Down The Dumper – The 80s Part 10.

This is a group that I have already done two pieces about, but as they qualify for this series, I thought that I would take a closer look at the story behind this single. The Belle Stars started out in 1979 as The Bodysnatchers, they had some minor success before changing their name and line-up in 1981, and after a few releases, they hit the big time in 1983 with “Sign Of The Times”.

Their following singles didn’t do as well, but it was thought that there would still be a lot of people eager to discover what their next move would be. In June 1984 “80s Romance” was released, which was to planned to be the first idea of what they would have to come on their second album. Barely a year on from their Top Ten hit though, it all went rather wrong for the stylish septet.

The video for this one is rather curious. The first two minutes or so consist of a look behind the scenes, showing how everything was put together. There’s also a reference to Canary Wharf which I thought was rather odd as that hadn’t yet been built in 1984. But then I remembered that’s what the actual area of London is (which was still barely developed at the time), the building is actually called 1 Canada Square, unless they could see five years into the future.

The video continues with the behind the scenes look, and there are lots of clapperboards and cameras in shot and the like, along with a dance routine that they couldn’t do properly, with one letter each of “romance” painted on their T-shirts, along with some terrific lyrics like “this is 80s romance/textbooks in our pockets/mud on our faces!” (well I think that’s right).

The combination of all this didn’t go down very well though. Smash Hits were rather harsh about this one by their standards, saying “a weak melody and some godawful lyrics”, while Record Mirror went even further, simply saying “horrible record”. Oh dear. “80s Romance” reached a very disappointing no. 71, work stopped on the new album, and The Belle Stars split very shortly after.

But that wasn’t the end just yet, as The Belle Stars returned in 1986, but now as a trio, with something of a different look and sound, and they had lost so many members that the saxophonist was reassigned as the drummer. Unfortunately despite their new single “World Domination” being rather good, nobody was bothered by this point, and what was left of The Belle Stars split for good.

After going their separate ways, most of them also left the music business altogether, and apart from a best-of, the only work under The Belle Stars name since was a brief tour of the nostalgia circuit in the early-2000s, that seemed to consist of three random women, and there is currently no active version of the group, not even performing “Sign Of The Times” down the pub or anything.

The YouTube Files – Sale Of The Century USA.

Sale Of The Century (NBC, 1969-1973, 1983-1989)

I have already done three pieces taking a look back at the UK versions of Sale Of The Century, which were the original on ITV, along with the revivals on Sky One and Challenge. And I’m sure that you’ve all been waiting for a fourth piece, so I thought that I would review the original American version too. Although this was another one that launched in the late-60s, I’ll look at the format that had been established by the mid-80s.

The host by this point was Jim Perry, who we have previously come across when he was host of Card Sharks (the American version of Play Your Cards Right), accompanied by far too many co-hosts. Three contestants including a defending champion took part, and their aim was to answer the questions and bag those bargains. Jim had a multicoloured display on the front of his desk that went green for correct answers, and red for incorrect ones. vlcsnap-00041

The contestants all begin with $20, and whatever round it is, they get $5 for every correct answer, with $5 deducted for an incorrect one. And there are also the Instant Bargains. An item is shown to the contestant with the highest score. If they like what they see, they buzz in, and the price is deducted from their score. If they are unsure, the host will occasionally take the price down even further, to as little as $5 sometimes, making it almost impossible to turn down. vlcsnap-00042

There was also The Fame Game that was played three times in a show. A question about a famous person or thing is read. Buzz in and get it right, and they can choose from one of nine squares on the board. Some concealed money values which increased in every round, up to $25, so if that was found it could make all the difference. vlcsnap-00044

The game ends with the 60 seconds speed round, which is the final chance to make some money. The contestant with the highest score progresses to the Winners Board. This features 20 squares, and behind them are various prizes. If the contestant finds a match, they win the prize. If they found a square that said “WIN”, they instantly won what was behind the next square they chose. vlcsnap-00043

Winners could come back until they had won everything that was on offer on the board, and this included a car, lots of money, and many other fancy things, meaning that they could win over $100,000 in cash and prizes, not bad at all. Once again it’s fairly clear that the prizes on offer were much more valuable than in the UK version, and this format continued successfully into the late-80s.

The YouTube Files – Now You See It USA.

