Game Show Memories – The Satellite Game.

The Satellite Game (BSB Galaxy, 1990)

This is another show that appeared on the short-lived BSB Galaxy channel. The Satellite Game (not to be confused with The Satellite Show that was on CBBC around the same time) was made by the same production team as Knightmare, which had been a big success for CITV, and is considered to be one of the classics by many people to this day.

Unlike that show though, this one featured more of an attempt to include computer-generated imagery, which was still developing rapidly at the time. The Satellite Game was set on the Enigma satellite, floating somewhere far away in space, and there was no in-vision host as such, but the “computer with a breathy female voice” tradition was definitely fulfilled here.

Three young contestants, or indeed, “commanders” took part. Hopefully they would be ready to tackle all of these aliens, and still be home in time for dinner. They looked like they had been covered in tinfoil, and then strapped to a chair (and I’m trying to forget that the majority of them would be about 45 now). Will they be able to make the characters reveal the secrets to let them crack the codes?

They have to guide a small droid called Lari around various places, making sure that the obstacles were navigated, and damage was avoided. They better concentrate, press the right buttons, and there was a lot of familiar-sounding “left… left… right” commands. Hopefully all of the available data will lead the computer to indicate that they have succeeded.

At least there wasn’t a scary skull thing falling apart that showed their progress! Some missions lasted longer than the 25-minute slot, but they could return for the next edition, if they remembered to recharge the batteries, and some teams appeared for three or four shows. The some production team were also behind the similar Cyberzone and Virtually Impossible.

This was a show that was ambitious but didn’t attract too much attention. The question that I am coming to really is, if I did have access to this channel at the time, would I have enjoyed this? Well yes, I think I would, although I think that just about everyone involved had to concede that this was always going to be second-best compared to Knightmare.

The YouTube Files – Up Yer Festival.

Up Yer Festival (BSB Galaxy, 1990)

A while ago I reviewed Up Yer News, which was shown on the little-seen BSB Galaxy channel. This took a satirical look back at the day’s news every weekday evening, and gave a lot of up-and-coming comedy talent some of their earliest TV appearances. I felt that for all of the effort that was clearly put into this, it was rather a shame that the ratings were so small.

When I was having a look on YouTube recently, I discovered that there was also a spin-off series. Usually in August, hundreds of thousands of comedians and entertainers (well maybe not as many as that) go to Edinburgh, to perform at the annual fringe festival. Suddenly the streets would be overrun with jugglers, dancers, and the like for about a month.

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So in Up Yer Festival, there was a change to the format, as some of the highlights were showcased. And along with stand-up comedy and sketches, there were also be music, just anything that was on offer really, there might even be some improv. Improv! It seems that this went out live, and the host for every edition was different. These included Mark Little (moonlighting from Neighbours) and Norman Lovett.

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One of the regular contributors was Bob Downe, who did his routine and met various other performers. He was a rather zany and camp Australian comedian who actually became fairly famous in this country in the mid-90s, going on to have a comedy show or two on his own on ITV, although they were rather late at night. Well it’s one way to make a career I suppose.

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I also noticed that some editions had some extra material after I presume that the show had ran out of time and gone off air. Well if you’ve started your routine then you might as well finish. Or maybe they weren’t that bothered about overrunning. Keep going! Up Yer Festival was a worthwhile idea, which offered a wide variety of things to enjoy.

But of course, BSB ended up being doomed, and put it this way, there wasn’t going to be a visit by this show to the 1991 festival. One thing that can be said about Up Yer Festival is that it is definitely a good source of material for those “before they were famous”-type shows. Although later on in the 90s, there would be a similar show on BBC2 in a late-night slot.