Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 9.

This is someone whose career I have already taken a look back at in a piece, but he definitely deserves to be featured in this series too because he had one of the longest and most successful TV careers that there has been, and hosting game shows was a rather large part of this. Bruce Forsyth started out in showbusiness at a rather young age, and it was around the late-50s that he wondered whether to open a tobacco shop or stay at it and try for some TV work.

But it was in the early-70s when he really started to become known for his game show hosting, and the first of these successes was BBC1’s The Generation Game, which did really well for many years, with lots of memorable contestants and catchphrases. And in the late-70s he made a surprise high-profile departure to ITV which was said to have left the BBC bigwigs reeling.

He then hosted Bruce’s Big Night, which promised plenty of entertainment, but ultimately delivered little. Then in the early-80s, he went on to Play Your Cards Right, which did much better. In the mid-80s he aimed to break into America with game show Hot Streak, but this wasn’t a success. In the late-80s there was You Bet!, which he would often begin with “the You Bet! rap”, how terrific.

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Fancying another change, in the early-90s he went back to the BBC, for more game shows, including Takeover Bid, and a revival of The Generation Game, which was very enjoyable, and this one is among my favourites of his. In the mid-90s he moved back to ITV again, for a revival of Play Your Cards Right, and The Price Is Right, which were both enjoyable too.

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However, some of the final editions of Bruce’s Price Is Right (as it was now called) weren’t shown in a primetime slot, and he was beginning to feel a little underappreciated. So in the early-2000s there was another revival of Play Your Cards Right, this time offering more prize money than ever. But there was a game added at the start to determine who would play, and this didn’t seem the place for contestants to be unfairly eliminated, leave that to The Weakest Link.

Maybe by this point it was felt that after so many years his style was beginning to get a little stale, but after going back to the BBC yet again, he was given the chance to host Have I Got News For You, which showed that he could still do these type of shows in a entertaining and energetic style in a way a felt he hadn’t done for a while, and this gave his career a much-needed boost.

By the mid-2000s there was Didn’t They Do Well, which was good, but this was a one-series wonder that was soon overshadowed by Strictly Come Dancing, which he hosted for about a decade, and was his last big game show success, his desire to entertain seemingly hadn’t dimmed one bit since he started out many decades earlier, what a talent, clearly the tobacco shop’s loss was our gain.

Game Show Memories – Didn’t They Do Well.

Didn’t They Do Well (BBC1, 2004)

This is a game show that was hosted by the one and only Bruce Forsyth, on his return to the BBC. This one had a rather interesting idea, because as we’ll see, he didn’t actually ask most of the questions. Three teams of two took part, but before the game actually began, there was plenty of time for Bruce’s jokes, and a lot of “tell us a funny anecdote”-style interaction to introduce the contestants.

In the first round, we were introduced to what were known as the nine “quizmasters”. These were the hosts of (mainly BBC) game shows from the 60s to the present, and questions that they asked would be used on this show. Some of these were rather famous and long-running including Mastermind, but there were some more surprising choices including the short-lived Brainstorm with Kenny Everett and Quiz Time Gentleman Please (even I have no idea what that one is). vlcsnap-00785

Seeing these long-gone shows unexpectedly referenced and being taken out of the archive to be given another brief moment of fame all these years on was a really good touch. Being familiar with the shows would be to a team’s advantage, as it would give them a clue to what category the question would be on. For example, if they picked Pop Quiz, it would be a question on music. vlcsnap-00803

The teams picked a quizmaster and they had to answer the question for one point. After this, Bruce says “did you enjoy that round? Well let’s do it again”. And they picked from the six remaining, this time for two points. In round two, there is a choice of four categories. They are shown a short montage of people associated with that category. They then have to say who the five people were for one point each. If they do, they are asked a bonus question about them for three points (“wherever I go, my bonuses go!”). vlcsnap-00807

The lowest-scoring team at then end of this round are eliminated, and Bruce says “didn’t you do badly!”. You will notice that this show is rather catchphrase heavy even by Bruce’s standards, they definitely made the most of his strengths in that area. Round three features six archive clips of people describing something, such as a chat show host introducing a guest. There are ten points on offer, with the value decreasing for the longer it is shown. vlcsnap-00812

