was in the mountains during the casting, so he sent us a little video from his little studio! Everything is filled.
How did they react when you asked them to join the program?
They jumped at the chance! (laughter) Now we brief them, we train them. They need to work, because there are many things to prepare for the “duels” part of the game. It’s time to explain the little cultural things to the audience, so we have to prepare papers for each issue.
What changes have you made to the game for this new version?
We would like to add a little doubt. With the arrival of Blandine Maire and Stéphane Crosnier, the animation becomes a smaller threesome, in a less mechanical way, although Laurent Romejko remains the master of the game. The game mechanics will remain the same. On the other hand, the rounds of duels will evolve a little: now there will be only four duels instead of five, with a new system of points that will make it possible to witness reversals of the score. In terms of the prize, there is also an important change: at the end of the show, there are two lists of words to search for the finalist. The first with words to discover where each has a value of 100 euros, and the second with an introduced theme, which will help a small candidate, where each word discovered will bring 50 euros. After five wins in the game, the candidate can choose to leave with his winnings or try to get ten wins. If he chooses to continue, the winnings during the last word will be greater. But if he loses before the tenth win, he only has 500 euros left and loses the winnings he has accumulated. This money goes to a kitten, which will be won by a candidate who has made a line of ten victories in the show.
Is the game of candidates still as popular?
During the imprisonment, there were people in their 20s or 30s who discovered the show. And they register a lot for the choices! We see a big difference in this regard: now we have many candidates, whether we are or not, who are between 20 and 30 years old, while there were none a year ago. There is a real attraction for this program.
Interview with Aurélien Gaucher
Numbers and letters, Saturdays and Sundays at 5:15 pm on France 3 from September 3