That’s Showbusiness (BBC1, 1989-1996)
It’s time for a review of a celebrity panel game. There were two different versions of That’s Showbusiness, but the show was hosted for the whole run by Mike Smith. In the original format two teams of three celebrities took part, with Gloria Hunniford and Kenny Everett as the regular team captains, and well you can’t go wrong with Everett on board, and there was a lot of fun to be had. This piece will concentrate on the second format of the show which was launched in 1992.
From this point there were no regulars, and two teams of two which changed every week took part. The panellists were chosen from all parts of showbusiness, with comedians, TV presenters, soap stars, and many others taking part. Throughout the series there were various rounds that were of course all about the world of showbusiness and panellists were tested on their knowledge of film and TV from the past and present.
Rounds included being asked questions on TV shows in various genres such as comedy, and there was also a round where panellists had to work out which celebrities had been romantically linked to who, and also a round where teams had to guess who said an unusual quote. There would also be questions asked about films that had been recently released at the cinema or on video.
One of the best remembered rounds was where panellists were challenged to show off their musical talent (or lack of). They would be shown a song which would then fade away, and they would both have to sing along, until the music came back, and points would be awarded on how in tune they stayed. There is also a similar round to this in BBC Radio 4’s I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue. In the final round, teams were asked questions for one minute with both team members alternating in answering. Although there was a point-scoring format and Mike declared a winning team at the end, there were no prizes on offer and the most important thing was how much fun the teams had showing off their knowledge and talent.
Another memorable element of the show was when Mike would surprise a panellist by showing a “before they were famous”-style clip of them from the archive when they were just starting out, and on most occasions they would be suitably embarrassed or just horrified. Another thing that I liked about this era of That’s Showbusiness was the set design, it looked great and featured various famous images from films and TV, such as Marilyn Monroe’s legs and King Kong.
That’s Showbusiness would go on to be successful in a prime-time slot for seven years until it ended in 1996, at which point Mike Smith just about ended his TV presenting career, although he went on to work on other projects behind the scenes with further success, and it was an awful shame a few years ago to hear of his death at the age of 59 because he was always a good presenter to watch.