Game Show Memories – 100% 80s.

100% 80s (Channel 5, 2001)

100% was a cheap and cheerful daytime game show that ran on Channel 5 for about five years and over 1,000 editions. There were several variations made, including the spin-off series 100% Gold that was aimed at older viewers, and the late-night series 100% Sex. There were also several one-off specials (usually shown as part of a theme night) where all the questions were on the same topic such as Queen, James Bond or Prisoner: Cell Block H, along with Halloween and Christmas specials, so I thought I’d review one of those.

100% 80s was a special edition that was shown in 2001. Three contestants (Lisa from Stanmore, Tony from Sutton-in-Ashfield, and Victoria from Stockport) were bold enough to take a look back at this decade and reveal what they know about what happened, with the 100 questions being multiple choice or true or false. As ever, the disembodied voice of Robin Houston is going to ask the questions, so filofaxes at the ready. The first ten questions were simply on general knowledge. vlcsnap-00716

The ten next questions were about television, so it’s helpful if you watched EastEnders or The A-Team regularly in the 80s. Then there were ten questions each on people, followed by headline news, and then films. Some of the questions featured a visual clue, such as a music video of one of the big hits of the decade from the likes of The Human League and Duran Duran. vlcsnap-00718

After 50 questions, Victoria was in the lead at the halfway point with a score of 80%. After the break, the second part began with ten questions each on music, followed by life, and then sport. The final 20 questions were simply on the category of trivia, as if we hadn’t had enough of that already. The scores were fairly close throughout the whole edition, but as ever there could only be one winner. vlcsnap-00719

And that winner is Tony, with a score of 77%, and his prize is the much more 21st century technology of a DVD player, and it was well earned, he’ll be entertained for hours. This is one of my favourite 100% special editions, I might review some more soon. vlcsnap-00720

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The YouTube Files – Finders Keepers USA.

Finders Keepers (1987-1989)

Recently I have been reviewing the original American versions of UK game shows. Now let’s have a variation on that by looking at an American children’s game show. Finders Keepers launched on Nickelodeon in 1987 (although it had become syndicated by the time it ended in 1989), and it would go on to be a big success when it came to CITV in the UK in 1991, so I was pleased to find (if you’ll pardon the pun) the original version on YouTube. vlcsnap-00707

Finders Keepers was originally hosted by Wesley Eure. Again, there were some differences to the UK version. Two teams of two took part, the reds and blues (not the yellows and greens). The first round was rather different. There was a picture, and a clue to an item hidden in it. If they can see it the teams have to buzz in and circle it on the screen. If they get it right, they win $25 and the chance to raid one room. vlcsnap-00510

Once four rooms have been won, the set cleverly opens to reveal the eight-room house. This part is rather more familiar. The teams are given a clue and have to find a hidden item in 30 seconds, with can often be rather chaotic with silly string going everywhere (and no arrow to give viewers a clue either). If they find it, they win $50, but if not, the money goes to the other team. vlcsnap-00708

They then go back to play the first game again for the other four rooms on offer, only this time a correct answer is worth $75, and finding an item is worth $100. There would also be a room where a mystery bonus prize could be won. The team with the highest score goes through to the final, although if the scores are tied at this point another round of the first game is played as a tiebreaker. vlcsnap-00714

The winning team play the Room-To-Room Romp (not the Super Search), which again is slightly different. The finalists have to find six items in 90 seconds (in the UK it was eight items in three minutes). Once they find the item, it has a tag that tells them what room to go to next. The clue also appears on the screen in this round. The more items they find, the more prizes they win, and they could soon end up with a lot of calculators, what a delight! vlcsnap-00710

As ever, it was good to see the original version of a show that I very much enjoyed in the 90s. I suppose the only criticism I have of this version was the constantly shrieking studio audience, but I suppose I can’t blame them for being so excited as, well, there was a calculator at stake as a prize! Other CBBC and CITV game shows that started out in America include Double Dare and Fun House and I’ll review those soon too.

More TV Memories – Live With Chris Moyles.

Live With Chris Moyles (Five, 2002-2003)

Chris Moyles started out in radio in the early-90s, but I didn’t hear him until he moved to a daytime afternoon slot on BBC Radio 1 in 1998. It is fair to say that his humour and presenting style polarises opinion somewhat, but I found most of what he did rather funny. However, although he has featured in various TV formats over the years, none of them have been as successful as his radio work.

