Game Show Memories – Runway.

Runway (ITV, 1987-1993)

This is another 9:25am weekday game show and this one about travel, history and the world which was originally hosted by Chris Serle, but more people including myself remember when it was hosted by Richard Madeley from the second series. Because he also hosted ITV daytime show This Morning at the time which he would preview before Runway started, he would always introduce the show by saying “now here’s a game show hosted by a handsome-looking man”. Every single time.

Every day three contestants took part. As the first round began the studio set would spin round to face the board. In this round the contestants would be introduced with some facts about themselves, including their name, place of birth and occupation, but not their age because that was one of the rounds; guess your opponent’s age. Oh yes. vlcsnap-01229

To help aid them in doing this, the contestants received a few clues, including a sepia-tinted photograph of the contestant when they were a child (cue “weren’t you adorable”-type comments), a newspaper cover from the day that they were born, and some newsreel footage from the year that they were born. After the contestants guessed, they then revealed their age, with points offered for who was the closest. Richard would then typically as only he could say something like “you actually look a lot older”, and there would then be some questions on the buzzer about events that happened in the year of their birth. vlcsnap-01230

In the next round contestants are individually given a category and nine answers appear on the board. They are asked the questions and have to pick the correct answer from the board. If they get one wrong they can’t go back to it, but there is a bonus if they get all nine right. There is then a fourth board shown for everyone to play on the buzzer. Richard would then ask the viewers a question going into the break so they couldn’t nod off during the adverts. vlcsnap-01231

In part two, we get the answer to that question and then there’s the Dirty Tricks round. There are more questions to answer on the buzzer. The contestant who gets it right then has a choice. They can take some points for themselves or deduct some from their opponents, which would often lead to a hostile response from the studio audience. This meant that the lead could frequently change and the highest-scorer at the end goes into the final, with the runners-up receiving consolation prizes. vlcsnap-01232

The winning contestant must answer nine questions correctly in 75 seconds. A country is picked at random and then they have to answer questions on its history. If a contestant was lucky, they would get something simple like America, but if they ended up with something like Burkina Faso they were screwed. As they got questions right they would light up the runway, originally an LCD board that was changed to computer graphics in later series. After they had got three correct answers, the clock was stopped and they had the chance to trade for another country or stick with the one that they were on. They had this trade again after six correct answers. If they manage to light all nine parts of the runway in time they won the star prize of a luxury holiday. vlcsnap-01233

Runway was made by Action Time for Granada and ran for six years on daytime ITV, and once again I tried to watch as regularly as I could. There was a bizarre rumour that for the final series studio audience attendances were so low that the back row was filled out with dummies wearing wigs and nobody noticed. It also seems that surprisingly Serle-era shows were repeated on long-gone satellite channel Granada Plus. Can you imagine that channel’s nearest modern-day equivalent ITV3 doing the same thing?

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