Forgotten Quiz Shows of the 20th Century: The Not So Perfect Ten

Appropriately, OUR starter for ten…

How on earth did I get into this quizzing lark? Over the last year, the creator of East of the M60 has been a key member of The Wheatsheaf’s quiz team. We finished runners-up in the Handicap Final to the Old Pack Horse “A” team and won the Second Section Title.

For our Not So Perfect Ten, the timing of this month’s instalment coincides with the close of the Tameside Quiz League’s 2014 – 15 season. I got the quizzing habit after watching copious amounts of gameshows. A particularly unhealthy amount for the average schoolchild perhaps. In my early teens I had greater knowledge of the rules of Bob’s Full House than Judy Blume’s books.

Therefore, almost 30 years of watching game shows (from terrestrial broadcasters to the most obscure satellite TV channels) has inspired this list. Here’s our rundown:

  1. Quiz Ball, BBC One (1966 – 72);
  2. Punchlines, ITV/London Weekend Television (1981 – 84);
  3. Odd One Out, BBC One (1982 – 85);
  4. The Zodiac Game, ITV/Anglia Television (1984 – 85);
  5. Lingo, ITV/Central Independent Television (1987 – 88);
  6. All Clued Up, ITV/Television South (1987 – 91);
  7. Love Me, Love Me Not, ITV/Television South (1988);
  8. Takeover Bid, BBC One (1990);
  9. Keynotes, ITV/HTV West (1992);
  10. Cyberzone, BBC Two (1992).

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1. Quiz Ball, BBC One (1966 – 72):

David Vine’s quiz pitted First Division teams against supporters. Winning the quiz was achieved by scoring the most goals. Each team could answer either: four easy questions; three medium questions; two hard questions; or one tough question to score a goal. If the going got tough, there was a limited number of ‘Tackle’ cards they could use.

From 1968 to 1972, Stuart Hall took over as presenter. There was an American Football based version in 1991 known as Quiz Bowl. Though a similar game (albeit with gridiron rules), 1990s graphical pizazz added interest to Channel Four’s remake.

2. Punchlines, ITV/London Weekend Television (1981 – 84):

The late great Lennie Bennett. Prior to fronting LWT’s quiz his comedy partner was Jerry Stevens in the Lennie and Jerry show, and in BBC’s long-running variety series The Good Old Days. With a more comedic twist on Celebrity Squares, the formula included eight celebrities. Mr. Bennett would get one of them to start a joke, with the contestants trying to identify a suitable punchline.

If s/he got the right answer, they would be given points. Just to confuse matters, they would swap places within the extruded set.

3. Odd One Out, BBC One (1982 – 85):

You would like this quiz… not a lot! The infant S.V. was indifferent to the joys of The Paul Daniels Magic Show, though Odd One Out was a pretty nifty quiz. Our contestants would have to find the odd one out from a given subject area. For example, our contestant’s screen could read:

  • Whoops Apocalypse;
  • End of Part One;
  • George and Mildred;
  • Hot Metal.

The answer to that would be “George and Mildred”. All the other comedies were associated with Andrew Marshall and David Renwick. George and Mildred, Brian Cooke and Johnnie Mortimer. Six contestants appeared each week with the two winners going to The Bonus Game and the Final Game. The winner would go on to The End Game.

4. The Zodiac Game, ITV/Anglia Television (1984 – 85):

Success could either be down to years of effort or casting one’s fate to the stars. Back in 1985, ITV’s Anglia franchise thought the popularity of horoscopes could make for a good quiz show. Enter Bernard Fitzwalter or TV-am’s Russell Grant. Fronted by Tom O’Connor, contestants would answer multiple choice questions – and have to agree with the astrologer.

Though Anglia’s great hope in the battle for Saturday night television only mustered two series, it left us with this vocoder theme tune (Metal Mickey on backing vocals?):

5. Lingo, ITV/Central Independent Television (1987 – 88)

If the predictions of Mystic Meg, Russell Grant and Jonathan Cainer were popular with tabloid newspaper readers, another phenomenon was Bingo. This wasn’t only realised in Bob’s Full House, but also Martin Daniels’ Lingo.

Lingo was a curious hybrid of Scrabble and Bingo. Contestants would have to find five letter words and they could create a Line or a Full House. Sounds easy? In theory yes, except for one curveball: “The Dreaded Red Ball”. Winners would be treated to a cash prize of £3,200 – which in 1988 was pretty high.

6. All Clued Up, ITV/Television South (1987 – 91)

David Hamilton’s Sunday teatime gameshow rewarded couples for getting more clues rather than less clues, hence the title. S/he would identify a given phrase after identifying a succession of clues. After identifying a given clue, one of the players would choose a lit letter from a giant keyboard. One letter would have The Dreaded Stinger, known only to viewers sat at home.

Part two saw the price pot double (how original – as seen in Catchphrase, Family Fortunes and countless other gameshows). The winning couple would go to the final stage, choosing a desired subject. In 50 seconds, our contestants would identify six clues and win a substantial cash prize. Quite good it was too and a favourite in Chez Vall.

