The Cross-Wits (1975-1980)
Cross Wits was a daytime game show that ran on ITV for 13 years, and it was yet another that was based on American format. The Cross-Wits (note the slightly different name) launched in the mid-70s and was hosted by the late Jack Clark. It was a show that was based around solving cryptic crossword puzzles. Again, I noticed that there were some rather big differences from the UK version.
First of all, two teams of three took part, consisting of one contestant along with two celebrities (it was one contestant and one celebrity in the UK version). The crossword appeared on the screen, usually consisting of six clues. Because technology wasn’t advanced enough at the time, the puzzles weren’t computer generated, which meant that the chosen clue had to be indicated to viewers by a female co-host pointing to it (however, the board was computer generated by the time of a revival in 1986).
The contestant nominates one of their celebrity teammates to choose a clue. If they don’t get it right in time, it is passed over to the contestant to have a go. If they get it wrong too, play passes to the other team. There was also a word on the board giving a clue to the link between the answers, with a bonus on offer for guessing the key word. If they think they know the key word, rather than buzzing in, the contestant announces that they would like to confer with the teammates on what it is.
The scoring system was also different. There were ten points per letter on offer for every solved clue (it was one point per letter in the UK version), with a 100 point bonus for getting the key word (10 points in the UK). There was also a prize on offer for winning a round, and if a team managed to score over 1,000 points in a game, the contestant won a bonus of $1,000.
One of the rounds played also featured in the UK version. No clue word was given, and the teams had to solve one of the clues. If they could guess the key word from just this they won a bonus prize of a car, in the UK it was a telephone, that’s something of a contrast. If they didn’t get it, the clue word was revealed and play carried on as normal (unlike the UK there was no anagram round or musical round though). When time was up, the highest-scoring team went into the final.
This was called the Crossfire round. The contestant nominated one of their two celebrity teammates to play this with them. They then had to get ten clues correct in 60 seconds between them to win the star prize of a holiday (the final was the same in the UK version). The Cross-Wits eventually ran for about five years and did fairly well with over 1,000 editions being made and lots of amusing moments. And remember, never a cross word.