Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 14.

This is someone who had one of the most successful careers in TV and radio of anybody, and there isn’t really too much that I could tell you about him that you wouldn’t already know. But I wanted to include him in this series, because like many other people I’m sure, I always enjoyed his work. Terry Wogan‘s hosting career covered a lot of areas, including plenty of game shows.

He started out in Ireland, and shortly after, in the mid-60s, he hopped over the water to the UK. One of his earliest TV successes was Blankety Blank in the late-70s. Now it could be said that it seemed that he didn’t seem to know what was happening half the time, including trying to interact with the celebrity panellists, but this was a game where it wasn’t too much of a problem, as this wasn’t to be taken too seriously. Apart from the end, where a dishwasher could be won and it got very exciting.

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For some reason, there was a repeat run of some of his editions of Blankety Blank almost two decades later, he returned with some newly-made introductions (and his microphone), and he still seemingly couldn’t make any sense of it. He also hosted A Song For Europe, the competition that would determine who would represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest, which was definitely a great honour. And of course, he would also commentate on the main contest for several years.

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In the early-80s, there was the launch of his chat show that ran for about a decade, and for seven years was shown live three times a week, offering his now familiar style of wit. By the time this ended in the early-90s, he went on to other shows including Auntie’s Bloomers and its several spin-offs. And by this time he was as popular as ever on the radio in the BBC Radio 2 breakfast slot. In the mid-90s, he hosted Do The Right Thing, an interesting game based around debating moral dilemmas.

Going into the 2000s, he hosted a live show on Channel 5 alongside Gaby Roslin, that was a lot of fun. By the end of this decade though, he didn’t have as much TV work as he used to. He departed as Eurovision commentator, although it sounded like he had become sick and tired of the whole thing, complaining of political voting and dodgy songs, and he wasn’t seen much beyond his annual contribution to Children In Need.

He did go on to do another game show though, and surprisingly this was on Channel 4 in a daytime slot. Perfect Recall was a game that was a test memory, and by this point he had been doing this type of thing for five decades, making it look easy. When he died, it really was one of those moments where you realised that things wouldn’t be the same again, and we would’ve been infinitely poorer without his contribution.

The YouTube Files – A Song For Europe.

A Song For Europe (BBC1, 1988)

As we all recover from the excitement that was the latest Eurovision Song Contest (well probably), I thought that I would take a look at something related. Instead of looking back at the history of the contest itself, I’ll review another of the selection shows. A while back I reviewed the show that selected Ireland’s entry for Eurovision 1985, so I thought I would take a look at the British equivalent.

The way that the UK song has been selected has varied so much over the years, so I thought I would concentrate on just one edition from the 80s. There are plenty on YouTube, and I have decided to review the A Song For Europe competition shown on 25 March 1988. This was back when the UK had a chance of winning, there really was such a time. The show was hosted by Terry Wogan, whose involvement in these shows ranged from as early as 1977 to as late as 2008, along with providing commentary on the main contest of course. vlcsnap-01127

A Song For Europe was live on BBC1 and Radio 2 (I feel that Eurovision has always come across as more of a “Radio 2” event than a “Radio 1” one if you get what I mean), coming from Television Centre. Eight songs took part, but only one could triumph and go off to Dublin in April. The viewers at home were the ones who would determine the winner, with a phone-vote in the similar style to the one on Bob Says Opportunity Knocks. Don’t forget, the phone numbers are on page 65 of Radio Times and page 147 of Ceefax. vlcsnap-01139

Also in attendance are a distinguished panel, not judges as such, but some music industry experts including George Martin and Mike Batt who would give their thoughts on the songs. Unlike the Irish show that I reviewed, there were no biographies of the songwriters or singers before every performance, we simply got all eight songs, performed live in the studio. vlcsnap-01140

First is Catwalk, a group making their first TV appearance with “Till The Night”. Second is “High Windows” by Camino, featuring an angry-looking man with a hat. We’ve had to wait until the third song for a ballad sung by a big-haired woman, and it’s Zoe Nicholas with “Just A Memory”. Fourth is “Make Your Dreams Come True” by FNAC. They’ve come all the way from Godalming for this, and they also have two trumpeters. e1

Fifth is another ballad, “One More Chance” by male/female duo Klass. Sixth is “Heart To Heart” by Clinging To The Wreckage, who seem to be fronted by the woman from T’Pau. Seventh is another male/female duo, “This Is The Kiss” by Two-Che. This one would be my pick of the lot. And finally, there is Scott Fitzgerald with “Go”. The phonelines are then opened, make sure you get dialling. e2

Then it’s time to announce the winner. Someone’s dreams are about to come true, while some are about to be crushed, the business can be so cruel. The excitement is now bubbling, and Terry announces that 120,000,000 calls have been taken, justifying the decision to put the choice to the public. That’s not to be sniffed at. The Director-General of the BBC Michael Checkland will be very proud of their achievements, I’m sure. vlcsnap-01142

The votes are then announced. And… with an unassailable score of 93,271 votes, Scott Fitzgerald is the winner, and he will “Go” to Ireland in April (ha-ha). He then accepts his winner’s medal from Terry, as does the writer of the song who is Bruce Forsyth’s daughter (yes, really). So, how did he do? “Go” peaked at a rather low No. 52 on the chart, and he came second, in one of the closest-ever finishes, missing out to Switzerland by just one point, and the fifth UK triumph was still nine years away. Hard luck, Scott!