This is someone who is definitely a game show star to me, and his career spanned five decades. South African-born Bob Holness started his career in radio. He hosted his first TV game show in the UK as long ago as the early-60s, which definitely raised his profile. He then went on to host on BBC Radio 1 (he is in the famous photo of all the launch presenters which also includes Terry Wogan, Kenny Everett, and John Peel).
He also hosted shows on BBC Radio 2 and LBC. By the early-80s, he wasn’t the only one of his family to be in showbusiness, as two of his daughters launched pop music careers, and they both had a hit single in 1982. And then, of course, he went on to become the host of Blockbusters. This was originally planned to feature adult contestants, but then this was changed to teenagers, which turned out to be a wise move.
Now I have already gone on and on in other pieces about why this is one of my all-time favourite game shows, and Bob’s authoritative style is one of the reasons. After coming to an end after about a decade on ITV, Blockbusters was given a reprise and picked up by Sky One. Harold The Hedgehog was reported to be very pleased. He also appeared as a contestant on special editions of a few game shows including Bullseye and Catchphrase.
The next move for his career in the mid-90s was as the host of ITV’s Raise The Roof. This was an interesting show for many reasons, firstly because it gave Bob a game show to host in primetime, along with a little help from his friend ERIC. But the most notable thing is that the star prize was a house worth a six-figure sum, the biggest prize given away on a UK game show up to this point.
There was a rather drawn-out process to determine who would play for this prize (with eliminated contestants memorably receiving “Bob’s Bungalow”, a house-shaped teapot that most certainly was not worth six figures). This was an attempt to bring the game show into a new era, but there was only one series, and it wouldn’t be until when Who Wants To Be A Millionaire came along a few years later that big money game shows really took off.
Bob then went on to host a revival of BBC1’s Call My Bluff in a daytime slot for about five years, which was rather enjoyable too. By the early-2000s, he had just about retired from TV, although he did lend his voice to the DVD interactive game version of Blockbusters. When Bob died about a decade ago, many praised his hosting abilities.