Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 9.

This is someone whose career I have already taken a look back at in a piece, but he definitely deserves to be featured in this series too because he had one of the longest and most successful TV careers that there has been, and hosting game shows was a rather large part of this. Bruce Forsyth started out in showbusiness at a rather young age, and it was around the late-50s that he wondered whether to open a tobacco shop or stay at it and try for some TV work.

But it was in the early-70s when he really started to become known for his game show hosting, and the first of these successes was BBC1’s The Generation Game, which did really well for many years, with lots of memorable contestants and catchphrases. And in the late-70s he made a surprise high-profile departure to ITV which was said to have left the BBC bigwigs reeling.

He then hosted Bruce’s Big Night, which promised plenty of entertainment, but ultimately delivered little. Then in the early-80s, he went on to Play Your Cards Right, which did much better. In the mid-80s he aimed to break into America with game show Hot Streak, but this wasn’t a success. In the late-80s there was You Bet!, which he would often begin with “the You Bet! rap”, how terrific.

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Fancying another change, in the early-90s he went back to the BBC, for more game shows, including Takeover Bid, and a revival of The Generation Game, which was very enjoyable, and this one is among my favourites of his. In the mid-90s he moved back to ITV again, for a revival of Play Your Cards Right, and The Price Is Right, which were both enjoyable too.

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However, some of the final editions of Bruce’s Price Is Right (as it was now called) weren’t shown in a primetime slot, and he was beginning to feel a little underappreciated. So in the early-2000s there was another revival of Play Your Cards Right, this time offering more prize money than ever. But there was a game added at the start to determine who would play, and this didn’t seem the place for contestants to be unfairly eliminated, leave that to The Weakest Link.

Maybe by this point it was felt that after so many years his style was beginning to get a little stale, but after going back to the BBC yet again, he was given the chance to host Have I Got News For You, which showed that he could still do these type of shows in a entertaining and energetic style in a way a felt he hadn’t done for a while, and this gave his career a much-needed boost.

By the mid-2000s there was Didn’t They Do Well, which was good, but this was a one-series wonder that was soon overshadowed by Strictly Come Dancing, which he hosted for about a decade, and was his last big game show success, his desire to entertain seemingly hadn’t dimmed one bit since he started out many decades earlier, what a talent, clearly the tobacco shop’s loss was our gain.

The YouTube Files – Play Your Cards Right USA.

Card Sharks (NBC, 1978-1981)

This is another game show that launched in America before it came to the UK as Play Your Cards Right in 1980, but unlike most of the others that I’ve reviewed recently, this one was fairly successful in its original format, running for almost 2,000 editions over a decade. Card Sharks was hosted by Jim Perry alongside his female co-hosts. Although the basic idea of the gameplay was the same, there were a few notable differences from the UK version. vlcsnap-00012

The main difference was that two single players competed against one another (as was the case in the first series of Play Your Cards Right, before it was changed to the more familiar two teams of two, usually married couples). The contestants were given a question that 100 people in a particular profession had been surveyed on. One contestant gives a number that they think was the amount of people who gave a particular response. vlcsnap-00276

The other contestant then says if they thought the figure was higher or lower. The actual number is then revealed, and whoever was closest gains control of the game (with a bonus on offer for anyone who got the exact number). This was the familiar situation of there being five playing cards (and being able to change the opening card), and having to guess if the next card would have a higher or lower value (and at this point I noticed that this version was much lighter on catchphrases than the UK, with Bruce Forsyth’s famous “you get nothing for a pair” or “didn’t they do well” and so on not being used here). vlcsnap-00336

Winning a game earned a $100 bonus, and the first contestant to win two games went into the final called Money Cards. Again, this was just about the same as the UK version, with the contestant making a bet on whether the next card was higher or lower. However, in this version, money was at stake (contestants in the UK didn’t play for money in this round until the 90s revival), and somewhat unsurprisingly, if they managed to get to the top level they could win a large amount of money and get rather overexcited. vlcsnap-00344

Another thing that was different was that contestants would then stay on to play another opponent, and they could play up to seven games before retiring undefeated (every show in the UK version was self-contained, with no returning winners), and games also straddled into the next edition if they were uncompleted. After Card Sharks ended on NBC in 1981, it was revived by CBS and ran from 1986-1989 (with a few format changes), and there was one more revival in the 2000s. As ever, it was great seeing how a game show that I was very fond of watching in the 90s started out. vlcsnap-00408

Game Show Memories – a tribute to Bruce Forsyth.

After I had competed reviewing all the game shows that I wanted to on this blog, I planned to take a look back some of my favourite hosts too and some their best shows. I decided that I might as well do this one now as we still come to terms with the fact that we are now living in a post-Brucie world. Here’s a quick look at ten memorable shows which featured the great talent of Bruce Forsyth throughout his long career.

The Generation Game. (BBC1, 1971-1977, 1990-1994) One of the best shows that Bruce ever hosted, he was the original host, before he came back in the early-90s to host the era that I remember. Just about all of his famous catchphrases were in use and I remember really enjoying this entertaining show. vlcsnap-00289Bruce’s Big Night. (ITV, 1978) This is a curious one. After leaving the BBC, Bruce went to ITV and was given his own big-budget Saturday night ITV entertainment show. Despite lots of things being tried it wasn’t a big success.

