The YouTube Files – Trivial Pursuit USA.

Trivial Pursuit (The Family Channel, 1993-1994)

I do enjoy a good game of Trivial Pursuit, like many others I’m sure. There have been two attempts to bring this board game to TV in the UK, and the American version is much closer to the second UK version hosted by Tony Slattery (which was also shown on The Family Channel, which later evolved into Challenge). This version of the show was hosted by Wink Martindale.

Now I’m fairly sure that this is the first time that we have come across Mr Martindale on this blog. It seems that he has hosted many other game shows in a career that has lasted for decades, and he was the co-executive producer of this one, which meant that we knew there was going to be a decent host in charge. This was the show that was packed with trivia and interesting facts, well I thought so. vlcsnap-00018

Three contestants took part, all hoping to win the star prize. They have a pie that is split into 12 parts. They have to light all the parts of their pie, meaning that they have to give two correct answers in every category. In the first round, the categories are the same as what you’d find in the traditional version of the board game, Entertainment, Arts & Literature, and so on. vlcsnap-00019

Contestants pick the category, but there is only one question for every category, meaning that they all get two goes each. But get it wrong, and it goes on offer on the buzzer. In round two, again there are six categories on offer, but they are now different to the board game version. Look out for the bonus question, which may contain a picture clue, get that right and they $100 and an extra slice. vlcsnap-00020

Round three once again featured different categories, along with some bonuses. The final round goes back to the traditional categories. A question is asked to gain control. Whoever gets it right chooses the category, and they keeping choosing until they get one wrong, and which point the others can buzz in. Whoever completes their pie, or has the most slices when time is up, wins $500 and advances to the final. The others take away whatever money they won and some consolation prizes. vlcsnap-00021

In the final, six questions have to be answered in 45 seconds, one on each traditional category. If they get one wrong, they go back round to the categories until they get it right. If they don’t win, they get $100 for every correct answer, but if they do, they win $1,000 and the star prize of a holiday, and of course they would always be rather pleased about that. vlcsnap-00022

There were also versions that were extended to an hour, that began with preliminary rounds, where nine contestants had to answer various multiple-choice questions against the clock, with the highest scorers being reduced to six, and then they were reduced to the three who progressed to the main game. There was also an interactive game where viewers would be encouraged to phone in to win prizes too. There was another game show with a similar format in America in 2008.

The YouTube Files – Small Talk USA.

Small Talk (The Family Channel, 1996-1997)

This is the American version of the game show that ran in the UK on BBC1 in the mid-90s, and this one launched just as that one was ending in 1996. Small Talk (which mustn’t be confused with Child’s Play) was hosted by comedian Wil Shriner, someone who I must admit I’m not that familiar with. Because this version was on a commercial channel instead of the BBC, there was a shorter running time, meaning that there were some rule changes to deal with the time constraints.

Three contestants took part as always, although seven children took part instead of nine. The basic idea of trying to guess what the children’s answers would be to various questions remained though, with most of the humour coming from their sometimes unusual observations on things in life. The set design was also rather similar, with multi-coloured speech bubbles everywhere. vlcsnap-00007

In round one, the contestants have to guess what answer a child would give to a question, such as “do you like cauliflower?” for ten points. Six of the seven are asked, meaning that there are two goes each. The things they say, honestly. If the contestants can guess the response that the majority of children gave too, they score 20 points. Oh yes! This round is then played again, but the points are doubled. vlcsnap-00008

Next is the speed round, where there is one question, and the contestants are simply asked if they thought the child did or didn’t know the answer. There are 60 points for a correct answer. The highest scorer gets $500 and progresses to the final, although the other contestants do take away some consolation prizes, but they don’t include the trophy that you get in the British version, you’re more likely to get some binoculars. vlcsnap-00010

The final is played in a similar style to what is actually the penultimate round in the UK, presumably this is also for time constraints. Again, all of the children are asked a question, and the contestant now chooses them at random by pressing a button. Their aim is to get three correct matches before they give two incorrect ones. If they can do this, they win a bonus $1,000, meaning that the most that could be won was $1,500. vlcsnap-00012

I’m not sure how often the children appeared on the show, whether it was rather regularly and they rotated, or they got one go each like the contestants. This version of Small Talk definitely had as many laughs as you would get in the UK, but it only ran for about three months on The Family Channel before leaving the screen for good.

Game Show Memories – A Word In Your Ear.

A Word In Your Ear (BBC1, 1993-1994, The Family Channel, 1995)

Around the time that the long-running The Krypton Factor finally began to run out of steam, Gordon Burns moved on to host a similar show, but this time featuring celebrity teams. A Word In Your Ear (which was also co-created and co-produced by Burns) featured several games where contestants had to use their observation and communication skills.

