Ben Justice’s Top 100 UK Gameshows of All Time – Part 8

By | May 10, 2019

Can you believe there are just two episodes to go after this one? Actual Real TV Developer Ben Justice counts down entries 30-21, whilst introducing a brand new character and another chance to see Little Benny Justice appear as a contestant as a fresh-faced youth. Some great clips and choices this week.

17 thoughts on “Ben Justice’s Top 100 UK Gameshows of All Time – Part 8

  1. Brig Bother Post author

    The most hilarious thing about The Vault was during the viewer jackpot game, two of the questions had already been asked during the show and it’d be those ones that would trip them up.

  2. Tom H

    The overriding thought I have from these countdowns:

    “We see a lot fewer neckties on daytime telly now”

  3. Alex McMillan

    Wow, The Vault was a lot better than I remembered.

    Also, nice to see Pokerface get it’s dues. (Or, as it was infamously listed: Poke Face)

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      The Vault was largely pretty good EXCEPT when they hit questions that nobody knew the answer to so they were basically stuck, leading to quite a lot of dead air. Two minutes is a long time to fill in the final if nobody knows the answer to Q1!

      I always liked it when gutsy brokers went big.

    2. Brandon

      I was worried that neither of those would be on there,they are massively underrated. I’ve explained elsewhere in the comments on this site why I love PokerFace so much ( one contestant in particular, for example), but I haven’t really thought about The Vault in a long time.

  4. Brandon

    I’m quite surprised he didn’t use the clip of Barbara for PokerFace, but there’s some solid choices this episode.

    In other news, Weakest Link has returned in the Netherlands and the set is very pretty, sort of similar to all the new versions that have started since the France 2015 version but somehow better.

  5. TheLupineOne

    Ben really subverting my expectations here. Best game show theme: Blockbusters, maybe? Best Lottery show: Secret Fortune? CBBC game: does Da Bungalow even qualify? New special guest: Dusty Bin, surely!?

    And I’m glad someone else out there likes The People Versus. I too missed out on the prime time version but loved the daytime quiz. When I saw the titles in Ben’s video I thought–“I KNOW this one!” Definitely due a comeback as a Chase replacement.

  6. Chris M. Dickson

    After the last set of ten, I produced a list of 133 shows that I thought plausibly might make up the final 30. In this first ten, three of them were not on that list. Good start!

    Numbers 24 and 28 were on my radar, if not on the list, but number 25 was something I saw a couple of times and never really regarded as much more than “oh, this is like The Mole for kids, but on a much smaller scale and much less interesting”. If you say it’s worth more attention then perhaps I should give it another try.

    Very much enjoyed this, as ever. I particularly liked Lobo’s entertainingly accurate pounce at the end. I wasn’t sure if you were going to pick another lottery show, but if you were, I thought it might be more likely to be Secret Fortune than anything else… not least because I had forgotten 1 vs 100 even was a lottery show. I didn’t get number 24 from your (very accurate) rendition of the theme, despite having brought the exact topic up on the Bar not two months ago.

    If you don’t mind me asking, on which game shows have you appeared? This isn’t by way of a competition (my one-thirty-fifth share of £250 on Whittle sets the bar low) or by way of trying to get hints as to what might be to come; I’m just nosey. I don’t think you would list a show because you had appeared on it, but there is a chain of causation that goes the other way; if you liked a show, then you might want to appear on it, and you might still like it enough to list it later on.

  7. David B

    Lots to like here. Every episode is getting longer. I’m going to have to get popcorn in for the Top 10.

    But ‘1 vs 100’ wouldn’t even make my top 5 National Lottery Game Shows (what would? I guess Jet Set, Winning Lines, IITWI, Who Dares Wins and Secret Fortune – in no particular order). I think the dirge of a theme tune just puts me off the whole package – I’ve heard cheerier funeral marches. And I say this as a fan of the Dutch original which was much jollier all round.

    Trapped was really good but the scale of the games varied widely so you lost the aesthetic of being in a cylindrical tower. And some games were a bit hard to sabotage effectively.

    I liked the idea of The Vault, but SO MUCH DEAD AIR in the UK version. in the Israeli original, they pre-screened the public callers to ensure they had the right answers – so it was a matter of time/price rather than whether they had the right answer. Why they couldn’t test the studio bankers beforehand to ensure that at least two of them had the right answer, say, I’ll never know.

    1. Tom H

      David’s right – 1 vs 100 was hideous from an audiovisual point of view – ghastly graphics (in what seemed to be a variant of Arial) and a plinky-plonky soundtrack from Augustin Bousfield.

