The YouTube Files – Child’s Play USA.

Child’s Play (CBS, 1982-1983)

This is the original American version of the game show that ran on ITV for about four years in the 80s. And this was yet another one that was hosted by Bill Cullen in his long and distinguished career, I think that this is the third of his shows that I have reviewed, he really did do a lot of them. This version of Child’s Play was slightly different to the format that was used in the UK.

Firstly, it was one contestant against one, instead of two teams of two, so they would not be accompanied by a celebrity panellist who could help them out. Also, there was a defending champion who could appear on up to five shows, so if they kept on winning they might end up earning themselves a rather decent amount of money. And several segments of the studio set span around for no particular reason, which is always great. vlcsnap-00079

The basic idea of the game was to guess the words that were being described by various children (usually aged around seven or eight) who appeared on a rather large screen, mostly on their own, but sometimes in pairs, and of course much of the humour comes from their sometimes rather unusual descriptions that made everyone laugh. If the contestant gets it wrong, it is passed to their opponent who sees the word described by another child. vlcsnap-00082

And if they still don’t get it, it goes back for a third and final child’s description. There is one point for every correct answer. Then there’s the Fast Play round. There are more descriptions, but this time the contestants can buzz in and interrupt the child, if they know the word. Get it wrong, and their opponent can see the rest of the description. There are now two points for every correct answer. Whoever is in the lead when the bell goes wins $500 and goes into the final. vlcsnap-00080

The original format of the final was the Triple Play game. The contestant has to guess six words in 45 seconds, and they can have up to three definitions. Every correct answer won $100, and if they get all of them right, they win an additional $5,000, and also get the chance to squeal right in Bill’s ear with the overexcitement. The format of the final was changed about halfway through the series, as some children now appeared in the studio to give definitions. vlcsnap-00083

There were over 250 editions of Child’s Play that were shown on CBS in the space of just under a year, so they definitely managed to pack a lot in, and some of the children featured ended up being rather famous themselves. As well as the UK, there have also been several versions of the show around the world, although there have been no further revivals of the format in America.

Game Show Memories – Child’s Play.

Child’s Play (ITV, 1984-1988)

This is another 80s game show that I don’t really remember watching that much of at the time, but I’ve since seen enough of it to consider it worthy of a review here. Child’s Play was a show that was based on American format and it was hosted by Michael Aspel. It was a chance to see if adults really did understand what was going on in the minds of children.

Two teams of two took part, consisting of a contestant along with a celebrity, and since it was the mid-80s, people could be expected to be paired with the likes of Kenneth Williams or Bernie Winters. Children aged 5-11 from across the country are asked to describe the definitions of various words, and the teams have to guess what they are, although it’s not as straightforward as it seems, as children can have an unusual outlook on life. vlcsnap-00619

In the first round, a child described something, and there was 15 points on offer if they got it right. If they don’t though, it’s passed over to the other team with another child’s description for 10 points. If they don’t know, it goes back to the first team along with a third description for five points. Also, the children appeared on a really big screen, which made the adults in the studio look tiny by comparison, as if a seven-year-old boy had just taken over the world and was making an announcement. Or maybe that’s just me. vlcsnap-00625

Then there was the Triple Play round. This time the children were asked to write down definitions of words, and contestants could have up to three clues. One team member was nominated to play, they had 45 seconds on the clock, and there were ten points for every correct answer. Next was the bonus round, where more than one child describes a word, one for each team, and getting this one right earned 50 points. vlcsnap-00639

The final round was Fast Play. This time a child gave a definition, if the teams thought that they knew it, they could buzz in and interrupt them, with 20 points for a correct answer. If they get it wrong, it’s passed over to the other team who can hear the rest of the definition. When time is up, the losing contestant takes away a trophy, while the winning contestant gets a trophy along with a hamper full of goodies. vlcsnap-00646

Child’s Play ran for almost five years on ITV, which was much longer than the original American version did, and it was usually shown on Saturday nights. Although the format isn’t exactly the same, watching some editions I couldn’t help but be reminded of Small Talk, the enjoyable BBC1 90s game show that I do remember from the time that also featured children talking about things in an unusual way.