Who was the original richardosman?

By | April 28, 2019

We were discussing this on Twitter the other day.

Since Pointless, it has seemed impossible to get a quiz commissioned without a second host seemingly to provide facts and adjudication, which interestingly the host could absolutely do by themselves, and as someone to bounce off (which they can’t). Here at Bother’s Bar we call them “richardosmans” after Richard Osman.

But there were richardosmans before Richard Osman, but none have defined the genre in the same way.

Two very important questions: a) who was the first richardosman and b) can you still be a richardosman if you’re standing up and not behind a desk?

Some good names came up in the discussion – Tony Green from Bullseye and John Virgo on Big Break would seem to fill the role pretty well, but in standing up are they true richardosmans? Ditto Annette Lynton and Wincey Willis on Treasure Hunt (note: Anneka Rice NOT a richardosman). What about Eddie Waring and Arthur Ellis on It’s a Knockout?

So many questions, but what are the answers? Well done if you got them at home.

16 thoughts on “Who was the original richardosman?

  1. Brandon

    Other very important question: is the plural richardosmans or richardosmen? And what would the collective noun be? These truly are the most pressing questions of our time.

  2. Chris M. Dickson

    Rubbish theoretical answer: the first gong-banger on Take Your Pick in 1955, Alec Dane. If you look at even older shows still, I imagine this can be beaten.

    There needs to be another qualification in addition to being an arbiter: the willingness to participate in patter.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I think that’s very important, hence being someone to bounce off.

      Being a co-host is no good alone, there’s something specifically richardosmanish to being a richardosman.

    2. Brandon

      With that definition, the most obvious early one I can think of is Susie Dent on Countdown

      1. Brandon

        Excluding that, the earliest one that I’m 100% sure counts as a richardosman would be the judges from De Slimste Mens

  3. Chris M. Dickson

    Different question to try to pin down the nature. Does a richardosman have to adopt a certain attitude towards the contestant? Would the Banker be an off-screen richardosman, if that were not a contradiction in terms? On 21 Questions Wrong, were you a richardosman yourself to Dr. Peake?

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Yes I suppose I was. The Banker is an interesting one because he sort of fits, but also doesn’t as all his stuff was relayed.

      The judges from De Slimste Mens would certainly count.

      Susie Dent is a reasonable shout, but she’s no Ted Moult.

  4. CeleTheRef

    Big trouble for Ciao Darwin: one contestant felt off a rotating cylinder during an obstacle course and he’s been hospitalised since. Police is investigating on the matter. The show didn’t air last week, but next Friday’s episode is expected to have a different obstacle course.

  5. Keith

    On the US side, if on screen appearance isn’t crucial, the improbably-but-appropriately named Dr. Reason A Goodwin of the World Book Encyclopedia Dictionary was the named “word authority” for Password 1961-67 (preceded briefly by professor David Greene of NYU)

    But for UK on-camera, if Susie Dent is not the earliest example, she is at least the codifying one.

  6. Steve Williams

    Years and years and years ago, TV’s Steve Berry was pitching a TV Cream panel/game show and one of the elements was a team of experts (ie, us) perched up in the gantry providing facts and figures to expand on answers and humourlessly pick apart the anecdotes. Nothing ever came of it, but we do still sometimes refer to the TV Cream collective as the “gantry crew”.

  7. Chris M. Dickson

    It only occurred to me recently that Scavengers had a richardosmAndroid.

  8. DC

    If Susie Dent counts then surely the original is Carol Vorderman – whilst dictionary corner went through a rotating set of experts for the numbers Carol was always Queen…

    And of course, the French version of Pointless has no “Richard Osman” with just one host…


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