Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 7.

This is someone who had an unusual double career in TV, and he went on to succeed in two rather different genres. Paul Daniels originally found fame as a magician, performing various tricks, and always encouraging audience participation. By the late-70s he had his own magic show on TV, were he performed, along with showcasing many other talents from around the world (I might do a piece about that show soon too).

It’s no wonder people were soon calling him “the man who excels”. It was in the early-80s when he started to host game shows. One of the earliest was BBC Radio 2’s Dealing With Daniels, which featured a playing card-scoring system, and celebrities as the panellists. Around the same time he launched his trilogy of TV game shows.

The first of these was Odd One Out, which had a fairly straightforward idea, but was much enhanced by his handling of the show (there was a marvellous opening sequence too). He then moved on to Every Second Counts, and he caused something of a stir, as it was around this time that he ditched his syrup. He seemed to like to get a little more out of contestants than most hosts, so for example he’d make them use props to answer, or say something different to the usual “yes” or “no”.

There were also some fancy prizes on offer, well they were rather fancy for the time at least, but who could turn down the offer of a new dishwasher back then? Also around this time, his magic show continued with some increasingly spectacular stunts, and he also contributed to the rather bizarre CBBC show Wizbit. His son Martin proved that wanting to be on TV ran in the family when he hosted a game show in the late-80s too.

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By the time that Every Second Counts ended In the mid-90s though, his magic show was also coming to an end, although it had ran for about 15 years with several variations on the idea, so maybe it was time to try something new. His third and final TV game show was Wipeout, which again had some quirky questions. And you’d win a paperweight just for turning up. However, the final editions weren’t shown in a primetime slot, and he had no other shows on the go at this point, so by the late-90s, he had practically left the screen.

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He did continue to tour his magic show across the country with his family also taking part, but most of his TV appearances after this were mildly embarrassing himself and being booted off first on The X Factor and the like, and being a figure “people love to hate”, although he also took part in an interesting documentary where he tried to find fame with his act in America. But he does deserve credit for his pioneering TV work.

Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 1.

As I have now reviewed just about all of the game shows that I have wanted to, I thought that I would take a look at the careers of some of my favourite game show hosts too. Qualification is to have hosted at least a couple of shows that I have liked, and I’m not sure how many will feature in this series yet, maybe a dozen or so. Let’s begin with one of the big ones.

Bob Monkhouse had one of the longest careers in British TV. As long ago as the 50s he appeared in comedy shows and films (he was in the first Carry On), and he hosted various game shows that don’t seem to have been that great from what I’ve read. By the 70s, Bob was on ITV and hosting The Golden Shot and Celebrity Squares (or “Bob’s Big Box Game” as he preferred to call it).

Into the 80s, Bob hosted ITV’s Family Fortunes, and some could argue that he was at his smarmiest, but he definitely knew how to run a show by this point. After the setback of his unexpected departure, he moved to the BBC, and this turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as this brought us some of his best work, including his comedy chat show which featured a lot of talent, and Bob’s Full House.

Now this is one of my favourite game shows of any era. The music, the set design, the game… Bob made it look easy, and was hugely entertaining whilst doing so. He also went on to host a revival of Opportunity Knocks which was fun too. By the early-90s, Bob went over to ITV again, to host The $64,000 Question, the big money game that couldn’t give away big money, and Bob’s Your Uncle, a rather silly game for newlyweds.

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By the time that the final series of The $64,000 Question went out on Sunday afternoons, Bob did seem bogged down. HIs next series was a revival of Celebrity Squares. It was said that he didn’t know much about the celebrities taking part, when you would’ve thought that as someone who had such a keen interest in comedy (and tried to record every comedy show on TV) he would’ve chosen them himself to help nurture new talent.

But then his career received a big boost after his An Audience With… reminded people of his skills as a comedian. And along with a much-acclaimed autobiography, and some more great comedy shows, Bob was suddenly back on top. He finished off by hosting the daytime version of Wipeout, which ran for hundreds of editions. And it was by this point that to some extent he finally felt he had been accepted as the grand veteran of both game shows and TV comedy.

