Bob’s Full House (BBC1, 1984-1990)
This is it. Bob’s Full House is one of the reasons that I really became a fan of TV game shows, and it’s also one of the reasons that I decided to create a blog because I really want to share my memories of this one with everyone. It is a difficult choice, but I really do think that this might be my all-time favourite game show, and I’ve been really looking forward to telling you why.
Bob’s Full House was a bingo type-game that was of course hosted by the great Bob Monkhouse, and although he hosted several game shows, this was definitely the best one of his long career. His doors were always open for you. Four contestants took part to play in the various rounds for a chance to win the star prize of a holiday.
Each contestant had 15 numbers on their card. In the first round the contestants the had to light the four corners. Bob would ask various questions on the buzzer, some were rather straightforward general knowledge questions, but some were a little more quirky. Bob also also drop in the occasional great joke too. If the contestant got it right, they chose one of their corners to light, but if they got the answer wrong though, they were frozen out of the next question, or “wallied”, as it was famously described. The first contestant to light all four corners could pick from a choice of prizes.
In the second round, contestants had to complete the middle line of their card. This time they had to pick from various categories on the Monkhouse Master Card. (“It’s time to take your pick of the six!”) If they got the answer right, they could light their chosen number, but if they got it wrong, it went on offer to the other contestants. Also hidden away was a “Lucky Number” and if the contestant got that question right it would win them a bonus prize.
There was a twist though, just as the contestants had worked out what was where, they would “mix the six” and change the categories available. Again though the first contestant to complete their middle line won a bonus prize. The final round was the Full House round, where contestants had to complete the rest of their card. This was a very fast-paced round on the buzzer, with the “wallied” rule in place, and Bob constantly updating the contestants on how many more numbers they needed. The winner gets a prize and goes through to the Golden Card Game.
In the final there is one minute on the clock and 15 questions available. If the contestant gets one right, the clock is stopped and they can pick a number. If there’s nothing behind the number, they win the value of that number in cash. But if they reveal a letter, it’s a clue to a holiday destination. If they get enough questions right in time to pick all the numbers which conceal a letter, the place that is spelled out is the destination of their star prize holiday. If they didn’t succeed though, they won the consolation of a hamper.
Bob’s Full House remained popular with viewers throughout the whole of its run, and also featured celebrity Christmas specials, and there were also computer game and board game versions released, and the first series was repeated on Challenge a while back which was great. There were also later game shows that featured the same Bingo element including The Biggest Game In Town and I’ll look back at those soon.
There are so many things for me that make Bob’s Full House work so well. As well as the terrific gameplay element, everything else is great about the show too, including the various sound effects, even the way that the question cards are different colours for each round, and Bob is clearly enjoying hosting the show and is really at his best here, with his super catchphrases, slick presentation and blatant cheating in the final among his highlights. Over 30 years on Bob’s Full House remains the pinnacle of Saturday night showbiz entertainment on any channel, and it’s still a brilliant show and a real classic.