Game Show Memories – Bamboozle!

Bamboozle! (ITV/Channel 4, 1993-2009)

Is this a game show? I don’t know really, but because I don’t have that many more left to review now, I thought that I might as well do something different as I do remember playing this one myself. Does that mean that I appeared on the TV playing it? Well no not really, this was an interactive game show that was possible for viewers to play while sat at home.

In January 1993 Teletext replaced Oracle as the interactive text service on ITV and Channel 4 that provided information about news, sport, and so on. As I think I’ve said already, one of my favourite features was the game Bamboozle! that was hosted by the somewhat animated Bamber Boozler, who unless he was having a day off or there were technical problems would ask us the questions, and he would quickly become one of Britain’s most respected inquisitors. b1

The idea of Bamboozle! was that Bamber would ask the multiple-choice questions (sometimes they were all on the same theme, but usually they could be about anything), and the viewer chose what they thought was the right answer by pressing the corresponding coloured button on their TV remote control, and you had to get as many correct as you could. vlcsnap-00550

If you gave a wrong answer, you would be “bamboozled!” and have to go back to a particular determined point (and Bamber would be left yellow-faced by your uselessness), but Bamber’s wife Bambette would offer you a consolation question. I remember when Bamboozle! launched there were 25 questions, and if you got one wrong, you went right back to the start, which was rather harsh, although this changed over the years, and eventually settled down to 12 questions with various safe points. b2

It may seem a little similar to the format of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire but there were definitely no big-money prizes on offer here. The final page would feature Bamber congratulating you and determining your score based on how many answers you got correct first time. Occasionally there would also be a page featuring a competition that you could enter for a prize. After a while, a similar game launched on Teletext called Ten To One, which was hosted by Bamber’s brother Brian, where all the questions were about sport, and at the weekend Bamber’s son Buster would host a variation of Bamboozle! for younger viewers. b3

By the end in 2009, the questions updated every day, and Bamber was estimated to have asked around 57,000 questions, that’s nearly as many as William G Stewart on Fifteen-To-One. I remember that I always tried to play Bamboozle! as often as I could (as yes I did try and cheat by pressing lots of buttons), and after Teletext closed there was an attempt to revive the game as an interactive app so you could play it on your phone but that didn’t seem to last very long.


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