Game Show Memories – A Question Of Pop.

A Question Of Pop (BBC1, 2000-2001)

For a short while, BBC1 took the successful format of its long-running game show A Question Of Sport and used it for different genres. So we got A Question Of TV, A Question Of EastEnders (yes, really), and a music version called A Question Of Pop, which was hosted by Jamie Theakston, putting all his time interviewing pop groups on The O Zone and Live And Kicking to good use. vlcsnap-00053

Two teams of three took part, and the team captains were Noddy Holder from Slade (Tony Hadley from Spandau Ballet in the pilot), and Suggs from Madness, and their good-natured rivalry did help the show to become a sort-of BBC1-friendly version of Never Mind The Buzzcocks. Their two teammates would also be pop stars, and because this show was made in the early-2000s they would usually be someone from a group that was big at the time such as S Club 7 or Steps and the like. vlcsnap-00057

The rounds were just about the same as A Question Of Sport, with a few minor changes. The first round featured the Picture Board, with the first six of the 12 pictures on offer chosen. The next round was called Pop Action, where a few clips from famous songs from throughout the years were shown and then some questions were asked. The Home Or Away round was altered so that contestants could ask for an A-side question for one point, or gamble for a trickier B-side question for two points. vlcsnap-00059

There was also the What Happened Next? round looking back at some unusual musical TV moments, then there was the Mystery Guest round, and then it’s back to the Picture Board. The final round is on the buzzer with quickfire questions, with one point for a correct answer, and one deducted for an incorrect answer. Once the gong goes, it’s the end of the game, and although there are no prizes on offer, the winning team is declared. vlcsnap-00054

A Question Of Pop didn’t endure like A Question Of Sport and there were only two series. Surprisingly it’s another game show that doesn’t have a Wikipedia entry (although the BBC Genome does list all the pop stars who took part), and around the same time in 2001 there was the short-lived A Question Of TV which was hosted by Gaby Roslin and had the team captains Rowland Rivron and Lorraine Kelly. Unfortunately although I do remember this show too I can’t find any clips anywhere so there is no review planned for the moment.

CITV Memories – Terror Towers.

Terror Towers (CITV, 1994-1996)

This was a game show that was set in a haunted house which sort-of came across as a spookier version of The Crystal Maze, maybe like a warped version of the Medieval zone. Terror Towers was co-created by none other than Neil Buchanan and it was hosted by his old Motormouth mate Steve Johnson. Also assisting Steve was Boris The Spider (not to be confused with Bruce The Spider from the terrific The Winjin’ Pom of course). vlcsnap-00046

Two teams of three would play various games (just like in CITV’s other game show Crazy Cottage they wore the secondary colours green and orange. Why do I notice these things?). Before every main game there was a round where Steve would read a strange story, and then he would ask various observation questions about what happened. The teams would press their skull-shaped buzzer to answer and the first team to light all of their skull won a eyeball. It might sound horrible but collecting these was very important to the game. vlcsnap-00043

There were also various challenges in different rooms of the house against the clock such as trying to do something as the walls moved in around them, being blindfolded and having to be guided through a maze, and a game where everything seemed to be upside down. There were a various amount of eyeballs on offer for winning each game, these challenges were made more difficult because there seemed to be cobwebs and ghosts everywhere too, and the team that had collected the most eyeballs at the end went through to the final, with the losing team having the consolation of being eaten by werewolves. vlcsnap-00048

The final was called the stinky sink and it involved a lot of gunge, how amusing. The contestants had to get in the sink and they had one minute to find as many bones as they could, and Steve would always be very keen to encourage them to get stuck in at this point because the more bones they found, the more prizes they won. However, they were also told however well they did that they could never leave the house. Now that really is creepy. vlcsnap-00051

Terror Towers was another quirky show which ran for three series, and while it didn’t become as fondly remembered by viewers as Finders Keepers or Fun House, it was still definitely very good, watching an edition again recently brought back a lot of memories of watching CITV in the mid-90s, and somewhat surprisingly the show doesn’t seem to have a Wikipedia entry. However, as enjoyable as he was, I don’t remember seeing Steve hosting on TV again after the show ended, maybe he’s still in the house too…

CBBC Memories – The Movie Game.