Now You See It (CBS, 1974-1975, 1989)

This is another American game show that came to the UK in the 80s. There were two versions of the original, the first was in the mid-70s, and then there was a revival for a short while in 1989. Being more interested in 80s TV, I’ll review that version. The basic idea of Now You See It is to try and find the hidden words, they really are right in front of your eyes if you look close enough.

The host in charge of this version was Chuck Henry. The set design featured three different stages where the three parts of the game were played, each one higher up than the last, it looked mildly scary. Two contestants took part, and the format had changed a little since the original version. There was a grid with four rows of various letters, which unlike the in the 70s was now computer-generated. vlcsnap-00036

The clue is given, and the points on offer that start at 100, drop five at a time, stopping at 25. If the contestant thinks they know the answer, they have to buzz in (cue weird flashing light effect), and give what line the word is on as well as the actual answer. Getting it wrong means their opponent can have a go. The board changes at the halfway point, and if they are short of time, the points get doubled. The first to score 1,000 points progresses to the next round. vlcsnap-00037

They then go on to play the defending champion, and it seems that lucky mascots were encouraged, although whether these people thought that they were succeeding because they had a baseball with them is unclear. What is also rather unusual is that you can hear Chuck talking to the contestants as they go to the break. You did really well, honest! vlcsnap-00038

In round two, the board contains six words all on the same category that have to be found. They have to buzz in to give the first one, and then they have 20 seconds to find the other five. If they don’t, their opponent has five seconds to find just one remaining word. Their screens pop up and down so they can’t see the grid in advance. Whoever wins the first round gets $200. This is then played again for $300, $400, and so on. The first contestant to win $1,000 makes the final. Whoever achieves this is usually rather pleased to put it mildly. vlcsnap-00035

In the final, ten answers have to be found on a grid in 60 seconds. $100 is won for every word found, and by now, as well as having to find the correct line, they also have to circle the word using an electronic pencil. If they achieve this, they win the star prize, and as contestants can return for up to five days, they can win thousands of dollars, along with plenty of prizes. There was also a computer game version around this time. vlcsnap-00039

The YouTube Files – Lingo USA.

Lingo (1987-1988)

This is the original American version of the game show that briefly appeared on ITV in the late-80s. Lingo was the game that combined wordpower and Bingo, and was described as “television’s most challenging game”, which might be overselling it a little. There were various hosts, including Ralph Andrews (who wasn’t the creator of This Is Your Life, that was Ralph Edwards).

The format was fairly similar to what happened in the UK version. Two teams of two took part, and played with a 5×5 grid. One had odd numbers, the other had even numbers, and seven numbers are automatically filled. The had to guess the mystery five-letter words within five goes, and they were given the first letter to start them off. Get the word right, and they can choose two balls, which are announced by the co-host. vlcsnap-00029

The numbers are then placed on their card. If a jackpot ball is found, they can win a bonus, but only if they win the overall game. If they don’t, the prize rolls over to the next game. But finding a red ball means that they lose their turn, so the contestants would often say “no red ball”, in a similar style to how they would constantly squeal “no whammys!” on Press Your Luck. vlcsnap-00030

The first team to create a Lingo, whether in a horizontal, vertical, or diagonal direction, win a bonus and go on to the final. In this, there is another 5×5 grid, which has 16 squares filled in. But the idea is now to not create a Lingo. Again, they had to guess words, but they were now given two letters to start off. They then have to pick out as many balls as guesses they needed to find the word, a maximum of five. vlcsnap-00031

If the number isn’t on the board, then it’s good news. Finding a gold ball is even better, as that means an automatic win. If they do succeed, they can go on to the next word for a chance to double their money, but finding a Lingo means they will lose a lot. They could play up to five times, meaning that the maximum that they could win was $64,000. vlcsnap-00032

This was much more than the £3,200 that was on offer in the British version (and even that was pushing it based on the restrictions on prize money in place at the time). There were some rather tense finishes where people pushed their luck and could barely believe what happened. Games could also straddle if they were unfinished at the end of an edition. vlcsnap-00033

Lingo originally ran in America for only about six months, and there have been several other versions of the show around the world, mostly in European countries. There was then a revival of the show in America in the 2000s, and recently there have been rumours that Lingo might be returning in the UK after over three decades soon too, which could be interesting.

The YouTube Files – Gladiators USA.