By the time that Bob went in 2003, he was praised for his abilities as a game show host, and as a comedian who had a remarkable recall for witty jokes and a marvellous mirth-maker, he remains much-missed. Bob had always intended to be in showbusiness for the long haul and be the one that endured with viewers. He wanted to be as famous at 75 as he was at 25, and I definitely think that he achieved that.

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.

The YouTube Files – Wipeout USA.

Wipeout (1988-1989)

Wipeout was a game show that I enjoyed watching in both its primetime and daytime versions, and, oh yes, it was yet another show which was originally shown on American TV in the 1980s, so of course I had to go on YouTube again to see it for myself. This version of Wipeout was hosted by Peter Tomarken, who is better remembered for being the host of Press Your Luck, and again, there are a few differences in the rules to the British version.

The basic idea of this version is the same. Three contestants take part, and they had to find the 11 correct answers out of the 16 on offer to win money and avoid the wipeouts (or “whammies” as Peter accidentally referred to them on one edition, seemingly thinking that he was still hosting Press Your Luck) or they would lose everything. In this version however, only one question was played, the British primetime version featured three questions. vlcsnap-01207

The scoring system was slightly different too. The first correct answer was worth $25, with another $25 added for every next correct answer, meaning that the 11th and final one would be worth $275 and could really change the game. In the British primetime version, the value went up £10 for every correct answer from £10 to £110. There was also a bonus prize behind one correct answer called a Hot Spot (not to be confused with Strike It Lucky). vlcsnap-01199

The two highest-scoring contestants then went through to the second round which was the Challenge round, known in the British version as the Auction. This round was played in just about the same way as the British version. There were now 12 answers on the board, eight correct and four wipeouts, and players bid how many they thought they could get right. The first to get two questions right then went into the final. The defeated contestant won some consolation prizes, but probably not a paperweight. vlcsnap-01204

Again, the final was just about the same as the British version, although there was more at stake. The contestant now had to find the six correct answers out of the 12 on offer in one minute. If they succeeded, they could win a car and lots of money, prizes on American game shows were a lot less restricted and more expensive than anything that could have ever been offered on UK game shows in the 1980s. vlcsnap-01206

There was also a video online somewhere of a contestant who when playing the final round hacked the board which was rather odd. In later editions contestants could also return to play for more prizes. This version of Wipeout was syndicated on American TV and ran for less than a year but almost 200 editions were made, again this was a show that ran for much longer in this country, and again it was good seeing another variation on this show which was also a success in many other countries too.

Game Show Memories – Wipeout (daytime).

Wipeout (BBC1, 1998-2002)

After the enjoyable game show Wipeout with Paul Daniels ended in 1997, about a year later it returned to the screen, but this time in a weekday daytime slot. There was also a new host, and Bob Monkhouse took over much to the surprise to some people as this was the first time that he had hosted a daytime game show in his long career. The format was also changed slightly. vlcsnap-01174

Again three contestants took part. This time though in the first round there were only two grids instead of three because the show was now in a shorter 25 minute slot, and there was also £50 for every correct answer, with again contestants having to avoid the incorrect answers and losing all their money. There were no bonus prizes on offer in this version. vlcsnap-01175

The second round was in a similar style to the original version with the Wipeout auction still taking place to determine who made the final. I’m sure that for at least one series contestants could still lose their money if they got a wrong answer in this round which seemed rather harsh, but for most series the money that they had already won was safe. vlcsnap-01176

The final was also slightly different. The contestants still picked from four categories, and had to get the six right answers, but this time the star prize was a holiday to a destination in Europe of their choice. They would be given a “Monkhouse minute” to win it, and then they would have to push “Bob’s button” as he liked to call it because he liked his catchphrases to determine how many right answers they had. vlcsnap-01177

Somewhat surprisingly this version is considered as rather inferior to the primetime version. The opening titles, graphics and sound effects were all changed and seemed a lot worse (and they always seemed to play the same annoying canned studio audience “aahhhh” sound effect every time a wrong answer was given). The set design also changed from purple to blue at some point. vlcsnap-01178

