Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 10.

This is someone whose TV career started out fairly quietly, but he is arguably more popular now with viewers than he has ever been. In the early-80s Bradley Walsh was originally a footballer, although he never played at the highest level, and injuries put an early end to his career. By the late-80s he started to get into comedy, and by the early-90s he was often doing his routine on TV.

The first show that I remember him on though was ITV’s Only Joking, which featured a combination of comedy and games, and he’d also turn up on Celebrity Squares. By the late-90s he was hosting various other shows including Midas Touch, Wheel Of Fortune, and The National Lottery Live, and he had a rather “cheeky” and easy-going style that reminded me of the likes of Brian Conley and Shane Richie.

Another show he did was The Big Stage, Channel 5’s brief attempt at a “bring back variety”-style show, which probably not too surprisingly didn’t succeed. By the early-2000s he had got into TV acting, and he was one of the few people brave enough to appear in the bizarre soap Night And Day. He also hosted Sport Addicts, a rare original show for Challenge.

By the mid-2000s he was in Coronation Street, placed into the cast as one of the several shock secret sons of Mike Baldwin. By the late-2000s, there was Spin Star, a short-lived game show that had the gimmick of being based around a large fruit machine, but it looked like his career was beginning to get stuck in hosting fairly average daytime game shows.

But then he became the host of The Chase, which had a compelling “beat the champion” element. This one seemed to succeed, partly due to the combination of him leaving viewers STUNNED with his antics, and the tension of the final where there was often a lot of money at stake. This finally took him to the next level of fame, and ITV were satisfied enough with the show’s success to eventually commission new episodes 1,000 at a time.

Oh no, he’s off again…

There were also endless repeat runs on Challenge, along with the primetime spin-off Beat The Chasers. He was now in big demand, and he appeared in more high-profile drama series including Law & Order: UK, and Doctor Who. Clearly a fan of the genre, he also hosted a documentary about the history of game shows where he looked back at some of his favourite moments.

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Oh dear…

Other game shows he has hosted recently include Keep It In The Family (which only seemed to exist to feature daft games and make him laugh as much as possible because that’s what viewers wanted apparently), Cash Trapped (which he devised himself), and a revival of Blankety Blank. He just seems to be everywhere on TV at the moment, and he’s definitely earned his success.

Game Show Memories – The Chase.

The Chase (ITV, 2009-present)

This is the weekday daytime game show where contestants have to beat a general knowledge genius to win the money. One of the reasons I became interested in The Chase is because it is hosted by Bradley Walsh, who I remember watching on various things many years ago so it was good seeing him taking charge of this show. vlcsnap-01613

Every day four contestants take part to answer questions to earn money and then try to keep it in the game by taking on the Chaser. In the first round they will be asked questions for one minute and earn £1,000 for every correct answer that they give. They will then have to face the Chaser for that day, and it could be one of five people. vlcsnap-01614

The Chasers were chosen to appear on the show because between they have appeared on various game shows such as Mastermind and Only Connect and gone on to be very successful. In the first series the two Chasers were Shaun Wallace and Mark Labbett, who have since been joined by Anne Hegarty, Paul Sinha and Jenny Ryan. The idea is that using their knowledge they must stop the contestants from beating them and keeping their reputation intact. vlcsnap-01615

There are seven spaces on the board and the contestants begin two spaces down from the Chaser with the money that they made. The Chaser then offers a smaller amount of money to start three spaces ahead, or a larger amount of money to start one space ahead. The contestant then consults the others about what they should do. Once they decide what amount to play for, Bradley declares the chase as being on. 

The contestant then plays against the Chaser by answering general knowledge questions with three options. Get it right and they advance a space, get it wrong and they stay where they are. After the answer is revealed, we found out what option the Chaser chose. More often than not they get it right, but if they don’t Bradley says “ooh, he’s having a nightmare!” and hopes that the contestant can take advantage of this. vlcsnap-01617

If the contestant gets to the end, they put the money into the bank and stay in the game. If they get caught though, the money is lost and they have to leave. The remaining contestants go into the final. If all four contestants are caught though, one of them is nominated to play a consolation final Chase for £1,000 for each contestant if they win. vlcsnap-01618

In the final, contestants have to answer questions for two minutes, with a one-point head start for every contestant remaining, and one point for every correct answer. When time is up, the Chaser then has to match their score in two minutes. The contestants need about 20 points to have any chance of winning. If they get an answer wrong though the clock is stopped and it is handed over to the contestants who if they get it right push the Chaser back one space. Bradley will start shouting “go for your pushbacks” at this point. If the Chaser wins, no-one wins any money, But if they don’t get all the answers in time that they need the money banked is shared between the remaining contestants and some people have won a lot of money. vlcsnap-01619

When I first watched The Chase, I wasn’t really sure what it was about, the Chaser always seemed to be really negative to contestants and they always easily beat them, but as I watched it more I did find the contestants competing rather interesting, and as far as games with a “contestants versus talented game show veterans”-idea go, it’s much better than Eggheads, a show that I’ve never really enjoyed.

The Chase has done very well for ITV in its daytime slot and like the BBC’s Pointless it now seems to be on about 48 weeks a year, with also celebrity specials, and international versions, with the American one being shown on Challenge. There has also been a board game and a book released, and while it remains a success with viewers it should remain on our screens for a while yet.