The YouTube Files – Murphy’s Micro Quiz-M.

Murphy’s Micro Quiz-M (RTE1, 1983-1985)

I have just about reviewed all of the British game shows that I have wanted to on this blog (that I could find clips of at least). I have also reviewed some American versions of game shows that would later launch in the UK and compare them. What I didn’t think of reviewing was Irish game shows. I must admit that I don’t know much about the history of game shows in Ireland, but I found one from the 80s on YouTube recently that was so fascinating I decided it deserves to be featured here.

Murphy’s Micro Quiz-M (nobody seems to have any idea what the significance of the “M” is) launched on RTE1 in 1983 and it was hosted by Mike Murphy. It was a 50-minute game show that made the most of the computer technology that was available at the time. There only seems to be one edition online but I presume that the format was always the same. Three related teams of four took part. vlcsnap-00593

The opening theme and the electronic music that was used all throughout the show was really great, The Human League themselves couldn’t have done any better I’m sure. It reminded me a little of the mighty Bob’s Full House. The show featured three co-hosts who announced the teams and prizes (it is a surprise to remember just how many co-hosts game shows used to have in those days). vlcsnap-00601

The first round was general knowledge questions on the buzzer for £2. When someone buzzed in, the family’s name magically appeared on the screen, and all the buzzer noises were terrific. It did get a little chaotic with 12 people all trying to buzz in at once though. At the end of the round the scores were calculated by a little computer-generated character called Sylvester. vlcsnap-00619

In-between rounds there is a spot prize on offer on the buzzer. There were then three questions where only one family member could buzz in, starting with the youngest child and going up to the father. These questions included picture and sound clues, and there was £5 for every correct answer. Then there were more questions on the buzzer, this time with £3 for a correct answer. After another spot prize, the lowest-scoring team at this point are eliminated, but they take away a consolation prize of a pen and an Atari 2600 along with any money and prizes they already have. vlcsnap-00645

There is then an interval where is a studio audience member is selected at random by Sylvester to answer a question, and if they get it right they win a prize too. A viewer raffle winner is also announced. Then one family member is nominated to play a computer game (and this was before First Class and other UK game shows had this feature). Whoever has the highest score gets six points. vlcsnap-00652

Next is the mystery person. A clue is given for ten points. If no-one knows who it is, another clue is asked for eight points, and so on until the final clue for two points. When someone gets it right, a picture of the person appears animated in the old-fashioned blocky Teletext style. The final round is back on the buzzer with questions for two points. The highest-scoring team make the final. The runners-up win a Dragon 32 computer along with everything else. vlcsnap-00660

In the final, one team member is nominated to play. They have also won a computer, but now they have the chance to play for the star prize of a car. They are asked five questions against the clock, each for an extra prize. Get four of them right, and they only need to get one more question right to win the car, which was something that didn’t happen that often. The show then ended with some more fancy graphics. vlcsnap-00661

Murphy’s Micro Quiz-M ran for a few series, it seemed to do rather well and it appeared on the cover of RTE Guide. There were also some quiz books released. This was another show where I went from not having ever seen it, to rather enjoying it. I always like shows from this era that have a go at featuring computers, it really gives you an idea of how far we’ve come.

The YouTube Files – 20th National Song Contest.

20th National Song Contest (RTE1, 1985)

I have watched The Eurovision Song Contest a lot over the years, and I have been thinking of reviewing it as part of my Game Show Memories series, as it does feature a competitive points scoring element, but its history is rather well known, including all of the famous songs and performances from across Europe, so I thought I might try something a little different.

I thought that instead I could review A Song For Europe, the show where it is determined who will represent the United Kingdom on the big night (and there was a famously awkward moment during one of these shows in the 80s when there was unexpectedly a tie for first place and there was no countback or tiebreaker rule in place, and host Terry Wogan had to use all his years of TV experience to deal with the brief moment of panic and confusion).

It was then while looking on YouTube recently I found an edition of the Irish equivalent of this show. The only thing I really knew about their version was from the memorable parody in sitcom Father Ted where “My Lovely Horse” had a surprise win, and I was curious about how the real thing would compare. It was uploaded by Ulrik D F Wiksaas so credit goes to them. vlcsnap-00335

The 20th National Song Contest was the show that would determine who would represent Ireland at Eurovision in Gothenburg, Sweden in May 1985. It was shown live from Dublin on RTE1 in March 1985 and it was hosted by the bow-tie wearing Gay Byrne (who seemingly hosted every single entertainment show on TV in Ireland in the 1980s), what a pro. vlcsnap-00358

Eight songs (narrowed down from the 451 that were entered) competed to try and win the place on offer. This piece isn’t designed to simply laugh at the naff 80s hairstyles of the singers, although there probably will be a lot of that. 11 juries from across the country are on standby to give their votes, and there is also a live orchestra in the studio. Each song is introduced with a brief biography of the composer. vlcsnap-00419

Song A is “Two Hearts” by Carol Ann, in what is her first-ever TV appearance. She really does have some marvellous hair (told you). Unfortunately the song ends with an on-screen graphics cock-up which turns Carol an odd shade of blue. Song B is “Only A Fantasy” by Marion Fossett, who had previously represented Ireland at Eurovision in 1981 as part of Sheeba. She has got a fan. nsc1

Song C is “Couldn’t Live My Life” by Jody McStravick. He loves a restaurant. Song D is “The Circus Song” by talented 18-year-old Jacinta Whyte, accompanied on-stage by a bench and a not-at-all creepy clown. Song E is “Long Before” by singer-songwriter Jane Cassidy. Song F is “Hearts” by Mike Sherrard who is wearing his decorations in honour of the night. nsc2

Song G is “Hold Her Now” by Trish O’Brien, part of a musical family. And finally, Song H is “Wait Until The Weekend Comes” by Maria Christian, who hits a high note. While the juries consider their verdicts, it’s time for an interval, featuring Linda Martin and Chips with their versions of songs including “Dead Ringer For Love” and “New York New York”, I’m sure that the studio audience were thrilled by it. nsc3

Now it’s time to wheel out the old scoreboard for the results as it’s decision time. I know that technology has advanced a lot over the years, but a part of me does miss shows like this using an LCD scoreboard. The votes are given by the 11 juries out-of-vision down a crackly phone line, with ten votes given to the songs. The tension has begun to mount backstage, and one song is beginning to streak into the lead, put it this way, it’s not looking good for the clown. vlcsnap-00414

And the winner with an unassailable score of 28 points is “Wait Until The Weekend Comes”! Maria Christian will close the show with a reprise of the song once she has got her breath back. The winning composers receive a trophy and a cheque for £1,000. As it turned out, “Wait Until The Weekend Comes” finished in 6th place with a score of 91 points. Ireland’s greatest triumphs in Eurovision were yet to come. vlcsnap-00416