Ben Justice’s Top 100 UK Gameshows Of All Time – Part 6

By | April 19, 2019

Most Fridays are pretty good, but *this* Friday is not only Good but Excellent, as Actual Real TV Developer Ben Justice counts down shows 50-41 in his Top 100. Some surprises in this one, pleasant or otherwise!

21 thoughts on “Ben Justice’s Top 100 UK Gameshows Of All Time – Part 6

  1. Chris M. Dickson

    Ben, I like your smile, and I love the way that we see so much of it in this whole series, because you’re clearly having so much fun talking about each of the shows, and the fun is infectious. It’s interesting to note which are the shows that don’t elicit a smile, or at least elicit fewer smiles than others; is there an extent to which some shows are there because you admire them more than you like them?

    This series throws up some really interesting counterpoints. For instance, there’s more than a hint of truth in a suggestion that consecutive number 51 and 50 are there because of one interesting round and some fantastic music in each of them. How many of these particular ten shows could be considered vehicles for their hosts? Certainly two, arguably as many as four. (Some points where I disagree, though, of course; for me, Trust Me is strictly better than Golden Balls, filling an at least somewhat similar niche with more style, variety and speed.)

    Some amazing clips, as well; if ever I knew that Strike It Lucky had had a children’s special, let alone that it had featured that solo, I had totally forgotten – and it wouldn’t have been in the first hundred shows I would have guessed it was before the screens came up in the background. The “which show is it?” guessing game is as fun as ever, and I’m particularly amused to have got Golden Balls from your completely appropriate description of it as the modern-day confusing show in the style of 3-2-1!

    Lastly, MOAR LUNA <3

    1. RoarJustice

      To answer one of your question, I think some formats are just more fun to talk about than others.

  2. Matt Clemson

    A random side thought that struck me during this leg: Wasn’t You Bet’s in-studio audience massive? It got me to wondering what game shows had particularly large audiences for conventional episodes (who weren’t players themselves, I guess). I assume Gladiators has to be one of the top ones?

    1. Karen

      Something I found watching old episodes a few months back is not really, but LWT’s crew were incredibly good at making the studio look a lot bigger than it was. If you watch the trampoline challenge that’s on Youtube there’s some angles that give some perspective to the audience seating which is a lot less steep and a lot smaller than many of the standard shots in the show made it look. I’d do a rough estimate of it at around 300-400 people.

      1. Mart with a Y not an U

        Well, I’ve always thought it was 300 exactly. There’s 100 in the voting middle section, and just because it’s easier for the production designer, you’d think they would specify the same seating numbers for the left and right bank seating configuration.

        300 capacity isn’t that large. Studio 1 at LWT (where, if you read Sir Bruce’s autobiog, he says the non broadcast pilot was recorded in – but deemed not big enough) with the upper and lower seating sections used, could easily fit 550 in.
        TC1 at Television Centre had a capacity of 600.

        All of course totally dwarfed by some of the audience numbers they got for Wetten Dass, but those were paid for tickets, so perhaps a slightly unfair comparison.

        The actual floor space of the studio/sound stage used for most of the run at Shepperton, was probably the same size as studio 1 at LWT, including the space ‘lost’ at the south Bank studios for unmovable seating.
        But It was the space behind the silver chipboard back wall of the set that mattered to the production. There probably was about a quarter of the size of the studio floor space behind the set for LWT to use as a props store.

    2. David B

      Gladiators’ audience wasn’t as big as you might think. Realistically, they couldn’t fill a stadium that size for every show. So, they shifted the audience around the arena into the best places for the camera, and then ensured that enough people were sat around the key friends and family in a process known in the trade as ‘doughnutting’.

  3. Oliver R

    A lot of ITV classics in this edition! I recognised the ‘Strike It Lucky!’ set about halfway through that clip of the little girl singing ‘Somewhere Over The Rainbow’.

