Game Show Memories – Bob’s Full House Christmas Special.

Bob’s Full House Christmas Special (BBC1, 1989)

One of my most popular blog pieces over the past year has been the one looking back at Bob’s Full House, and good thing too, because it’s one of my favourites and it really is one of the all-time classic game shows. I wondered how I could write anything else about it, so I’ve decided that because we’ve reached that time of year again I’ll review a Christmas special.

There were several Christmas specials made during the show’s run, and I’ll be reviewing the one shown in 1989 which was 40 minutes long. Bob’s Full House had been running for over five years by this point, and it would come to an end on BBC1 about a month later in January 1990. The game was the same but four celebrities took part to show off their quiz knowledge and to try and win some prizes and money for their chosen charities. vlcsnap-00003

They are Ken Bruce, who was a morning presenter on BBC Radio 2 at the time (and he still is), Debbie “no relation” Greenwood, Pamela Armstrong, and Adrian Love, another Radio 2 presenter. Bob comes on and he really has settled into the rhythm of hosting this show now, and he gives us another masterclass, beginning by saying “Merry Christmas to all our readers!” curiously, before informing us that they got the decorations at Woolworths. bob3

In the first round, they have to light their four corners. As well as playing for prizes for charity if they won the round, they would also win £10 for every number they lit, so try not to get wallied. Adrian wins this round, and selects some early learning toys from the prizes on offer, something that is definitely going to bring some seasonal splendour to the youngsters. vlcsnap-00031

In the second round, they have to light their middle line, and it’s time to bring out the Monkhouse Master Card with various categories. If they pick their Lucky Number and get the question right, they win a bonus £50. Adrian wins this round too, and selects what is vaguely described as “a karaoke” as his next prize from the selection. Well it is the latest craze. Adrian has now built up a big lead, will that give him an advantage going into the final round? vlcsnap-00036

This is the round on the buzzer where they have to light the rest of the numbers on their card. Adrian gets a full house and is the overall winner, beating Pamela by a margin of two, and this time he chooses as his prize what is simply called “a computer screen”, how terrific. Can Adrian now sweep the board by winning the star prize in the Golden Card Game? vlcsnap-00043

Adrian will be playing for a holiday like what usually happens in this round, but it won’t be for him, it’ll be for some people who will be helped out by the charity that he is representing. It’s a close finish, but Adrian is a winner, and he’s won someone a holiday to Florida, hooray! And he also added another £165 to the money he had already won! Bob then decides to light all the other contestant’s cards anyway to give them a bonus £150. This was another very enjoyable edition of what was always an entertaining show. vlcsnap-00046

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Game Show Memories – Call My Bluff.

Call My Bluff (BBC2, 1965-1988, 1994, BBC1, 1996-2005)

It’s time to review another celebrity panel game. Call My Bluff launched on BBC2 in the mid-60s and it became very popular, but the era I will be looking back at is when the show was revived on BBC1 in the mid-90s and was hosted by Bob Holness until 2003. Bob of course also hosted Blockbusters which is one of my all-time favourite game shows, and it was a pleasure seeing him on TV again.

This version of Call My Bluff was shown in a weekday daytime slot. Two celebrity teams of three took part, and when the revival began they were captained by regulars Sandi Toksvig and Alan Coren. This was a show that was all about some of the more unusual words in the English dictionary. A bell would be rung by Bob and then the word would appear on the screen. vlcsnap-00006

All three of the panellists on the team would then give a definition of what the word actually meant, and some of these could be rather far-fetched, but only one of them would be telling the truth. A member of the opposing team would then be challenged to determine which one of the definitions is correct. The chosen panellist then reveals on a piece of paper whether they gave the true definition, or if it was a bluff. If they get it right, they score one point. If they don’t, the opposing team gets the point on offer. vlcsnap-00012

After this, Bob would ring his bell to reveal the next word and the cycle begins again. There would be about six words in every show so every panellist would get at least one chance at trying to find the right definition. And although points were on offer, this was one of those shows where it didn’t really matter that much who won as long as everyone joined in. vlcsnap-00013

