Ben Justice’s Top 100 UK Gameshows Of All Time – Part 9

By | May 17, 2019

And we’re just hearing we’re able to join Actual Real TV Developer Ben Justice later than billed for positions 20-11 of his list. Thank you for your patience.

For some reason the theme tune hasn’t come out, do not panic.

34 thoughts on “Ben Justice’s Top 100 UK Gameshows Of All Time – Part 9

  1. Chris M. Dickson

    I enjoyed this episode at least as much as any of the others, not least because you isolated something important. There were several shows in there (probably at least as many in this ten than any of the previous ones) that I recognised, I appreciated their good parts but I decided that I didn’t like them all that much. You identified a common thread in several of them and it’s something that you evidently like and that I broadly like much, much less. To use your adjective, several of those shows had the potential to be cruel, and that has generally been something that I’ve found, to some extent, a turn-off. (It’s a little more nuanced than that.)

    There are still four shows that I’d be somewhat surprised if they weren’t in your top ten: Gladiators, The Crystal Maze, The Cube and Who Wants To Be a Millionaire?. I’m now prepared to reckon that you rate The Weakest Link, if it hasn’t been in the 100-11 (I’m away with the computer which has the spreadsheet and cannot remember). As for the rest, it gets harder.

    I think the sign-off is an acknowledgement to Knightmare but which won’t be in the top ten, and I’m now prepared to believe that Interceptor, It’s A Knockout!, The Krypton Factor, Sale of the Century and Bob’s Full House were similarly not in the right place at the right time to catch your imagination. You could well be take-it-or-leave-it about University Challenge and Mastermind, despite the fact you like fast quizzes. Other potential strong contenders are Catchphrase, Family Fortunes and Only Connect, but in each case I’d be prepared to believe they might be in or they might just not be your cup of tea. This still leaves a few potential gaps and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to go “oh, you liked that?” at some of your top ten.

    Not long to go now, and thank you very much for putting this series together!

    1. Brandon

      Weakest Link actually came in quite low, at 70something if I remember correctly.

  2. Brig Bother Post author

    Some really interesting choices here, well done if you picked Sell Me The Answer at home.

    I think Moment of Truth is often missed out in the pantheon of really great gameshow music packages, but it really did actually.

    1. Alex

      It’s really a shame that the last 2001 series has been lost to time, because I do remember the intro of it but that’s it.

  3. Alex McMillan

    Righto, time to guess the top 10!

    10. The Bank Job
    9. Gladiators
    8. Duel
    7. Call My Bluff
    6. The Cube
    5. Fort Boyard
    4. Only Connect
    3. Mastermind
    2. The Crystal Maze
    1. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Nah, I reckon Fort Boyard won’t feature if it was around the same time as The Mole. The Cube will almost certainly make it. I’d be surprised if Glads didn’t. I reckon Duel won’t feature.

    2. Brandon

      The Bank Job? Really? The format was quite good, but the actual production was such a complete shambles.

  4. Brett Linforth

    This has been my favourite video of your series to date, Ben. Some great choices in here, some surprising choices too. This one does however feature one show I personally was never keen on – but I think that’s because it could be very noisy a lot of the time! (I tried to avoid spoilers – hope I’ve managed it!) That said, I LOVE your infectious enthusiasm and your increasingly verbose reasoning for your choices. I now can’t wait until next Friday to see what made your Top Ten – as it happens, if all goes to plan, it’ll be announced on my 34th birthday! Thank you for a great series and I look forward to binge watching them on my night coach to Edinburgh in ten days!

  5. TheLupineOne

    Last week, I thought Blockbusters to have the best game show theme music. Well thank you, thank you, thank you Ben for reminding me of The Moment Of The Truth. Those titles! That music package! The national treasure that was Cilla Black! If any game show theme could be called a banger, this was it! As with You Bet! and Gladiators, this was LWT once again being the masters of pomp and circumstance.

    Turnabout, like Incognito, was a 90s BBC show that escaped my attention; afterschool in the nineties at my household was dominated by Channel 4 anyway; 15-to-1 and Countdown all the way! But Wipeout was a definite favourite of mine. Can’t wait for Ash the Bash to bring it to his Quiz Night streams. You heard Ben, Ash: #BringBackWipeout.

    1. Ash The Bash

      Oh yeah, definitely cannot wait to bring back Wipeout! Although as you said in the video, there’s no-one that could really do it complete justice other than Paul Daniels, but I will do my best!

      And I was so glad to see Turnabout up there as well – I only saw a few episodes of it back during its broadcast, but did love it for its simple but well themed mechanics, and yeah, the odd water feature in the middle of the set!

  6. Brig Bother Post author

    I was always intrigued by the logistics of The Moment of Truth, in particular the video packages. How did that work? Did someone come round and collect tapes on a nightly basis? Did they edit them all together on day of taping, or at least have a rough cut to show the audience? Did the audience actually see a video package at all?

    I presume they stopped sending Cilla out to meet the families so they could keep a tighter studio schedule.

