Game Show Memories – Sale Of The Century (Sky).

Sale Of The Century (Sky Channel, 1989, Sky One, 1989-1991)

You might remember a while ago when I looked back at some programming and adverts from satellite TV in the 80s, including the earliest days of what would eventually evolve into Sky One. Among the launch schedule of the imports and repeats were a couple of game shows that were both revivals of ones that had been popular earlier in the decade. One of these was The New Price Is Right that I’ve already reviewed, now here’s a look at the other one.

Sale Of The Century was a format that became a success around the world, it ran on ITV for 12 years, and it came to Sky in 1989. This was the first revival, there would be another one in the 90s on Challenge with Keith Chegwin (and I have already reviewed that one). Now the first thing that stood out to me in this version was that it was hosted by Peter Marshall, who was also a continuity announcer for several ITV regions including Thames, so it would be interesting to see him as a game show host for a change. vlcsnap-00199

The rules were slightly different to the ITV version. Three contestants took part, including the defending champion. They all begin with £20, and they are asked general knowledge questions on the buzzer worth £5 each (or £5 deducted for a wrong answer). At various stages there is a visit to the gift shop (originally known as the instant sale), where only the contestant in the lead has the opportunity to buy the item that is at a bargain price, accompanied by the usual enthusiastic voiceover. vlcsnap-00189

Another variation was The Fame Game, which happened three times in every edition. A Going For Gold-style “what am I?” question was asked. Whoever buzzed in and got it right could choose from a board of nine squares that all had prizes hiding behind them that were revealed by Peter’s co-host, including some cash values of up to £25 that could come to prove very useful. vlcsnap-00130

The final round has more questions on the buzzer, only this time there was a time limit of one minute. The contestant with the most money at the end goes into the final, with the losers taking away the consolation prize of an atlas along with what else they’ve already won. The star prize on offer was a car that was usually valued at around £600, but it would take about five wins in a row to be able to afford it, so most contestants decided to return the next day as defending champion to try and win some more money. vlcsnap-00129

This meant that there was the rather unfortunate situation where most editions ended without a really big prize being given away, although it would always be an exciting moment if someone did eventually win the car. Sale Of The Century was shown five days a week, and over 450 editions were made. I can only imagine that the small amount of people who had satellite dishes in the UK at the time were suitably entertained.

The YouTube Files – The DJ Kat Show.

The DJ Kat Show (Sky Channel/Sky One, 1986-1995)

This is a show that I don’t remember watching at the time, this is because it was on Sky One and I didn’t have that channel myself until the late-90s. But when I looked through TV magazines a long time ago, I do remember being curious about what the show was. Did the title refer to a DJ as in someone who plays records? Well thankfully there are more than enough clips on YouTube for me to finally discover what it was all about.

The DJ Kat Show launched in September 1986 on Sky Channel which was available across most of Europe, and at the time it was produced in the Netherlands. This was essentially Sky’s children’s programming strand, their equivalent of CBBC and CITV, and it was one of the few things you would find on the channel in its early days, along with repeats of old imported sitcoms, and endless editions of Sky Trax with Pat Sharp. vlcsnap-00543

But who exactly was DJ Kat? This was the host of the show, who was a leather jacket-wearing cat puppet with attitude who I suppose was their equivalent of a Gordon The Gopher/Scally The Dog-type character who introduced various cartoons, usually during the afternoons and school holidays (he also did a rap in the opening sequence). DJ Kat would also be assisted by a human co-host, and there were many of these over the years. vlcsnap-00548

In the earliest days this was Linda De Mol, whose brother was behind the production company that launched Big BrotherIn 1987, an American version of the show launched on a few TV channels, with our feline host picking up the accent from somewhere, but this was rather short-lived. After the relaunch of Sky Channel in 1989, The DJ Kat Show moved to the UK, and Linda departed, to be replaced by Steffanie Pitt. vlcsnap-00588

By the early-90s, DJ Kat’s sidekick was Catrina Hylton-Hull, and among the shows featured were such goodies as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Then in the mid-90s, DJ Kat was joined by Joe Greco (of CITV’s Spatz and Mega Mania fame), and features included interactive games that viewers could play at home using their touch-tone telephones for prizes (a lot of children’s TV shows included this feature around this time). vlcsnap-00753

There were also a few comedy sketches including a parody of EastEnders. However, despite still being rather popular with viewers, after almost a decade the show was beginning to run out of steam a little, and it came to an end in December 1995. A new children’s strand launched on Sky One in January 1996 but it was very short-lived and much less successful. Having now seen some of it, I think that I would’ve enjoyed watching The DJ Kat Show when I was younger, and it seems that a lot of people still remember all this fondly.