The revival ran for almost a decade on BBC1 to go along with the almost 25 years it ran on BBC2, and Call My Bluff is among the small amount of UK game shows of which there have been over 1,000 editions produced, and as it ran for a combined 35 years on TV it was definitely an idea that endured. I only really got to watch the show in the 90s during the school holidays sometimes but I do remember enjoying it. vlcsnap-00011

One interesting thing about the show was seeing who the panellists where. For example you knew that there were laughs guaranteed when comedians like Tim Vine who always had funny stories to tell were taking part. Another impressive thing was the remarkable amount of strange words that were featured where it really would be a challenge to determine the correct answer. It was a show where you could learn some quirky things and it had the “really, is that right, I never knew that” factor. vlcsnap-00005

CITV Memories – Skull.

Skull (CITV, 1990-1991)

I’ve already written about why I was a fan of the rather spooky CITV Saturday Morning show Ghost Train, and one of the reasons was because of the game show segment that deserves a separate piece looking back at it. I don’t think that Skull featured in all three series, but it was definitely in the last two. Skull was a somewhat chaotic game that featured a lot of mess and it was played in three parts.

In the first part a contestant alongside one of the hosts of the show had to jump in a pool and find the skull, because this contained some questions. Whilst they tried to find it, the main villain Barry and his band of baddies would squirt them with gunge and everyone would cheer them on. When they did finally find it, the host, who was already exhausted after having to search, would ask three questions. vlcsnap-00223

While the questions were asked, Barry and the baddies would be watching on, because if they got any of the questions wrong they would throw even more gunge over them, and the contestant would have a disadvantage in the second stage of the game. In case they got all three right, Barry would ask another question himself which was usually impossible with the hope that there would be at least one wrong answer resulting in a squirting. vlcsnap-00222

The second part of the game wasn’t as messy, but was just as unpredictable. The contestant would enter a room with a chequered floor which contained blindfolded baddies holding maces (how many they faced depended on how many questions they got right in the first round), and they could only step on the white squares. If they got hit they would lose the game, much to the delight of Barry. vlcsnap-00225

If they got past them without being hit though, they would enter another room to play the final game where they would have to face the man himself Barry. This time, both the contestant and Barry would be blindfolded, and if they managed to beat him in the main duel by successfully banging him on the head with their mace, they would win a prize that money can’t buy… that’s right, a jacket! vlcsnap-00226

It was also rather amusing when in the final edition of the series the game reached its rather inevitable conclusion when all three hosts took part and pushed Barry in the pool at the end. Also, one of Barry’s baddies was played by Mark Heap who in more recent years went on to have a lot of success as a comic actor. I always thought that Skull was great fun and livened up Saturday Mornings just really because it was so ridiculous.

Game Show Memories – Stars In Their Eyes Champion Of Champions.

Stars In Their Eyes Champion Of Champions (ITV, 1999)

This is another variation on the popular singing contest Stars In Their Eyes. After the end of the 10th series in 1999, the decision was made to have the ten series winners compete against one another to determine who was the best of them all from the past decade in a special live edition shown on ITV in October 1999 that was almost two hours long and I remember watching it at the time. Matthew Kelly was the host and he wore his fanciest bow-tie for this big occasion. vlcsnap-00005

This edition was a sort-of deluxe version of a grand final, and all ten of the series winners took part, from singers as Shirley Bassey who won the first series in 1990 to Chris De Burgh who won the most recent series in 1999, and they went through those famous doors to be transformed into their singing idol one final time, with their performance accompanied by a live orchestra. vlcsnap-00062

Also taking part were singers performing as Nat King Cole (1991), Patsy Cline (1992), Alison Moyet (1993), Marti Pellow (1994 and 1996, yes, there were two singers who won as the Wet Wet Wet frontman, viewers seemingly couldn’t get enough of him), Bobby Darin (1995), Olivia Newton-John (1997), and Neil Diamond (1998). vlcsnap-00075

Everyone who took part was also given a small silver trophy to acknowledge their success, and we also discovered what they had all be up to since becoming a champion. Also, the specially invited studio audience consisted of the contestants’ friends and family, plus some celebrities, who mostly seemed to be from the cast of Coronation Streetvlcsnap-00023