American Gladiators (1989-1996)

This is another example of a game show that started in America, before coming to the UK, and also going on to be a big success in many other versions around the world. This was the show where athletes competed against the might of the Gladiators in various challenges, and you really did have to be rather fit to beat them. One of the main hosts was Mike Adamle, and you’ll soon see why I am rather familiar with that name (not just because the surname is almost the same as my first name).

The format of American Gladiators was fairly similar to what we got in this country. Two male and two female contestants competed against each other in usually around six games, to try and score some points, but the Gladiators will aim to stop them. They all had the usual names that made them sound all big and tough like Laser, Nitro, and Zap, there were lots of them. Some of the games were rather familiar too, with the Duel being among the most famous. The referee always had to make sure that they were keeping track of the action. vlcsnap-00024

Can the amateurs beat the professionals at their own game? Well whatever points were scored by the contestants were then taken into the final challenge which was the Eliminator, a demanding obstacle course that really will test their strength. Let’s hope that they’re fit enough. This was a knockout format, with the winner progressing to the next round, and the overall series champion winning a cash prize, usually around $10,000. along with lots of acclaim. vlcsnap-00027

One thing that is interesting about American Gladiators is that it was presented almost as if it was sport coverage more than a game show, with plenty of breathless commentary, along with analysis of how the contestants have performed, and also a rather enthusiastic crowd. There were seven series of the show, that led to a computer game, along with a soundtrack of the music used. vlcsnap-00025

The UK version launched in the early-90s, and proved to be a good hit with viewers, enhancing Saturday nights on ITV. After a while there was an international special that was held in this country, where contestants and Gladiators from across the world competed, and Adamle was also one of the hosts of this, I hope he managed to put up with John Fashanu.vlcsnap-00026

And the original US version was also shown in this country on ITV, although rather late at night. As I had got into the British version, out of curiosity I decided to set the video for an edition one night, which just happened to be the grand final (which was co-hosted by Adamle), so there was a lot at stake and it was all rather exciting. And just like in the UK in the late-2000s, there was a revival of the format in America, which would run for a couple of series.

More TV Memories – Bid Best Bits – Part 12.

This will probably be the last one in this series. Over the years, Peter Simon became known for his rather bizarre turn of phrase on Bid, the pressure of live TV was clearly getting to him. So this will be a list of about 100 of his best quotes. They are compiled from memory, various bits I recorded or wrote down, Peter’s Wikipedia entry, and the entertaining Twitter @PeterSimonSays account, the gift that keeps on giving. Are you ready? Let’s do it then.

