Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 12.

My next choice to feature in this series might be a surprise to some people, as maybe he isn’t as well-known as some of the others. This might lead to people thinking things like “do you really think that he is one of the greats?” and “surely you’re not putting him in the same bracket as Bruce Forsyth and the like?”, and I’m not really, although he might be a B-list name compared to most, he hosted some shows that I enjoyed, and for me, that’s enough to qualify.

Andrew O’Connor is someone who has had a rather varied career, as well as being a game show host, he has also been a magician, comedian, producer, and much more. He first appeared on TV in the mid-80s, doing his comedy thing on shows including 3-2-1 and Copy Cats, and he also contributed to children’s TV shows including The Joke Machine and On The Waterfront.

In the late-80s, he became the second host of Chain Letters, which at this point was briefly shown in a primetime slot. He also contributed some of his impressions to the Observation round on The Krypton Factor. By the early-90s, he was appearing in CITV’s sitcom Kappatoo. He also hosted One To Win, which although the format was rather similar to Bob’s Full House, this was actually based on an American show called Trump Card.

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And there was Sky Runners, which was an attempt at a team version of Treasure Hunt, which got no further than a pilot shown quietly on a Bank Holiday. Second Guess was another less successful one, shown in the early days of The Family Channel. He was also guaranteed to be good value as a panellist, including regular appearances on Through The Keyhole. By this point, he was also working behind the scenes on game shows, including being the co-creator of Incredible Games and Lose A Million.

In the mid-90s he co-hosted Happy Families, a Saturday Night show that was a little similar to Gladiators, which was when BBC1 was struggling to find some new popular entertainment shows. My favourite of all his game shows has got to be Talk About, which had a rather surreal twist, as most of the contestants were clearly drawn from the “where on earth did we find them?” pile, and there was at least one edition where he couldn’t stop laughing at how useless they were at playing the game. It was great, honest. And he did it all while wearing a horrible waistcoat.

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He then hosted Family Catchphrase, and there was a celebrity edition where Bob Holness was a contestant, who gave him some advice on game show hosting, which I’m sure was definitely worth listening to. Finally in the late-90s there was The Alphabet Game, which he also co-created. This format was then sold around the world, becoming popular in Spain, where the star prize would often rollover until reaching seven figures. This then came back to the UK as Alphabetical.

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Since then, he has concentrated mostly on production work, which has made him a few quid over the years, including being behind several shows about magic and illusions, and he also directed the Mitchell And Webb film Magicians. I don’t have any problem with him being among my favourites. Oh, and he’s no relation to Des. Or Tom.

Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 8.

This is someone who had a rather varied career in TV. Jeremy Beadle might be remembered now by most people as a prankster, but I was always more interested in his game show work. He started out in radio as a host on LBC, and he was also working behind the scenes on various shows, including devising formats and compiling questions.

He first really became known in the early-80s for being one of the hosts of ITV’s Game For A Laugh, and this led to other successful shows including Beadle’s About and People Do The Funniest Things. But the first game show that I really remember him on was Chain Letters, this was the long-running word game, although he only hosted the first series.

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This one had the honour (?) of being the first to feature in ITV’s 9:25am game show slot, which ran for about a decade. Going into the late-80s, he hosted a few more game shows, including Born Lucky, and It’s Beadle, although I don’t remember watching either of them, and it could be argued that some people weren’t hugely fond of his shows. But in the early-90s, one of the most popular shows of his career launched.

You’ve Been Framed! really began the craze for shows featuring “home video howlers”, as they were always described in TV magazines. Although this wasn’t a game show as such, in the early series the studio audience would vote for what they thought was the funniest clip of the show, which would win a cash prize, leading to a grand final, where the overall winner won a bigger cash prize.

I remember that in the mid-90s he returned to the radio for a late-night show, and I stayed up past my bedtime to listen to his thoughts on quirky subjects. By the late-90s though, he had left You’ve Been Framed!, his other shows including Beadle’s About and Beadle’s Hot Shots had ended on ITV, and he wasn’t seen on TV so regularly after this.

His next show was Channel 5’s Win Beadle’s Money, where contestants had to beat him to win a cash prize supposedly from himself. As he was something of a trivia buff, this wouldn’t as easy as people might’ve first thought, and there was usually a close final. In the early-2000s, he took part in Banged Up With Beadle, which featured in the first series of Saturday Night Takeaway.

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He had been locked away, every week someone would join him, and they would live together and have to learn a task which they had to perform on the live show to win a prize. It was a shame that he never really got the opportunity to launch the next stage in his career, some think that he could’ve gone on to host various documentaries where he could show off his knowledge and enthusiasm.

Game Show Memories – Chain Letters.

Chain Letters (ITV, 1987-1997)

Hello. First of all, I have decided to stop numbering my pieces because I still have lots of shows to review and titles like “Game Show Memories – Part 52” will be rather ridiculous and confusing, so from now on I’ll put the show titles in the description to make it easier to find what you want.

Now Chain Letters had a rather unusual run. Although it ran for almost a decade, it went through several hosts and timeslots, but the basic format of the show always stayed the same though, with three contestants taking part to show off their wordpower. Indeed, the idea was so simple that it was even explained in the catchy opening theme of the show. vlcsnap-00968

In the first round, contestants were given a four-letter word selected by the computer Wordsworth and then had to change a letter to create another word. They had to make a chain as long as they could against the clock and won £5 for every successful link. Then there was the booby trap round where a contestant had to change a letter, but if they made a word that one of the other two contestants had thought they would make they take the money on offer off them. vlcsnap-00969

There was also the final quickfire round, where a clue was given and the contestants had to change the right letter to create the answer. This round had a bizarre scoring system, there were some numbers changing, and the amount they scored was wherever the cycle was when they buzzed in. So they could win £10, £20, or £40, and there was even “tie the leader” so contestants could make lots of money in this round and the lead constantly changed. At the end the highest scoring player went into the Superchain. vlcsnap-00970

In this round, the computer selected a letter and you had to make another word. If you made ten links in one minute, you won the star prize of £1,000. If not, it was a consolation £50 for every link that was successfully made, plus the money that they had already won. This was a show that I watched regularly but the history of its scheduling is rather bizarre. vlcsnap-00971

Chain Letters was a Tyne Tees production, they didn’t produce many other game shows over the years, only Cross Wits comes to mind. The show began in 1987 in the 9:25am slot after Schools programmes had finally been pushed to Channel 4. The first host was Jeremy Beadle who did very well but he only lasted for one series. vlcsnap-00973

In 1988 he was replaced by the ever-dependable Andrew O’Connor and the show moved to primetime. However, it was usually shown against EastEnders so it didn’t do very well in the ratings. In 1989 Allen Stewart became the next host. Also around this time, a board game of Chain Letters was released which I used to have. Bah, why didn’t I keep it? vlcsnap-00972

In 1990 Stewart returned but the show returned to the 9:25 slot and then that seemed to be it. Curiously, almost five years later, Chain Letters was revived and now hosted by Ted Robbins. It returned again in 1996 with Vince Henderson now hosting, before in 1997 the final series was hosted by Dave Spikey. His episodes have been frequently repeated on Challenge.