After everyone had performed, the phone-lines were then opened for about an hour, and you could even vote through their fancy new website. Who would the ITV viewers determine as the winner? Matthew’s virtual friend Hayley revealed the results. It turned out to be Ian Moor whose performance of Chris De Burgh’s 1986 chart-topper “The Lady In Red” received over 480,000 votes and he won by a big margin, with more than double the votes of the second-placed contestant, winning him the main trophy and a lot of applause. He was rather pleased. I thought that this was the edition where the man himself joined Ian on stage to congratulate him on his success, but that was actually when he performed again at the 2000 grand final. vlcsnap-00002

Stars In Their Eyes was a long-running show and there were several more variations on the format over the years, including lots of celebrity specials, a children’s series, and even a version featuring singers from across Europe, along with the revival a couple of years ago, but I wasn’t as big a fan of those versions, this edition was definitely one of the highlights of the show’s run.

Game Show Memories – Cheap Cheap Cheap.

Cheap Cheap Cheap (Channel 4, 2017) 

After the successful and long-running Deal Or No Deal ended, Noel Edmonds returned to Channel 4 with a new show that he created himself. Noel is someone who is known to like to try something a little different in TV, and we were promised that Cheap Cheap Cheap would be a unique cross between a game show and a sitcom, where contestants played the game while various comedy characters looked on and interacted with them. 

Cheap

The response from viewers to this idea was rather predictable really, with most comments on the show from people after one edition just consisting of “this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen, I turned off after five minutes”, and “Noel has really lost it this time”, causing the ratings to slump very quickly. I watched to the end of the run though and I just feel that I want to defend this show and reveal why I became a fan, although I am clearly in the minority. vlcsnap-00206

Noel opened his new store in Somerset and he was joined by Barry the manager (played by Alex “not the one who used to be in Hurricane #1” Lowe), plus Marijana the health and happiness guru, Kelly the sales assistant, and Brian the odd job man. Although it seems that some of their material was scripted, I’m not entirely sure if Noel knew what they were going to say, and this made things a little unpredictable. Teams of two take part and they have to determine the lowest-priced item of the three on offer, that’s it really. vlcsnap-00190

If they get stuck they have three tools that were on offer to help them. They could take a look at the next question before deciding to play, they could have the most expensive item removed, or they could have the price of one item revealed. Only one tool can be played per question though. After they make their choice, Noel reveals the prices of the items, and if they have correctly chosen the cheapest, they move one step up the money ladder. vlcsnap-00192

If they decide to play and get it wrong however, they lose all their money. There are eight steps on the money ladder, each question is in theory supposed to be more difficult than the previous one, and the star prize was £25,000 for getting eight right in a row. Barry always looked forward to opening the till for the successful contestants. Shows also straddle so if it’s time for Barry to close the shop for the day they can resume their game in the next edition. vlcsnap-00198

There were a few other odd elements to the show. First of all, there was no live studio audience as such, only the other contestants waiting to play were watching on, so most jokes met with little response, I feel that it would’ve worked better with a bigger audience, and whether you got the style of humour on offer made a difference too. Also, there were lots of guest appearances from old school 1980s celebrities including Bobby Davro, Lionel Blair, Russell Grant and Dennis Taylor who took part in sketches that ranged from amusing to cringe-making. vlcsnap-00203

Perhaps the oddest thing though was how the show ended. By the end of the run, the actress who played Kelly was absent and it wasn’t clear whether it was part of the story or if she had walked before work on the show was completed, and there was also what some people felt was a rather contrived jackpot win in the final edition that left them wondering what exactly was happening behind the scenes. vlcsnap-00199

Cheap Cheap Cheap did reach the end of its six-week run without being moved from its daytime slot, although the ratings were very bad by the end and it was a big failure, and even though it only ended last month I imagine there is no chance of it returning to the screen. If this really does turn out to be the end of Noel’s long TV career then that is very disappointing. Maybe for a second series they could relaunch the show without Noel in a late-night slot, call it Barry’s Bargain Bin and just have him shouting at contestants as they play for terrible prizes. It couldn’t do any worse.

Game Show Memories – Takeover Bid.

