News Column

It was no challenge to find TV entertainment ; Mary-ann Astle takes a trip down Memory Lane and looks at game shows from the 80s... [Sentinel, The (Stoke-on-Trent, England)]

October 12, 2013


'IN an era before reality television took over our small screens, prime time was dominated by good, oldfashioned game shows.

From the great - Bullseye - to the terrible - Going for Gold - the 80s was the decade when game shows ruled supreme.

A great mix of quizzes, puzzles, panel shows, dating games and activitybased competitions, there was something on TV for every family.

Among the best was Bullseye ('you can't beat a bit of Bully), which 'super, smashing, great' Jim Bowen presented from 1981 to 1995.

The show, screened on ITV, had arguably the best trophy of any show.

Three teams of two would compete for money and prizes - the 'knower' would answer questions on general knowledge and specialist subjects while the other, 'the thrower' would be the darts player - and the viewers at home would be free to join in.

The 'knowers and the throwers' would then have to compete against the other teams with the end of show gamble for 'Bully's Mystery Star Prize.' The show achieved an unbroken run on television for 31 years, attracting audiences of over 19.8 million viewers. Now in its 32nd year repeats of the show can still be seen on Challenge TV.

Aimed at a slightly younger audience, Knightmare was a children's adventure game show which ran from 1987 to 1994.

A sightless dungeoneer, armed with a knapsack and the 'Helmet of Justice' was guided though Knightmare Castle by a team of three advisers.

The dungeoneer had to complete the quest and overcome puzzles and obstacles. It's no surprise to learn that the show was inspired by two ZX Spectrum games - Atic Atac and Dragontorc. Another obstacle- based show was It's a Knockout, broadcast on the BBC from 1966 to 1982. Its later years were presided over by Stuart Hall.

The show was basically a sports days for adults and teams faced courses which meant they had to carry buckets of water over greasy poles or rolling logs, throw custard pies or face a squirting water cannon. It may have been daft but it was still a better comedy offering than later versions such as Wipeout.

The Krypton Factor was staple Monday night viewing in most households, with the show running on ITV from 1977 to 1995.

Usually hosted by Gordon Burns, the show combined physical activity with mental challenges.

Contestants all had their own colour - either red, green, yellow or blue.

The points participants scored were referred to as their 'Krypton Factor', a nod to Superman's home planet Krypton.

Rounds included 'physical ability', where contestants had to complete an Army assault course and 'mental agility', which often involved some version of a memory test involving puzzles.

Catchphrase was another popular show of the 80s. It had many hosts over the years, with the most characterful being Roy Walker (memorable line - 'It's good, but it's not right') from 1986 to 1999. In the original series, two contestants, one man and one woman, had to identify the familiar phrase represented by a piece of animation accompanied by background music.

One of the most distinctive aspects about Catchphrase was that it was one of the first shows to use proper computer animations as part of the game. Many of the animations featured a robot called Mr Chips.

Blockbusters, which began on ITV in 1983, also had one of the most memorable hosts of the 80s - Bob Holness.

The game board consisted of 20 interlocking hexagons. A contestant would choose one of the letters, and would be asked a general knowledge trivia question, the correct answer for which began with the chosen letter. In the final episode of each day, the contestants were allowed to do a hand jive during the end credits.

Over on Channel 4, Treasure Hunt was popular viewing from 1982 onwards.

Anneka Rice was the jump-suited 'skyrunner', while a team of two studio-based contestants had the use of a library to solve clues.

The show proved to be one of Channel 4's most popular programmes and was nominated for a BAFTA in 1986, in the category Best Light Entertainment Programme. In the same year, Rice was given the Rear of the Year Award.

Rice left Treasure Hunt in 1988, being replaced by former tennis player Annabel Croft. However, she returned to screens - this time on the BBC - in 1989 for Challenge Anneka.

A service of YellowBrix, Inc.

For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel

Story Tools Facebook Linkedin Twitter RSS Feed Email Alerts & Newsletters