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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is phil0002.jpg

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.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is vlcsnap-00445.jpg

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.

More TV Memories – Tenball.

Tenball (ITV, 1995)

You will be familiar with snooker of course, but can’t it be dull sometimes? There isn’t much action. BBC1’s Big Break was an attempt at bringing snooker into a game show format, but Tenball would take it one step further with various changes to the rules, along with statements such as this will bring the game into the new millennium and everyone will soon be playing it down the pub instead of pool which will suddenly be rather boring by comparison.

Tenball (a cross between a sport show and a game show) was hosted by Phillip Schofield (yes, he was hosting every other programme on ITV even in the mid-90s) and it was a knockout tournament where eight professional snooker players including Steve Davis, Alex Higgins, Ronnie O’Sullivan and Jimmy White competed against one another in best-of five matches in a futuristic-looking arena to become the first Tenball champion. There was even a VHS released featuring how to play and offering advice for anyone interested in having a go themselves. vlcsnap-00445

Tenball had various different rules to snooker. Firstly, there was no yellow ball. Instead, there was the yellow and black Tenball which had a value of ten points and was placed on what would be the blue spot in snooker, with the 15 reds surrounding it in a diamond shape. The first colour that a player potted after their first red determined the points value of all other colours for that break, followed by potting the colours in sequence for their usual points value. This meant that if they went for the Tenball the maximum break was 200 (the highest score in the series was Peter Ebdon’s 122, although Ronnie O’Sullivan achieved the maximum in a practice match). vlcsnap-00453

Other innovations included players being able to make their opening break in a pool style, there were cameras on the cues and in the pockets, and we were also told things including how fast a ball was hit. Also to try and help speed up the play there were changes including a ball having to hit at least one cushion in every shot and balls wouldn’t be returned to their previous position after a foul. This meant that there was more emphasis on potting and less opportunity for safety play. vlcsnap-00451

The eventual series winner was Jimmy White (who beat Ronnie O’Sullivan in the final) who received the main prizes of a trophy and a cheque for £20,000. Steve Davis (who was among the divisors of the game) also appeared alongside Phillip to offer some analysis, and of course all of the players along with Phillip said that Tenball was a great idea that they were sure would catch on and would soon be played across the country by viewers who found this an exciting watch. vlcsnap-00452

There was just one problem though, this didn’t happen at all. Tenball never returned for a second series on ITV, and some regions didn’t even show it, although mine (LWT) did, but by the end it was relegated to Saturday afternoons. Although it wasn’t a success, I do remember watching and thinking that this was an interesting idea, and there have been some snooker tournaments in more recent years that have tried to do something different, including having timed matches featuring a basketball-style shot clock to speed up play.