The Movie Game (CBBC, 1988-1995)

I must admit that I don’t really have a huge interest in the world of film, but I do remember watching this CBBC game show. The Movie Game was hosted for the first three series by Phillip Schofield, and then Jonathon Morris hosted the next three series, followed by John Barrowman who hosted the final two series. The basic idea of the game was the same throughout the entire run, and it was played in two parts. phil0002

Three teams of two take part and in the first part of the game there are various rounds about films, such as having to answer observation questions. There was also a round where they would be given a prop and a sound effect and had to perform with it, and the studio audience would rate how well they did. There would also be a quickfire round with questions on the buzzer, and the lowest-scoring team at this point of the game would be eliminated, although they did take away some consolation prizes. I have also noticed that this is a show where the teams had a lot of mascots with them. vlcsnap-00038

The two remaining teams went into the second stage of the game which was the part that I always found the most interesting. The teams would now stand on a board which had about 16 squares on it, and they could play to answer questions worth two, three or four moves. However, they could only play for a four-move question once which was known as a “fast forward”. vlcsnap-00037

If they landed on one of three highlighted squares they could play a bonus game. This would usually be something like having to complete a challenge against the clock, or having to act out a scene in a various film genre, so this part would usually come across as a cross between Double Dare and The Generation Game, and various points would be awarded on how well they did. A celebrity guest would usually take part in one of the games too. The team that reaches the end of the board first is declared the winner, regardless of if they actually scored more points or not than the other team. vlcsnap-00042

The highest-scoring teams then returned for the grand final at the end of the series, which Phillip always saw as a good opportunity to put his best bow-tie on. The overall series winners would usually win a big star prize, such as the chance to visit a film studio in Hollywood and meet various famous actors and directors, and I’m sure they all enjoyed the experience. vlcsnap-00039

The Movie Game was something of a success for CBBC and eventually it ran for eight series.

CITV Memories – Mousetrap.

Mousetrap (CITV, 1990-1991)

CITV’s Saturday morning show Motormouth used to feature a game show segment. Originally these were the rather crazy games It’s Torture! and Gunge ‘Em In The Dungeon, which were essentially their equivalent of CBBC’s classic Double Dare on Going Live! Around the launch of the third series, they decided to do something different, and created a game based around a classic board game. All three of these games were hosted by the rather excitable Steve Johnsonvlcsnap-00026

The new game was based around Mousetrap, with a lifesize version of the board and the trap recreated in the studio. Two contestants took part and they had about seven minutes to complete obstacles and play various games depending on what square they were on. If they succeeded in these challenges and managed to get round the board in time, they would win various prizes and could play for a good quality prize in the final, maybe even a fancy TV if they were lucky. vlcsnap-00029

There was a twist though. At a random point a couple of times in the game, a hooter would go off which would start the trap, featuring everything including the ball going down a slide, and that green man that flipped over. They then had to run round to a tap to stop the trap, but this could be more difficult based on where they were on the board. Failure to stop the trap in time making the cage hit the ground would lose them the prize on offer, and they would then have to play for a smaller value one instead. Their prize value would also decrease if they ran out of time before completing all the challenges. vlcsnap-00031

When the game was over, the star prize that they were playing for was placed under the trap. The trap was then started, and if they could answer three general knowledge questions correctly before the cage hit the floor, they would win the prize on offer, and there were some rather close finishes. While not as wacky as Double Dare, Mousetrap was still good fun, and also there were a few celebrity specials, and it’s rather odd to think that Celebrity Mousetrap was a real thing on the TV. Unfortunately, we still await Celebrity Hungry Hippos on ITV. trap0001

I am a fan of board games, and around the time Mousetrap was shown I remember that I had a lot of them, including the classics such as Monopoly and Scrabble, along with many others. I do remember also at some point buying Mousetrap, I’m not sure if I was influenced by the TV version and wanted to have a go myself, but I remember how fiddly the whole thing was to set up, and how fun it was to play once everything was ready. After Motormouth came to an end in 1992, Johnson would return to host another quirky CITV game show called Terror Towers and I’ll review that soon.

