Zoe Lyons on new quiz show Lightning: ‘Alliances build up and strategy comes into play!’

Lightning BBC2 hosted by Zoe Lyons
It is shiny suit time for Zoe Lyons on new quiz show Lightning on BBC2 (Image credit: BBC/NICEONE/FIZZ PRODUCTIONS/William Cherry (PRESS EYE))

Love quiz shows? Zoe Lyons has a treat for you with BBC2’s new fast and furious series Lightning...

There’s no time to waste in Zoe Lyons’ fast and furious new quiz show Lightning on BBC2.

Six contestants try to survive increasingly difficult rounds for the chance to win a £3000 jackpot. The trick is to answer a question as quickly as possible, nominate an opponent and avoid being caught in the spotlight when the timer runs out - although there’s a chance to return and play again the next day...

The result is a fast, fun and very entertaining 30 minutes of quizzing. And let’s face it we’re a nation who loves a good game show!

Are you enjoying your new role as a quiz show host?

Zoe Lyons: "I’ll be honest with you, prior to being offered the job it wasn’t something I’d contemplated. But once I got the opportunity and got in the studio I loved every second of it! It was like being given your dream job and thinking ‘I was always meant to do this’."

Do you think your standup experience comes into your presenting style on Lightning?

ZL: "Yes, it was so nice to be able to bring all the best bits of standup - talking to the crowd and trying to get stuff out of them - in a gameshow format whose remit was to have fun. It’s an exciting and tense show but in between the aim was to have fun. The production company has made a great job of getting a great cast of people together and that makes it. We had a right laugh making it."

With some players returning multiple times. Does it get competitive?

ZL: "That’s what makes Lightning a bit more unique. Some of the contestants are there for five episodes, so they get to know each other’s weaknesses and strengths. In the course of a week alliances build up and strategy comes into play!"

Every second counts! A Contestant battles the clock to complete a simple physical challenge on Lightning

Every second counts! A Contestant battles the clock to complete a simple physical challenge on Lightning (Image credit: BBC/NICEONE/FIZZ PRODUCTIONS/William Cherry (PRESS EYE))

What are your favourite elements of Lightning?

ZL: "I like the competitive element and I love my blingy suit. If a turkey became a member of ABBA, that’s what I look like. I thoroughly enjoyed wearing it! There’s a physical challenge round that’s hilarious. To the naked eye the games seem fairly simple, but are actually incredibly irritating if you can’t get them the first time. Watching people struggling horrifically makes for good telly!"

You’re no stranger to appearing on quiz shows yourself, tell us more…

ZL: "I’ve done a few. I’ve been on Pointless a fews times, and I’m absolutely useless at it. I’ve also done Mastermind - it’s terrifying. And years and years ago [2001 according to IMDB!] I was on The Weakest Link. Let’s just say that Anne Robinson maintained character throughout. She was very method!"

Did you have a favourite game show growing up?

ZL: "Bullseye was my favourite. Jim Bowen was brilliant. He was an old school club comic but so gentle and kind with the contestants. Even when they were, quite frankly, rubbish, he was so encouraging. I think that’s why Bullseye just ran and ran. I used to watch it as a kid, and kids don’t generally watch quiz shows much, but he made it so much fun and was utterly charming. Quiz shows are a bit like Panto they’re sort of ingrained in British culture."

A contestant caught in the light in Lightning

Stay out of the light! A contestant caught in the light in Lightning (Image credit: BBC/NICEONE/FIZZ PRODUCTIONS/William Cherry (PRESS EYE))

What’s your favourite modern gameshow?

ZL: "I love Tipping Point. It’s such a brilliant idea for a show. The thing with Tipping Point is there’s an element of fate. Where are the counters going to land? Nobody knows. That element of the unexpected is really fun. That’s the thing with Lightning - if you’re nominated and then caught in the light, through no fault of your own, you’re out instantly."

And, finally, would you be up for another series of Lightning?

ZL: "I’d love to do another series of Lightning. A Celebrity Lightning would be fun. It would be great to get quizzing talent, like my friend Paul Sinha from The Chase. He’s incredible but then again he may not get through, because if you’re nominated right at the last second you’re struck out of the game…"

Lightning airs at 6.30pm, Monday to Friday on BBC2 from Monday 26 January 2021.

Elaine Reilly
Writer for TV Times, What’s On TV, TV & Satellite Week and What To Watch

With twenty years of experience as an entertainment journalist, Elaine writes for What’s on TV, TV Times, TV & Satellite Week and www.whattowatch.com covering a variety of programs from gardening and wildlife to documentaries and drama.


As well as active involvement in the WTW family’s social media accounts, she has been known to get chatty on the red carpet and wander into the odd podcast. 

After a day of previewing TV, writing about TV and interviewing TV stars, Elaine likes nothing than to relax… by watching TV.