Parallel Playback (CBBC, 1992)
Way back in the summer of ’92, 25 years ago, I enjoyed the first series of the CBBC Saturday Morning show Parallel 9, and one of the features was the game show Parallel Playback, which was hosted by the terrific Spam Ululux, who kept something of a tight hold on the production of the show. Not only was he the host and the creator, but he was also the producer, the executive producer, and the executive executive producer!
Every week the reverse rulesmaster would be joined by his glamorous keyboard-playing assistant Skynette, and two contestants took part. The idea was that everything was done backwards, so they already had their prizes and they had to give them back to win the game! The first round (or was it the final round) was called Backfire which always brought the show to an exciting finish.
In this round contestants were asked various questions such as having to spell words backwards and identifying things in negative pictures and if they got them right they could give five prizes back. Remember, if they gave a right answer, they got a song, but if they got it wrong, they got a gong. Our host also often liked to say “that is!” when a correct answer was given.
The second round was Rewind, and now they could give back ten prizes for correct answers. Questions included having to identify famous people from hearing some speech of them played backwards, and there would also be backwards archive TV clips accompanied by a breathless commentary as things such as long jumpers tidying up all the sand by jumping out of the pit, and a cup of tea that appeared to spit out a sugar lump happened. Again, questions would be asked about what they had just seen.
The final round was Back ‘N’ There, where up to 25 prizes could be given back. This was a round which featured an obstacle course which again was played backwards, which made things rather awkward as every race would end in a tie, so instead prizes were given back judged on how well the obstacles were tackled, such as building a sandcastle and unpopping some balloons.
After this, the host would ask one final time “how did they cope?”, and the final scores would be revealed, and it would be very exciting as a contestant could win the show by the margin of just half an empty shelf. The overall winner could pick as their prize two board games from a selection on offer, while the runner-up could choose one, I’m jealous, I wish I had The Crystal Maze one. Then the show would end at the start with a lovely song.
Why on earth did I even watch this? Parallel Playback was a rather silly game show, and a similar idea about playing games in reverse was put to better use in CITV’s Crazy Cottage a few years later. As far as other Saturday Morning game shows go, it’s not really up there with classics such as Double Dare and Run The Risk, and even though it doesn’t have an entry on the UK Game Shows website, never mind Wikipedia (there is a reference on the BBC Genome though so there), I’m classing this as a legitimate game show because I did like it and it really did happen.