The All-New Alphabet Show (ITV, 1987)
This is definitely one of the more curious game shows of its era, and indeed this just about qualifies as a comedy panel game (or a parody of one). When ITV decided to extend their hours in the late-80s, as they eventually went 24 hours, they had to fill the time with various things, and this included the Night Network strand. Among the features was a game show.
The All-New Alphabet Show (not to be confused with BBC1’s The Alphabet Game that launched about a decade later) was introduced as “the greatest game in the history of the universe”. It was something to a surprise to realise that this was hosted by Nicholas Parsons, as this was his first TV game show since Sale Of The Century (although he continued to host Just A Minute on the radio), and this was considered to be his comeback.
Two celebrity teams of two took part, consisting of comedians, pop stars, TV hosts, simply anybody who wanted to take the new opportunity of being able to appear on ITV at 2am. This led to a rather bizarre clash of styles as Nicholas interacted with all of these people whilst trying to keep the show under control. There was even a big sparkly curtain in the background so this was clearly going to be exciting.
There were 26 questions on offer, all covering a letter from A to Z. But unlike Blockbusters, it was the category that began with that letter, not the answer. Questions were worth between 5 and a sensational 25 points (although this didn’t really indicate their difficulty). Teams started with 100 points, and they would gain or lose them based on whether they got the right answer or not, and they also had the option to play or pass once they were told the category. Once Nicholas had found his glasses, he would ask the question.
Some questions would also be accompanied by a picture or music video. Teams could even gamble their points if they wanted, and also play the against the clock quickfire extra bonus challenge time round game, or whatever it was called. There would also be clearly pre-recorded applause constantly played, along with many other strange sound effects. Continue playing until time runs out, or bored. The winning team got a pencil, how terrific.