Play Your Cards Right. (ITV, 1980-1987, 1994-1999, 2002-2003) Another one of Bruce’s classics which he ended up hosting three versions of. Again, I remember the 90s version which was always great to play along with and this show is definitely up there with Bruce’s best. vlcsnap-01396

You Bet(ITV, 1988-1990) Although Matthew Kelly is the best-known host of this show, Bruce hosted the first three series, where people tried to complete extraordinary challenges. Bruce would also begin every show with “the You Bet! rap”, hopefully he didn’t realise that as a single. You Bet 10

Takeover Bid. (BBC1, 1990-1991) This was a rather short-lived game show that I haven’t got round to reviewing yet but it was much inferior to The Generation Game. If the highlight of the show is when Bruce comes on at the start and tries to throw a hat and cane on to a hatstand then the actual game might not be so great. Takeover Bid 4

Bruce’s Guest Night. (BBC1, 1992-1993) This was an entertainment show where Bruce would interview various guests such as comedians and musicians.

Bruce’s Price Is Right. (ITV, 1995-2001) Another game show revival. Bruce replaced Leslie Crowther as the host of this classic show where a lot of big prizes were won. vlcsnap-01496Tonight At The London Palladium. (ITV, 2000) Viewers are always saying that they should bring back variety to TV, so who better to do it than the man who hit the big time hosting a show at the Palladium in the late-50s? Lots of variety acts joined Bruce, and he even revived his famous Beat The Clock game. Also around this time on ITV Bruce starred in an edition of the An Audience With series, and also took part in a special show celebrating his 70th birthday.

Didn’t They Do Well. (BBC1, 2004) This was a short-lived game show that I don’t remember seeing much of myself unfortunately, but it seems an interesting idea. I’d sooner watch this than that bloomin’ dancing show he started hosting around the same time!

Bruce’s Hall Of Fame. (BBC1, 2014) Bruce hosts another show at the Palladium where he looks back over his career and is joined on stage by various guests. This one is interesting because not only were my parents in the audience for this and they had a great time in his company, but it also turned out to be just about the final show that he ever did.

Beyond these shows, Brucie made a huge amount of TV appearances, and he also appeared on stage, in films, and in various adverts in a career that spanned decades. TV will never really be the same without him. He really was a terrific presenter and a real star, thanks for the great memories.

Game Show Memories – Play Your Cards Right.

Play Your Cards Right (ITV, 1980-1987, 1994-1999, 2002-2003)

Here’s a look at one of the great game shows hosted by Bruce Forsyth in his long career which always dealt a winning hand. Play Your Cards Right was a long-running show based on an American format called Card Sharks which was produced by LWT and usually shown on Friday evenings to start off the weekend in great style. brucie0001

Bruce would come on stage a big round of applause which he always welcomed, telling the studio audience “you’re so much better than last week” and then having a stilted exchange with his co-hosts who dealt the cards. Every week two teams of two took part who were usually newlywed couples (although it was two teams of one in the first series) and they had to guess whether the value of the comedy oversized playing cards would be higher or lower than the previous one to win prizes. vlcsnap-01151

First of all they would be asked a question that 100 people were surveyed on and they had to guess how many people would agree with the statement. Whoever was closest to the correct number would then play the main game, with a bonus on offer for any team who got the exact number. When the first card was revealed they had a chance to change it. After that they then guessed if the next card was higher or lower and if they got to the end they would win a “Brucie bonus” as they were called. vlcsnap-01153

If they got it wrong though they would lose control of the game and their opponents would then have a go. If they missed out as well more questions would be asked until a team did succeed. The first team to win two games would then go through to the final to play for the big prizes and money, although the losers did get some nice consolation prizes. Wow! vlcsnap-01154

In the final the remaining couple had the chance to become very rich people indeed. They would be given £200 to start off and if they got a question right they would win some more. The first card would then be revealed and they would bet some of their money on if they thought the next card was higher or lower. If they got it right, they won more money, but if they were wrong they lost it. vlcsnap-01156

If they had managed to reach £4,000 by the time they got to the top row they could answer another question and then gamble. If they guess the final card correctly they win the money that they had amassed and the star prize of a car too which would be very exciting. “Didn’t they do well!”. In one amusing outtake however Bruce couldn’t open the car door for the winning couple which was rather awkward. vlcsnap-01157

Play Your Cards Right was a very enjoyable show that was always made exciting by Bruce’s presenting style. Although I don’t remember the first era of the show in the 80s I have enjoyed watching some old episodes on YouTube, and I do remember the second era which began on ITV in 1994, some episodes from this era still turn up on Challenge occasionally and are fun to watch. The third era was rather different though. vlcsnap-01155

After Bruce complained that ITV weren’t giving him enough work, the decision was made to revive the show again in 2002, with the promise of even more money on offer for contestants. However, they also introduced a qualifying round, with four teams picking a card at random, with the two teams picking the highest value cards going through to play the main game. vlcsnap-01152

This meant that two teams who turned up didn’t take part, which meant that the show had added an unnecessarily cruel rule, a sort-of cross between voting people off The Weakest Link and Fluke‘s A Bit Of A Wasted Journey Pointer. Bruce did try and put a brave face on it by being kind to the contestants who were knocked out by saying things like “how unlucky, the cards were against you there”, but the show would’ve been better off without this, and unfortunately the show ended with something of a whimper after over 20 years, but at its best it was great entertainment for everybody.