One TV show that he presented that I remember watching was on the little-seen but really rather good digital channel UK Play in the late-90s. After that ended, in 2002 he joined Five to host a live weekday show that was made by Chris Evans’s production company. Five seemed to be insistent that this show couldn’t fail and viewers would be rushing home to watch it at 7pm and it would easily beat Emmerdale on the other side in the ratings.

Live With Chris Moyles was hosted from a bar and in every edition the studio audience would be made up of people from the same profession who seemed to shriek at everything that Chris said, although this may be partly because they’d had a couple by this point. There was also a picture on the wall of Terry Venables who was at Leeds United at the time which is the football club that Chris supports. vlcsnap-00498

The show would begin with Chris pushing a button to reveal a sign on the front of his desk featuring a word telling us what mood he was in on that day (I remember one newspaper review of the show featured a picture of the sign that had been altered to say “DESPERATE” which sums up what most critics thought), and there would be several features. vlcsnap-00500

These included a newspaper review, although this mostly consisted of “have you seen this funny story on page 25 of today’s Daily Star?”-type analysis of events. Chris would also be joined by celebrity guests either on the phone or in the studio. I remember when Jon Culshaw turned up to be interviewed, who also contributed some of his comedy impressions to Chris’s radio programme. vlcsnap-00506

There was also a game played called Push The Pint. People had to push a glass filled with beer. If it landed on an “A” the audience would be electrocuted, if it landed on an “M” Chris would be (“they always turn it up more for me!”), but if it landed on the target, they would win £1,000 and everyone would get very excited. Most shows seemed to end with Chris running out of the studio before the credits had even finished. vlcsnap-00505

This all carried on for a few months, then something rather curious happened. Not becoming the ratings success that was expected, the show was relaunched in 2003 with a new host as Live With Christian O’Connell, another up-and-coming radio presenter who was trying to break into TV around this time, although I must admit that I didn’t watch this version as much.

However, it seems that Christian’s stint was only really memorable for the time when a major technical fault took the show off the air, and Five had to reach for their go-to filler programme Russell Grant’s Postcards. By the time they were able to go back to Christian they had just about run out of time, and the studio guests weren’t interviewed (and looked rather unimpressed with the whole thing), and it ended for good not long after.

Game Show Memories – Fast Friends.

Fast Friends (BBC1, 1991)

Les Dawson had been a popular figure on TV as a comedian and presenter for many years, but by the end of the 80s his game shows Blankety Blank and Opportunity Knocks were coming to an end, so maybe it was time for a new show to bring his career into the 90s, and Fast Friends (which was based on a pilot of a 1984 American game show) was the result.

After a mildly embarrassing opening sequence that seemed better suited to Top Of The Pops (indeed it seems that the people who did the theme music also did the new theme for TOTP that was introduced in 1991), Les opened the show with some of his jokes, mostly about his poor old mother-in-law. The basic idea behind Fast Friends was that the teams who played would be formed on the show as part of the game. vlcsnap-00321

There are two teams of 30 people that have a team captain. The captain comes on stage and is given 30 seconds on the clock. They are given four questions and must determine who on the team would get it right and how many of the seconds on offer it would take them. If they get it right in time they join the captain on stage. Get it wrong, and the captain has to quickly ask someone else on the team who might know. vlcsnap-00322

Hopefully when both teams had their turn, the captain would be accompanied by four team members (or indeed “friends”) to help them play the second round of the game. This time they are asked multiple-choice questions. Get it right and they stay in the game. Get it wrong and they were banished by Les with much sadness to the Dump Dock, although the captain can rescue then if they get an extra question right. vlcsnap-00490

This carries on until one captain loses all of their friends, but they all take away the consolation prize of a camera and a Fast Friends address book, which really is something. In the final round, the winning captain is joined by their friends. There are eight choices on the screen, the question is given (such as “which of these men have won an Oscar?”), seven choices are correct, one is incorrect. vlcsnap-00489

The captain chooses a friend to give an answer, although they can overrule it. If it is right, they win some money. If they get all seven right, they also win the star prize of a holiday. Find the wrong answer though and it’s game over, although along with their address books the finalists take away the extra prize of a pocket TV along with whatever money they made. vlcsnap-00493

Fast Friends was one of many new entertainment formats that flopped on BBC1 around this time (has a flashback to Caught In The Act), and it only ran for one series, although this may be partly because Les died not long after. However, he did well at making this mildly ridiculous show worth watching with his deadpan sense of humour and sending the whole thing up.

