The YouTube Files – Jeopardy! Australia.

Jeopardy! (Seven, 1970-1978, Ten, 1993)

Jeopardy! is something of an institution in America, running for decades, and being the game show where the contestants have to provide the questions. A lot of viewers seem to consider the sign of a good champion to be their wagering skills along with their general knowledge. This has never really been a success in the UK though, but there has also been an Australian version.

The first version ran in the 70s and had four different hosts, but this piece will concentrate on the revival in the 90s, which was hosted by Tony Barber, who had previously hosted Sale Of The Century (and I plan to review that soon too). This is fairly faithful to the original American version. Three contestants take part, including a defending champion.

The six categories are revealed, and they contain five clues of increasing money values, from $100 to $300, so there is actually a fairly decent amount that can be won. But they must be aware that if they give an incorrect response, they will lose the amount of money on offer. There is also one Daily Double. At this point, the studio audience start insisting how much should be wagered as if they’re on The Price Is Right which is odd.

And then there’s the Double Jeopardy! round, where the values increase from $200 to $1,000 (so that actually isn’t doubling them). And there are also two Daily Doubles on offer. They then take their scores into the Final Jeopardy! round. They make their wager based on the category, and then they have 30 seconds to write down their response in the form of a question.

Whoever ends up with the highest score becomes the champion and wins their total. The defeated players take away some consolation prizes. Contestants can stay for up to five shows before they have to retire undefeated. And I’m sure that all of them had fun. This revival of Jeopardy! was also shown five nights a week, and presumably was planned to have another long run.

However, this didn’t seem to go down that well with viewers and only ran for about six months. To finish off, there was a Super Challenge special, where the best contestants returned to play again. Three decades on, another revival is planned. There is going to be another British version, and the same studio will also be used for the Australian version, featuring expats as contestants.

The YouTube Files – Jeopardy! USA unaired pilot.

Jeopardy! (1983)

Jeopardy! is a game show that has run in America for several decades. The attempts to make this format successful in the UK haven’t ever really done that well though. There have already been three versions (one on Channel 4 in the early-80s, one on ITV in the early-90s, and one on Sky One in the mid-90s), none of which lasted that long. Recently, there were some reports that there was going to be a fourth attempt at a British version, this time hosted by Stephen Fry.

I wonder if he will use his famous verbal dexterity (“listen to me, listen to me, will you please reveal the six thoroughly lovely catergoryingtons in the first round if you’d be so gorgeous”). This is planned to be shown in the 3pm slot on ITV1, presumably once they’ve run out of editions of Lingo and Tenable (and this can’t put this in the 5pm slot of course, because that means that they’ll have to take The Chase off for a while, and viewers will be OUTRAGED).

People have also wondered why Fry would commit to hosting a daytime game show, although he has made some appearances in Countdown‘s Dictionary Corner over the years, so this isn’t an entirely unprecedented move in his career, but it will be interesting to see how this all goes. But trying to get Jeopardy! up and running again reminded me of when this happened in America. This game show originally ran in the 60s and 70s, and was hosted by Art Fleming, a much respected figure in the business.

This was the show where contestants would be provided with the answers, and they had to give the questions. In 1983, there was an unaired pilot made which tried to bring the format into the 80s, and turned up online a while ago. The host for this was Alex Trebek, who had already featured in such goodies as High Rollers, and, er, Malcolm. Little did he know that his association with this show would last for over 35 years and almost 8,000 editions.

The set design is also rather curious, Trebek seems to emerge from what looks like a computer, and all of the clues are still on cards that flip over, a real clash of eras. The rules are very much back to basics after some tinkering in the later series of the original version, and are virtually unaltered to this day. Three contestants took part. There are six categories of five clues, with increasing money values. Get it right and you win that amount and can choose the next clue, get it wrong and you lose it.

The only difference is that contestants are allowed to buzz in before the clue has finished being read. Don’t forget the Daily Double either. And after the break, they double the money values, what is this?! In the final, they are shown one more category, and they have to bet as much of their score as they want. After seeing the clue, they have to write down their response in the form of a question.

As this stage, they still wrote on a piece of card (and they were accompanied by the most famous “think” music this side of Countdown). There was then a second unaired pilot, where there was some alterations. There was a new set design, clues now appeared on TV screens, and contestants wrote their responses with electric pens. In 1984, this was commissioned as a series, and has barely left the screen since (and the host is now that woman off The Big Bang Theory). Who knows how the UK version will fare.

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.