Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 21.

Bonus edition!

When I was recently doing my Game Show Stars series, I was aware that I should include a female host. The role of women in game shows has definitely changed over the years. Back in the 80s and 90s, they were usually the assistant, doing little more than introducing the contestants, and showing off the prizes. But more and more women in recent years have taken on the main hosting role, and of course I have enjoyed some of them.

I have decided, just like I did with the male hosts, to pick someone who has hosted several shows, and has always been popular with viewers, including myself, so here’s who I’ve gone for. You might remember that a while ago I did piece about a newspaper that I found from 1995. One page featured an article about an up-and-coming TV host, and she definitely did fulfil her potential, remaining well-known over 25 years on (and it was nothing to do with her having a famous mother, honest).

The first time that I recall seeing Claudia Winkleman on TV was when she became the co-host of the final series of Talking Telephone Numbers in the late-90s. It was rather strange because I wasn’t familiar with her, and I wondered where Emma Forbes had gone (although she had already hosted a few shows by this point including ITV’s late-night Pyjama Party). After this, she never looked back really.

Going into the 2000s, another of her game shows that I enjoyed was Three’s A Crowd, a short-lived “dating game with a twist”, but then aren’t they all. This isn’t really a genre that I’m hugely interested in, but I did like this, and her commentary on what the current situation was definitely enhanced things. And there was also Fanorama, which came and went quietly on E4, but again was a rather enjoyable format.

And during all of this, she continued to host several other non-game shows, including Liquid News. In more recent years, she has gone on to be one of the hosts of Strictly Come Dancing, a show that I have never really had that much interest in, and its continued success does surprise me, but it is good to know that she is still an in demand host. And she did it all with her hair over her eyes, which makes it even more impressive.

Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 3.

This is someone whose long TV hosting career has included plenty of game shows. Phillip Schofield began his TV hosting career in the early-80s in New Zealand, but he came back to England just in time to get the job as the host of CBBC’s newly-launched Broom Cupboard, when they were at the point of considering various cast members of Grange Hill as hosts.

After a couple of years, he went on to host various other CBBC shows, including Going Live! and The Movie Game. By the time he left in the early-90s, he had proven himself to be an adept host of live TV, managing to deal with anything that came his way. He then made an attempt to break into primetime TV shows aimed at older viewers, and he succeeded where others didn’t.

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He then joined ITV, where he has hosted several shows, most of the early ones weren’t too memorable really, including Schofield’s TV Gold (looking back at very old clips, and interviewing a few people in them, which was almost a continuation of the similar TV’s Greatest Hits that he hosted on BBC1), and Schofield’s Quest, where he tried to help people track down various things.

As for game shows, in the mid-90s he hosted Talking Telephone Numbers (originally alongside Emma Forbes, who he worked with on Going Live!), and this was one of the first British game shows where the star prize was a five-figure sum, not that many people gambled for it. And there was also Tenball, which was a fast-paced variation on snooker, but as this wasn’t shown at all in some ITV regions, and the final was shown on LWT at 5:30, this actually wasn’t going to be the future at all.

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He did briefly return to the BBC to host more game shows, including Winning Lines (a format that he was comfortable with as this was almost identical to Talking Telephone Numbers), and Test The Nation, another live show where he always cheerily moved things along, and proved that he could even tolerate working alongside Anne Robinson.

In more recent years, his ITV game show work has included Five Gold Rings (and doing adverts flogging gin on the sly), but the most popular show must be The Cube, where if people can complete the challenges, they can win really big money, and many feel that this one has succeeded as there is lots of genuine tension. Let’s hope that he will be on TV for years to come yet.

Game Show Memories – Talking Telephone Numbers.

Talking Telephone Numbers (ITV, 1994-1997)

Talking Telephone Numbers was a somewhat odd mixture of a variety show and an interactive phone-in game show, and it was one of the earliest TV shows where the prizes were won not by contestants in the studio but by the viewers at home. The first three series were presented by Phillip Schofield and Emma Forbes who had already memorably worked together on Going Live! of course.

First of all, an act would appear on the show and do their routine, but a lot of them were somewhat from the old-school of entertainment, with various famous comedians, magicians and so on appearing, most of them seemingly not having been on the TV regularly for a while, although there were a few newcomers taking part too. They would then play a short game which would randomly generate a single-digit number. vlcsnap-01598

After this was done five times, the idea was if that the five-digit number formed the final five digits of your telephone number in any order, then you could qualify to play the game as the phonelines opened. You had to dial the onscreen number and try to get through to one of the 96 telephonists on standby to have a chance of winning. vlcsnap-01596

Because of this, Talking Telephone Numbers had to be a live show, although there was an amusing incident in one show where while Richard Digance (ask your dad) was doing his thing, he suddenly fast-forwarded, taking the show off-air for a few minutes, and when they came back and after Pip’s life had flashed before his eyes, he had to confess that only the final segment of the show was live. vlcsnap-01599

While people were making their call, a pop act usually appeared to perform their latest single, and then it was the big moment. A phoneline would be picked at random and whoever was on the end of it made a loud shriek as they got the chance to win the money. They would be asked three questions which all had a numerical answer, and if they got them all right they instantly won £10,000. But if they got one wrong, another line was picked. vlcsnap-01592

Then came the gamble. The winning caller could risk the £10,000 on what their telephonist was concealing, and this was any cash amount from £1,000 to £25,000, which I think was the largest possible amount that could be given away at the time. Usually by this point they had run out of time though, but almost nobody took the gamble anyway, and on at least one occasion someone did miss out on £25,000. vlcsnap-01601

In later series, Talking Telephone Numbers teamed up with the Daily Mirror who gave away free gamecards so viewers at home could win more money than ever before. Also, for the final series Forbes left and was replaced by Claudia Winkleman. This was the first time that I can remember seeing her host a TV show and almost 20 years later she’s still a popular figure on the screen. vlcsnap-00ttt

Talking Telephone Numbers was definitely something a little different for Monday evenings, and although it did well at the time with its big cash prizes on offer not too many people remember it now, and there is little about it online. It was produced by Celador, who also went on to make other game shows including the very similar Winning Lines and the megahit Who Wants To Be A Millionaire so they did eventually end up being big winners too.