    That and ‘Take Your Pick’ are often juxtaposed in my mind, just as they are in this list. Were they by any chance shown back to back on a weekday evening around a quarter of a century ago? Or is it simply that I always thought the “gong game” opening to the latter would go well with the endgame of the former?

  4. John R

    Bruce’s Price Is Right still gives me goosebumps to this day when Challenge show it as it brings back happy childhood memories, it had the perfect combination of Bruce himself and Peter Dickson on voiceover duties, a bit of chat and a laugh with the audience/contestants but not too much to ever become irritating because…it’s bidding time on THIS!

    Then you had the bells and whistles going off all over the place, the excitement peaked when a punter on contestant’s row made a bid that hit the price on the nose and Bruce whipped Β£100 out of his pocket

    Plus of course the useless mates in the audience shouting any old random amounts out to try and help, but more often than not hindering!

    Anyway bed time…ah screw it time to load up a few episodes on YouTube

  5. Des Elmes

    Ha, ha – *of course* the increasing number of props on Ben’s table didn’t have *everything* to do with his top 10. (I’m still sure, though, that at least one of the non-Golden Ball ones represents a top-10 show – but I’m not going to elaborate on that.) πŸ˜‰

    I too liked, and frequently watched, Bruce’s Price is Right as a kid – only after it ended did I learn (from UKGS, of course) that he wasn’t the first host, that the show was made by Central before it was made by Yorkshire, and that William G Stewart was involved at one point. Of course, BPiR was popular enough to continue in primetime after Millionaire became massive – whereas Wheel of Fortune was relegated to daytime, and Strike it Rich ended altogether. Only when ITV started showing Emmerdale every weeknight, and Bruce fell out with David Liddiment, did it fade away. “Remember, no matter what happens, Bruce’s price is always right…”

    And I’m sure I’m not the only one who wonders what became of the prize girls and guys. All I really know is that Emma Noble was John Major’s daughter-in-law for a few years, Lea Kristensen was (ahem) Jim Davidson’s final Generation Game co-host, and Kimberley Cowell isn’t Simon’s sister.

    I guess it’s safe to say that the Gen Game isn’t in the top 40 – and nor are Hollywood or Bust, Takeover Bid, and Didn’t They Do Well!

    Strike it Lucky became Strike it Rich, of course, when LWT took over production of the show and (so the story goes) Thames wouldn’t give them the rights to the “Lucky” name. These days, I personally prefer the “Lucky” era – it had the better theme tune, the better logo, the better set (even if it hasn’t aged particularly well) and the better SFX (woo-woo-woo!). And Barrymore wore a tuxedo, of course (yes, I know I’ve used those two words a lot in this post, but I can’t think of any synonyms that don’t sound clumsy. Alwight?)

    I’ve heard that the prizes were not genuine and that the contestants were given cash equivalents instead. Now, I can just about believe that for prizes like a season of pheasant and the complete works of Dickens – and I can certainly believe that contestants who already owned dishwashers and tumble dryers might have preferred to take these prizes’ cash equivalents. But what about the holidays? In the “Lucky” era, these were promoted at the start of each episode – if they weren’t genuine, then wouldn’t at least one viewer have complained?

    But then again, it *was* a vehicle for Barrymore more than anything else. And he *did* say that the format was a pile of crap. πŸ˜‰

  6. Max

    Hi Ben (if you’re reading this!),

    Would you consider doing a bonus episode at the end of your top 100 with your 10 worst shows? I can only imagine that you in “rant mode” is fun to watch!

    Thanks for all your work so far!

    1. RoarJustice

      Theres a very good reason I wont do a worst ten, Id quite like to still have a career after all this! I dont wanna do a disservice to the industry, its hard enough to get a show away as it is.

  7. David B

    Right! I’m simply not allowing this love-in to BPRiR when clearly the Crowther version was clearly better. Ok, maybe some of the very early Crowther shows had slightly strange formatting – but that’s because of the prize limits in place.

