Gridlock (Carlton Select, 1997)
This is another game show that I don’t remember watching at the time, but I recently found a couple of editions online, and there are a few things that I found interesting about it, so I thought that it was worth featuring here. Firstly, it was shown on Carlton Select. What, Carlton Select?! This was a cable/digital channel in the late-90s that mostly showed repeats of old soaps and sitcoms, but they did try and put the effect into making some original programming.
Also, the show was created (and produced and directed) by Clive Doig, who was also behind Beat The Teacher and Turnabout (one of my favourite game shows, that has its 30th anniversary this month). Gridlock was hosted by Simon Biagi (“Simon, bid again, Simon!” reference time) who was also a weather presenter on GMTV around this time, before going off to QVC (not that I’ve ever watched it, honest).
Gridlock was a word game, and three contestants took part. In the first round, they were given various clues to a word with different meanings on the buzzer. Whoever gets it right can then fill in a space on a 7×5 grid with a letter. If they manage to make a word, they score some points, with the maximum being 20 points for making a seven-letter word. This carries on until the grid is full (where the term “gridlock” comes in).
Round two featured a wordsearch. Several words that were all on the same category were concealed in the grid, and they then had one minute to find as many as they could, with five points for every correct word, and a ten-point bonus if they find them all. Round three was very similar to what featured on Catchword. There were three letters, and contestants had to buzz in and provide a word with those letters in order. Again, the maximum length was seven letters.
Then there was one more round where contestants had the chance to place letters in a grid, but this time they did it individually in 90 seconds, which is a big chance to really boost their score. There were also some letters randomly placed to start them off. Gridlock had a knockout format, and the highest-scoring contestants went into the next stage, with the losers taking away the consolation prizes of a clock, pen and keyring (this show must be unique in giving away a keyring).
As the series progressed, contestants received further prizes, including dictionaries and CD-Roms. Unsurprisingly there isn’t a huge amount about Gridlock online, but it is always good seeing a non-mainstream channel having a go at trying to create a successful format that people will enjoy, even it’s never going to be the highest-rated show on TV.