Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 14.

This is someone who had one of the most successful careers in TV and radio of anybody, and there isn’t really too much that I could tell you about him that you wouldn’t already know. But I wanted to include him in this series, because like many other people I’m sure, I always enjoyed his work. Terry Wogan‘s hosting career covered a lot of areas, including plenty of game shows.

He started out in Ireland, and shortly after, in the mid-60s, he hopped over the water to the UK. One of his earliest TV successes was Blankety Blank in the late-70s. Now it could be said that it seemed that he didn’t seem to know what was happening half the time, including trying to interact with the celebrity panellists, but this was a game where it wasn’t too much of a problem, as this wasn’t to be taken too seriously. Apart from the end, where a dishwasher could be won and it got very exciting.

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For some reason, there was a repeat run of some of his editions of Blankety Blank almost two decades later, he returned with some newly-made introductions (and his microphone), and he still seemingly couldn’t make any sense of it. He also hosted A Song For Europe, the competition that would determine who would represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest, which was definitely a great honour. And of course, he would also commentate on the main contest for several years.

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In the early-80s, there was the launch of his chat show that ran for about a decade, and for seven years was shown live three times a week, offering his now familiar style of wit. By the time this ended in the early-90s, he went on to other shows including Auntie’s Bloomers and its several spin-offs. And by this time he was as popular as ever on the radio in the BBC Radio 2 breakfast slot. In the mid-90s, he hosted Do The Right Thing, an interesting game based around debating moral dilemmas.

Going into the 2000s, he hosted a live show on Channel 5 alongside Gaby Roslin, that was a lot of fun. By the end of this decade though, he didn’t have as much TV work as he used to. He departed as Eurovision commentator, although it sounded like he had become sick and tired of the whole thing, complaining of political voting and dodgy songs, and he wasn’t seen much beyond his annual contribution to Children In Need.

He did go on to do another game show though, and surprisingly this was on Channel 4 in a daytime slot. Perfect Recall was a game that was a test memory, and by this point he had been doing this type of thing for five decades, making it look easy. When he died, it really was one of those moments where you realised that things wouldn’t be the same again, and we would’ve been infinitely poorer without his contribution.

The One-Hit Wonders – The 80s Part 16.

The Eurovision Song Contest has now been going for several decades, and it needs little introduction really. I thought that I would take a look back at story of the United Kingdom’s entry one year in the 80s, and I have decided to choose 1983, partly because this is the year that I was born, and also because this was back in the days when the UK still had a half-decent chance of winning.

The success of Bucks Fizz was only a couple of years earlier at this point, could any group be found that could repeat the magic formula? After having to go through the tense process of A Song For Europe, it turned out that Sweet Dreams would represent the UK in West Germany. This was a trio consisting of Bobby, Carrie, and Helen. They had a dance routine and a rather catchy song, because you’ve got to put on a show as well, but would this be enough to win over the judges? vlcsnap-00422

There was also some publicity, and they appeared in a few magazines, where they were rather optimistic about their chances. When the time came, the performance of “I’m Never Giving Up” led to Sweet Dreams finishing in sixth place with 79 points, which was considered to be rather disappointing at the time. The winner turned out to be Luxembourg for the fifth and final time, and they haven’t entered the contest since 1993. sd1

And in April 1983, “I’m Never Giving Up” was released, and reached no. 21. Sweet Dreams didn’t have any more hits after this though, and it is surprising how many Eurovision acts went on to have no further chart success. A while after this, it was announced that they had changed their name to Dreams and were planning to work on some more songs, but this didn’t really happen. vlcsnap-00423

After Sweet Dreams went their separate ways, Carrie went on to have some further success as a TV presenter, including CITV’s mid-80s game show How Dare You! where she had no problem with joining in with all the zaniness, and later on she used her musical expertise to become a judge on BBC1’s Fame Academy, the musical talent show that Pop Idol could’ve been.

The YouTube Files – 20th National Song Contest.

20th National Song Contest (RTE1, 1985)

I have watched The Eurovision Song Contest a lot over the years, and I have been thinking of reviewing it as part of my Game Show Memories series, as it does feature a competitive points scoring element, but its history is rather well known, including all of the famous songs and performances from across Europe, so I thought I might try something a little different.

I thought that instead I could review A Song For Europe, the show where it is determined who will represent the United Kingdom on the big night (and there was a famously awkward moment during one of these shows in the 80s when there was unexpectedly a tie for first place and there was no countback or tiebreaker rule in place, and host Terry Wogan had to use all his years of TV experience to deal with the brief moment of panic and confusion).

It was then while looking on YouTube recently I found an edition of the Irish equivalent of this show. The only thing I really knew about their version was from the memorable parody in sitcom Father Ted where “My Lovely Horse” had a surprise win, and I was curious about how the real thing would compare. It was uploaded by Ulrik D F Wiksaas so credit goes to them. vlcsnap-00335

The 20th National Song Contest was the show that would determine who would represent Ireland at Eurovision in Gothenburg, Sweden in May 1985. It was shown live from Dublin on RTE1 in March 1985 and it was hosted by the bow-tie wearing Gay Byrne (who seemingly hosted every single entertainment show on TV in Ireland in the 1980s), what a pro. vlcsnap-00358

Eight songs (narrowed down from the 451 that were entered) competed to try and win the place on offer. This piece isn’t designed to simply laugh at the naff 80s hairstyles of the singers, although there probably will be a lot of that. 11 juries from across the country are on standby to give their votes, and there is also a live orchestra in the studio. Each song is introduced with a brief biography of the composer. vlcsnap-00419

Song A is “Two Hearts” by Carol Ann, in what is her first-ever TV appearance. She really does have some marvellous hair (told you). Unfortunately the song ends with an on-screen graphics cock-up which turns Carol an odd shade of blue. Song B is “Only A Fantasy” by Marion Fossett, who had previously represented Ireland at Eurovision in 1981 as part of Sheeba. She has got a fan. nsc1

Song C is “Couldn’t Live My Life” by Jody McStravick. He loves a restaurant. Song D is “The Circus Song” by talented 18-year-old Jacinta Whyte, accompanied on-stage by a bench and a not-at-all creepy clown. Song E is “Long Before” by singer-songwriter Jane Cassidy. Song F is “Hearts” by Mike Sherrard who is wearing his decorations in honour of the night. nsc2

Song G is “Hold Her Now” by Trish O’Brien, part of a musical family. And finally, Song H is “Wait Until The Weekend Comes” by Maria Christian, who hits a high note. While the juries consider their verdicts, it’s time for an interval, featuring Linda Martin and Chips with their versions of songs including “Dead Ringer For Love” and “New York New York”, I’m sure that the studio audience were thrilled by it. nsc3

Now it’s time to wheel out the old scoreboard for the results as it’s decision time. I know that technology has advanced a lot over the years, but a part of me does miss shows like this using an LCD scoreboard. The votes are given by the 11 juries out-of-vision down a crackly phone line, with ten votes given to the songs. The tension has begun to mount backstage, and one song is beginning to streak into the lead, put it this way, it’s not looking good for the clown. vlcsnap-00414

And the winner with an unassailable score of 28 points is “Wait Until The Weekend Comes”! Maria Christian will close the show with a reprise of the song once she has got her breath back. The winning composers receive a trophy and a cheque for £1,000. As it turned out, “Wait Until The Weekend Comes” finished in 6th place with a score of 91 points. Ireland’s greatest triumphs in Eurovision were yet to come. vlcsnap-00416