The $100,000 Pyramid (1985-1988)
This is a game show that started out in America in 1973, before coming to the UK and running for about a decade. When reviewing American versions of game shows, two fairly obvious differences have stood out to me in just about all of them. Firstly, there were often many more editions made, and of course there was much more money on offer. This is another one that follows that trend.
There were several variations on this format in America, but this piece will concentrate on the one shown in the mid-80s. This was The $100,000 Pyramid (when the show came to the UK it was originally called The £1,000 Pyramid Game, so contestants could win up to 100 times more for essentially doing the same thing). They really do everything bigger over there. The host was Dick Clark, another one who had a very long and popular career in TV and radio.
The format was just about the same as the version in the UK. Two teams of two took part, where a contestant would be paired with a celebrity. Who could it be? Maybe it was someone who was in a soap, or maybe even someone in a sitcom, how exciting. There are six categories on the board, with a vague clue about what they could be. The category is picked, and look out because a bonus prize could be hidden behind one.
One contestant then has to describe seven words associated with that category to the other in 30 seconds, with one point for every correct answer. Each team does this three times, meaning that the maximum score is 21. If they get all seven right in the bonus category, they win a prize which could be money, or even a holiday. The highest-scoring team then very quickly goes over to the Winners’ Circle.
The celebrity has to describe six categories of increasing difficulty in 60 seconds, with various cash amounts won for every correct answer. If they get them all right in time, then they win a rather large cash amount. The contestants then swap celebrities and do this all over again, essentially meaning that two games are played in one show. If the contestant can make the Winners’ Circle again, they play for higher money amounts.
Occasionally, the best performers in the Winners’ Circle round are invited back to play in a special tournament, which is where they can win the top prize of $100,000, a little like what Name That Tune (that I reviewed recently) did around the same time. Although this version ended in the late-80s, there have been several more versions (along with a computer game and board game), there was even a revival in this country that was shown on Challenge, and there have been versions in many other countries around the world too.