    But… Crowther was much better as a host than Bruce, who had to crib from the autocue for the first two series. The build quality of the games was a lot better. And there was just a lot more *attack* that you got with WGS-produced shows, compared to the pastel shades and tootly sax theme of the Yorkshire show.

    The first version was waaaay more American and in-your-face than the remake. I can even remember my parents watching the first show with me then, as they said to themselves “Oh, it’s very American, isn’t it”?

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I agree.

      What’s funny about original PiR though is that some of the pricing games don’t actually involve any sort of pricing. Matchmaker!

    2. Chris M. Dickson

      Qi question, UK game shows edition: which host has presented most episodes of The Price is Right in the UK, and which host has presented second most?

      (Posted in lieu of getting off the fence and disambiguating between all the shows called The New Price Is Right at some point or other…)

      1. Des Elmes

        “Which host has presented most episodes of The Price is Right in the UK?”

        Bob Warman, right? His version only ran for a year, but aired every weekday:

        “And which host has presented second most?”

        That would, in fact, be Joe Pasquale – his version ran for 124 episodes, whereas Brucie’s ran for 119 and Leslie’s for a round 100.

        1. Chris M. Dickson

          If the Wikipedia article which inspired the question is to be believed, that’s spot on!

          (And thank you for not claiming that Bob Warman hosted The New Price is Right and Bruce Forsyth hosted Bruce’s Price is Right and thus neither count as The Price is Right…)

  8. Brett Linforth

    Ben, I’m LOVING this series so far. Your choices are always interesting and, because you work in the industry, I love your reasonings behind the selections. Also, Luna is ADORABLE! I look forward to the next four videos! I’ll be binge watching them all when I travel through the night to Edinburgh next month so thank you for my onboard entertainment!

    1. RoarJustice

      Many go out of their way to AVOID a journey with me, you must be mad!

      1. Brett Linforth

        Self-deprecating, too! Seriously, the series is top notch and I can’t wait for your Top 40. Thanks again πŸ™‚

  9. Des Elmes

    Hard to disagree that Four Square’s graphics have aged badly – but it’s also hard to disagree that the maze music remains one of the greatest pieces of game show music ever composed, even if it’s not *quite* as well-known as (for instance) the tunes that respectively accompany the ticking of the Countdown clock and the Walk of Shame.

    Hardly needs to be said that each and every tune in Jonathan Sorrell’s You Bet! soundtrack is right up there, too. If Darren Day taking over from Matthew Kelly was a nail in the coffin for the show, then so was ditching these tunes in favour of ones by Simon Webb that were about a thousandth as catchy:

    Mention should also be made of Ellis Ward, who like The Great Peter Simon has made shopping telly her home in more recent years. She’s currently on Gems TV – as is her daughter, incidentally. πŸ˜‰

    Finally, Golden Balls was just like Marmite, wasn’t it? If you liked it, you loved it and if you didn’t like it, well, you hated it. Little wonder that it made all three lists in the Poll of 2007 (topping the Hall of Fame, coming equal third in the Hall of Shame and finishing joint runner-up to DOND in what was then the Golden Fiver. No, I can’t remember why it was called that either). But even if you hated it, you couldn’t deny that Sarah stealing just over Β£100k (and thus becoming, somewhat ironically, the show’s biggest winner) was a remarkable piece of television.

    Perhaps it was always destined to have a relatively short shelf life – it certainly seemed to be the case that a lot of people had grown tired of it by the time The Chase arrived. It didn’t *obviously* outstay its welcome, however – which is more than can be said for DOND…

    I’ll finish by saying that despite my preference for dogs, I love Luna too. πŸ˜‰ πŸ˜‰

    1. Brandon

      The problem with Golden Balls is that most of the time it was really quite annoying, but the times that it was good (“I’ll pick steal and give you your share after” for example) are absolute TV gold.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.