Timekeepers (BBC1, 1995-1996)
Timekeepers is a BBC daytime game show from the mid-90s, and I was very pleased when an edition finally turned up on YouTube recently because it was the first time that I had seen the show for 20 years and it brought back enough memories for me to put a piece together about it. Timekeepers was hosted by Bill Dod who is better known nowadays as a news presenter.
The show began with the award-winning title sequence (and I am not even being sarcastic in this case, the titles for this show really did win an award, and featuring various computer-generated cogs and pendulums whirring around in space it definitely looked impressive for the time). Every day three contestants (or “timekeepers” as Bill preferred to call them) took part.
They all began with five minutes on their clock and had to maintain as much time as they could by playing through the various rounds. In the first round contestants were asked six questions on their various specialist subjects, and they lost ten seconds of time for every incorrect answer, meaning that one minute of their time was at stake here.
In the second round more questions were answered on the buzzer, but curiously contestants would be “reverse-wallied” so to speak with whoever gave the correct answer being locked out of the following question. The other two contestants would lose ten seconds. The third round had an interesting idea. All 12 points of the clockface were represented by individual words instead of numbers. A clue would be read out that would combine two of the words and the contestants had to give their answer in the form of time based on where the words were on the clock, for example, they would say “it’s 11:05” and that would be given as correct.
The final round was a quickfire buzzer round. If you answered correctly you could steal ten seconds of one of your opponent’s time. This is similar to a round in ITV’s Runway which was made by the same production company. Curiously though if no-one could give a correct answer to a question all three contestants would be penalised and have ten seconds each deducted from their clock. There was no time limit indicated on the screen but various sound effects indicated when there was one minute and so on left to play, and at the end the contestant who had retained the most time on their clock went into the final which was the March Against Time.
In this, the winning contestant answered 15 questions against the one minute clock, winning five, ten or 15 seconds of time for each correct answer. When time was up, the bonus time they had gained, plus any time left on the clock after the questions were asked was added together and the highest scorers were placed on a Fifteen-To-One-style leaderboard, with the best players coming back at the end of the series, and the overall series winner won the star prize of an expensive antique carriage clock.
I do remember watching Timekeepers but unfortunately it hasn’t endured as well as over various daytime shows including Going For Gold. Only two series were made and I’m fairly sure that it hasn’t been repeated since it left the screen on BBC1 in 1996 and there is very little about the show online. This is a shame as the show had some creative ideas and technically looked very good for its time.