Fluke (Channel 4, 1997)
A brilliantly silly and short-lived game where having general knowledge was completely useless as the winning show was completely based on luck. It was hosted by Tim Vine who also devised the show himself and he was assisted by his sidekick Major Disappointment. Having always liked silly jokes and wordplay I’ve been a fan of Tim from practically the first time I saw him on TV, so I’ve found his double life of being a stand-up comedian and game show host very enjoyable over the past two decades.
The show would often start with Tim saying to someone “as I was saying, a friend of mine who was a Gurkha drowned in a vat of vinegar”. This would get the reply “oooh, pickled Gurkha”. Oh dear. Five contestants took part. The first round was the A Bit Of A Wasted Journey Pointer. A wheel would be spun and whoever’s name it stopped at was immediately knocked out before they had even said “hello” or played any games. They did get the consolation prize though of the Fluke Silver Short Straw.
Tim would then talk to the remaining contestants, and he wasn’t afraid to rebuke them if he felt that they had stepped out of line, telling one who was wearing an acrylic collar: “it’s cruel, think about all the acrylics you are killing”. There would then be some questions but “the more you know… the less it matters” because there was no way you could know the answers in advance.
In the next round there was a race. The contestants each pick a runner and whoever comes last, whatever their score is, is knocked out. Then there was a round where the contestants would have to guess what happened next. The next round featured doors heavily. We don’t mean by that the doors were heavy, we wouldn’t know. There are some doors with people behind them and Tim reveals the one to avoid. If a contestant picks the wrong door again they are instantly knocked out.
When there are two contestants left there is a quickfire round where Tim gives two options but not the question. There is then one more round to determine the winner and the one left standing after all this madness is crowned the Duke of Fluke. Whoever made the final then had the chance to play for the star prize such as a holiday and again they had to answer absurd 50/50 questions. One episode ended with a young lady who missed out on the use of an executive jet for a day because she didn’t know the colour of Tim’s underpants.
Fluke only ran for nine episodes and probably wouldn’t have worked as well if it had got another series but that wasn’t the end of the story. Tim Vine had an attempt at breaking into American TV by hosting a variation on the show called Beat The Chimp, but as far as I’m aware it didn’t get beyond an unaired pilot and that was it, the dream was over.
Fluke was also subject to some odd scheduling. On Channel 5 at 6pm Tim was hosting the game show Whittle (which I will also be reviewing soon), and Fluke was shown on Channel 4 at 6:30. So for a while you could watch Tim hosting two game shows one after the other on different channels. Also, it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry. How ridiculous!