The Secret Behind Stephen Mulhern

[Don’t forget it’s Bother’s Bar Game Night on Saturday! Do join us from 9:30pm.]

How does Stephen Mulhern get so much work? Surely it’s impossible to front as many shows as he does. And you’re right, it IS impossible, and that’s because everyone on telly claiming to be Stephen Mulhern these days is actually a franchisee, able to use his image, likeness and approximate character under license.

The REAL Stephen Mulhern hasn’t worked since getting accidentally whacked on the head by an errant potato on the set of Globo Loco, the kids show from 2003-4 where kids tried to predict the winner of wacky Banzai! style challenges ably assisted by the crime novelist Peter Cocks, better known as the guy who beat up Paul Ross on Endurance UK after getting slapped about one to many times.

I’m afraid this is the best quality episode on Youtube. And it doesn’t seem to even feature the spinny sofa potato throwing game.

PS The house hasn’t been built yet.

We were quite excited to see that the very first episode of Challenge Anneka was uploaded to Youtube last night. Provided you don’t count the very very first which wasn’t so much an episode as a happening, putting on an event on the River Thames for Children in Need in a day all played out live.


What strikes me as being quite interesting is that when you talk about reality TV (which is quite a nebulous concept in itself) and its beginnings no-one ever really mentions Challenge Anneka and yet clearly whilst the ideas have been refined over the past thirty years, many of the elements are already here. It basically invented logistics as entertainment and as such so many shows owe a debt to it, from makeover shows such as Ground Force all the way up to things like DIY SOS and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

Thankfully they didn’t use Logistics With Anneka Rice as the title. It was quite interesting when ITV did a reboot they spent much more time on the human interest angle when really we all wanted more of Anneka getting a spreadsheet out and commanding trucks to go places.

Of course these days it looks a bit contrived, a bit like a lot of modern reality television (a lot of it feels very set up – just apparently barging onto Wogan!) but we were less media savvy in the 90s. It’s impressive how many companies were willing to throw in some chipboard just to get a plug on the BBC.

Watching Telly: DOND On Tour


Alexandra Palace

Well we all know what Deal Or No Deal is so I won’t furnish you with those details. You’re probably aware that the show has been axed but it’s being allowed a two-week farewell tour series to cap the show off.

Now in the show’s 11-year history I never got to the Dream Factory to see an episode being filmed live, so when I heard last week that they were filming an episode in London at Alexandra Palace I leapt at the chance. In a joke on Facebook I compared going to see it at this late stage the TV equivalent of going to see Hear’Say after one of them had left but I’m really glad I went. The whole thing feels like the sort of thing they should have done years ago, especially as the live ones did so well.

  • It sounds like the idea behind this is that the game is so simple you can take the game anywhere, and so far I gather that they’ve filmed an episode in a biodome at The Eden Project, the Trafford Centre, on board The Flying Scotsman and coming soon in an apparent television first (except a gameshow in mid-air has actually been done before) during a flight on a Boeing 747.
  • As such the sets are rather more minimalist – each box opener gets a perspex plinth to rest their box on. The board is hysterically low tech – the cash amounts are written on paddles which a member of the audience collared into doing it spins round to remove them, looking not unlike a sort of jackpot game you used to get on quiz TV channels. Atop that is a large-ish monitor for close ups of the contestant’s photos and the like, it would have been nice if it showed the boxes being opened but never mind.
  • The contestants on this tour are people who were waiting on the wings the last time the show was filmed 18 months ago. They bring along friends and family to open the boxes, a few of the boxes are given over to people who work at the place Deal has decended upon.
  • The game is Classic DOND – no button, no Box 23. We always thought Box 23 was rubbish anyway. The show is all about finding a contestant’s pain point and watching them agonising over a decision (this was a great game today incidentally, gripping stuff), Box 23 rarely provided this.
  • The audience were in the round. There were about 400 people packed in the Palm Court.
  • Today’s recording was about three hours and for most of us we were standing throughout. They did put a limited number of seats in for the older folk (of which there were many), I did wonder if we were going to have a Pensioner Rebellion when the audience guy announced it was going to be a standing show (they probably should have made this clearer on the application). There wasn’t much stopping once they started. I have newfound respect for contestants who were filming three or four episodes a day back in the day, that’s a lot of time on your feet!
  • Mark Olver’s a really good warm-up. To be honest it’s quite nice going to see a warm-up and not know exactly what jokes are about to come out.
  • Props to the sound guy who spent the first twenty minutes of the recording panicking behind me when he couldn’t get some clip mics on the pre-selected board turners working properly only for Noel to go and choose somebody completely different and already stood near the board anyway. Who probably hadn’t yet signed a release form.
  • Noel’s brilliant. Regardless of some of his nuttier opinions in real life, there really are few people who can sell a show like this, who can build up the drama and just react and go along with wherever the game happens to go. I’d be fascinated to know how much is pre-prepared, the contestant today picked her brother who suggested he could do a better job than Noel. So Noel lets him do it for about five minutes whilst coaching him, but after the break makes him wear a Noel-esque wig that just happened to be in his suit. I want to believe someone on the production was quick thinking enough to arrange that during a break.
  • Anyway I think the show’s definitely going out with a bang. Doing the show in unusual never-been-done-before places is such a Noel Edmonds way of going about it, as such the campaign for the titles for these shows to be a shot for shot recreation of The Noel Edmonds Saturday Roadshow begins here:

