Wipeout (BBC1, 1994-1997)
The third and final part in the trilogy of great game shows hosted by Paul Daniels moonlighting from his magic career along with Odd One Out and Every Second Counts. Wipeout was based on an American format and was a show where contestants would be shown the answers before they knew what they question was, and had to beware the wipeouts that would cost them money. The set design was very futuristic and they tried to prove that this was a game show made for the 90s by having Paul run on at the start and giving everyone a high five.
Three contestants took part. They would be asked a general knowledge question on the buzzer to gain control of the grid. The category would then be revealed, followed by the 16 choices, featuring 11 correct answers and five wipeouts. We would then find out what the actual question was, such as “which of these famous people have guest starred in a soap as themselves?”.
The contestants would then pick answers, with £10 won for the first correct answer found, £20 for the next one, and so on all the way up to £110 for the final one, meaning a possible £660 could be won on one grid by a contestant, which did happen at least once. However, if they pick a wrong answer, they get a wipeout and all of the money that they have previously won is lost so they have to choose carefully. They do have the option though to pass to the next contestant after giving a correct answer. I think on at least a couple of occasions contestants lost four-figure sums that they had accumulated which was rather painful. Also, there were a couple of bonus prizes behind some squares that would be won if a correct answer was picked. We mustn’t forget the nice graphics and sound effects too.
Three rounds are played, all featuring various quirky categories, and the two highest-scoring contestants go through to the next round. The eliminated contestant needn’t worry though, they kept any money they had made and also won the Wipeout paperweight which must be one of the most coveted game show consolation prizes around, although this was changed in later series to an umbrella.
The two remaining contestants now go into the Wipeout auction. This is a best of three, and the grids now have 12 choices with eight correct answers and four wipeouts. The money and prizes won in the first round are now safe. Again the question is revealed and contestants can bid how many correct answers they think they can get, all the way up to eight. If they get as many right as their bid, they win the grid. Get one wrong though and play passes to the opponent who only now needs to find one remaining correct answer to steal the grid. The first to win two grids goes into the final, with again the eliminated contestant taking away the mighty paperweight/umbrella and any money or other prizes that they might have won in round one.
The final was always exciting. The contestant chose from four categories and then the question was revealed, this time with 12 choices and six correct answers, six wrong. They had 60 seconds to pick the six correct answers, and then run over to press a button which revealed how many they had got right. They carried on until they got all six or ran out of time. And remember that you have to deselect before you reselect. If they did find all six they won the star prize of a holiday anywhere in the world and there were some close finishes and much delight when there was a winner.
Wipeout was another entertaining game that was well hosted by Paul Daniels, although unfortunately after the primetime run ended in 1997 he wasn’t seen on TV much any more, but there have been some repeat runs on Challenge. There was also a viewers’ phone-in competition to win a prize in later series. About a year after the original run ended, Wipeout returned to the screen now in a weekday daytime slot and with a new host. I feel that this version was different enough to review in a separate piece which will be coming soon.