The show featured two teams of two, and celebrities took part including Jim Bowen, Bob Holness, and Leslie Grantham, along with many others having to work together. Occasionally, a team would consist of a married couple such as Paul Coia and Debbie Greenwood, so we really could find out how much they knew about each other and how well they could pass on information, and there was plenty of humour in how well (or badly) they did this. vlcsnap-00515

There were usually five rounds. These included one contestant having to describe the shape of an object, and the other having to draw it on a board and then guess what it is, and there was also a round where one provides commentary on a clip that the other one can’t see, and then they are asked questions about it, so all the important information has to be passed on. vlcsnap-00538

Other rounds included having to piece together a picture of a face from a description against the clock, one where there is a shape and one has to describe it while the other makes it out of building blocks, and one where phrases had to be described using particular words. They would then be marked out of ten by Gordon, and although a winner was announced, there were no prizes, but they all got very excited about their success anyway. vlcsnap-00540

There were about 50 editions of A Word In Your Ear, and the scheduling is rather curious. The first series was shown on BBC1 in a daytime slot. The second series was promoted to a Saturday evening slot, but later editions went back to daytime. The third and final series moved to The Family Channel, the predecessor of Challenge, and some BBC1 editions were repeated in daytime in 1998. vlcsnap-00542

One good thing about the show was that it revealed more about a celebrity’s personality and abilities than most. In 1996, about a year after A Word In Your Ear ended, Gordon returned to BBC1 with a similar series called Relatively Speaking, featuring more communication challenges that also used the latest technology, but this time families took part, and it can almost be considered to be an attempt at a team version of The Krypton Factor. However, there was only one series, and I don’t remember watching it.

Game Show Memories – Family Catchphrase Celebrity Special.

Family Catchphrase Celebrity Special (The Family Channel, 1993)

Recently, I put together a list of TV shows that I still want to review for this blog, and it came to about 250, so there are definitely lots more nostalgic memories to come yet. And then of course while I’m deciding which one to choose from the list, I spot something online I like the look of that I haven’t written down and decide to review that instead, so they’ll have to wait for now.

Now it’s well established that I am a fan of game shows, but I have reviewed just about all of the ones that I remember watching, so here is a variation of one that I have already looked back at because I just couldn’t resist. And also, it’s a Christmas special. Now I know it’s still a long way off yet, but with all the Christmas-themed adverts and films already on TV you wouldn’t think so, and I’d rather not wait until December to share it.

I have already reviewed Family Catchphrase, the spin-off game show on The Family Channel (that evolved into Challenge) hosted by Andrew O’Connor, who I always enjoyed watching on TV. And this one is a celebrity special (celebrity editions of Catchphrase? What will they think of next?). But it’s the contestants who take part that really caught my eye (and thanks to “TVSProductions82” for uploading this). vlcsnap-00941

The show begins with the opening sequence introduced in 1986, and it must be Christmas, as there’s a tree, and Andrew has his best waistcoat on. The celebrity teams are Bob Holness and his daughter Carol, against Johnny Ball and his daughter Zoe. Now Bob of course was the host of Blockbusters for over a decade, and he also appeared on a celebrity special of the main version of Catchphrase hosted by Roy Walker. Will he able to solve the clues on this show? vlcsnap-00979

As I’m sure people know, two of Bob’s daughters also had hit singles in the 80s. One of them was as a member of Toto Coelo (of “I Eat Cannibals” fame that made the Top Ten), and the other was by his teammate Carol, under the name Nancy Nova, who had a hit with “No No No” which reached a sensational No. 63 in September 1982. Now I’ve not heard this song myself, I suppose I should check it out. vlcsnap-00980

Johnny’s daughter Zoe was starting out as a TV presenter at this time, having been on CBBC for about a year, which Andrew likes to make lots of jokes about. Johnny hosted lots of children’s TV shows (I remember enjoying Johnny Ball Reveals All on CITV), while Zoe would go on to further success including becoming the host of the BBC Radio 2 breakfast show. Andrew later starts going on about Zoe announcing “bunnyhops”, he seems to be thinking of Gus Honeybun who I don’t think was ever on CBBC! vlcsnap-01011

The two teams were playing for points to win prizes for their chosen charities, including a colour TV. It’s time to play, so don’t forget to say what you see, and remember the bell. All of the catchphrases are Christmas-themed. But Bob buzzes in before the bell, oh no! Whoever solves the bonus also wins a prize. In the next round, the teams alternate on the buzzer, and going into the break, Johnny and Zoe are in the lead by five points! They’ll be back soon, don’t go away! vlcsnap-01013

The puzzle is finally solved for the prize of a CD player. Now there’s no bell, anyone can buzz in, and it becomes fast and furious. Bob and Carol take the lead, and also win a waterproof camera! It’s all over, and Bob and Carol win 735-620! They go into the Super Catchphrase, which is even more exciting than the Gold Run. They win the star prize, and they are very pleased. Father Christmas then comes on to give everyone a hug, now that’s the way to end a show. What fun, you’ll only find entertainment like this on Challenge at 5am. vlcsnap-01049

Game Show Memories – Trivial Pursuit.

