Through The Keyhole (ITV, 1987-1995, 2013-present, Sky One, 1996, BBC1, 1997-2006, BBC2, 2007-2008)
This show is more in the area of celebrity panel game than straightforward game show, but Through The Keyhole was the remarkably long-running game where we could have a snoop around the homes of the famous and try to guess who lived there. The show was hosted by Sir David Frost, taking some time off from interviewing presidents.
Through The Keyhole originally began as a feature in the early days of TV-am, hosted by Frost. After a while in 1987 Yorkshire turned the feature into a primetime game show, and Loyd Grossman moonlighting from Masterchef became the co-host, and in its various formats it would eventually run for over 20 years.
Every week there was a celebrity panel of three and their job was simply to guess which famous person lived in the house. Through The Keyhole really was a show that settled into a regular routine right from the start so all of the catchphrases would become familiar very quickly. Every time we would be told by Frost “remember, the clues are there”.
Loyd would then walk around the house for a while and point to various things that supposedly would give clues to who the famous person was. Loyd would always conclude “who would live in a house like this?”. Then we would be told by Frost “and here’s whose house it is” so if we wanted to play along at home we had to run out the room for that part.
The celebrity panel (which regularly featured the likes of Chris Tarrant and Willie Rushton and anyone else who wasn’t that busy) would then have to debate who it was. They would always start off by having no idea, but by asking a few questions to which Frost would insist that they were almost right they would always miraculously get the right person in about three minutes.
The celebrity would then walk on for a brief interview with Frost about their house and also their career, and they would then receive a special golden Through The Keyhole key as a memento for taking part. Do this twice in every show and that’s about it really, but it became very popular with viewers.
The era I remember watching most was when Through The Keyhole was shown on ITV in primetime, usually on Friday evenings. It was notable for the wide variety of people who took part, and for rivaling Catchphrase for having a mid-80s pink and blue neon set for the longest after it looked really dated. The show left ITV in 1995 but that wasn’t the end by any means.
I was surprised to discover just how long Through The Keyhole ran for. After leaving ITV it went to Sky One and was now produced by Frost’s own production company. By 1997 it had moved to BBC1 and had now become a weekday daytime show, with Loyd Grossman leaving as co-host in 2003.
But that still wasn’t it. For the final couple of series Through The Keyhole moved to BBC2 and finally ended in 2008 with Frost still in the chair. By then it looked like the sturdy format had finally been retired. In recent years though there has been a revival of the format on ITV, but for me the original version is still the best.