Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 17.

This is someone who has had a rather varied career, which has included plenty of game shows. Matthew Kelly started out as an actor, and he first appeared on TV in the late-70s. By the early-80s, he was part of the Game For A Laugh team, alongside Jeremy Beadle and others. This was a very popular show, and for the next decade or two after this, he would remain a familiar face on TV.

Also in the 80s, he continued his acting work, appearing in some sitcoms, including Relative Strangers. By the mid-80s, he hosted a few other shows, and he also occasionally turned up on CITV. In the late-80s, he hosted short-lived daytime game show Quandaries. But it was going into the early-90s where he had his two biggest successes in game shows.

First of all, he replaced Bruce Forsyth as the host of You Bet! This was the show where if the challenger he backed failed, he would have to do a forfeit, and some of these were rather embarrassing, but he always took it in his stride. One of his biggest successes though came in the mid-90s when he replaced Leslie Crowther as host of Stars In Their Eyes.

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This was the popular musical talent contest, and he quickly realised that this was a show where the contestants were the main focus, and he always encouraged them along the way and made them feel like, well, stars. He seemed to enjoy meeting people from various backgrounds who would perform as singers in various genres. He also wore some rather startling waistcoats.

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He also seemed to relish hosting the specials, and grand finals that were shown live, and he would remain the host for several years. Going into the 2000s, he hosted Never Had It So Good, a daytime game show based around nostalgia that was fun but not exactly a success. By the mid-2000s however, it seemed that he had started to get a little disillusioned with showbusiness.

This meant that he departed from Stars In Their Eyes after over a decade in charge, but by this point the show was on the verge on becoming bogged down in celebrity specials and was never the same again really. He decided to return to acting, more on stage than on TV, but he did play a few straight drama roles where he came across as very different to his cheery game show personality.

Game Show Memories – Game Show Stars Part 9.

This is someone whose career I have already taken a look back at in a piece, but he definitely deserves to be featured in this series too because he had one of the longest and most successful TV careers that there has been, and hosting game shows was a rather large part of this. Bruce Forsyth started out in showbusiness at a rather young age, and it was around the late-50s that he wondered whether to open a tobacco shop or stay at it and try for some TV work.

But it was in the early-70s when he really started to become known for his game show hosting, and the first of these successes was BBC1’s The Generation Game, which did really well for many years, with lots of memorable contestants and catchphrases. And in the late-70s he made a surprise high-profile departure to ITV which was said to have left the BBC bigwigs reeling.

He then hosted Bruce’s Big Night, which promised plenty of entertainment, but ultimately delivered little. Then in the early-80s, he went on to Play Your Cards Right, which did much better. In the mid-80s he aimed to break into America with game show Hot Streak, but this wasn’t a success. In the late-80s there was You Bet!, which he would often begin with “the You Bet! rap”, how terrific.

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Fancying another change, in the early-90s he went back to the BBC, for more game shows, including Takeover Bid, and a revival of The Generation Game, which was very enjoyable, and this one is among my favourites of his. In the mid-90s he moved back to ITV again, for a revival of Play Your Cards Right, and The Price Is Right, which were both enjoyable too.

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However, some of the final editions of Bruce’s Price Is Right (as it was now called) weren’t shown in a primetime slot, and he was beginning to feel a little underappreciated. So in the early-2000s there was another revival of Play Your Cards Right, this time offering more prize money than ever. But there was a game added at the start to determine who would play, and this didn’t seem the place for contestants to be unfairly eliminated, leave that to The Weakest Link.

Maybe by this point it was felt that after so many years his style was beginning to get a little stale, but after going back to the BBC yet again, he was given the chance to host Have I Got News For You, which showed that he could still do these type of shows in a entertaining and energetic style in a way a felt he hadn’t done for a while, and this gave his career a much-needed boost.

By the mid-2000s there was Didn’t They Do Well, which was good, but this was a one-series wonder that was soon overshadowed by Strictly Come Dancing, which he hosted for about a decade, and was his last big game show success, his desire to entertain seemingly hadn’t dimmed one bit since he started out many decades earlier, what a talent, clearly the tobacco shop’s loss was our gain.

Game Show Memories – a tribute to Bruce Forsyth.

After I had competed reviewing all the game shows that I wanted to on this blog, I planned to take a look back some of my favourite hosts too and some their best shows. I decided that I might as well do this one now as we still come to terms with the fact that we are now living in a post-Brucie world. Here’s a quick look at ten memorable shows which featured the great talent of Bruce Forsyth throughout his long career.