Trivial Pursuit (The Family Channel, 1993-1994)

Over the years I’ve enjoyed playing a lot of board games, including Trivial Pursuit, seen by many as the ultimate general knowledge game to play. This meant that it seemed a fairly obvious choice to convert into a TV game show. There was one attempt on BBC1 in the early-90s, but this piece will concentrate on the second version which was another Action Time production, it was shown on The Family Channel which would evolve into Challenge TV by 1997, and it was hosted by Tony Slattery who was appearing on TV very regularly at the time. vlcsnap-00940

Three contestants took part and the idea was that they had to fill their all 12 slices of their pie by answering the questions on the six categories available, essentially getting two correct answers for every colour available. In the first round the six traditional categories from the board game were used with one question per category. Contestants picked a category, and then they were given the question, but if they got it wrong, it went on offer for the other two to steal. vlcsnap-00945

In the second round, the six categories were changed so that they were all related to entertainment in some way. There was also a bonus on offer where a news clip from the archive would be shown and the question would be based on it. If they got it right they would win the slice, and then they would be asked a second question where if they got that right they could remove an opponent’s slice. vlcsnap-00946

In third round the categories changed again. This time a contestant could play for a category, and then nominate who faces the next question. The final round was against the clock reverting to the traditional six categories. Whoever buzzed in could choose the next category and carried on until they got one wrong. If a contestant completed all 12 slices of their pie they went into the final, and the two remaining contestants played until time ran out for the runner-up prize of a glass bowl. However, if no-one had completed their pie by the end, the contestant who had the most slices when time was up was the winner, with the other two receiving consolation prizes of a The Family Channel T-shirt and a deluxe edition of the board game. vlcsnap-00961

In the final, the remaining contestant also won an extra prize of a VHS looking back at the news in the year that they were born, and they played for the star prize. They simply had to get six questions right, one in each category, in 60 seconds to win a holiday. I get the feeling that they could’ve been a little more imaginative with the rules for this final but either way there were a lot of winners. vlcsnap-00944

One curious thing about Trivial Pursuit was that it seemed to have some mistakes left in such as contestants picking categories that had already gone and Tony fluffing some questions. Also, The Family Channel must have had a very small audience in those days so it should be commended for making some original shows along with the repeats of classics, and Trivial Pursuit itself was repeated well into the Challenge years.

Game Show Memories – Family Catchphrase.

Family Catchphrase (The Family Channel, 1993-1994) vlcsnap-00309Family Catchphrase was a mid-90s spin-off from the classic game show Catchphrase, but instead of single contestants taking part, it featured related teams. Curiously, it was not shown on ITV and it wasn’t hosted by Roy Walker, but instead Andrew O’Connor who is one of my favourites hosted so he was a decent substitute, and it was shown on The Family Channel, which over the years would eventually evolve into the channel now known as Challenge. vlcsnap-00323

Two teams of two took part, usually consisting of a teenager alongside an older relative such as a parent or an aunt or uncle. The rules were slightly different to the original version of Catchphrase. First of all, teams played for points instead of money, and various rounds were played as a team or individually. Just say what you see! vlcsnap-00321

The first round was the same as regular Catchphrase, with teams having to wait for the bell before they answered. The bonus Catchphrase was also the same with its nine squares to pick from, and this is the first version where the value of the bonus decreased each time it was incorrectly guessed, and this rule was introduced to the ITV series in 1994. vlcsnap-00606

Then there was a round where the teams played individually and there was no conferring, so this was the only time where youngsters weren’t encouraged to listen to their elders. The final round was similar to the Ready Money Round as the bell had been taken out and teams could buzz as many times as they wanted until they got it right, but because there was no money on offer it was renamed Fast And Furious. 


The highest-scoring team go through to the Super Catchphrase. This is just about the same as in the main version, with the idea of getting five phrases right in a row horizontally, vertically or diagonally in 60 seconds still the same, only the prizes on offer were on a smaller scale, such as the main prize for going through the M square being a trip to Alton Towers or a games console. vlcsnap-00335

I didn’t see Family Catchphrase the first time round, but in recent years I have seen a few editions thanks to the endless repeats on Challenge and YouTube. There were a couple of memorable moments. First of all, in a clue which had a worm protruding from the planet Earth, a boy buzzed in and said “The Worm From Earth”. The look on Andrew’s face. Also, a pre-fame Simon Amstell took part with his aunt and they ended up winning some nice prizes. vlcsnap-00312

I also noticed that Family Catchphrase used the title sequence introduced in 1986, but featured the set design introduced for the 1994 relaunch on ITV, which made it an odd mix of 80s and 90s visually. Overall though I did think that this was a fun variation on the idea, and I enjoyed watching it more than the post-Roy Walker revivals on ITV.