“A couple of moments ago, 30 seconds ago, we pulled the handle, the machine ran, and the numbers that it delivered? Well, it was this”.
“All… all today’s TV listings, of course, all today’s T… TV… er, products, are, are on our, listings… site, all the w’s dot bid dot tv”.
“And, cue the orchestra! Oh yes!”.
“And I’ve got a little pimple where I was having my little shorts on. Hmm, it was nice actually. Angelfish swam round me. I got something caught on the coral but it was alright. At least I’ve got something to catch. It’s a girl from New Zealand”.
“And there’s a lad who crushes hazelnuts with his eyelids”.
“At £9, for the whole lot, that is nine one pound notes”.
“Bid your bid in now”.
“Bless you, that sneeze was that good people have got up to dance”.
“Can I stop the music, because this has gone ridiculous”.
“Chew on a carrot, rub me leg, tell me it’s Friday, on we go”.
“Did you see that boy on the box and who we had, oh, it’s all gone pear shaped”.
“Don’t go away, I’ve got more to offer you than you can wave a flag out on a wet Wednesday in Skegness”.
“Get down, slap it back, lap it up big boy!”.
“Glue’s running and everything”.
“Good luck if you get it!”.vlcsnap-00024
“Good to have your company, hope you’re feeling well. I’ve had problems”.
“Great buying, terrific buying”.
“Her father used to be a farmer, who used to breed ferrets. He was a highly successful ferret breeder. His trick of course, oh, with the old trousers”.
“Hey-ho, honestly! Oh, slap me leg, call me Roger, get in!”.
“How are you? You are dialling this number, if you so desire”.
“How do you bid? Well, it couldn’t be easier. You dial the number, you listen to the message, and then you just push 1 on your telephone keypad, and your job’s done, alright”.
“I am going once already for the second and final time”.
“I don’t know why I wandered across there viewers, I don’t, I’m just in a world of my own”.
“I don’t think I can keep this up much longer”. vlcsnap-00027
“I forgot me glasses”.
“I genuinely, genuinely, heart on hand, would love one of these”.
“I haven’t seen a blue so vibrant since I looked at my varicose veins a week last Tuesday. No, please. Looks like a road map, my legs. It’s done some travelling”.
“I like getting into a cold bed, don’t know about you”.
“I look like an unmade bed”.
“I once left a pan of cabbage on, I was fret… the pan had gone and everything”.
“I really should be in a home. It’s either it or I should see a taxidermist, honestly”.
“I told yer what batteries it flippin’ takes!”.
“I won’t last the evening, I won’t last the evening”.
“I’ll be honest, you’ll get more for it on aBay”.
“I’ll clean the windows while we’re waiting. Look at the dirt in ‘ere”.
“I’ll tell you how bad my memory is. I got a phone call today, you’ll never guess what today is. It’s my birthday today, I didn’t even know. Somebody called me up today and said, Peter, it’s your birthday. I didn’t even know, I didn’t even know”.
“I’m exhausted already. I don’t know how I’ll get through the other 284 minutes. And a man of my age…”.
“I’m getting dizzy now, I want to go home”.
“I’m going to chase you home when we get into double figures, so get ready”.
“I’m going to do the Slosh now. Ever so good for you this”.
“I’m not going to make any bones about this”.
“I’m perspiring there, honest to goodness. I even showed you me bald potch then, things are getting bad. I usually fill it in”.
“In my day we had to respect your elders”.
“Isn’t that lovely?”.vlcsnap-00025
“It’s an Auction Avalanche, the numbers will rumble, and then they’ll tumble, how low will we go?”.
“It’s Gianni Vecci, for goodness sake!”.
“It’s the penguins, there’s four of ’em, I bet they haven’t got swelling!”.
“I’ve got to go to go to close this”.
“I’ve had three hours of it!”.
“I’ve just hit me plastic hip!”.
“I’ve ripped me trousers!”.
“I’ve won a Bafta!”.
“Just grab it!”.
“Let’s play Bid-Up!”.
“Lovely set, by the way. Nearly new that, nearly new. Er, that flock wallpaper, oh, it was in Madge Allsop’s living room for years”.
“Mark’s up neck… next”.
“Me nerves are in shreds over this boiler”.
“My gusto has gone”.
“Oh, James, don’t, you my be just a mere boy, but I once went out with a lady. Oh well, hrff, huh-huh-huh-huh!”.
“On we go, it’s Saturday night, it’s Pete’s sezzling Saturday night!”.
“Ooh, I’ve just gone all stiff down one side”.
“Negative ions pushing down on me. Or may… or maybe it was the rag ‘n’ bone man”.
“No! Absolutely unbelievable!”.
“Now I don’t need to tell you, we have lost our absolute shirt on this one”.vlcsnap-00028
“Now some of you may be saying “Keyony Reeve” because of my Matrix Melon Look”.
“Now you’ve got to do this very quick… that’s, I nearly tripped then, ‘ere”.
“Please don’t wait, it’s first come first served, you can’t go wrong”.
“Put your legs between your knees”.
“Sandeep in Isleworth. I used to stay in Isleworth. I’ve no idea why I told you that, Sandeep, I mean I…”.
“67 left right now, dial the number so. You can dial it just like that. And the number is just so!”.
“Stay with me, we don’t know what’ll happen next, right”.
“Talking of Poland, I once knew a woman who slept with a Pole, and ended up with a wooden baby”.
“Ten and against you, nine and against you, eight and against you…”.
“That is so low as to be practically giving it away”.
“That’s taken the wind out of my sails, has it been like this all day?”.
“That’s the best buy ever”.
“That’s the most excitement I’ve had for months!”.
“The last and final time of the godfeathers”.
“The management are currently sat on their highchairs, flogging themselves with wet rhubarb, knowing the end is nigh”.
“The most you’ll play is the closing arrow price”.
“The people we employ ‘ere these days”.
“The reason I’m doing this, I’m running incredibly short of time. I’ve still got lots to get through, and breath and energy”.
“There are people on the phone, and no wonder. It’s Monday! It’s Simon Time! Semon-Simon! Ooh-ooh! Don’t ask me what that was about, I’ve no idea”.vlcsnap-00026
“They’ll be with you in seven days, if they live that long”.
“They’re doing these speed auctions to me deliberately, they know I can’t take it”.
“They’re very common on camera 3. They used to be a potato peeler in Market Reason. Here”.
“This is a better buy to you than I could ever even tell you”.
“This is a woman who thinks that Backgammon is a pig’s bottom”.
“This is an absolute top of the notch timepiece, in my opinion”.
“This is why you should join me on this new Monday. It really is a terrific night on the television”.
“Two tenners, let’s close it up”.
“We have been absolutely pork stuffed there. With a little apple sauce. Well done”.
“Well I’m glad I’ve not had me supper. I’d be having tripe”.
“Well, wave a stick on coronation day, put a peg on a line, because we have been… well”.
“We’ve had tichnical technical problems”.
“We’ve served over two million watches”.vlcsnap-00029
“When they’re bored with their presents. Boxing Day. We never did. We only got a piece of coal and an orange, and we were very happy.”
“You know, I look older by the day in this camera. There’s no sympathy. Oh, the mocking in the studio now, don’t start at ‘ome, I’ve got enough of it ‘ere!”.
“You know what, bidders at ‘ome, they didn’t ask me to do any of those “Merry Christmas” things. I think the writing’s on the wall, bidders at ‘ome, it’s obviously time”.
“You’ve bagged a bargain on this one, I can tell you that for nothing!”.
“You’ve got a watch for her, and you’ve got a watch for you, this is the range From Me To You!”.