Bother’s Bar Game Night 4! 29th October!

jackbox3Next Saturday, 29th October,
9:30pm-11:30(ish) BST
Here and on Youtube!

A new Jackbox Party Pack is out! And that means new STREAMING fun as next Saturday a panel will be playing games of creativity, strategy, knowledge and bluff from across the entire Jackbox range in an attempt to amass BotherPoints to give them some sort of agency in the Game Night Arbitrary End Game in a bid to come away as Game Night Champion!

And as usual we will be COMPLETELY INTERACTIVE. Watch along on your monitor and play along on your phone or tablet. YOU can answer the questions, YOU can judge responses, YOU can influence how the night plays out. So exciting! And this time we’ve worked out how to do in-game audio!

As usual I’m looking for a panel to playalong and react LIVE to proceedings. You will need a two screen set up – one to watch the feed I’m sending you on a Google Hangout screenshare and a second to play the games with. You will need a microphone. And you’ll need to be available from 9:15pm until the close of play. You will also need Twitter so I can arrange things with you all individually or as a group.

As ever I’m looking for a mix, reliable regulars and new people. If that’s of interest to you then you need to hit me up, “at” me on Twitter or get in contact in other ways. This is likely to be oversubscribed so please don’t feel bad if you’re not selected. We have not had much female representation so far, not for lack of trying, so you should especially put yourself forward if that’s you.

And if you don’t want to be on the panel and just want to dip in and out of the livestream that’s great! Have your phones ready and join us next Saturday. If you want to see what it’s like, here’s the last one in all its three frames per second glory:

Society Game

socgameWe’re still deciding whether to give it a fully fledged page or not, but it sounds like a translation is incoming imminently, keep an eye on Bump’s Twitter.

What we have done is read a synopsis on Wikipedia and well… it reminds me of Pirate Master more than anything. 22 contestants live on set for two weeks battling it out for a $150k prize. The contestants are split into two “societies”, one democratic, one a dictatorship and they only come together for challenges. Each society has a leader who gets their own bedroom with special privileges. Winning a task wins money, $10k, which the leader can split as he sees fit. Losing means losing a member of the society, decided by the leader. The winning leader gets to put a loser on a blacklist, and if their name appears twice they’re eliminated The democratic society votes for a new leader on a daily basis, the dictators keep their leader until they get overthrown. The final three on each side will battle it out for the big money in the finals.

We really hope it works! If you haven’t been following this is a collaboration between CJ E&M, creators of amazing show The Genius and Endemol and sounds like stylistically it’s similar if not in actual content.

I have opened up a new page for discussing this further, please direct discussion there.

An old episode of Glücksrad

Whilst we sit here eagerly awaiting Society Game, here’s something that popped up on my Youtube a few nights ago, episode 34 of Glücksrad, which seems relevant given it recently relaunched in Germany (alongside Ruck Zuck). It’s a really early episode filmed on a rather tiny rather dark grey set, a little bit before the Glücksrad golden age (the next two set designs) which are my fave versions of the Wheel of Fortune format ever. Look out for what happens in round three which I don’t think I’ve ever seen happen before. Also features an advert for the German version of Captain Birds Eye fish fingers. Nur das Beste für den Tisch des Kapitäns!