Game Show Memories – Turnabout first and final series comparison.

Turnabout is one of my favourite BBC1 daytime game shows. When I finally saw a first series edition online, I was rather surprised at how different it was to the more familiar format the show eventually settled into that became a success. Let’s do a comparison.

Scheduling. First series. In 1990, Turnabout was shown at 1.50pm, the slot where Going For Gold usually appeared, and the first two series also had a repeat the following day at 10.05am. Final series. By 1996, after appearing in several slots over the years, the eighth series was shown at 2.35pm.

Title Sequence. First series. The contestants appeared on one of the spheres on the board, accompanied by some rather funky music. Final series. The third sequence used featured some spheres flying through space, and again some rather unusual music. t1

Set Design. First series. The set was rather small and mostly blue, with the contestants stood at their podiums, accompanied by a small but enthusiastic audience. Final series. Much bigger and brighter from the second series onwards, the contestants now sat at their podiums, and there was famously a pool in the middle of the studio for no particular reason. I’m fairly sure that the audience was still more real than canned.t6

Rob Curling. First series. At this time Rob was also hosting the sport on Newsroom South East, so if like me you were in that region, you would see him rather frequently. Final series. Rob hosted all 239 editions, and even developed a few catchphrases along the way, including “can we Turnabout the timer, please”. t2

Contestants. First series. The contestants played as red, orange, and blue, and were introduced by an uncredited voiceover. There were two games played in every show, with the defending champion playing red. The nine highest scorers returned for the semi-final stage. Final series. They were now seated and from series two played red, green and blue. There was no defending champion and one game was played per show. Again the nine highest scorers progressed to the semi-final stage. t3

Sphere Game. First series. The red, orange, and blue spheres appeared on the board. However, the red spheres looked orange, and the orange spheres looked yellow. The on-screen timer was some pink lights around the board going out, accompanied by a ticking clock. Solve a word clue, five points for a row of three spheres, ten points for a row of four on the board, with plenty of sound effects. The sequence of spheres turning red/orange/blue also conveniently spelled out “ROB”, but contestants sometimes struggled to make their choice which was awkward, and they could accidently give points to their opponents. You couldn’t buzz in if you had no spheres on the board. Final series. The red, green, and blue spheres looked much clearer on the board, which now also featured an on-screen timer (with no ticking sound) and scoreboard. The confusing sequence had been dropped for the “the sphere turns to your colour” rule, making gameplay quicker and fairer. Scoring was the same. Buzzer noises remained the same too, but the board sound effects had changed. t4

Star Game. First series. Only the champion plays this. 16 word clues, try and get them all right in 60 seconds. Five points each, rounded up to 100 for all 16 correct. Final series. Now all three contestants played, and they could choose their game. The scoring system was the same, but now with 50 seconds to play. Also by this point there was the additional About Turn round and viewers’ phone-in competition. t5

Prizes. First series. I don’t think there were any consolation prizes for defeated contestants, but the overall champion won some audio-visual equipment. Final series. Contestants now took away consolation prizes including dictionaries and T-shirts, and all three finalists won a holiday, with the overall champion going on the trip of a lifetime to Australia.

Game Show Memories – Turnabout Grand Final.

Turnabout Grand Final (BBC1, 1991)

As you should know by now, Turnabout is one of my favourite BBC daytime game shows from the 90s. I wanted to do another piece about this show, so I thought that I would review a series grand final, because these had a slightly different format from the usual, and there was also a big prize at stake. I have decided to review the final of the second series, which was shown on 16 May 1991, and as always was hosted by Rob Curling.

I’m not sure if this format was used for every grand final, but this was the first series to have the more familiar look, with the red, green, and blue spheres, and the famous pool in the middle of the studio. 72 contestants have taken part in this series, and now only three remain, hopefully they will offer a good game. The finalists are Andy Page from Bristol playing red (who I think was also a regular on Fifteen-To-One around this time), Jackie McLeod from London playing green, and Darryl Francis from Mitcham playing blue. vlcsnap-00940

This is their third appearance on the show, following a qualifier and a semi-final, and the star prize is a holiday to New Zealand. In the first round, there are 16 grey spheres. The contestants take it in turns to turn a sphere their colour. The number of spheres they can turn is the number of correct answers they gave in their Star Game semi-final, can anybody take an early advantage, it’s all very tense. 13 spheres are turned. vlcsnap-00951

The first round then begins, which is about five minutes, and there is no Turnabout of the letters at the halfway point. The clues are of a higher standard than usual, most of the words wouldn’t be in the average person’s vocabulary. But they are still very quick on the buzzer, and they better remember the awkward red/green/blue sequence that is still used at this point. You won’t be seeing many combos here. vlcsnap-00968