The YouTube Files – Who Wants To Be A Super Millionaire?

Who Wants To Be A Super Millionaire? (ABC, 2004)

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is one of the most successful game shows that there has ever been… and it all started here! There have been variations of the show all around the world, and I planned to review the American version. Whilst having a look at some editions on YouTube, I realised that they had made a special variation on the famous format.

The American version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire launched on ABC in 1999 and was originally hosted by Regis Philbin. This version actually produced a million winning contestant before the British version did. The show did become very popular, and the decision was made to take the idea to the next level. How many people would like to become a super millionaire? vlcsnap-01336

In America in 2004, there was a special series that lasted 12 editions called Who Wants To Be A Super Millionaire? which had some slight changes to the format. Again, contestants had to answer 15 questions correctly and had three lifelines available, but there was a lot more at stake. After qualifying by playing the Fastest Finger First round, if contestants went all the way they would win a remarkable $10,000,000! vlcsnap-01334

This meant that the money amounts on offer went up very quickly. The first safe point at question five was worth $5,000, and if they get the tenth question right they are guaranteed $100,000. When they get to the 11th question, there is now a change in the game. Firstly, the amounts that are now on offer are huge, and two new lifelines that were never used in the UK version come into play. vlcsnap-01343

These were The Three Wise Men, where a trio of panellists (including a former contestant) could consult one another on what they thought the answer was for 30 seconds, sort of a deluxe Phone A Friend. There was also the Double Dip, where contestants could make two guesses at what they thought the answer was, although if they used this they couldn’t walk away from the question and they then couldn’t use any of their other remaining lifelines. vlcsnap-01335

The contestant who progressed the most was Robert Essig, who got as far as the 12th question and won $1,000,000. It was a little odd to think that this wasn’t the top prize in this version, and although he didn’t play it, he saw the 13th question which was worth $2,500,000. We can only imagine what the level of difficultly was for the final question that was worth an eight-figure sum. vlcsnap-01341

There was a contestant who went even further though. In the regular version, for a while, $10,000 was added to the top prize for every time it wasn’t won, meaning that Kevin Olmstead went on to win a massive $2,180,000 for getting the final question right, the biggest game show win at the time. He was rather pleased about it. And indeed, just about everyone else watching was. Super Millionaire was definitely an interesting variation on the format, and unlike the UK, it seems that the American version is still going on TV.

The YouTube Files – Wheel Of Fortune USA.

Wheel Of Fortune (1975-present)

I have noticed that one of my most popular blog pieces is my review of the classic game show Wheel Of Fortune. I know that this was a show that was based on an American format, so once again I decided to look at some editions on YouTube from throughout the years. One of the things that I was surprised to discover was that Wheel Of Fortune has been running on American TV almost continuously since the mid-70s. vlcsnap-01319

The rules of the American version of Wheel Of Fortune are just about the same as the British one. Three contestants take part and they have to solve word puzzles and spin a wheel to determine how much they are playing for. One major difference is that in the American version, they are playing for money. In the British version that launched in 1988 contestants played for points at this stage of the game, because of the restrictions on prize money at the time there was never really a chance of a “fortune” being given away. vlcsnap-01330

Also in the early series of the British version, contestants had to answer a question before they have the chance to spin the wheel. Every time someone solves a puzzle, they win a bonus prize, and there are lots of bonuses available on the wheel too alongside the money values, but watch out for those bankrupts! The contestant who has made the most money then goes into the final. If they can solve one final puzzle after selecting various letters, then they win a big prize, and lots of cars and holidays would be given away. vlcsnap-01323

