Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 8.

This is someone who had a rather varied career in TV. Jeremy Beadle might be remembered now by most people as a prankster, but I was always more interested in his game show work. He started out in radio as a host on LBC, and he was also working behind the scenes on various shows, including devising formats and compiling questions.

He first really became known in the early-80s for being one of the hosts of ITV’s Game For A Laugh, and this led to other successful shows including Beadle’s About and People Do The Funniest Things. But the first game show that I really remember him on was Chain Letters, this was the long-running word game, although he only hosted the first series.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is chain-letters-13.jpg

This one had the honour (?) of being the first to feature in ITV’s 9:25am game show slot, which ran for about a decade. Going into the late-80s, he hosted a few more game shows, including Born Lucky, and It’s Beadle, although I don’t remember watching either of them, and it could be argued that some people weren’t hugely fond of his shows. But in the early-90s, one of the most popular shows of his career launched.

You’ve Been Framed! really began the craze for shows featuring “home video howlers”, as they were always described in TV magazines. Although this wasn’t a game show as such, in the early series the studio audience would vote for what they thought was the funniest clip of the show, which would win a cash prize, leading to a grand final, where the overall winner won a bigger cash prize.

I remember that in the mid-90s he returned to the radio for a late-night show, and I stayed up past my bedtime to listen to his thoughts on quirky subjects. By the late-90s though, he had left You’ve Been Framed!, his other shows including Beadle’s About and Beadle’s Hot Shots had ended on ITV, and he wasn’t seen on TV so regularly after this.

His next show was Channel 5’s Win Beadle’s Money, where contestants had to beat him to win a cash prize supposedly from himself. As he was something of a trivia buff, this wouldn’t as easy as people might’ve first thought, and there was usually a close final. In the early-2000s, he took part in Banged Up With Beadle, which featured in the first series of Saturday Night Takeaway.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is win-beadles-money-3.jpg

He had been locked away, every week someone would join him, and they would live together and have to learn a task which they had to perform on the live show to win a prize. It was a shame that he never really got the opportunity to launch the next stage in his career, some think that he could’ve gone on to host various documentaries where he could show off his knowledge and enthusiasm.

More TV Memories – Saturday Night Takeaway.

Saturday Night Takeaway (ITV1, 2002-2009, ITV, 2013-present)

This is another show that does feature a game show element, although again I do feel that it is more of a general entertainment show. Ant and Dec had already hosted some Saturday Night TV shows, including BBC1’s Friends Like These. They then moved to ITV and hosted Slap Bang which was something of a flop. But they went off and regrouped and came back with something that was much better… and this time it was a hit!

In the early-2000s Ant and Dec had hosted various other successful shows including Pop Idol, but critics often said that these formats were popular enough that they would’ve done well in the ratings whoever hosted them, so they had to prove that they did have the ability to be a success with their own show. It turned out to be something in the familiar Noel’s House Party/Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush style.

Saturday Night Takeaway was a live show that contained lots of features. I only really watched the first few series regularly, and these are some of the highlights from that era. One memorable feature was Make Ant Laugh. Ant is supposedly rather grumpy, and needs cheering up (“laugh? Don’t make me laugh!”). A rather bad variety act would come on and had to make Ant laugh within 60 seconds. If they succeeded, they won a prize, and I remember Ant did end up giggling a lot. vlcsnap-00408

There was also What’s Next, where Ant and Dec didn’t know what the next feature they were taking part in was until a curtain was raised (eventually), so it was always a surprise. Other features over the series have included Ant Vs Dec, The Jiggy Bank, Home Run and Little Ant And Dec. It’s fair to say by this point that our cheeky hosts had left their pop music careers (which they weren’t embarrassed about at all, oh no) behind. vlcsnap-00435

One of the more interesting features in the first series was Banged Up With Beadle. TV presenter Jeremy Beadle has been locked away in a dungeon “for his services to light entertainment”. Every week he would be paired with a contestant and they would have to practice a task, which they would then have to perform live on the show. If they succeeded, the contestant won a prize, and Jeremy was given something extra to make his time a little more enjoyable, like some books. There was also a spin-off show on ITV2 which looked at some of the highlights of the week, along with the contestant talking about their experience. Jeremy always came across as very kind and did anything he could to help out the contestants, which was great. vlcsnap-00411

The centrepiece of the show was Grab The Ads, leading to the show’s main catchphrase “don’t just watch the ads… win them!”. Some adverts were picked from a show that had been on ITV1 during the week, and one rather overexcited contestant was chosen to play. There were 60 seconds, and for every correct answer, one of the 25 items was randomly highlighted. The twist here was that this meant that they could win a car and a holiday, or a toilet roll and a chocolate bar. However, they could gamble to answer one more question and if they got it right they would win everything on the board. vlcsnap-00377

Overall, Saturday Night Takeaway was a big success with viewers, Ant and Dec had finally done it! In 2009 the show ended and they went off to other things including game show Push The Button, but this was a flop by comparison. In 2013 the format was revived, and seemed to have a fresh energy, including more new features such as In For A Penny. There has also been a tour, along with a book and a board game being released, and the show’s success is one of the factors leading to Ant and Dec winning the Most Popular TV Presenter award for about 43 consecutive years.