Winner Takes All (ITV, 1975-1988)
There aren’t that many more game shows featuring contestants facing general knowledge questions for me to write about now, and although Winner Takes All ended a little before my time I’ve seen enough clips of it on YouTube and the like to feel that it is worthy of a review. This was a show which was hosted by Jimmy Tarbuck where contestants bet various amounts on possible answers.
Two contestants take part and they start with 50 points each. They are then shown a question which has five possible answers. These have various odds from 2-1 to the outsider 10-1, and contestants have to bet between five and 50 points on what they think the answer is by pressing their buttons, winning or losing that amount based on the answer. Curiously, Jimmy didn’t actually read out the questions on the show, all of this was done by the off-screen host Geoffrey Wheeler who also devised the show.
If the contestants went for different answers, Jimmy would then say what is the show’s best-known catchphrase “difference of opinion here!”. Among the questions were picture and audio clues too, plus a question sent in by a viewer. The highest-scoring contestant after five questions were asked went through to the final, and then the process started again with two new contestants.
The final had a similar format, but this time the two remaining contestants were playing for money, beginning with £50 each and then gambling in the same way, meaning that a lot of money could be won or lost. In the final, the winner could stay on to play for more money, and some contestants won over £5,000, which were among the highest cash amounts given away on any UK game show in the whole of the 1980s.
One thing that I do remember about Winner Takes All were a couple of amusingly odd out-takes that turned up on It’ll Be Alright On The Night. Firstly, there was one where Jim laughed a bit too loud at a contestant almost falling off their chair while he was talking to them. And there was another one where the hostess introducing the contestant got their name wrong despite it appearing on a name-badge that they were wearing.
Tarbuck hosted Winner Takes All for over a decade, and when he left in 1987 to host new game show Tarby’s Frame Game, some changes to the format were made. The show was moved to a daytime slot, and Geoffrey Wheeler became the sole host, finally appearing in-vision. However, this was not a success, partly because there was a lot less money on offer and ITV brought the show to the end in 1988. There was a brief revival in the 90s though when in its earliest days satellite channel Challenge launched their own version which was hosted by Bobby Davro although I haven’t seen that one myself.