Game Show Memories – The Satellite Game.

The Satellite Game (BSB Galaxy, 1990)

This is another show that appeared on the short-lived BSB Galaxy channel. The Satellite Game (not to be confused with The Satellite Show that was on CBBC around the same time) was made by the same production team as Knightmare, which had been a big success for CITV, and is considered to be one of the classics by many people to this day.

Unlike that show though, this one featured more of an attempt to include computer-generated imagery, which was still developing rapidly at the time. The Satellite Game was set on the Enigma satellite, floating somewhere far away in space, and there was no in-vision host as such, but the “computer with a breathy female voice” tradition was definitely fulfilled here.

Three young contestants, or indeed, “commanders” took part. Hopefully they would be ready to tackle all of these aliens, and still be home in time for dinner. They looked like they had been covered in tinfoil, and then strapped to a chair (and I’m trying to forget that the majority of them would be about 45 now). Will they be able to make the characters reveal the secrets to let them crack the codes?

They have to guide a small droid called Lari around various places, making sure that the obstacles were navigated, and damage was avoided. They better concentrate, press the right buttons, and there was a lot of familiar-sounding “left… left… right” commands. Hopefully all of the available data will lead the computer to indicate that they have succeeded.

At least there wasn’t a scary skull thing falling apart that showed their progress! Some missions lasted longer than the 25-minute slot, but they could return for the next edition, if they remembered to recharge the batteries, and some teams appeared for three or four shows. The some production team were also behind the similar Cyberzone and Virtually Impossible.

This was a show that was ambitious but didn’t attract too much attention. The question that I am coming to really is, if I did have access to this channel at the time, would I have enjoyed this? Well yes, I think I would, although I think that just about everyone involved had to concede that this was always going to be second-best compared to Knightmare.

The YouTube Files – Up Yer Festival.

Up Yer Festival (BSB Galaxy, 1990)

A while ago I reviewed Up Yer News, which was shown on the little-seen BSB Galaxy channel. This took a satirical look back at the day’s news every weekday evening, and gave a lot of up-and-coming comedy talent some of their earliest TV appearances. I felt that for all of the effort that was clearly put into this, it was rather a shame that the ratings were so small.

When I was having a look on YouTube recently, I discovered that there was also a spin-off series. Usually in August, hundreds of thousands of comedians and entertainers (well maybe not as many as that) go to Edinburgh, to perform at the annual fringe festival. Suddenly the streets would be overrun with jugglers, dancers, and the like for about a month.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is vlcsnap-00067.jpg

So in Up Yer Festival, there was a change to the format, as some of the highlights were showcased. And along with stand-up comedy and sketches, there were also be music, just anything that was on offer really, there might even be some improv. Improv! It seems that this went out live, and the host for every edition was different. These included Mark Little (moonlighting from Neighbours) and Norman Lovett.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is vlcsnap-00064.jpg

One of the regular contributors was Bob Downe, who did his routine and met various other performers. He was a rather zany and camp Australian comedian who actually became fairly famous in this country in the mid-90s, going on to have a comedy show or two on his own on ITV, although they were rather late at night. Well it’s one way to make a career I suppose.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is vlcsnap-00065.jpg

I also noticed that some editions had some extra material after I presume that the show had ran out of time and gone off air. Well if you’ve started your routine then you might as well finish. Or maybe they weren’t that bothered about overrunning. Keep going! Up Yer Festival was a worthwhile idea, which offered a wide variety of things to enjoy.

But of course, BSB ended up being doomed, and put it this way, there wasn’t going to be a visit by this show to the 1991 festival. One thing that can be said about Up Yer Festival is that it is definitely a good source of material for those “before they were famous”-type shows. Although later on in the 90s, there would be a similar show on BBC2 in a late-night slot.

The YouTube Files – Up Yer News.

Up Yer News (BSB Galaxy, 1990)

British Satellite Broadcasting is one of the more interesting stories in the history of British TV. It was designed to be a rival to Sky, and it was considered to have the superior technology, and the superior programming. But it struggled to get on air, and by the time it did, Sky was already well established, and BSB ended up closing just before the end of 1990.

I never had a squarial (as they were called), and I don’t know anyone else who did (although I did find a BSB advert break on an old tape once, I’ve no idea who recorded it, but it was proof that someone somewhere was out there watching). The history of BSB has been well documented elsewhere, but it consisted of five channels, promising films, sport, entertainment, and so on, at any hour of the day that people wanted it.

For a while I have been interested in trying to see some of their shows, and I wondered if they had ever made any comedy or game shows, and recently I found something on YouTube that I felt was worth reviewing. The main BSB channel was called Galaxy, and at around 9pm every weeknight it would feature a satirical look back at the day’s events (BSB’s news service was fairly threadbare, and this must’ve stretched it some more). vlcsnap-00162

Up Yer News was 15 minutes long, and it beat Have I Got News For You (which launched later in the same year) to the post with its mocking of the great and the good on a regular basis whilst also aiming to be a fresh and lively news package. I don’t know if it went out live, but as it was a topical show it clearly had to be put together very shortly before transmission. vlcsnap-00169

One of the most interesting things about Up Yer News was that it featured the best of the up-and-coming comedy talent, including Robert Bathurst, Jo Brand, Mark Heap, Alistair McGowan, Sandi Toksvig, and many others, who took part in sketches and offered their views on current affairs. Just about everyone who appeared would go on to bigger things. vlcsnap-00170

And Up Yer News was also significant as among the contributors were just about everyone who would go on to be a major player in On The Hour and its TV sequel The Day Today, widely regarded as the best satirical comedy shows of the 90s. Seeing that Steve Coogan, Armando Iannucci, Chris Morris and so on perfected their style here and went on to further success means that this show should be more acknowledged than it is. vlcsnap-00180

It seems that being shown five nights a week (along with a weekend repeat) means that Up Yer News ended up running out of steam rather quickly, and it ended when BSB closed altogether, but it did feature a lot of comedy talent’s earliest TV appearances, but I don’t know if they’re been preserved as BSB’s archive is reported to be in a right old state. Maybe the few editions online are all that survives now.