Didn’t They Do Well (BBC1, 2004)
This is a game show that was hosted by the one and only Bruce Forsyth, on his return to the BBC. This one had a rather interesting idea, because as we’ll see, he didn’t actually ask most of the questions. Three teams of two took part, but before the game actually began, there was plenty of time for Bruce’s jokes, and a lot of “tell us a funny anecdote”-style interaction to introduce the contestants.
In the first round, we were introduced to what were known as the nine “quizmasters”. These were the hosts of (mainly BBC) game shows from the 60s to the present, and questions that they asked would be used on this show. Some of these were rather famous and long-running including Mastermind, but there were some more surprising choices including the short-lived Brainstorm with Kenny Everett and Quiz Time Gentleman Please (even I have no idea what that one is).
Seeing these long-gone shows unexpectedly referenced and being taken out of the archive to be given another brief moment of fame all these years on was a really good touch. Being familiar with the shows would be to a team’s advantage, as it would give them a clue to what category the question would be on. For example, if they picked Pop Quiz, it would be a question on music.
The teams picked a quizmaster and they had to answer the question for one point. After this, Bruce says “did you enjoy that round? Well let’s do it again”. And they picked from the six remaining, this time for two points. In round two, there is a choice of four categories. They are shown a short montage of people associated with that category. They then have to say who the five people were for one point each. If they do, they are asked a bonus question about them for three points (“wherever I go, my bonuses go!”).
The lowest-scoring team at then end of this round are eliminated, and Bruce says “didn’t you do badly!”. You will notice that this show is rather catchphrase heavy even by Bruce’s standards, they definitely made the most of his strengths in that area. Round three features six archive clips of people describing something, such as a chat show host introducing a guest. There are ten points on offer, with the value decreasing for the longer it is shown.
When they think they know, they buzz in. Get it wrong though, and they can’t try again until their opponents have had a go. Again, the lowest-scoring team are eliminated. In the final, there are eight questions from various shows of seemingly increasing difficulty, and 90 seconds on the clock. They are shown the question, and if they get it right, the clock stops and they can move up to the next question.
If they get it wrong, they are asked another question from the same show. They are given a choice of playing on or taking the final question (“do you want to play for the cash, or build up your stash?”). If they ran out of time they lost the money, so there’s the option of the final gamble. There are given a choice of three questions and told what category they are on. Get it right and they win the money they made, with a maximum of £32,000 on offer.
Get it wrong and they lose it all. To think that winning thousands of pounds rested on a question asked by Cuddly Ken on Brainstorm was really great. It was a surprise to notice that Bruce’s career lasted as long as the “you leave with nothing” era of game shows, and this harshness didn’t sit right with a lot of people. They wouldn’t even win a consolation. Bruce was a great host as always though and very generous to the contestants, but there was only one series of Didn’t They Do Well as shortly after he went off to host Strictly Come Dancing.