Cryptogram (Channel 5, 1998)
In the almost 20 years that it has now been on air, I have watched several game shows on Channel 5 over the years, and I have already written about some of them on here including 100% and Whittle. Of course Cryptogram won’t be as well-remembered as those two, but because I do remember watching the show a couple of times, although it won’t mean much to many people and there is little online about it I might as well do a review to prove that it all happened.
In 1998 Channel 5 launched a short-lived daytime strand called Good Afternoon, featuring three programmes, and one of them was the 15-minute word game show Cryptogram. It was hosted by Rob Butler who was also one of Channel 5’s main news presenters at the time and it was nice of them to presumably give him a day off to host this. Two contestants took part to show off their word skills.
In the first round the contestants would be given a category and then they are given five anagrams which they have to buzz in and solve in ten seconds. The quicker they buzz in, the more points they score. The show is only remembered for an incident in this round in one edition where the category was directions and the clue was “PU”. Now that must have been a difficult one to solve. After the anagrams, the contestants are then asked three general knowledge questions on the same category on the buzzer for ten points each. This carried on until time was up, and then it was time for the final round which was Crack The Cryptic. A clue was given to a phrase which featured some words which turned up in the answers in the previous round, which was then filled in letter by letter, with the points on offer decreasing by two for every letter that need to be filled in, so again, the earlier you buzzed in, the more you would score and it could change the whole game.
This definitely wasn’t big budget or groundbreaking stuff, but the daily winner won the prize of an electronic personal organiser which featured things including a dictionary, thesaurus and crossword and puzzles solver. It probably isn’t too much of a surprise to learn that Cryptogram doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry, and it wouldn’t feature very highly in the history of game shows, even the ones on Channel 5, but there are a couple of editions on YouTube, and it filled the time while you were waiting for Countdown nicely I suppose. That’s all there is to say about it really.
I’ll be looking back at some more Channel 5 game shows including Night Fever and In The Grid soon.