Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 4.

Shane Richie is someone who first appeared on TV in the late-80s, doing his comedy thing on various shows including 3-2-1 and The Saturday Roadshow, at which point he had a rather alarming mullet hairstyle. The first time I really came across him though was in the early-90s when he was among the cast of You Gotta Be Jokin’, part of the last gasp of old-school variety shows on Saturday Night BBC1.

I did find him rather amusing on this, and I have followed his career ever since. He then got into TV hosting, including plenty of game shows. This began with Caught In The Act, which did do well in the ratings, but it was considered to be such a blatant You’ve Been Framed! clone, that it was felt that this wasn’t the kind of thing that BBC1 shouldn’t be doing, and there was only one series.

This was then followed by CBBC’s Run The Risk, which was essentially Double Dare: The Sequel, where he asked the questions and baffled people with his rather bizarre jokes, but he didn’t get involved in the games, leaving that to the award-winning Peter Simon, who continued to constantly fall into the gunge, and it was still very amusing.

He then went over to ITV for a while in the mid-90s, including replacing Danny Baker as the host of Win, Lose Or Draw (curiously he also replaced Danny in those Daz adverts around the same time). He also hosted Lucky Numbers, another variation on the bingo format used in Bob’s Full House, which was one of the first wave of British game shows to offer a five-figure sum as the star prize.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is lucky-numbers-2.jpg

He then went on to Saturday Night show The Shane Richie Experience, where along with the games he liked to sing rather too often (a hasty restructuring of the format to Love Me Do didn’t exactly give things a boost though). By this point however, his fame was beginning to wane a little, and by the late-90s he had started to fall out of favour.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is vlcsnap-00179.jpg

In the early-2000s, he decided to take a chance on joining EastEnders, cast as the cheeky barrowboy Alfie. This gave his career a much-needed boost, and he won viewers over with his character. This led to a second wave of hosting game shows on BBC1, including Reflex (considered by many to be an inferior knock-off of ITV’s The Cube), Decimate, and Win Your Wish List. It’s always great to see him on TV.

Game Show Memories – Lucky Numbers.

Lucky Numbers (ITV, 1995-1997)

After the classic Bob’s Full House ended, there were three more game shows which featured a similar bingo format. I’ve already looked at the first sequel, BBC1’s One To Win, and in the mid-90s ITV tried their own big money version too, which was hosted by Shane Richie, about five years before he landed his dream role of playing a barrowboy in EastEnders.

Lucky Numbers was unusual in that when an edition started, there were actually no contestants on the stage. This was because they would be selected at random by a special machine called RANDI (Randomly Acquired Numerical Digital Indicator). Every studio audience member was assigned a numbered ball at the start of the show and Shane would shout at them “show me your balls!”. Stop it at ‘ome. vlcsnap-01114

RANDI would then spew out three balls, and if you had one of the numbers that came out, you would be invited to come on down and play the game. Shane would then meet the contestants and give them a name badge each and everyone was then ready to play. In the first round, they had to answer general knowledge questions on the buzzer to light their four corners, and the one who managed to do this won £500. Lucky Numbers also kept the “wallied” rule but that term wasn’t used in this version. vlcsnap-01116

It was worth taking notice of what numbers were being lit though, because Lucky Numbers was one of the earliest shows that had a tie-in competition with a national newspaper, so when a contestant’s number was lit at random you had to check your gamecard, and if you got a full house as well as the contestants viewers could win a lot of money too. vlcsnap-01161

In the second round, contestants had to light their middle line. This time they had to choose questions from five categories which all had quirky names. For example, there was one called “Hunkomatic” and Shane would say “there must be one about me in here somewhere” every single time. Again, the contestant who did complete their middle line won £500. vlcsnap-01117

In their final round, contestants had to complete the rest of their card. About halfway through this round, a hooter would go off and that would indicate the end of the home game. So from this point contestants still had to complete their card but no more numbers were lit. The winner of this round wins £1,000 and goes through to the final called the Cash Dash.  vlcsnap-01182

Now it is possible that if a contestant won all three rounds they would have £2,000. In the final they could gamble their money up to play for up to ten times what they have, meaning they could win a maximum of £20,000. Lucky Numbers would be very bold about this amount of money possibly being won on the show because after restrictions on prize money were relaxed in the mid-90s I think that was the maximum amount in cash that could be given away for a while so there really was a lot at stake. vlcsnap-01186

There was a 5×5 grid and 45 seconds on the clock and contestants had to answer questions by picking numbers. If they got it wrong the route was blocked, but if they got it right it was lit. If they could get five in a row either horizontally, vertically or diagonally then they won the money which was all very exciting. Imagine that, they turned up to watch and they ended up as the winner. While Lucky Numbers was no Bob’s Full House it was still good fun and it brought this style of format into the 90s very well.