Star Test (Channel 4, 1989-1991)
This is another curious programme with a difference. I’m fairly sure that Star Test was made by the same production team as The Chart Show, which didn’t feature a host, with music videos being linked by computer graphics. One day they probably thought of how they can extend that idea further and create a show where they could essentially conduct a celebrity interview without a host.
Every week in Star Test a celebrity would sit in a chair in a rather large room and some computer graphics would appear on the screen (accompanied by appropriate beeping noises) featuring various categories (Faith & Fortune, Power & Glory) and so on. After selecting a category, some numbers from about 1 to 16 would appear, each one concealing a question. They would then pick a number and a female disembodied voice would ask them that question, which they would then answer usually accompanied by a somewhat uncomfortably close facial close-up mixed with some unusual cutaway shots. After a few questions, they could then choose another category.
Some of the questions ranged from the straightforward (“what is your favourite film?”) to the rather bizarre (“do you like bubblegum?”), and we learned a lot of useless trivia about people along the way. Various celebrities took part in Star Test, including a lot of pop stars from the late-80s/early-90s, which such people as Betty Boo, Sam Brown, Wendy James and Kim Wilde facing the questions who all would have definitely been familiar to viewers at the time.
There was a twist added in the later series. As the show was on TV, viewers could call one of two phone numbers to determine if they thought that the celebrity was being truthful about their answers or not. At the end there was an extra feature where various words appeared on the screen and the celebrity was asked to pick the five that they thought described their personality best. One upside to all this probing though was if they did well enough they would usually end the show by showing the video to their new single.
Star Test ran for three series and almost 50 celebrities were brave enough to take part, and the show was also parodied in the third series of French And Saunders. I remember watching the show on Sunday mornings, although it seems that it was also shown in a prime-time slot for a while, and watching some editions again recently brought the memories back. Star Test was a very interesting variation on the usual question and answer format which came across as another enjoyably quirky show by Channel 4, it’s a shame that they didn’t make more series.