This is someone whose TV career started out fairly quietly, but he is arguably more popular now with viewers than he has ever been. In the early-80s Bradley Walsh was originally a footballer, although he never played at the highest level, and injuries put an early end to his career. By the late-80s he started to get into comedy, and by the early-90s he was often doing his routine on TV.
The first show that I remember him on though was ITV’s Only Joking, which featured a combination of comedy and games, and he’d also turn up on Celebrity Squares. By the late-90s he was hosting various other shows including Midas Touch, Wheel Of Fortune, and The National Lottery Live, and he had a rather “cheeky” and easy-going style that reminded me of the likes of Brian Conley and Shane Richie.
Another show he did was The Big Stage, Channel 5’s brief attempt at a “bring back variety”-style show, which probably not too surprisingly didn’t succeed. By the early-2000s he had got into TV acting, and he was one of the few people brave enough to appear in the bizarre soap Night And Day. He also hosted Sport Addicts, a rare original show for Challenge.
By the mid-2000s he was in Coronation Street, placed into the cast as one of the several shock secret sons of Mike Baldwin. By the late-2000s, there was Spin Star, a short-lived game show that had the gimmick of being based around a large fruit machine, but it looked like his career was beginning to get stuck in hosting fairly average daytime game shows.
But then he became the host of The Chase, which had a compelling “beat the champion” element. This one seemed to succeed, partly due to the combination of him leaving viewers STUNNED with his antics, and the tension of the final where there was often a lot of money at stake. This finally took him to the next level of fame, and ITV were satisfied enough with the show’s success to eventually commission new episodes 1,000 at a time.
There were also endless repeat runs on Challenge, along with the primetime spin-off Beat The Chasers. He was now in big demand, and he appeared in more high-profile drama series including Law & Order: UK, and Doctor Who. Clearly a fan of the genre, he also hosted a documentary about the history of game shows where he looked back at some of his favourite moments.
Other game shows he has hosted recently include Keep It In The Family (which only seemed to exist to feature daft games and make him laugh as much as possible because that’s what viewers wanted apparently), Cash Trapped (which he devised himself), and a revival of Blankety Blank. He just seems to be everywhere on TV at the moment, and he’s definitely earned his success.