This is an area of game shows that I might as well explore. About a decade ago there was a sudden trend for interactive game shows, where viewers could call in to answer questions and win cash prizes, although I must say that I never called any myself. But it turned out that some of these were rather dubious. Most of the questions were too difficult and very few calls would be taken. These shows also seemed to fill up endless hours on various channels overnight, and the majority of them are not worth reviewing in that much depth really (and this is before we even get into the area of bingo and roulette channels), with the exception of two that I remember watching.
Quiz Call (2005-2009)
I think that this was one of the earliest of these type of shows that launched on Freeview. What made me take notice of it was that it did seem to be a new and interesting idea (at first anyway), and a lot of the presenters had also appeared on Bid TV which I watched regularly (including Mike Mason), and I remember them waving around oversized banknotes and telling us to call right now, or if you have already called, try again!
One feature was where if a caller gave a right answer (which didn’t happen very often), they could play a bonus game where if the next random day on the calendar matched their birthday they would win even more. This reminds me of one of the more memorable moments when they actually had a bonus winner, and they seemed to be so thrilled about it that it was always repeated when the channel was off air for the night, or they need a filler if the phone lines had gone down. “The eighth of May!”
Maybe I am a little biased towards this one because a couple of the hosts are now kindly following me on Twitter, but I remember watching Quizmania long before that, because this was the show where they often liked to give away a big wadge of money! Presenters included Chuck Thomas and Greg Scott with his financial fingers of fate who had recently left Price-Drop TV where I enjoyed watching him, and after a short while Quizmania was successful enough to be shown overnight on ITV (during the brief boom of these shows ITV even launched their own dedicated channel in 2006 called ITV Play).
I do feel that Quizmania was one of the better phone-in shows, and in its defence I would say that unlike most of the other shows the presenters did at the very least try to entertain viewers whilst waiting for calls rather than stare into space which led to some funny moments, and they gave away some decent amounts of money. I think that at least a couple of callers won five-figure sums whilst other channels were giving away tenners.
One highlight with Greggles that sticks in my mind was the night when he gave a clue to one of the harder answers and said that he would take a call when the clock stopped. A caption then appeared on screen that said “GREG’S HARD CLOCK!”, and you could tell that everyone in the studio was really hoping that he would say this wrong, because it would be very funny and Greg would be embarrassed. But, professional that he is, he didn’t. However, he would often make the studio crew laugh by doing various things, including telling silly jokes, getting irritated by the sound effects, bickering with callers, and randomly falling over. Live TV can do odd things to people it seems.