The YouTube Files – Cross Wits USA.

The Cross-Wits (1975-1980)

Cross Wits was a daytime game show that ran on ITV for 13 years, and it was yet another that was based on American format. The Cross-Wits (note the slightly different name) launched in the mid-70s and was hosted by the late Jack Clark. It was a show that was based around solving cryptic crossword puzzles. Again, I noticed that there were some rather big differences from the UK version. vlcsnap-00710

First of all, two teams of three took part, consisting of one contestant along with two celebrities (it was one contestant and one celebrity in the UK version). The crossword appeared on the screen, usually consisting of six clues. Because technology wasn’t advanced enough at the time, the puzzles weren’t computer generated, which meant that the chosen clue had to be indicated to viewers by a female co-host pointing to it (however, the board was computer generated by the time of a revival in 1986). vlcsnap-00707

The contestant nominates one of their celebrity teammates to choose a clue. If they don’t get it right in time, it is passed over to the contestant to have a go. If they get it wrong too, play passes to the other team. There was also a word on the board giving a clue to the link between the answers, with a bonus on offer for guessing the key word. If they think they know the key word, rather than buzzing in, the contestant announces that they would like to confer with the teammates on what it is. vlcsnap-00708

The scoring system was also different. There were ten points per letter on offer for every solved clue (it was one point per letter in the UK version), with a 100 point bonus for getting the key word (10 points in the UK). There was also a prize on offer for winning a round, and if a team managed to score over 1,000 points in a game, the contestant won a bonus of $1,000. vlcsnap-00712

One of the rounds played also featured in the UK version. No clue word was given, and the teams had to solve one of the clues. If they could guess the key word from just this they won a bonus prize of a car, in the UK it was a telephone, that’s something of a contrast. If they didn’t get it, the clue word was revealed and play carried on as normal (unlike the UK there was no anagram round or musical round though). When time was up, the highest-scoring team went into the final. vlcsnap-00716

This was called the Crossfire round. The contestant nominated one of their two celebrity teammates to play this with them. They then had to get ten clues correct in 60 seconds between them to win the star prize of a holiday (the final was the same in the UK version). The Cross-Wits eventually ran for about five years and did fairly well with over 1,000 editions being made and lots of amusing moments. And remember, never a cross word. vlcsnap-00714

The YouTube Files – 1980s American Children’s TV Adverts.

Recently on here I reviewed the 80s cartoon Jem, and I really enjoyed watching this show again. One thing that I noticed about the episodes on the DVD was that the breakbumpers had been left in. It made me wonder if there were any videos online featuring advert breaks that were recorded during Jem on American TV in the 1980s so I could see the bumpers in their original context, and also discover what kind of adverts were being shown for younger viewers in those years.

So I was very pleased when I went on YouTube and discovered a video that was about 28 minutes long featuring lots of advert breaks that were shown during various episodes of Jem recorded off a TV station called KTXH in Houston, Texas in early-1987. This was exactly what I wanted, so credit goes to the uploader “RetroCCN”. I have picked a few highlights from the adverts and trails that were shown, and I’ll add a few more facts that I have discovered about Jem since I completed the original piece. 

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Jem will be right back after these messages…”

Unsurprisingly, there are lots of adverts for toys, such as My Little Pony, Pound Puppies and Sylvanian Families, along with bizarrely terrible local adverts for furniture stores and car dealers, and also a rather large amount for various rather horrible-looking breakfast cereals including Cocoa Puffs, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Circus Fun, Golden Grahams, Crispy Wheats ‘N’ Raisins, and Cheerios. vlcsnap-00336

And then… oh no… it’s an advert for Rap’Tou, the rather ludicrous kitchen device that was seemingly advertised in every advert break on daytime ITV and Channel 4 in the late-80s/early-90s. I didn’t realise that this advert was being shown as long ago as this. I imagine that a lot of people had one, and they probably only used it about once. Call now. vlcsnap-00344