In the Star Game, all three contestants play the same board, so the other two have to get up and leave the studio so they get no hints, and there are only 40 seconds on the clock. At this stage of the game, Jackie is in the lead. For round two, again there’s about five minutes of questions and no Turnabout, and the board now has the more familiar four grey spheres in the centre, along with the sequence changing to blue/green/red. vlcsnap-00952

It’s still very close as it’s time for another Star Game, which is also the final round. Again, every contestant plays the same board, and the overall winner and series champion with 190 points is Jackie McLeod! She is off on holiday and is thrilled, while the runners-up take away the consolation prize of an all-in-one fax machine, telephone, and answering machine, what a remarkable piece of technology, that’s almost as good as a dictionary. vlcsnap-00984

And also, in 1992 there was a Champion Of Champions game played between the winners of the first three series of Turnabout, and Jackie McLeod won this too.

Game Show Memories – consolation prizes.

“We hate to lose you, but lose you we must”

Time for something a little different. There used to be a time when however good or bad they did, game show contestants would be given consolation prizes for taking part. Here’s a look at what I think are 16 of the most memorable prizes that were given away. These are the shows where you definitely didn’t go away empty handed…

Backdate. A rather nice electronic organiser.

Big Break. A snooker cue and a trophy, and a waistcoat too if you were lucky.

Blankety Blank. Probably one of the most famous consolation prizes, the chequebook and pen. It’s really isn’t an exaggeration to say that it was more valuable than most of the actual prizes on offer.

Blockbusters. A sweatshirt and a dictionary. Definitely worth having. p3

Bullseye. Tankards, darts, and the bendy Bully. Or the badge and chalk holder that were on offer in the early series.

Countdown. What is always called a goodie bag, including cups, books, and the board game too of course. And don’t forget the teapot either.

Every Second Counts. Not surprisingly considering this was a show based around time, a wallclock and some watches.

The Generation Game. Various prizes in the early-90s revival included a telephone and pocket TV that seemingly only ever showed a picture of Bruce Forsyth’s co-host Rosemarie Ford. p6

Lucky Ladders. A pair of watches. Now they must be expensive.

Raise The Roof. This was the show where the star prize was a house, so the consolation was a teapot in the shape of a house, often known as “Bob’s Bungalow” (after host Bob Holness).

Small Talk. A trophy that according to host Ronnie Corbett was “crafted by my own fair hand”.

Telly Addicts. Another goodie bag similar to Countdown including books about TV, T-shirts and so on. p9

Today’s The Day. A copy of a newspaper from the day that you were born, and maybe a bottle of bubbly too.

Turnabout. Another show that gave everyone a dictionary. Not that exciting, but just any excuse to talk about Turnabout really.

Wheel Of Fortune. Another show that gave away watches and board games.

Wipeout. Early series featured a paperweight, before this was changed to an umbrella. p12

And they all had a lovely day.

Game Show Memories – Turnabout.

Turnabout (BBC1, 1990-1996)

Well I can’t resist it any longer, now it’s time to write about one of my favourite game shows. The choice of Turnabout might surprise you as it’s rather obscure now so here’s my memories of that show and why I hold it in such high regard.

Turnabout was a daytime game show that was shown five days a week and was all about words which was hosted by Rob Curling when he had a day off from Newsroom South East. There were three contestants, one playing red, one green and one blue. They were asked a word clue with some missing letters and they had to guess what the word was. But this wasn’t how they scored points! vlcsnap-00330

There was a 4×4 grid with 16 spheres. Get a question right and then you could turn a sphere to try to create a line in your colour. Five points for three in a row and ten points for four in a row horizontally, diagonally or vertically. There was a confusing turning sequence of red-green-blue in the early series but then it was changed to the much easier “it just turns to your colour” rule which made for fairer and closer games. vlcsnap-00332

But the thing that I liked about this the most though was if you linked enough spheres together you could get combos! All manner of crazy things would start happening and up to 30 points could be scored in one turn. There were a few occasions where a contestant turned all 16 spheres their colour which won them a bonus prize. vlcsnap-00331

When the timer ran out it was time for the star game, get 16 word clues right in 50 seconds to score points. The highest scorers returned at the end of the series and the overall winner won a star prize of a holiday. vlcsnap-00333

There was a lot that I enjoyed about this show, the questions, the colours, the sound effects. Other extra great things about the show included there being a pool in the middle of the studio for no apparent reason and the funky theme music which I remember someone once likening to sounding like Herbie Hancock. vlcsnap-00329

By all means people can like Going For Gold and Bargain Hunt, they are good shows and better remembered, but for me Turnabout is my favourite BBC daytime game show. I never recorded any episodes at the time and the show as far as I know has never been repeated on Challenge, this is the one that I would like to see again the most, particularly the first series which it seems featured a slightly different format, or even a revival. There are a few episodes on YouTube but to see a full series on the TV again would be terrific.