The Smash Hits Story – Part 2.

Something rather odd happened to Smash Hits in the early-90s. Not only was there a redesign that made it look like they’d recently got a shiny new computer at the office, but, they’d just about run out of pop stars to write about. Around 1992/1993 you’d be more likely to see “Hollywood Hunks” on the cover like Luke Perry, Keanu Reeves, and Christian Slater, or TV presenters including Toby Anstis, Chris Evans and Andi Peters. What?!?! sh8

And inside you’d be more likely to come across gossip about people in Home And Away than any interviews with star names. This was mostly down to the increasingly “faceless” amount of pop music around, with many enjoyable but here today-gone tomorrow anonymous dance acts filling up the singles chart with their rackets. Come back Rick Astley, all is forgiven. However, a letter from my sister was published in an issue around this time, so clearly all was not lost. sh9

And in 1992, Number One closed and merged with Fast Forward, meaning that after nine years they had seen off their closest rival. One enjoyable feature around this time was “Oh No! Not The Biscuit Tin!”, where various people had to answer bizarre questions picked at random from the tin. Things picked up a little in the mid-90s when they tried to embrace Britpop, and all the major players made the cover including Blur, Oasis, and, er, The Bluetones, but was this really the place for them? sh10

In 1997, there was a TV advertising campaign, with the phrase “100% Pure Pop”, which featured a young Billie Piper, who launched a pop music career of her own about a year later, and soon she was appearing on the cover herself. And by the late-90s, there was the Boy Band invasion. These rather bland and interchangeable characters received a line of questioning that strayed little beyond wondering who they were currently “snogging” (anything more probing than this was usually answered with “oh my god!”), which was usually accompanied by a big picture of them with their top off. sh11

S Club 7, Steps, Westlife and the like practically alternated on the cover, weren’t there any other pop groups out there? Coming into 2000, and I was in my mid-teens at this time, and I was really into pop music. There were some changes including a new masthead replacing the one that had been around since 1985, probably to get ready for the new millennium or something. sh12

Also around this time, the brand (I don’t like to describe a magazine as a “brand”, but this one really was) was expanded, with the introduction of a TV channel and radio station. But sales were beginning to fall, and while Smash Hits might have been a big deal in the 80s, there was a new generation coming along that wasn’t really that interested. sh13

And then we go into the era where Pop Idol and the like took off, and now the magazine was filled with rather a lot of pointless gossip and uninteresting manufactured pop stars, along with endless price increases and more free gifts. It’s a rather easy comparison to make, but the magazine was now falling out of favour, just like so many acts that had briefly featured in their pages over the years. sh14

It was still something of a surprise though when Smash Hits closed in 2006, and not long after Top Of The Pops ended as an ongoing weekly show, meaning that two of the longest-running institutions that championed pop music had both gone. Not long after this, a book was released featuring some of the highlights of the magazine, and you have to say now, when it was at its best, it really was splendiferous.

