Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 21.

Bonus edition!

When I was recently doing my Game Show Stars series, I was aware that I should include a female host. The role of women in game shows has definitely changed over the years. Back in the 80s and 90s, they were usually the assistant, doing little more than introducing the contestants, and showing off the prizes. But more and more women in recent years have taken on the main hosting role, and of course I have enjoyed some of them.

I have decided, just like I did with the male hosts, to pick someone who has hosted several shows, and has always been popular with viewers, including myself, so here’s who I’ve gone for. You might remember that a while ago I did piece about a newspaper that I found from 1995. One page featured an article about an up-and-coming TV host, and she definitely did fulfil her potential, remaining well-known over 25 years on (and it was nothing to do with her having a famous mother, honest).

The first time that I recall seeing Claudia Winkleman on TV was when she became the co-host of the final series of Talking Telephone Numbers in the late-90s. It was rather strange because I wasn’t familiar with her, and I wondered where Emma Forbes had gone (although she had already hosted a few shows by this point including ITV’s late-night Pyjama Party). After this, she never looked back really.

Going into the 2000s, another of her game shows that I enjoyed was Three’s A Crowd, a short-lived “dating game with a twist”, but then aren’t they all. This isn’t really a genre that I’m hugely interested in, but I did like this, and her commentary on what the current situation was definitely enhanced things. And there was also Fanorama, which came and went quietly on E4, but again was a rather enjoyable format.

And during all of this, she continued to host several other non-game shows, including Liquid News. In more recent years, she has gone on to be one of the hosts of Strictly Come Dancing, a show that I have never really had that much interest in, and its continued success does surprise me, but it is good to know that she is still an in demand host. And she did it all with her hair over her eyes, which makes it even more impressive.

Game Show Memories – Fanorama.

Fanorama (E4, 2001-2003)

Another game show review, I hear you ask? Well, yes, indeed it is, so there. This one is notable because it’s from the early days of digital TV, when Channel 4’s companion E4 tried out a comedy panel game inbetween the imports and the adverts. Fanorama (what a great pun) was a show where people aimed to show off what they knew about their favourite subject, along with pop culture in general.

Two teams of three took part, including one team captain. Fans of a variety of things took part, from TV shows to pop groups. The captains were Rhys Thomas, who would go on to appear in sitcom Swiss Toni, and also produce other comedy shows, and David Mitchell, before he hit the big time with Peep Show and went on to appear and laugh too much on every other comedy panel game made since. vlcsnap-00980

One amusing element was the captains trying to bluff their way through the show and insist they were a big a fan as their teammates. I do have a memory of when Fanorama was being promoted on E4 with a trail, Mitchell introduced a contestant by saying “and this is a fan of Britney Spears” to which this middle-aged man (dressed like Britney in the “Baby One More Time” video) interrupted “er, I actually am Britney Spears”, and they didn’t seem to be joking, it was mildly creepy. vlcsnap-00614

The original host of Fanorama was Claudia Winkleman, who was replaced in the later editions by Lauren Laverne. Lots of rounds where played where the teams could show off their knowledge. One of the more bizarre rounds was where various people interpreted a pop song’s video by doing some mime, and the teams had to write down what they thought it was. vlcsnap-00981

Maybe the bickering between the captains overshadowed the main game a little, amusing as it was. There was also a round where the captains took part in some comedy sketches doing some silly impressions that gained a lot of laughs, and questions were asked after. It might not seem much, but don’t forget this was the early-2000s where technology had advanced to the point where people could now download endless polyphonic ringtones, and making sure they haven’t used up all the memory in their digital camera was rather important. With possibilities like this, life in the 21st century is going to be fun. vlcsnap-00979

The final round was on the buzzer, with more questions asked on the team’s subjects, with a bonus if the opposing team managed to get it right. Although the scores seemed to be made up as it went long, there were still lots of well-earned prizes on offer for both teams. Fanorama was usually shown in the afternoon, but E4 didn’t seem that interested in making any similar shows, and after it ended it’s barely been seen since.