      Compare and contrast with the wonderful intro to the Dutch original:

      1. John R

        In contrast 1 vs 100 was a guilty pleasure for me, I preferred Ben over Dermot however – another show during the era of ‘why the hell does this need the lotto draw shoved in the middle’ of course

        Obviously had to rate high in Ben’s list of course due to him later nicking the set to knock up All Together Now 😉

        The People’s Quiz obviously got it’s invite to appear in the top 100 lost in the post

        I wonder if Five Minutes To A Fortune will sneak into a place in the top 20? Nothing to do with the lottery or even the BBC for that matter but the thought just randomly came to me out of absolutely nowhere!

        1. Brig Bother Post author

          5MtaF is a decent call I reckon, I remember Ben liking it at the time. Probably not top ten, but possibly 11-20.

  8. Oliver R

    ¡Hola Lobo! ¡Viva la transparencia!

    Five of this week’s ten shows were either from before my time or just plain off my radar. As for the others –

    Going for Gold: Capably hosted, though the theme tune is still the highlight. Nice to be reminded how varied the format was across the week. It’s a pity the revivals never took off. Definitely lost something without the international element. Would be great to see a pan-European quiz of some sort on TV these days. Seeing that map during the opening credits from an early series, with Germany cut in half, still makes me shudder.

    1vs100: The clip doesn’t show it at its best. My memories of it are that it was less confusing than it appeared there. The colour scheme and typeface leave a lot to be desired, in hindsight. Preferred the O’Leary era to the Ben Shepherd one. The set is being used for a lesser programme nowadays, of course.

    The Million Pound Drop: Launched when I was at a stage where I desperately wanted not to like something with so much hype, but it dug its claws in. Started to enjoy it then went to Spain for 6 months and fell in love with their version. Adore the daytime revival with a lesser jackpot. It never needed to be live. Davina is brilliant in the role of sympathetic presenter.

    PokerFace: Missed the first series of this because I thought from the title it’d be about gambling and the card game. When I gave series two a chance, I realised it was just a straightforward quiz with a neat bluffing element and began to find it fun… then it never came back for another run. Could be resurrected without silly amounts of money to give away. Ant & Dec were good value, as always.

    Pointless: Deservedly places higher than its ITV early evening revival, as I said last time. It’s had to adapt to survive given that the original format ran out of questions by the end of 2010, before it even got its promotion to the 5:15pm slot. The chemistry between the co-hosts is key to its success as much as the various rounds are.

    Looking forward to finding out what’s made the top 20!

    1. Greg

      Can’t believe he talked about Trapped and didn’t mention the introduction of the kids. Maybe I just Have a childish sense of humour but would often find myself laughing at the facts given about the players.

      Still no sign of Breakaway in my opinion one of the best quiz shows in the last 10 years.

  9. Des Elmes

    Boy, do I have a lot to say here…

    To begin with, I can’t say I expected The People Versus and The Vault to be on the list, and I *definitely* didn’t expect Odd One Out and All Clued Up. And Trapped? I’m ashamed to admit that of the eighty shows thus far, this is the one I’m least familiar with – by quite a bit…

    The Vault appears to have been a guilty pleasure for quite a lot of people, doesn’t it? That said, it also appears that the folks who hated it, REALLY hated it – like Steve Williams and the rest of the old Off The Telly team, who went so far as to say that it “easily swung the nomination for worst light entertainment programme of 2004”. Ouch.

    It certainly didn’t help that its various faults were never really sorted out, and indeed ITV clearly lost faith as time went on: moving the show from Saturday nights to the Tuesday 8pm death slot for the ’04 series, refusing to raise the jackpot above £1 million (meaning that this amount was on offer for four consecutive episodes), and ultimately pulling the plug a week before the series’ scheduled end. The final straw may well have been when the novelty of someone winning the million pounds over the phone attracted less than four million viewers, compared to nearly seven million for that night’s episode of Holby City and for Pat Gibson’s Millionaire win a few months earlier.

    Would The Vault have been more successful had it been that bit more faithful to the Israeli original? We may never know for sure – although my guess is that it would.

    I watched the daytime version of The People Versus during its original run, and I’m ashamed to admit – though not as ashamed as I am regarding Trapped – that I, too, liked the Bong Game. But then again, I *was* 13 at the time, and much more impressionable than I am nearly two decades later. (Only later, too, did I properly learn of this game’s origins – I lived in Ealing during my childhood years and thus saw many an ad for Tarrant’s Capital FM show, but the radio in my house was tuned to Radio 4 almost every morning…)

    What disappointed me more was the addition of Canned Crowd (TM) about halfway through – it worked perfectly without audience sounds of any kind. And having also watched the primetime version during *its* original run the previous year, I wondered why the title sequence was shortened – nowadays, I’m guessing that the close-up towards the contestant’s eye was considered too dramatic for daytime.