Bob would sometimes also irritatingly give whether the answer was right or wrong away before the computer revealed it, and some viewers also felt that Bob’s hosting style came across as if being on a daytime show was a little beneath him. Worst of all, there was no longer a paperweight as a consolation prize! vlcsnap-01179

That’s not to say that the show wasn’t without its good moments though. Bob always started the show with some of his amusing jokes and observations (but they were made in front of nobody as the show wasn’t recorded in front of a live studio audience because they made five a day so they used the same annoying canned laughter sound effect in every show), and it was clear that all the contestants enjoyed being in Bob’s company.

A few celebrity specials were made too and the show has often been repeated on Challenge. However, by the end of the run Bob’s health began to fail and the show ended at the end of 2002 after a massive 423 episodes had been made, and Bob died about a year later, meaning that this was his final game show. That just about wipes us out.

Game Show Memories – Wipeout (primetime).

Wipeout (BBC1, 1994-1997)

The third and final part in the trilogy of great game shows hosted by Paul Daniels moonlighting from his magic career along with Odd One Out and Every Second Counts. Wipeout was based on an American format and was a show where contestants would be shown the answers before they knew what they question was, and had to beware the wipeouts that would cost them money. The set design was very futuristic and they tried to prove that this was a game show made for the 90s by having Paul run on at the start and giving everyone a high five.

Three contestants took part. They would be asked a general knowledge question on the buzzer to gain control of the grid. The category would then be revealed, followed by the 16 choices, featuring 11 correct answers and five wipeouts. We would then find out what the actual question was, such as “which of these famous people have guest starred in a soap as themselves?”. vlcsnap-01169

The contestants would then pick answers, with £10 won for the first correct answer found, £20 for the next one, and so on all the way up to £110 for the final one, meaning a possible £660 could be won on one grid by a contestant, which did happen at least once. However, if they pick a wrong answer, they get a wipeout and all of the money that they have previously won is lost so they have to choose carefully. They do have the option though to pass to the next contestant after giving a correct answer. I think on at least a couple of occasions contestants lost four-figure sums that they had accumulated which was rather painful. Also, there were a couple of bonus prizes behind some squares that would be won if a correct answer was picked. We mustn’t forget the nice graphics and sound effects too. vlcsnap-01170

Three rounds are played, all featuring various quirky categories, and the two highest-scoring contestants go through to the next round. The eliminated contestant needn’t worry though, they kept any money they had made and also won the Wipeout paperweight which must be one of the most coveted game show consolation prizes around, although this was changed in later series to an umbrella. vlcsnap-01172

The two remaining contestants now go into the Wipeout auction. This is a best of three, and the grids now have 12 choices with eight correct answers and four wipeouts. The money and prizes won in the first round are now safe. Again the question is revealed and contestants can bid how many correct answers they think they can get, all the way up to eight. If they get as many right as their bid, they win the grid. Get one wrong though and play passes to the opponent who only now needs to find one remaining correct answer to steal the grid. The first to win two grids goes into the final, with again the eliminated contestant taking away the mighty paperweight/umbrella and any money or other prizes that they might have won in round one. vlcsnap-01173

The final was always exciting. The contestant chose from four categories and then the question was revealed, this time with 12 choices and six correct answers, six wrong. They had 60 seconds to pick the six correct answers, and then run over to press a button which revealed how many they had got right. They carried on until they got all six or ran out of time. And remember that you have to deselect before you reselect. If they did find all six they won the star prize of a holiday anywhere in the world and there were some close finishes and much delight when there was a winner. vlcsnap-01171

Wipeout was another entertaining game that was well hosted by Paul Daniels, although unfortunately after the primetime run ended in 1997 he wasn’t seen on TV much any more, but there have been some repeat runs on Challenge. There was also a viewers’ phone-in competition to win a prize in later series. About a year after the original run ended, Wipeout returned to the screen now in a weekday daytime slot and with a new host. I feel that this version was different enough to review in a separate piece which will be coming soon.