Concentration (ITV, 1988-1990)
Last time I reviewed a game show produced by the long-gone ITV franchise TVS, so today I’ve decided to look back at another one. This was a primetime game which was based on an American format where having a good memory helped contestants to solves puzzles and win prizes. The first series was hosted by Nick Jackson.
Two contestants took part competing against one another and the host stood between them. There was a 5×5 grid and they picked two squares which revealed a prize. If they found a match the two squares were removed from the board which revealed part of a famous phrase or saying animated in the style of a rebus puzzle. Also the prize that they had found went up on the board. If they didn’t find a match, play passed to their opponent.
There were also three “wild” squares on the board which created a match with what other square was picked regardless of what the prize was, with the natural match also removed meaning that you could remove three squares in one turn, with a bonus prize on offer for finding two “wild” spaces in your turn. Part of the gameplay of the show was to watch your opponent and if they failed to find a match remember what prizes were hidden behind what squares to try and win them yourself. There was also a chance to play a “take” card once to steal one of your opponent’s prizes that you liked the look of. Contestants only won the prizes that they found if they successfully solved the puzzle.
The contestant who won the most of the three games went through to the final. This time there were 15 squares on the board featuring various holiday destinations. There were 50 seconds on the clock and the idea was to match the pairs, avoiding the one remaining leftover square, and if they could make the seventh and final match in time that would be the destination of their star prize holiday.
If Concentration sort-of comes across as a more old-fashioned polite version of Catchphrase then it is to some extent. The format had already been round for many years and had originally appeared on ITV from 1959-1960 when the show was produced by Granada before TVS attempted this revival almost 30 years later. The American version which began in America in 1958 (and was actually called Classic Concentration for a while) had also been a long-running success.
Also, Nick Jackson only hosted the show for the first series before he went back to his voiceover work. Bob Carolgees took over from the second series which continued in a similar style with a new “swap” rule where you could exchange a prize for a cash amount but unfortunately Bob didn’t have his dog with him. Also, a board game was released in 1990 but unfortunately I never had that.
I don’t remember seeing too much of Concentration at the time but I have found watching the old episodes that are on YouTube an interesting experience. There was a good use of early computer graphics and lots of prizes on offer, but once again because of the TVS archive shambles it won’t be being repeated or revived any time soon. I’ll look back at another TVS game show next time.