The Alphabet Game (BBC1, 1996-1997)
The Alphabet Game was a weekday daytime show hosted and co-created by Andrew O’Connor who if you’re a regular reader to this blog will know I am a fan of some of the shows that he hosted over the years, and I think that this was the last one that he did, before he went on to have further success behind the scenes as a producer of many more quirky TV shows. (Sorry about the fuzzy pictures by the way, I recorded an episode back in the old analogue TV days and I had a rubbish aerial.)
Every day two teams of three took part, featuring two celebrities and one contestant. There was also a fifth celebrity taking part who acted as judge alongside Andrew. The celebrities would be of the Paul Ross/Frank Bough variety and stay all week and rotate so all of them had one go at being judge. Unsurprisingly the games on the show were all based around the letters of the alphabet.
In the first round a statement would be given such as “things I would do if I won the lottery” and then answers would have to be given beginning with every letter of the alphabet. This meant that some of the contestants had to be rather creative with their answers, and if their opponents thought their answer wasn’t very good they could challenge, which is where the judge came in who would debate with Andrew if they would accept the answer, with points being given for every accepted answer.
There was then another round where a word chain had to be created, with another statement being given and every answer having to begin with the last letter of the previous one. There was also a round where a contestant had written down a word beginning with a specific letter and the opponents had to guess what it was.
The next round was where a phrase was given and contestants had to offer a statement connected to the phrase that began with every letter of it, sort of in the style of an acrostic poem. They then went back round to playing the first round again until they ran out of time or all the contestants lost their mind, with the highest-scoring team going through to the final.
In the final the teams simply have to answer five questions correctly in 60 seconds to win the contestant the star prize of a personal organiser. They were fancy in those days, honest. They answer the questions by only giving the first letter of every word, so if the answer is “Chariots Of Fire” they have to say “COF” to be correct, sort of a Blockbusters Gold Run in reverse.
The Alphabet Game ran for a couple of series and I thought it was good fun but it’s not one of the better remembered BBC daytime game shows. Trying to find out more about the show and who appeared on it I looked on the BBC Genome but it seems that Radio Times never really wrote a description in their pages ever more specific than simply “Quiz”, and there is no Wikipedia entry for the show, and I don’t think it’s ever been repeated on Challenge. However, the format was sold around the world to countries including Spain where their version of the show continues to be very popular.