The Smash Hits Story – Part 1.

A while ago I was asked to take a look back at the history of the pop music magazine Smash Hits. I wasn’t that much of a regular reader myself, but my sister definitely was, so I was familiar with the magazine to some extent when I was younger, and I have also seen plenty online, so here’s a look back at some of the fortunes that Smash Hits went through during the 28 years that it was published. Any additional thoughts/corrections etc. are welcome.

Smash Hits launched in 1978, and was originally a monthly magazine, becoming a fortnightly shortly after in 1979. By this point, pop music as we would come to know it hadn’t really developed yet. There weren’t a huge amount of pages, and hardly any of these were in colour, but there was an attempt to stand out from the competition by offering posters, “songwords” of all the latest hits, and even a column dedicated to the latest in disco music. sh1

It took a few years, but Smash Hits would soon develop its famous style and go on to be a big success with readers going into the early-80s. I do get frustrated when people seem to sum up 80s pop music as “1980-1984 = endlessly brilliant, 1985-1989 = complete rubbish”, does looking back at old issues now make it possible to challenge this idea? The singles review page might be able to, with a lot of tut-tutting about the state of what was on offer, which was supposedly in a golden era. sh2

By now, pop stars would be asked some very odd questions in interviews, much unlike what you’d get in any other music magazine. Fortunately, most of them had the charisma and personality to deal with this, leading to many entertaining moments. Where pop stars more charismatic in those days? There was a very distinctive journalistic style, inventing a lot of words and catchphrases along the way. sh3

In 1983, No. 1 launched, a weekly magazine that was considered to be their closest rival on the market, not that they ever seemed to fear them. Another notable thing about the 80s is just how many acts appeared on the cover who went on to have big success, with possibly only Matt Fretton and Jimmy The Hoover making people familiar with that era when looking back say now “who where they?”. That’s why they stuck to the endless Duran Duran covers.sh4

Among the writers at this time was Neil Tennant. After a while, Neil decided to leave to have a go at being a pop star himself. This departure was greeted with a typical “well good luck with that, see you back in the office in six months”-type comment. A year or two later, Neil was having chart-topping singles with the Pet Shop Boys in America, and he definitely succeeded in his ambition. It looks like they will have to get a new writer in after all. sh5

When looking back at some issues from this era, I couldn’t help but notice that they also used some Private Eye-isms, such as “So. Farewell then…” and “shurely shome mishtake”. I wasn’t expecting any crossover between the two magazines but there clearly was (that’ll do). There was also a lot of spin-off merchandise by now, including yearbooks, sticker books, and even compilation albums, along with an American version called Star Hits. sh6

By the late-80s, Smash Hits was going from strength to strength. This was helped by the free gifts, and acts that featured frequently on the cover by now included A-Ha, Rick Astley, Curiosity Killed The Cat, and Bros (although they were never the same after Ken left). In 1988, The Smash Hits Poll Winners Party was launched, a big ceremony that would be shown live on BBC1.sh7

There would be a huge response from readers to this, and the biggest pop stars around were more than happy to turn up on stage and graciously collect their awards for categories including Best Haircut and the like in front of their adoring fans. How marvellous. But how would Smash Hits fare as we go into the 90s. Find out in part two?!?!?

The No-Hit Wonders – The 80s Part 1.

Here’s an attempt to create a piece out of just about nothing, I might as well. Recently I reviewed Sky Trax, which was shown in the early days of satellite TV. Also among the music shows on Sky in the 80s was The Eurochart Top 50, featuring the biggest hits from across the continent. When I like to find out more about pop groups, I look for their single releases and TV appearances beyond the UK in countries like America and Australia, rather than across Europe.

I suppose that the main reason for this is rather obviously the language barrier. But I have noticed that there were several pop music shows across Europe in the 80s where there was a chance to perform the latest single, including TopPop in the Netherlands, and Musikladen in Germany. I must admit that I don’t really know that much about European pop music from this era, such as who were chart-toppers in various countries and so on.

