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 – Test The Nation.

Test The Nation (BBC1, 2002-2007)

This is a game show that really did have multi-player potential, as not only did the contestants in the studio play along, but the viewers at home across the country could also have a go thanks to several interactive ways. If you’ve ever wanted to prove that you really are clever or have a good general knowledge, then this was the game to take part in.

Test The Nation was hosted by Anne Robinson (who wasn’t as harsh as on The Weakest Link, but still came across as authoritative) and Phillip Schofield (the much cheerier of the two, although it’s not that hard really). There would be several tests, on things such as IQ, news, sport, history, entertainment, and so on. There would be around 65 multiple-choice questions that had to be answered against the clock. vlcsnap-00004

Now this could be done in several ways, such as using the TV remote control, the website, text messages, or just plain old pencil and paper. In the studio, the contestants were split into various groups, such as by occupation or by hair colour, along with a group of celebrities also taking part. It was Anne’s job to ask the questions, and Phillip interviewed the contestants, all of whom were very determined to get the highest score. vlcsnap-00005

Test The Nation would be in two parts. The first would feature the questions being asked, and after a short break, the second would reveal the answers (which would take just about as long). Although if you were playing using the TV or website, your score would be calculated for you. As this was a rather interesting idea, I do remember playing along on a few occasions, hopefully I could prove that I knew something. vlcsnap-00008

Once the results were in, they would be compared, with not only which team in the studio got the highest score being revealed, but also which city, which age group, and so on. It could be argued though that the analysis of all this didn’t really reveal a huge amount about people and their knowledge, it definitely added a competitive edge to it, and although there were no prizes on offer, to know that you had done well was satisfying enough. vlcsnap-00009

Every edition of Test The Nation was shown live and seemed to go on for hours, it was a creative way to fill a Saturday Night schedule though. There were 17 editions made over five years, and as it was an occasional series, it was an idea that didn’t become too repetitive or outstay its welcome (Danny Wallace co-hosted the later editions after Phillip went off to ITV). The show also did well enough for there to be some merchandise be released, including a book and an interactive DVD game, although I didn’t have either of those.