The YouTube Files – The early days of Sky.

Here’s another idea for a blog piece that came to me rather late at night when I was watching some videos on YouTube. I’m always on the lookout for curious or interesting videos featuring adverts and trails where I try and work out what on earth is happening, and I usually only watch ones from the UK, Ireland, and USA, but I recently ended up watching some videos from the early days of satellite television in the 80s.

Sky and its group of channels as we now know them launched in February 1989, but the name had been around as early as 1982, and the Sky Channel as it used to be known was a combination of various music shows, sport, imported sitcoms, and so on, and these were shown across Europe at a time when there couldn’t have been a huge market for such a thing. I thought that I would pick out a few highlights from some of the videos that I watched on YouTube that are from around the 1988 mark. vlcsnap-00262

5 August 1988. This one includes coverage of Philips Cup Football. I was surprised by how much sport was featured, and this is long before the launch of the Sky Sports Premier League channel. This is not a tournament that I am familiar with, but it features Everton v Italian club Torino in Switzerland. I know that English clubs didn’t take part in Europe at this time, so a few extra competitions were introduced to fill the gap such as the Screensport Super Cup (named after another long-gone satellite channel), I presume that because this is from early-August it’s a pre-season friendly? vlcsnap-00252

Then it’s time for the Sky Weather Report, sponsored by Uniroyal tyres. Programmes being sponsored, whatever will they think of next. Then there are a few adverts, including “Hit News”, a music compilation from K-Tel featuring Orfa Haza, Eddy Grant, and Natalie Cole. There is also a rather good advert for Kodak which was rather arty and creative, featuring lots of blues, greens, and reds, it certainly caught my eye. vlcsnap-00203

Then there are some more trails, including one for the 1988 US PGA golf tournament (it seemed that every other trail on Sky at the time was voiced by Tommy Vance). And then we have some Headline News that is sponsored by The Times and hosted by Aernout Van Lynden and his moustache. This is essentially Sky News before the existence of Sky News, only it’s clearly being done on a much smaller scale. vlcsnap-00258

14 June 1988. This one features trails for old American sitcoms, adverts for cereals in foreign languages, and what seems to be a Public Service Announcement with Tony Blackburn in a tracksuit accompanied by some funky music. vlcsnap-00276

26 April 1988. This one features more trails for old American comedy, and also a rather bad infomerical (is there any other type). There’s also a promotion telling us that Sky now reaches over ten million homes in 19 countries across Europe, some dubbed adverts, and the thrills of the Sky Bondstec Roadshow! There is also a trail for wrestling which has been shown on Sky for many years, and we conclude with a lot of Sky presenters celebrating the channel’s sixth anniversary, including Tony Blackburn, Pat Sharp, and of course children’s TV star DJ Kat. vlcsnap-00326

This all leads on to a rather interesting show from Sky in the 80s called Sky Trax, a music show which only seemed to be shown when they had got bored with showing the in-vision Teletext service rather late at night. Most editions seemed to be hosted by Pat Sharp and his epic hairstyle (long before Fun House) from a cupboard in London, along with Gary Davies (who was seemingly doing some moonlighting from BBC Radio 1). vlcsnap-00400

Lots of bands from across Europe were featured performing their latest songs, and there were also plenty of music videos and interviews, but I doubt that it gave the production team of Top Of The Pops much to panic about, especially as there were probably about three people watching. However, it does seem to be a decent pop music archive from over 30 years ago that is worth tapping into again. vlcsnap-00405