Takeover Bid (BBC1, 1990-1991)

When I put together my tribute to Bruce Forsyth a while ago, I realised that I still hadn’t reviewed his game show Takeover Bid, which was the first show that Bruce hosted after he returned to the BBC in 1990, so here it is. One of the highlights was the opening of the show which was as fun to watch as the actual game. Bruce would come on and try to throw a hat and umbrella on to a hatstand. Sometimes he would succeed, and sometimes he wouldn’t, and wondering what would happen was rather enjoyable. vlcsnap-00003

Bruce’s store was now open and three contestants took part, hoping to bag themselves some bargains, because there were plenty of prizes on offer. The first round was called Fact Or Fib. The contestant was given a choice of one of four prizes worth different values to bid, with the the four star prize being rather decent, and the one star prize being rather daft and useless. If they got the true or false statement right, they keep the prize which would help them in the next round, and they get a bonus prize too! If they got it wrong, they lost the prize that they bid, which could be to their disadvantage. vlcsnap-00148

The second round was Crazy Cryptics. The contestants now answer quirky questions against one another with six categories available, to earn the chance to steal prizes from their opponents. Bruce always encouraged them to be ruthless with their choices at this point, as owning the better value prizes really was worth it. This was because the contestant whose prizes had the highest value of stars at the end of the round went into the final. To help them out, at the start of the final, they are given a bonus ten stars, with their stars total then being rounded up to the nearest five. vlcsnap-00149

The final was Star Spin. There was a wheel with ten categories on it. The five-pointed star was then spun, and the five categories that the points were at when it stopped would be the ones that questions would be asked on. The contestant picked a category and could bid an amount of stars on getting the question right, winning them for a right answer, and losing them for a wrong one. If they had got at least 100 stars by the time they reached the final question, they could gamble for the star prize, which was usually a holiday, plus keeping all the prizes that they had already won. vlcsnap-00154

A couple of months after Takeover Bid launched, Bruce hosted his first edition of The Generation Game for 13 years, which turned out to be much more successful, because it was definitely the better of the two shows. However, although Takeover Bid wasn’t a huge success it still ran for a couple of series in the early-90s and it was always a pleasure seeing Bruce do his thing.

The YouTube Files – The Krypton Factor USA.

The Krypton Factor (ABC, 1981)

If you are a regular you will know that The Krypton Factor is one of my favourite game shows, and wondering how many variations have been made over the years, I was interested to discover that an American version was made in the early-80s. It was hosted by Dick Clark, a veteran presenter who appeared on TV for decades, and the show was described as the ultimate test of mental and physical abilities. vlcsnap-00105

Four contestants from across the country took part in five rounds (or “phases” as they were called here). Phase one was the reflex test. The contestants had to complete a challenge on an Atari computer game that was impressive technology at the time, which was a test of hand-eye co-ordination. If they were successful they scored five points. Phase two was mental agility. Two questions were asked about various words and numbers. Get the first question right and score four points. Get it wrong and they are eliminated from the round. Get the second question right and score six points for a maximum of ten. vlcsnap-00104

Phase three was physical ability. This was the assault course round and the obstacles were very tough to complete, possibly even more so than the British version. Every contestant started at the same time, there were no head starts, and the winner of this round scored 20 points, with 15 points for coming second, 10 points for coming third, and five points for coming fourth. vlcsnap-00109

Phase four was observation. Contestants had to watch a film clip, and then they would be asked two questions about what they saw and heard, with four points for getting the first question correct, and six points for the second. There would then be an identity parade where contestants would have to spot an actor who appeared in the scene from a line-up of six for a bonus of ten points. vlcsnap-00110

Phase five was general knowledge. Questions were asked on the buzzer, with two points for a correct answer, and two deducted for an incorrect answer. At the midway point in the round, this increased to four points for a correct answer, four points deducted for an incorrect answer. When time was up, the contestant with the highest score won $5,000 and was invented to return for the final at the end of the series. vlcsnap-00114

There were four heats, with the four winners going into the final, with the star prize being $50,000. Also in 1981, two of the finalists in the US version played two contestants from the UK version in an international special. It seems that this version of The Krypton Factor wasn’t a huge success though, it only ran for five editions. In 1990 there was a second attempt at an American version featuring younger contestants but again this didn’t do very well.