We also get some trails for some of the programming that is shown on KTXH. It seems that along with Jem they were rather fond of showing endless cartoons, and on weekday mornings you can watch MASK, He-Man, The Jetsons, Dennis The Menace (no connection to the British comic character of the same name), and Scooby-Doo one after the other. And on weekday afternoons you can enjoy even more with Heathcliff, The Jetsons, Ghostbusters, Rambo, and The Transformers cartoons. That’s a lot of fun. ktxh3

Then we have an advert for a toy of the rather hairy star of the sitcom ALF. This was a show that was very popular on American TV in the late-80s, and it was also shown for a short while in Britain (he even appeared on the cover of Lookin magazine). I only remember it vaguely, and it’s definitely a show that I’d like to rediscover and review on here one day. vlcsnap-00700

Now this is something that I thought was interesting, a trail for the Jem episode “Glitter And Gold” (which was the final episode of the first series), which is voiced by the woman herself. I wonder how many extra clips were specially recorded for use in adverts and trails? Also, I was surprised to discover recently Samantha Newark who was the actress that provided Jem’s speaking voice was actually born in Wimbledon, so it turns out that she was a Londoner just like me all along! vlcsnap-00701

Then we have a trail for some of KTXH’s evening programmes including Square Pegs, Fame, and Little House On The Prairie. Another thing that I discovered about Jem recently was that the only other place it seems that it was shown on British TV beyond TV-am’s The Wide Awake Club in the late-80s was on satellite channel UK Gold early on weekend mornings around 1993/1994. I don’t think it’s been shown on TV in this country since. vlcsnap-00703

This video was definitely an interesting insight into what was advertised on American TV back in the 80s. Of course, there were also a lot of adverts made promoting the range of Jem dolls and various other merchandise, and I might review those in a separate piece soon. Hopefully I will also be able to find some adverts for Jem shown on British TV too, that would be truly outrageous!

Game Show Memories – Tenable.

Tenable (ITV, 2016-present)

This is a game show that launched only a couple of years ago that I’ve really enjoyed. Tenable is a daytime game show that is hosted by Warwick Davis, who is better known as an actor (he was in Star Wars, but he is very modest about it and sometimes goes up to five minutes without mentioning it) who only really entered TV presenting when he hosted the revival of Celebrity Squares on ITV a few years ago. vlcsnap-00023

Tenable is a show that is based all around Top Ten lists, but it had a different idea to the long-forgotten Topranko! A team of five (who all know one-another beforehand) take part, including a captain. Every team member plays an individual game, and the maximum prize money on offer is £125,000. The question is shown, such as “the ten largest countries in the world” or “the ten most recent Champions League winners”, and then they determine which one of the team will play. vlcsnap-00113

They then give their answers one by one, if they get stuck they can nominate one of their teammates to offer an answer, but this can only be done three times throughout the game. The captain can also overrule an answer if they want. If they get up to five correct answers, they start to win money, going from £1,000, all the way up to £25,000 for finding all ten answers on the list. However, get too many wrong and they are eliminated from the game (for now at least), and the money is lost. vlcsnap-00155

The last of the five on the team to play is the captain, who is immune from elimination. Once they get up to five correct answers, they have the option to buy back an eliminated team member (which could came in useful), or take the money. The team then take the contestants that they still have in the game, along with the money that they’ve made, into the final. Warwick always encourages the contestants along all the way and there are some interesting facts learned from the lists used. vlcsnap-00151

In the final, the team are given a choice of two categories. They make their choice, and the question is revealed. They then take it in turns to give answers, a correct answer keeps them in for another go, a wrong one eliminates them for good. If they can find all ten answers between them, they win the money. The biggest wins on the show so far have been around the £40,000-£50,000 mark. vlcsnap-00163

Tenable has been a very good addition to ITV daytime to create an enjoyable trio of game shows along with Tipping Point and The Chase, and although I doubt like those two established shows they’ll suddenly be making about 300 editions a year (plus celebrity specials), hopefully it has done well enough to continue for a while yet, (and also if there are still enough lists to play with!) it’s definitely a success for me.