7. Love Me, Love Me Not, ITV/Television South (1988)

For a time in 1988, Nino Firetto appeared on two programmes on a Thursday. One was Splash on Children’s ITV (not to be confused with the one featuring Tom Daley), and the other one was a short lived dating themed gameshow. Based on an Italian format, it had the air of a slightly younger Mr and Mrs (with more than one camera).

In the first round, our contestants would have to agree or disagree with a personal statement (something slightly feistier than “Does he take off his slippers after News At Ten?”). Nino would quiz the male contestants whereas Debbie Greenwood questioned the female contestants.

A feature of the gameshow was its daisy icon. A giant daisy was used in the final round where contestants needed to negotiate eight of them for a romantic trip. He or she would, in 60 seconds, avoid being caught by one of the other panelists, and try to catch him or her within that time.

8. Takeover Bid, BBC One (1990)

Sir Bruce Forsyth: often associated with The Generation Game, Play Your Cards Right and a remake of The Price Is Right. Never this quiz whose demise was hastened by poor reviews. Set across three rounds, the first one (Fact or Fib) saw contestants trying to bid for prizes, on a scale of one to four stars. The second round, Crazy Cryptics, would see them answer questions – this time, one to five stars – and the ability to steal an opponent’s prize.

In the final round, Star Spin, the finalist aims to get 100 points for the major prize. S/he would answer questions from ten subject areas after the five pointed star is spun. They could bid all their prizes for the star prize (usually a holiday).

Takeover Bid was a pretty decent gameshow with a rather infectious signature tune sung by Brucie himself.

9. Keynotes, ITV/HTV West (1989 – 92)

Before Trisha and The Jeremy Kyle Show took over ITV’s morning schedules, one of the joys of daytime television in the late 1980s was its quiz shows. Alastair Divall’s Keynotes saw contestants trying to identify popular tunes from eight notes. A bit like All Clued Up with crotchets I suppose, though a snatch of the tune beyond its eight notes would be played (on guessing the correct answer).

In the end game, our winning team could double or treble their winnings. The prizes were hardly Who Wants To Be A Millionaire type proportions, but what did you expect before Kilroy started on the other side?

10. Cyberzone, BBC Two/Broadsword Productions (1993)

For our final one, we boldly go towards the world of polygon graphics and clunky headsets. Yes folks, we’re in 1993: another year which fashion forgot and mine’s a Global Hypercolor T-Shirt to show off in front of my mates on the Pine Budget Bus to Ashton! Chaired by Craig Charles (then of Red Dwarf), it was a bit like Minecraft with simple games in various rooms. Though seemingly swish at the time (how S.V. was easily pleased in his early teens), it was ridiculously slow and uninspiring.

Yet back then, we thought Virtual Reality and polygon graphics were the future. There was Starwing with the FX Chip; Virtua Racing in the arcades; then came the Sony Playstation and the rest was history. Watching it now, Cyberzone hasn’t stood the test of time as much as Family Fortunes (which dates from the 1950s). Yet the graphics in Broadsword Productions’ celebrated Knightmare haven’t aged too much.

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Any answers?

Feel free to add to the ten – and as always, elaborate on our existing numbers. Did the Dreaded Stinger scare you witless? Was Quiz Ball underrated? Now for your starter for ten…

S.V., 10 June 2015.

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2 thoughts on “Forgotten Quiz Shows of the 20th Century: The Not So Perfect Ten

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  1. Very good list there Stuart, I remember Keynotes myself as I used always enjoy what was then the 09:25 Quizshow and if I remember Keynotes used to alternate with the following Quizshows at the time:

    Win Loose or Draw Presented by Danny Baker and Bob Mills amongst other Presenters

    Crosswits Presented by Tom O’Connor

    Lucky Ladders Presented by Tom O’Connor

    Chain Letters Jeremy Beadle although didn’t think this was a 09:25 Quizshow but could be wrong

    Supermarket Sweep Presented by Dale Winton

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    1. Hi Andrew,

      That makes four people whom I know who remember Alastair Divall’s ‘Keynotes’. He seems to have disappeared from our screens; last programme he did was ‘A Question of Sex’ which was shown after midnight. That was on ITV’s post-Night Time ‘Television With Attitude’ strand, and on Granada Men and Motors.

      ‘Chain Letters’ was the first quiz show to be given a 0925 slot, after ITV reorganised its daytime schedules in September 1987 (ITV Schools moved to Channel Four). This was followed by a five minute news bulletin, ‘Santa Barbara’ and Mike Scott’s ‘The Time… The Place’. Jeremy Beadle would be succeeded by Andrew O’Connor. Subsequent presented included Dave Spikey.

      ‘Lucky Ladders’ was presented by Lennie Bennett with Peter Simon – later Keith Chegwin – doing voiceover. Also on that timeslot included ‘Runway’, presented by Richard Madeley.

      ‘Crosswits’: now that’s a quiz which is long overdue for revival. Perhaps with Tom O’Connor again, but I think Victoria Coren-Mitchell or Trish Bertram could be a good fit.

      Bye for now,

      Stuart.

      P.S. Mr. Divall is still active today as the presenter of Sky’s “Oregon Uncovered”, and on stage. His website is http://www.alistairdivall.co.uk.

      Like

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