Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 18.

This is someone else who could be another one considered by some to be on the B-list of the history of great game show hosts, but for the sheer number of shows that he’s hosted, I wanted to include him, because well someone’s got to host of all those games on regional ITV in the afternoon or on little-watched satellite channels.

And I do think that he is rather quick-witted and is knowledgeable about pop culture (a friendship with Danny Baker might not be a coincidence here). He is also into his music, being a big fan of Elvis Presley, and he also owns all of Frank Sinatra’s records. He wants them back. I think he was also following me on Twitter, although he doesn’t seem to have said anything for a while, but that hasn’t influenced my decision to include him here at all, honest.

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Paul Ross had worked behind the scenes in TV for many years, but by the mid-90s, he seemed to be here, there and everywhere on game shows, as both a host and panellist. Well he has got five children who need feeding, and he didn’t deny that his answerphone message was “yes, I’ll do it”. Oh, and he’s the older brother of Jonathan as well, but you probably knew that.

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Highlights included Jeopardy! on Sky One, the third channel to attempt a version of this format that has been much more successful in America. And there was also Tellystack, UK Gold’s game about classic TV. All Over The Shop was BBC1’s daytime game featuring celebrity panellists. A Slice Of The Action was Carlton Food Network’s game all about cookery.

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And don’t forget Mind The Gap, a game based around the London Underground tube map. Throw in The Big Breakfast too, and much more besides, and would you believe that he packed all of that into barely three or four years. Going into the 2000s, he hosted It’s Anybody’s Guess, an enjoyable ITV game where the answers had to be estimated.

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Also interesting was No Win No Fee, the daytime BBC1 game where the prize money on offer was his fee for hosting the show, meaning that he could be the one leaving empty-handed. After overdoing it for a while, he finally seemed to ease up a little in the mid-2000s, and he then had some success in other areas away from TV game shows.

This has included going on to the shopping TV circuit, he did some time on Bid TV and Ideal World, and he just about lived to tell the tale. In more recent years, he has done some radio work, including BBC London and LBC, and at the moment he seemingly thinks nothing of doing the 1am shift five days a week on TalkSport, it’s good to know that he’s still out there.

The YouTube Files – Jeopardy! USA.

Jeopardy! (1984-present)

Jeopardy! was a game show that originally ran on American TV from 1964-1979, but this piece will concentrate on the revival which launched in 1984 and has been hosted by Alex Trebek ever since. Although there were three attempts at making a British version of Jeopardy!, none of them were particularly successful, but the American version has become a long-running institution. So I decided to look at some editions on YouTube, and I remember that this version was also briefly shown on Sky One. vlcsnap-01297

Three contestants take part and they have to give their answers in the form of a question. There are six categories to choose from with five clues each. If they give the correct response, they win the money on offer. Get it wrong and they lose that money. This was repeated in the second round but with the values doubled. This meant that a contestant could gain or lose as much as $2,000 on one question, so there was slightly more tension than in the UK version where as little as five points could be at risk. Don’t forget to look out for those Daily Doubles too! (two on offer in each round in this version, three in the ITV version.)   vlcsnap-01283

In the final round, contestants were given one more clue, and they had to write down their response in the form of a question accompanied by possibly the most famous game show thinking time music this side of Countdown. When time was up, their responses were revealed, with them having their bid added to their score if they were right, but they would lose it if they were wrong, meaning the scores could change in all sorts of ways, and on at least one occasion the winner scored only $1. The highest scorer was declared the winner and could return the next day as the defending champion. vlcsnap-01292

In the early days, winning contestants could play five times before they had to retire undefeated, winning a bonus prize. After a while, this rule was changed so that contestants could stay for as long as they kept on winning and they could win a huge amount of money. The most famous example of this was Ken Jennings, the contestant who appeared on 75 consecutive shows and won a seven-figure sum of money in a remarkable winning streak. What do I think of his performance? Well he’s no Ian Lygo but he’s still clearly a very talented contestant. vlcsnap-01293

Jeopardy! remains consistently popular, and there have been several variations on the show, including tournaments featuring former champions competing, teen tournaments for students, and also lots of celebrity specials. The show also seems to have a big presence online, with websites dedicated to discussing the clues featured on the show and debating the wagering strategies for the final in a little too much detail. vlcsnap-01280

Another reason that I feel Jeopardy! is just about the American equivalent of Countdown is that it’s a slightly more challenging game show which seems to have been on TV just about every weekday for the last 30 years where you always come away feeling that you have learned something. I did enjoy watching it myself and it’s a shame that despite three attempts (on Channel 4, ITV and Sky One) a British audience never really caught on to it.

Game Show Memories – Jeopardy!

Jeopardy! (Channel 4, 1983-1984, ITV, 1990-1993, Sky One, 1995-1996)

Jeopardy! was the weekday game show where the contestants were provided with the answers, and to win they had to give the questions! Every day three contestants took part. They are given six categories which all feature five clues of increasing points value and difficulty. They pick a clue from the board and they see the answer. They then buzz in and give their response in the form of a question. vlcsnap-01837

If they get it right they win the points on offer, but get it wrong and they lose them, and one of the other contestants can buzz in. There are also Daily Doubles randomly hidden behind spaces on the board. The contestant can then bet as much of their score as they want on the clue. Variations on Daily Doubles included audio and video clues. This continues until all the clues are used or time is up. The contestants don’t know one another’s scores at any point in the game. vlcsnap-01839

After the break is the Double Jeopardy round, with six new categories, and all of the values of the clues are doubled. The contestants then take their scores into Final Jeopardy, the round which will determine that day’s winner. There is one more category, and the contestants then bet some of their score based on their knowledge. The final clue is then revealed. Contestants are given 30 seconds to write down their response accompanied by probably the best-known thinking against the clock piece of music after Countdown. vlcsnap-01840

When time is up, the contestants reveal their responses, and this is where things could change rather drastically, which huge amounts of points being won or lost. There has always been a lot of debate by viewers about the strategies of how you should exactly bid in this round. The winner though wins £500, is invited to come back for the next show, and they can continue to play for five shows until they have to retire undefeated and win the star prize of £3,000. vlcsnap-01841

Jeopardy! is a show that is based on an American format and there were three attempt to try to make it a success in the UK, but none of them lasted very long. The first version was on Channel 4 in the 1980s and was hosted by Derek Hobson but I have never seen this version myself. I first remember seeing Jeopardy! when there was a version on ITV in the early-90s in the 9:25am slot. The first series was hosted by Chris Donat and I did enjoy him, but from the second series onwards Steve Jones took over. Maybe TVS wanted to give him another job after The Pyramid Game ended. (The final ITV series in 1993 was produced by Meridian). vlcsnap-01842

Then in the mid-90s there was a third and final attempt at a British version of Jeopardy! this time on Sky One which was hosted by Paul Ross. Again, even though there was more money on offer it didn’t last long, although about five years later the original American version was shown on Sky One for a while which has now been an institution in America for over 30 years.