Game Show Memories – Pot Of Gold.

Pot Of Gold (ITV, 1993-1995)

Recently, I had a look back at Des O’Connor Tonight, and this reminded me of some of the game shows that he hosted throughout his long career. There was the popular Take Your Pick, and also this one, which isn’t as well remembered now, although there were two series. Pot Of Gold was an hour-long show that was yet another of those attempts to “bring back variety” to TV.

This was something of a talent show/game show mix in a similar style to Opportunity Knocks and the like. But this one had an exciting twist, and claimed to offer something which was going to be “a British television first”. Host Des O’Connor informed us that this show featured “the biggest jackpot in the history of British television”, which was a huge £25,000!

Now this was way over the maximum amount of cash that could given away on a UK game show at this point, with the restrictions that were still in place, I wonder how they managed to get around that. Soon this much money on offer would be the norm though. Well it’s better than a cuddly toy. Pot Of Gold was also innovative in another way.

There was a tie-in gamecard that you could get if you bought a newspaper (the Daily Star or Daily Mirror, seemingly depending on what series it was), or you could write in for one. As we’ll see, viewers would want the chance to play along at home. Seven acts would take part. They would be the usual mix of dancers, singers, jugglers, and so on, ranging from great, to not-so great.

Afterwards, a panel of judges, consisting of someone famous, such as a comedian or TV critic, along with someone who had been pulled out of the studio audience, give their opinions on how well they think they did, and give a score out of 50. This is then added together to become their total. If this matched the number on their gamecard, the viewer can write win to claim their prize of £50.

There was also a feature called “The Wannabes”. Six acts would come on and perform for 30 seconds each, until the hooter went off. Some of them really were ridiculous. The studio audience then vote for their favourite, and they become one of the main acts to perform their routine in full. The act with the highest total progresses to the grand final.

And there was also the jackpot number. The seven totals were added together, and if this matched the number on your gamecard, there was a real chance to win big. I presume that the overall series winner also won a lot money, or “the pot of gold”. So it wasn’t only the acts who had a chance of becoming rich! And there was also an Australian version that just about followed the same format.

I don’t remember this happening myself, but I’m sure remember reading once that one of the acts had died in an accident before their show was aired, and Des had to record to special introduction to explain this. I must admit that I’m not sure how many of the acts did go on to have some proper fame and fortune, but at least they had a very brief moment on TV.

I think there was an impressionist whose main piece was doing Bob Monkhouse, and about two decades later he turned up in an episode of Toast Of London as Bob so he definitely got some mileage out of that. Who needs Britain’s Got Talent when you’ve got this. About a year after this ended, ITV had yet another attempt at this type of thing with The Big Big Talent Show.