So when I was watching a performance online from The Eurochart Top 50, I came across a song by someone that really caught my attention, and it’s still great to be discovering interesting people all these years on. This was from 1986. Now I try not to overanalyse these things, but I am rather fascinated with pop music and pop culture as a whole indeed from this year. I’m not really sure why, but this was the time of my earliest memories, when I was beginning to discover the world around me, maybe I presumed that everything was like this. vlcsnap-00055

The singer was Justine, who had a really striking look, even when compared to some of the rather extrovert pop stars that I have come across from this era. Her look featured waist-length plaited hair, along with lots of jewellery, brightly-coloured fingernails, and a rather small sparkly dress. The song was a rather nice piece of synthpop called “Hurt By You”, and there was a dance routine and everything. I really did want to discover more about her and took up the challenge. Was she Danielle’s long-lost sister? Well, maybe not. vlcsnap-00056

Where did she come from? Where did she get her look from? And the result is that there is just about no additional information at all about her online. “Hurt By You” was her only single, and the B-side was “Where Is The Hero”. These featured on the 7″ version, and the 12″ version featured the extended editions of these songs, that were both about seven minutes long. It seems that this was only released in the Netherlands, and I can’t find any evidence of this making the chart, or if she was actually Dutch. vlcsnap-00061

“Hurt By You” wasn’t released in the UK, meaning that we never had the opportunity to see her do her thing on Top Of The Pops, or have her single reviewed in Smash Hits, where I’m sure that it would’ve been described as “hip” and “fandabidozi” or whatever the trendy words were at the time. The sleeve of the single features Justine and her distinctive look, and it seems to be literally the only picture of her online. I can’t find a music video either. She released no more singles, but she can’t have ever recorded only two songs! vlcsnap-00058

For all I know, her appearance on The Eurochart Top 50 could’ve been the only time she was ever on TV. Well whoever she was, this is a rare case of me being left with more questions and answers, she is someone who really can be described as mysterious! How curious. I’m sure that if she’s still out there she’ll be pleased that I thought about her four minutes of fame almost 35 years on though. She could have grandchildren for all I know by now. Why wasn’t she huge across Europe and everywhere else in 1986.

The YouTube Files – Trivial Pursuit USA.

Trivial Pursuit (The Family Channel, 1993-1994)

I do enjoy a good game of Trivial Pursuit, like many others I’m sure. There have been two attempts to bring this board game to TV in the UK, and the American version is much closer to the second UK version hosted by Tony Slattery (which was also shown on The Family Channel, which later evolved into Challenge). This version of the show was hosted by Wink Martindale.

Now I’m fairly sure that this is the first time that we have come across Mr Martindale on this blog. It seems that he has hosted many other game shows in a career that has lasted for decades, and he was the co-executive producer of this one, which meant that we knew there was going to be a decent host in charge. This was the show that was packed with trivia and interesting facts, well I thought so. vlcsnap-00018

Three contestants took part, all hoping to win the star prize. They have a pie that is split into 12 parts. They have to light all the parts of their pie, meaning that they have to give two correct answers in every category. In the first round, the categories are the same as what you’d find in the traditional version of the board game, Entertainment, Arts & Literature, and so on. vlcsnap-00019

Contestants pick the category, but there is only one question for every category, meaning that they all get two goes each. But get it wrong, and it goes on offer on the buzzer. In round two, again there are six categories on offer, but they are now different to the board game version. Look out for the bonus question, which may contain a picture clue, get that right and they $100 and an extra slice. vlcsnap-00020

Round three once again featured different categories, along with some bonuses. The final round goes back to the traditional categories. A question is asked to gain control. Whoever gets it right chooses the category, and they keeping choosing until they get one wrong, and which point the others can buzz in. Whoever completes their pie, or has the most slices when time is up, wins $500 and advances to the final. The others take away whatever money they won and some consolation prizes. vlcsnap-00021

In the final, six questions have to be answered in 45 seconds, one on each traditional category. If they get one wrong, they go back round to the categories until they get it right. If they don’t win, they get $100 for every correct answer, but if they do, they win $1,000 and the star prize of a holiday, and of course they would always be rather pleased about that. vlcsnap-00022

There were also versions that were extended to an hour, that began with preliminary rounds, where nine contestants had to answer various multiple-choice questions against the clock, with the highest scorers being reduced to six, and then they were reduced to the three who progressed to the main game. There was also an interactive game where viewers would be encouraged to phone in to win prizes too. There was another game show with a similar format in America in 2008.