Backdate (Channel 4, 1996)
Over the years, there have been many game shows shown on Channel 4 in an weekday afternoon slot. The most successful and longest-running ones are of course Countdown and Fifteen-To-One, and would you believe Deal Or No Deal has how been running for almost a decade too. Along with these shows there have been many others that were much shorter lived because they weren’t that big a success, and one of those is Backdate.
This was a show that was all about nostalgia and the past, taking a look back at the news and history of the post-war to the present day era which when Backdate was made was a period of about 50 years. The show was presented by Valerie Singleton and every day three contestants took part.
There was a screen with lots of numbers on it. A question was asked and if a contestant buzzed in and got the answer right, they would be able to pick a number to put in their day, month, or year column. If they filled in all three they created a date and then a question would be asked about something that happened on that day. As the show covered five decades of history it would be a surprise to imagine that they had thousands of questions ready for every possible combination but it seems that they did. If they get this question right they score a bonus.
The type of questions asked to help the contestants earn their pick of the numbers varied in each round. One consisted of watching a clip from the TV or film archive, and being asked a question. The clips that they used were rather varied and anything could turn up. There were also questions based on newspaper headlines and musical clips.
After the break, there are more questions, but this time if you get one right you can steal a number that another contestant’s already picked which means that dates can be made quicker and easier. After all this ends, the highest-scoring contestant goes into the final, with the two losers receiving a consolation prize of a pocket organiser.
In the final, there is a 3×3 grid with a numbers from a decade on each of the nine squares. There are 60 seconds on the clock. A question is asked and the contestant has to say what year on the grid it happened. For each one they get right, part of a scrambled picture of a famous person who is associated with the decade appears. Once time is up, they then have five seconds to guess who the person is. If they get it right, they win the star prize of a leather-bound book about the history of the 20th century, but if not they just get the pocket organiser.
Backdate was only shown for about a year and surprisingly it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry, although I do remember watching it in 1996. It could definitely be suggested that this show was Channel 4’s attempt at doing a version of BBC2’s more successful daytime memories game show Today’s The Day, but unfortunately although it was produced by Action Time who have made a lot of great game shows over the years it was nowhere near as big a success.