Whittle (Channel 5, 1997-1998)
Following on from yesterday, here’s a look at another game show that was hosted by the terrific Tim Vine. Whittle formed a part of the weekday daytime Channel 5 schedule in its earliest days and was often shown after 100%. Indeed, Tim was the co-host of the first ever show on Channel 5 and the first episode of Whittle aired 18 years ago today.
The show would start with Tim running on to the stage, but where were the contestants? The studio audience were the contestants! The format was practically identical to the 80s ITV show Everybody’s Equal with Chris Tarrant, but seemingly made on a smaller budget. There were 100 people in the studio audience who would play the game. The show would start with Tim talking to the “four to follow”, which supposedly was the four audience members most likely to make it into the next round. Tim would have a quick stilted conversation with all of them before the game began. Then Tim would ask the first question. There were four possible answers and the audience members would have ten seconds to make their choice by pressing the corresponding button on their keypad. Tim would then flap his arms about and yell “start the clock!”.
When time was up, who voted for what was revealed. One of the options in every question was usually a really obvious prank choice, but there would always be at least one person go for it. The computer would then tell Tim who it was and he’d ask them why they chose that option. They would say “my finger slipped”. Every single time. The correct answer would then be revealed and however many got it right stayed in the game. It was at this point that Tim would tell a silly joke before throwing his question card away and also usually say “and we’ve lost the four to follow”.
This would carry on until there was a timed question and the ten people who nominated the correct answer in the quickest time would go through to the final after the break. Tim would then talk to all the contestants which again always felt rather awkward and was filling time to some extent. There would be some more questions, and whoever got eliminated at this stage would have to put on their Whittle mask, which always made everyone laugh.
Again, if there were still a lot of contestants remaining in the game after a few questions, there would be one more against the clock and the quickest contestant with the correct answer would be declared the winner and win £250. They then had the chance to double it. There was one more question. Put the four options into the correct order and they would win a massive £500! Whittle managed to last for 130 episodes and two series and it is still occasionally repeated on Challenge. I do remember watching it at the time though. I had one of my first “that makes me feel old” moments recently when I saw someone say that they didn’t recognise that it was Tim was hosting the show because he had hair. It wasn’t that long ago, was it?