    But the daytime version *did* get plenty of things right that the primetime version got wrong, in particular having a much simpler format (even with the Bong Game) and asking far more questions per episode. And Kaye Adams was a better host than Kirsty Young, too – she was better able to build a warm rapport with the contestants, and I’ll always like her rhyming couplets (e.g. “The higher the rounds, the greater the pounds”), even if they’ll never be as well-remembered as Tarrant’s catchphrases. Actually, it’s a bit of a shame that she hasn’t hosted any TV game shows since…

    The Terminator 2-style graphics in both versions still look fantastic to this day. And, of course, great soundtrack by the Strachans.

    (To be continued)

  10. Des Elmes


    Following Part 5 I said, “I think I have an idea as to which Lottery show Ben has ranked highest, though obviously I’m not going to elaborate on this idea just yet.”

    Well, *now* I will elaborate: I had it between 1 vs 100 and Secret Fortune, and was leaning ever so slightly towards the former. 😉

    Watching it now, the graphics *do* leave something to be desired (I think the font’s Univers, BTW), as does Augustin Bousfield’s soundtrack. But there certainly isn’t anything wrong with the format, even if the clip doesn’t *quite* show it in the best light. I seem to recall that Buzzerblog considered this the best of all the versions of 1 vs 100 worldwide, because the format was comparatively simple.

    Of course, it was pretty expensive to produce, and the BBC-decreed move from Maidstone to Glasgow (and a noticeably smaller set) in 2009 only increased those production costs – which, combined with the recession, resulted in its demise. I have to admit that, ten years on, I’m still quite disappointed…

    I’m still quite disappointed, too, that PokerFace fell off the air after its second series (even though it, too, wasn’t cheap to put together). It was often amusing when a contestant folded at the wrong moment, and a LOL moment if that contestant was particularly unlikeable – I still remember Victoria from the second series acting all smug and shooting her mouth off en route to the final, then folding in Round 3 and then bursting into tears when she discovered that she had been second on the leaderboard. A genuine schadenfreude moment, that…

    But the best moments were when no-one folded – big gasps from the audience, “one of you has just made a very big mistake”, then a long pause before A&D revealed who was going home empty-handed.

    Not all of PokerFace’s contestants were unlikeable, of course – I certainly liked everything about Sarah Lang. Obviously, she was good-looking, but also her general knowledge was excellent (lest we forget, she also won big on In It to Win It and took part in the first series of Are You an Egghead?), her bluffing wasn’t over-the-top, and she never displayed any seriously unappealing characteristics (unlike the aforementioned Victoria). And, of course, she held her nerve brilliantly – watching that final on YouTube, and the final face-off against “Iceman” Julian, she clearly knew that there was a good chance she had done enough to win the million. (While the viewers knew she’d won the moment the countdown hit zero, the fifty seconds or thereabouts in which A&D built up to announcing her as the winner still make for great viewing.)

    Gotta love how she summed it all up: “I’ve come here, answered a few questions and gone away with a million quid.” Dec: “I’m in the wrong game.”

    Finally for now, Going for Gold. Henry Kelly has said that the first series was meant to be the only one, “and then… ‘well, we’ll do it again, and we’ll do it again, and we’ll do it again'”. That would go some way to explaining why that series used a different set to the neon triangle one we’re all familiar with, and also slightly different graphics.

    As indicated by the map in the title sequence, the contestants in that first series only came from the UK, Ireland, and countries west of the Iron Curtain where many people had a good working knowledge of English. France didn’t start sending contestants until after the launch of Questions pour un Champion (in November 1988), and then of course communism fell and Eastern nations poured in.

    In the end, there were nine continental series – and it’s still remarkable that UK contestants won just three of them, and Irish contestants none, despite their linguistic advantage…

    In fairness, the show was already running out of steam when it switched to UK contestants representing counties for the final series. Of note is that, according to BBC Genome, this series began on 1 April 1996 – the same day that unpopular English counties like Avon and Humberside were abolished, as well as Welsh counties like Clwyd and Dyfed, and Scottish regions like Strathclyde and Tayside. But of course, at least part of the series was filmed while these counties/regions still existed – and this was reflected in the title sequence, in which the familiar flying gold coin dots morph into the counties and regions of the UK. But then *again*, the YouTube clips feature contestants representing Newport and Aberdeen – respectively parts of the county of Gwent and the Grampian region prior to April ’96. So I’m guessing that a contestant from Bristol would have represented Bristol rather than Avon, and a contestant from Beverley would have represented East Yorkshire rather than Humberside?

    And just as one has to love how Sarah Lang summed up her PokerFace experience, so one has to love what Hans Zimmer said when asked about the theme tune in 2008: “I knew that question was coming! Going for Gold was a lot of fun. It’s the sort of stuff you do when you don’t have a career yet. God, I just felt so lucky because this thing paid my rent for the longest time.”

    To finish, hard lines to Secret Fortune, and also to Jet Set, the original Win Your Wish List, Millionaire Manor… actually, scratch that one.

    1. Brandon

      I think part of the key to PokerFace is that unlike other quizzes from the time about lying, it didn’t take itself too seriously and not all the contestants were awful people.


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