Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 13.

Here is someone who has had a double career in TV, combining comedy with game shows. Tim Vine started out in the early-90s as a stand-up comedian, and most of his quickfire material consisted of wordplay. Now I’ve always liked jokes like this, so I became a fan of his right away really. The first time that I can remember seeing him on the TV was in the mid-90s when he hosted BBC1 daytime game show Housemates.

I did enjoy this, and I decided that it would be worth following his career, however, there are no clips of this show online, it would be really good to see this again. He wasn’t afraid of appearing on Channel 5 either, in the late-90s he co-hosted their opening show, and he also hosted Whittle, which was essentially a low-budget version of ITV’s Everybody’s Equal.

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Tim did his best to get the studio audience going, but as this was a game where they were the contestants too, he had to use plenty of jokes, as there was a chance that they could win enough money to buy two bottles of milk if they were lucky, so this was rather tense. Tim’s other work for Channel 5 included being a stand-in host on The Jack Docherty Show, and a Christmas comedy special.

Around the same time, he hosted Channel 4’s Fluke, which he devised himself, and was totally based on luck, with no skill or knowledge required to succeed. One week, the star prize all rested on whether the contestant knew what the colour of his pants were. Curiously, this was shown after Whittle, so for a short while you could which him host game shows on two different channels consecutively.

Back to his comedy work, he often collaborated with Lee Mack, in shows including The Sketch Show and Not Going Out, which were both very enjoyable. He also went on tour where he tried to pack in as many jokes as he could (he briefly held the world record for most jokes told in an hour), these shows were great fun too, and some have been released on DVD.

In more recent years, he has appeared in Dictionary Corner on Countdown, and he hosted daytime game show Don’t Blow The Inheritance, along with Football Genius. He then became a regular panellist on a revival of Celebrity Squares, well done to whoever made that decision. He’s also been a contestant on various shows including Celebrity Mastermind. His brother likes to host game shows too! All these years on it’s still great to see him on TV.

Game Show Memories – Whittle.

Whittle (Channel 5, 1997-1998)

Following on from yesterday, here’s a look at another game show that was hosted by the terrific Tim Vine. Whittle formed a part of the weekday daytime Channel 5 schedule in its earliest days and was often shown after 100%. Indeed, Tim was the co-host of the first ever show on Channel 5 and the first episode of Whittle aired 18 years ago today. whittle0002

The show would start with Tim running on to the stage, but where were the contestants? The studio audience were the contestants! The format was practically identical to the 80s ITV show Everybody’s Equal with Chris Tarrant, but seemingly made on a smaller budget. There were 100 people in the studio audience who would play the game. vlcsnap-00690The show would start with Tim talking to the “four to follow”, which supposedly was the four audience members most likely to make it into the next round. Tim would have a quick stilted conversation with all of them before the game began. Then Tim would ask the first question. There were four possible answers and the audience members would have ten seconds to make their choice by pressing the corresponding button on their keypad. Tim would then flap his arms about and yell “start the clock!”.


When time was up, who voted for what was revealed. One of the options in every question was usually a really obvious prank choice, but there would always be at least one person go for it. The computer would then tell Tim who it was and he’d ask them why they chose that option. They would say “my finger slipped”. Every single time. The correct answer would then be revealed and however many got it right stayed in the game. It was at this point that Tim would tell a silly joke before throwing his question card away and also usually say “and we’ve lost the four to follow”. vlcsnap-00691

This would carry on until there was a timed question and the ten people who nominated the correct answer in the quickest time would go through to the final after the break. Tim would then talk to all the contestants which again always felt rather awkward and was filling time to some extent. There would be some more questions, and whoever got eliminated at this stage would have to put on their Whittle mask, which always made everyone laugh. Whittle 8

Again, if there were still a lot of contestants remaining in the game after a few questions, there would be one more against the clock and the quickest contestant with the correct answer would be declared the winner and win £250. They then had the chance to double it. There was one more question. Put the four options into the correct order and they would win a massive £500! vlcsnap-00692Whittle managed to last for 130 episodes and two series and it is still occasionally repeated on Challenge. I do remember watching it at the time though. I had one of my first “that makes me feel old” moments recently when I saw someone say that they didn’t recognise that it was Tim was hosting the show because he had hair. It wasn’t that long ago, was it?