Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 6.

This is someone who is definitely a game show star to me, and his career spanned five decades. South African-born Bob Holness started his career in radio. He hosted his first TV game show in the UK as long ago as the early-60s, which definitely raised his profile. He then went on to host on BBC Radio 1 (he is in the famous photo of all the launch presenters which also includes Terry Wogan, Kenny Everett, and John Peel).

He also hosted shows on BBC Radio 2 and LBC. By the early-80s, he wasn’t the only one of his family to be in showbusiness, as two of his daughters launched pop music careers, and they both had a hit single in 1982. And then, of course, he went on to become the host of Blockbusters. This was originally planned to feature adult contestants, but then this was changed to teenagers, which turned out to be a wise move.

Now I have already gone on and on in other pieces about why this is one of my all-time favourite game shows, and Bob’s authoritative style is one of the reasons. After coming to an end after about a decade on ITV, Blockbusters was given a reprise and picked up by Sky One. Harold The Hedgehog was reported to be very pleased. He also appeared as a contestant on special editions of a few game shows including Bullseye and Catchphrase.

The next move for his career in the mid-90s was as the host of ITV’s Raise The Roof. This was an interesting show for many reasons, firstly because it gave Bob a game show to host in primetime, along with a little help from his friend ERIC. But the most notable thing is that the star prize was a house worth a six-figure sum, the biggest prize given away on a UK game show up to this point.

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There was a rather drawn-out process to determine who would play for this prize (with eliminated contestants memorably receiving “Bob’s Bungalow”, a house-shaped teapot that most certainly was not worth six figures). This was an attempt to bring the game show into a new era, but there was only one series, and it wouldn’t be until when Who Wants To Be A Millionaire came along a few years later that big money game shows really took off.

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Bob then went on to host a revival of BBC1’s Call My Bluff in a daytime slot for about five years, which was rather enjoyable too. By the early-2000s, he had just about retired from TV, although he did lend his voice to the DVD interactive game version of Blockbusters. When Bob died about a decade ago, many praised his hosting abilities.

Game Show Memories – Call My Bluff.

Call My Bluff (BBC2, 1965-1988, 1994, BBC1, 1996-2005)

It’s time to review another celebrity panel game. Call My Bluff launched on BBC2 in the mid-60s and it became very popular, but the era I will be looking back at is when the show was revived on BBC1 in the mid-90s and was hosted by Bob Holness until 2003. Bob of course also hosted Blockbusters which is one of my all-time favourite game shows, and it was a pleasure seeing him on TV again.

This version of Call My Bluff was shown in a weekday daytime slot. Two celebrity teams of three took part, and when the revival began they were captained by regulars Sandi Toksvig and Alan Coren. This was a show that was all about some of the more unusual words in the English dictionary. A bell would be rung by Bob and then the word would appear on the screen. vlcsnap-00006

All three of the panellists on the team would then give a definition of what the word actually meant, and some of these could be rather far-fetched, but only one of them would be telling the truth. A member of the opposing team would then be challenged to determine which one of the definitions is correct. The chosen panellist then reveals on a piece of paper whether they gave the true definition, or if it was a bluff. If they get it right, they score one point. If they don’t, the opposing team gets the point on offer. vlcsnap-00012

After this, Bob would ring his bell to reveal the next word and the cycle begins again. There would be about six words in every show so every panellist would get at least one chance at trying to find the right definition. And although points were on offer, this was one of those shows where it didn’t really matter that much who won as long as everyone joined in. vlcsnap-00013

The revival ran for almost a decade on BBC1 to go along with the almost 25 years it ran on BBC2, and Call My Bluff is among the small amount of UK game shows of which there have been over 1,000 editions produced, and as it ran for a combined 35 years on TV it was definitely an idea that endured. I only really got to watch the show in the 90s during the school holidays sometimes but I do remember enjoying it. vlcsnap-00011

One interesting thing about the show was seeing who the panellists where. For example you knew that there were laughs guaranteed when comedians like Tim Vine who always had funny stories to tell were taking part. Another impressive thing was the remarkable amount of strange words that were featured where it really would be a challenge to determine the correct answer. It was a show where you could learn some quirky things and it had the “really, is that right, I never knew that” factor. vlcsnap-00005