The Generation Game. (BBC1, 1971-1977, 1990-1994) One of the best shows that Bruce ever hosted, he was the original host, before he came back in the early-90s to host the era that I remember. Just about all of his famous catchphrases were in use and I remember really enjoying this entertaining show. vlcsnap-00289Bruce’s Big Night. (ITV, 1978) This is a curious one. After leaving the BBC, Bruce went to ITV and was given his own big-budget Saturday night ITV entertainment show. Despite lots of things being tried it wasn’t a big success.

Play Your Cards Right. (ITV, 1980-1987, 1994-1999, 2002-2003) Another one of Bruce’s classics which he ended up hosting three versions of. Again, I remember the 90s version which was always great to play along with and this show is definitely up there with Bruce’s best. vlcsnap-01396

You Bet(ITV, 1988-1990) Although Matthew Kelly is the best-known host of this show, Bruce hosted the first three series, where people tried to complete extraordinary challenges. Bruce would also begin every show with “the You Bet! rap”, hopefully he didn’t realise that as a single. You Bet 10

Takeover Bid. (BBC1, 1990-1991) This was a rather short-lived game show that I haven’t got round to reviewing yet but it was much inferior to The Generation Game. If the highlight of the show is when Bruce comes on at the start and tries to throw a hat and cane on to a hatstand then the actual game might not be so great. Takeover Bid 4

Bruce’s Guest Night. (BBC1, 1992-1993) This was an entertainment show where Bruce would interview various guests such as comedians and musicians.

Bruce’s Price Is Right. (ITV, 1995-2001) Another game show revival. Bruce replaced Leslie Crowther as the host of this classic show where a lot of big prizes were won. vlcsnap-01496Tonight At The London Palladium. (ITV, 2000) Viewers are always saying that they should bring back variety to TV, so who better to do it than the man who hit the big time hosting a show at the Palladium in the late-50s? Lots of variety acts joined Bruce, and he even revived his famous Beat The Clock game. Also around this time on ITV Bruce starred in an edition of the An Audience With series, and also took part in a special show celebrating his 70th birthday.

Didn’t They Do Well. (BBC1, 2004) This was a short-lived game show that I don’t remember seeing much of myself unfortunately, but it seems an interesting idea. I’d sooner watch this than that bloomin’ dancing show he started hosting around the same time!

Bruce’s Hall Of Fame. (BBC1, 2014) Bruce hosts another show at the Palladium where he looks back over his career and is joined on stage by various guests. This one is interesting because not only were my parents in the audience for this and they had a great time in his company, but it also turned out to be just about the final show that he ever did.

Beyond these shows, Brucie made a huge amount of TV appearances, and he also appeared on stage, in films, and in various adverts in a career that spanned decades. TV will never really be the same without him. He really was a terrific presenter and a real star, thanks for the great memories.

Game Show Memories – You Bet!

You Bet! (ITV, 1988-1997)

The spectacular stunts and dares show which was based on a German format and ran for many years in a weekend slot. The idea was that a contestant would claim that they could complete a challenge, and some of these were very ambitious. For example, they would claim to be able to identify a song by a group from hearing just a few seconds of it, or even from simply looking at the grooves on a vinyl copy. They had practiced a lot but would they be able to succeed on the night in the studio? vlcsnap-00659

There were also lots of sporting challenges that would have to be achieved against the clock and on one occasion the entire show was presented on location. There were some very close finishes and it was always exciting seeing people try to complete their challenge. Everybody who succeeded on the show won a special trophy, and if they failed they received a consolation scroll instead. vlcsnap-00662

Every week a panel of celebrities would take part and say whether they thought that the challenge would be successfully completed or not. 100 studio audience members would then vote on what they thought the outcome would be and then points would be scored by who guessed correctly. Then at the end the highest-scoring celebrity would be declared the winner and all the points would be added together and turned into a money amount to be given to a charity of their choice. vlcsnap-00664

The first few series were hosted by Bruce Forsyth, and he would always begin the show by doing a rap and we all had to join in. After he left and he took his catchphrases with him, Matthew Kelly took over in 1991. Just like with Stars In Their Eyes, although he was the second person to host the show he would become the most associated with it. Every week Matthew as well as the panellists would back a challenge, but if it failed, he would have to do a forfeit. Some of these were very amusing such as having to do tightrope walking and Matthew must have been rather embarrassed by some of them but he was always, er, game for a laugh. vlcsnap-00663

One of the great facts about the show is that comedy duo Armstrong and Miller competed in a challenge before they were famous in 1995 and they were successful! Darren Day became the final host in 1996 and it was yet another of those shows that promised to be “bigger and better” with various format changes in every returning series but unfortunately by that point You Bet! wasn’t as popular as it used to be and after almost a decade the show ended in 1997. It has been repeated on Challenge in more recent years and was definitely one of the best Saturday night entertainment shows of its era though.