The American version of Wheel Of Fortune has had various hosts but it has been hosted by Pat Sajak and Vanna White since the mid-80s. Watching some editions from more recent years I noticed that thanks to improved technology each individual letter is now a screen which has to be touched to reveal the letter, rather than having a panel that had to be physically turned around, although this never happened in the British version. vlcsnap-01332

Wheel Of Fortune eventually ran on British TV for 13 years, although the final few series were shown in a daytime slot. The American version has now been on TV for over 40 years and remains popular as it still offers lots of big prizes. Of all the game shows that could be revived, one that I really would like to see have another go on British TV is Wheel Of Fortune because now prizes really could be given away that are as big as what’s on offer in America and I think that it definitely has the potential to be really fun and exciting to watch. vlcsnap-01333

Game Show Memories – Just A Minute.

Just A Minute (ITV, 1994-1995, BBC1, 1999, BBC2, 2012)

Just A Minute is the comedy panel game that has been running on BBC Radio 4 for a remarkable 50 years, but my introduction to the show was through the first attempt at a version that was shown on TV. There have been three attempts to bring this show to TV (all on different channels), and just like the radio version they have all been hosted by Nicholas Parsons.

Just A Minute is a great example of a game that is easy to play but difficult to master. Four contestants take part. They are given a category that they must talk on for one minute without breaking one of the three main rules, hesitation, repetition, or deviation. If one of their rivals believes that they have broken one of these rules, they can buzz in and challenge, and if their challenge is correct, they take over the category and must try to talk for the remaining time. vlcsnap-01307

This continues until the minute is up, with bonus points on offer for speaking when time is up, and also for going the whole minute without being correctly challenged. Although there is a winner declared at the end Parsons always insists that the most important thing is the contribution that the panellists make to the show, not necessarily how many points they score. vlcsnap-01309

So if you can think of enough creative categories, and find enough witty people to talk about them, you’ve got an idea can be stretched almost infinitely. The first version of Just A Minute came to the screen in the mid-90s. I’m fairly sure that the first series was only shown on ITV in the Carlton region in a late-night slot (and was also sponsored by the Evening Standard). The four panellists in this version were usually drawn from the alternative comedy scene, and some of the categories reflected London life. vlcsnap-01310

To help the show be a little more visual, there were some changes to the rules. Firstly, there would be a round where a mysterious object would appear, and the panellists had to talk about what they thought it was. There was also a round where the studio audience could suggest the category (a little like what happened on Whose Line Is It Anyway?). Also in this version there was never actually a clock on-screen indicating how much time was remaining in the round! vlcsnap-01304

There were some changes for the second and final series. I think that this series was also shown in the Central region (a sign of the forthcoming Carltonisation of that region) and there were two regular panellists. They were Tony Slattery and Dale Winton (who I don’t think has ever taken part on the radio version which is a surprise as he was good value). After this TV version ended, from about the late-90s I began to listen to the radio version and really got into it. vlcsnap-01308

The second TV version of Just A Minute was shown on BBC1 in 1999. This was in a daytime slot and I don’t really remember watching it, but it seems that this version lacked the edge of the ITV one, with fewer alternative comedians taking part and no regulars. The third and final attempt at bringing Just A Minute to TV was on BBC2 in an evening slot in 2012. Again, this was for only a short run, and it featured some veterans such as Paul Merton mixed in with a few newcomers proving that all these years later lots of people want to have a go. vlcsnap-01311

None of the three TV versions of Just A Minute were really a huge hit with viewers, but it remains consistently popular on the radio after half a century. My sister was in the studio audience for an edition of the ITV version, and a while later my mum went to the recording of a couple of editions of the radio version, and they both very much enjoyed the experience. minute0001