Adam Growe and 'Cash Cab' Return to Toronto with a Focus on Music and "Real Emotions"

"People win $500 and it's like they won a million dollars"

BY Nicholas SokicPublished Mar 4, 2024

Anyone with even a cursory knowledge of 2000s Canadian pop culture remembers Cash Cab, the game show where unsuspecting passengers were quizzed on their trivia knowledge for money. While the original version hailed from England, the Canadian edition proved to have remarkable staying power, lasting eight seasons and over 200 episodes from 2008 to 2015.

Making its triumphant return to our airwaves on GameTV with original host Adam Growe in tow, the show comes with a slight twist: it's now Cash Cab Music.

In format, the show will feel familiar to returning audiences. Participants have three strikes before they hopefully make it to their destination, and are given one opportunity per game to phone a friend, shout out to a stranger on the street, or, new to the return, ask for help on social media. 

Now, though, the questions are largely music-focused, and at the end of each cab ride, the double-or-nothing round must be sung karaoke-style.

"Cash Cab is high-density, authentic fun that you really don't get with any other program in the category. These are real people, and those are their real emotions," Growe tells Exclaim! "People win $500 and it's like they won a million dollars."

While the U.S. version has been ongoing since 2005 — and a Québécois version hosted by Alexandre Barrette, titled Taxi Payant, aired from 2009 to 2018 — Growe understands the uniquely enduring popularity of the almost entirely Toronto-set edition.

He sees the show's appeal as multi-generational — an easy watch for kids, the elderly or anyone in between. His long tenure as host means people still come up to him in his other job as a comedian to talk Cash Cab, and many have talked about how it helped get them through the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It's a trivia game show that happens in a taxi — I get it. I'm not suggesting it's anything other," he says. "But there are people who have reached out to me who have a really strong emotional connection to the show."

Cash Cab's return is precipitated by more than nostalgia; it's still a business, after all. Growe has been friends with Castlewood Productions' Andrew Burnstein since the show's original run. They had brief conversations about the show's renewal over the years, but it wasn't until recently that the finances, business and demand created a perfect storm.

Anthem Sports and Entertainment owns both GameTV and AXS TV, where it airs in the States. Growe thinks this is part of the reason for the new musical flavour, as AXS TV is filled with music-focused programming. According to Growe, the show's questions are not just built for hardcore Discogs users in mind.

"Some of [the questions] will reward people who are really album-oriented," he explains. "But there's a lot of questions that branch off — inspired by music, like movie soundtracks or Oscar winners, celebrities, TV shows, life experiences, geography."

While there's currently no word on a next season, Growe is hopeful they'll be able to continue the spin-off format with future Cash Cabs focused on sports, TV, movies, sports or plain old general knowledge. Akin to the new social media assist, he also envisions a segment featuring celebrity assists.

"We could drive up to this location and Celebrity A can pop in and help you and [participants would say], ‘Are you kidding me? Geddy Lee is gonna help me!'" he says. "Something like that would blow people's minds."

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