Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 10.

This is someone whose TV career started out fairly quietly, but he is arguably more popular now with viewers than he has ever been. In the early-80s Bradley Walsh was originally a footballer, although he never played at the highest level, and injuries put an early end to his career. By the late-80s he started to get into comedy, and by the early-90s he was often doing his routine on TV.

The first show that I remember him on though was ITV’s Only Joking, which featured a combination of comedy and games, and he’d also turn up on Celebrity Squares. By the late-90s he was hosting various other shows including Midas Touch, Wheel Of Fortune, and The National Lottery Live, and he had a rather “cheeky” and easy-going style that reminded me of the likes of Brian Conley and Shane Richie.

Another show he did was The Big Stage, Channel 5’s brief attempt at a “bring back variety”-style show, which probably not too surprisingly didn’t succeed. By the early-2000s he had got into TV acting, and he was one of the few people brave enough to appear in the bizarre soap Night And Day. He also hosted Sport Addicts, a rare original show for Challenge.

By the mid-2000s he was in Coronation Street, placed into the cast as one of the several shock secret sons of Mike Baldwin. By the late-2000s, there was Spin Star, a short-lived game show that had the gimmick of being based around a large fruit machine, but it looked like his career was beginning to get stuck in hosting fairly average daytime game shows.

But then he became the host of The Chase, which had a compelling “beat the champion” element. This one seemed to succeed, partly due to the combination of him leaving viewers STUNNED with his antics, and the tension of the final where there was often a lot of money at stake. This finally took him to the next level of fame, and ITV were satisfied enough with the show’s success to eventually commission new episodes 1,000 at a time.

Oh no, he’s off again…

There were also endless repeat runs on Challenge, along with the primetime spin-off Beat The Chasers. He was now in big demand, and he appeared in more high-profile drama series including Law & Order: UK, and Doctor Who. Clearly a fan of the genre, he also hosted a documentary about the history of game shows where he looked back at some of his favourite moments.

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Oh dear…

Other game shows he has hosted recently include Keep It In The Family (which only seemed to exist to feature daft games and make him laugh as much as possible because that’s what viewers wanted apparently), Cash Trapped (which he devised himself), and a revival of Blankety Blank. He just seems to be everywhere on TV at the moment, and he’s definitely earned his success.

Game Show Memories – Midas Touch.

Midas Touch (ITV, 1995-1996)

This is a game show that I actually have no memory of watching at all when it was originally shown, so why is it being included as part of this series? It’s because when I first found out about it, I thought that it seemed a rather interesting idea, and now that I have finally seen an edition, it’s time for a review. One of the things that attracted me was the host.

Midas Touch was hosted by Bradley Walsh, and this was over a decade before The Chase, and also long before every time he laughed (and seemingly leaving viewers STUNNED in the process) it was turned into a news story on social media as if it was incredibly important. However the first time I can remember seeing Bradley on TV was when he hosted a comedy show on ITV in 1992 called Only Joking, I wonder if that’s worth revisiting. vlcsnap-00697

Five contestants took part, seemingly drown from closer to the “I’m crazy, me!” end of the game show contestants pool. The star prize was a gold bar worth £5,000! There is a pyramid on stage and the contestants stand at the bottom level. Only four of the contestants will go through to the next round. A question with a numerical answer is asked and they have to guess what it is. After the answers are revealed, and once Bradley has stopped laughing because they were usually way off, the contestant whose guess was closest goes through to the next round and up to the next level. vlcsnap-00698

This is then done twice more. When there are two contestants remaining, they have a play-off to determine who takes the final place on offer. Some of those games wouldn’t have looked out of place on shows like Double Dare or Run The Risk, as they have to complete a challenge whilst wearing a silly costume (there was a theme running through the games every week such as the farm or the circus), and then Bradley laughs some more. The winner takes the final place, and the loser is eliminated. vlcsnap-00700

This is then done again to reduce four contestants to three, and then three contestants to two. The final round is called the Bank Raid. The contestants must enter the first number of a code at the bottom level, the second at the level above, and the third at the level above that. They must then enter all three digits at the next level (if they can remember them) to unlock the gold bar at the top level and become the winner. vlcsnap-00701

I’m not really sure why Midas Touch passed me by as I remember many of the game shows from this era (maybe it wasn’t shown in my region?), but it was rather fun and ran for a couple of series, although it is little remembered now (it doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry), and after it ended in 1996, Bradley went off to host the much more successful Wheel Of Fortune along with many other shows right up to the present (including The Chase which has now been repeated about 10,000 times on Challenge). 


Bradley, about to “break down in hysterics” again.