When they think they know, they buzz in. Get it wrong though, and they can’t try again until their opponents have had a go. Again, the lowest-scoring team are eliminated. In the final, there are eight questions from various shows of seemingly increasing difficulty, and 90 seconds on the clock. They are shown the question, and if they get it right, the clock stops and they can move up to the next question. vlcsnap-00813

If they get it wrong, they are asked another question from the same show. They are given a choice of playing on or taking the final question (“do you want to play for the cash, or build up your stash?”). If they ran out of time they lost the money, so there’s the option of the final gamble. There are given a choice of three questions and told what category they are on. Get it right and they win the money they made, with a maximum of £32,000 on offer. vlcsnap-00815

Get it wrong and they lose it all. To think that winning thousands of pounds rested on a question asked by Cuddly Ken on Brainstorm was really great. It was a surprise to notice that Bruce’s career lasted as long as the “you leave with nothing” era of game shows, and this harshness didn’t sit right with a lot of people. They wouldn’t even win a consolation. Bruce was a great host as always though and very generous to the contestants, but there was only one series of Didn’t They Do Well as shortly after he went off to host Strictly Come Dancing.

Game Show Memories – a tribute to Bruce Forsyth.

After I had competed reviewing all the game shows that I wanted to on this blog, I planned to take a look back some of my favourite hosts too and some their best shows. I decided that I might as well do this one now as we still come to terms with the fact that we are now living in a post-Brucie world. Here’s a quick look at ten memorable shows which featured the great talent of Bruce Forsyth throughout his long career.

The Generation Game. (BBC1, 1971-1977, 1990-1994) One of the best shows that Bruce ever hosted, he was the original host, before he came back in the early-90s to host the era that I remember. Just about all of his famous catchphrases were in use and I remember really enjoying this entertaining show. vlcsnap-00289Bruce’s Big Night. (ITV, 1978) This is a curious one. After leaving the BBC, Bruce went to ITV and was given his own big-budget Saturday night ITV entertainment show. Despite lots of things being tried it wasn’t a big success.

Play Your Cards Right. (ITV, 1980-1987, 1994-1999, 2002-2003) Another one of Bruce’s classics which he ended up hosting three versions of. Again, I remember the 90s version which was always great to play along with and this show is definitely up there with Bruce’s best. vlcsnap-01396

You Bet(ITV, 1988-1990) Although Matthew Kelly is the best-known host of this show, Bruce hosted the first three series, where people tried to complete extraordinary challenges. Bruce would also begin every show with “the You Bet! rap”, hopefully he didn’t realise that as a single. You Bet 10

Takeover Bid. (BBC1, 1990-1991) This was a rather short-lived game show that I haven’t got round to reviewing yet but it was much inferior to The Generation Game. If the highlight of the show is when Bruce comes on at the start and tries to throw a hat and cane on to a hatstand then the actual game might not be so great. Takeover Bid 4

Bruce’s Guest Night. (BBC1, 1992-1993) This was an entertainment show where Bruce would interview various guests such as comedians and musicians.

Bruce’s Price Is Right. (ITV, 1995-2001) Another game show revival. Bruce replaced Leslie Crowther as the host of this classic show where a lot of big prizes were won. vlcsnap-01496Tonight At The London Palladium. (ITV, 2000) Viewers are always saying that they should bring back variety to TV, so who better to do it than the man who hit the big time hosting a show at the Palladium in the late-50s? Lots of variety acts joined Bruce, and he even revived his famous Beat The Clock game. Also around this time on ITV Bruce starred in an edition of the An Audience With series, and also took part in a special show celebrating his 70th birthday.

Didn’t They Do Well. (BBC1, 2004) This was a short-lived game show that I don’t remember seeing much of myself unfortunately, but it seems an interesting idea. I’d sooner watch this than that bloomin’ dancing show he started hosting around the same time!

Bruce’s Hall Of Fame. (BBC1, 2014) Bruce hosts another show at the Palladium where he looks back over his career and is joined on stage by various guests. This one is interesting because not only were my parents in the audience for this and they had a great time in his company, but it also turned out to be just about the final show that he ever did.

Beyond these shows, Brucie made a huge amount of TV appearances, and he also appeared on stage, in films, and in various adverts in a career that spanned decades. TV will never really be the same without him. He really was a terrific presenter and a real star, thanks for the great memories.