    1. Brandon

      Obviously nowadays it would be so much easier to do, as all the videos would probably just be uploaded to a filedrop or something.

  7. Brig Bother Post author

    Of course everyone remembers Moment of Truth, fewer remember Celebrities Under Pressure (which ran for a surprisingly long time).

    But the best part of a decade ago, Bradley Walsh piloted a comedy take on the format called Just 1 Thing.

    1. Des Elmes

      “The pig did a poo.”

      I’ve read that bit many times, and I’m still amused by it. 😉

  8. John R

    I think the spam filter ate my comment regarding Moment Of Truth and Deal Or No Deal 🙁

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Oh that’s interesting, when did you write it? There’s nothing showing up in my filter.

      It automatically gets cleaned out 2am every day, so if you think you’ve been caught let me know so I can rescue it ASAP.

      1. John R

        Ah, I left it Friday night so will have gone to the 2am graveyard 🙂 I think what may have triggered it is mentioning the DOND fan site so I’ll try again below in slightly different terms…

        The Moment Of Truth was an awesome show, apart from that dodgy series where they tweaked quite a few things (RIP Cilla’s rotating sofa!). I particularly liked the ‘durrrrrrmmm’ sound effect when they failed and the screens came back round to cruely hide the prizes back away, but don’t worry as Cilla has some yearly Alton Towers passes for the kiddies still! You also had “That was last week, but they’re here right now!” and the suitably raised “MOMENT OF TRUTH!” voice. Also, highlights shown in an hourglass during the closing credits!

        Deal Or No Deal I could write a book on that, it was helped a lot I think by Jennifer turning up within the first couple of weeks with her finish (back in the days when the banker actually offered a sum worth considering!), then you had Morris, Kirsty, Laura – although that was sadly spoiled by the press of course. My favourite ever quarter millionaire show was Suzanne, just the fact it was during a themed week so she had the ‘offer after every box’ twist only to be brave enough to go to the end for the first ever DREAM FINISH in LIVE play – and to top it off a friend of mine was covering it as part of his first ever commentary thread on the DOND fansite forum! (P.S. I do miss Mark with his “HE/SHE’S DEALING” “YUP TOLD YA!” “EXTREMELY CAUTIOUS X UNLIMITED PLAYER” comments every single day!)

        I was gutted when they had to axe the Alex from Brainteaser voiceover viewer competition though, it was funny watching Noel surprise unsuspecting members of the audience and even funnier watching the blue box openers often make a complete mess of trying to open them!

        I never actually thought about it in the way Ben mentioned how the wingers felt if they opened the 250k box, imagining if it had been their game it would have been sat on the table either!

  9. Brandon

    News: after basically being on its last legs for several years, the US version of Millionaire has finally been cancelled just short of its 20th anniversary, several American news sites have reported.

    1. Greg

      Some shows that would certainly have made my 100 that I don’t think will be top 10

      Beat the Clock (I think I was the only one that really liked this)
      The Exit List
      The Whole 19 Yards
      Beat the Brain

        1. Greg

          It would certainly be closer to the 100 than to the 1 in my list. I found it to be a fun take on a quiz for kids. The production was certainly the selling point but a solid format with a fun end game.

          1. Greg

            I have also realised that it was Face the Clock I was thinking of. Rather than Beat the Clock

  10. Chris M. Dickson

    We’re so far through the list that there is an element to which criticising shows that you like so much feels like an attack on your personal taste; I’m enjoying the series so much that I’m reluctant to do so. However, part of the fun of this is just talking about game shows and reassessing them, so here goes.

    The games on Friends Like These were often not very spectacular. We’ve had many minigame shows over the years, and the best have had some reason for the games to be there, some sense of character and context surrounding the games. Most of the games of The Crystal Maze were really well themed. The games on The Cube improved a lot over time, while keeping some old favourites, but towards the end took advantage of the context of the environment of the titular Cube; the “you may be able to perform nominally easy task, but can you do it in The Cube?” catchphrase also really worked. At another angle, the games on (e.g.) 1950s-1970s Beat The Clock and more recently Minute To Win It made virtues of using household props and, in some cases, being things that people could practice at home in advance.

    In comparison, I don’t remember the games on Friends Like These (and, for that matter, Dog Eat Dog) being any more than “here’s a game with no particular reason for its existence or placement in the show”, though I would be delighted to be wrong. If there was a reason for the game selection that was that it sometimes pandered to stereotyped gender roles, that’s worse than neutral. Case in point: the game that always springs to my mind from Friends Like These, that felt like it cropped up several times, is the game where contestants had to thread five needles as quickly as possible, which was irritating by virtue of there being no way to see contestants doing it – either you see them about to do it, or having done it, but the middle step is missing.

    The Moment of Truth indeed has a smashing theme; to go back to a recent thread, has a low-key disappointment glissando upon failure that still rings through my head – and, now I’ve mentioned it, probably yours. To fire a shot at the show, its memory challenges were needlessly unimpressive. There’s a reason why the memory challenges on You Bet! worked so much better and reflected much more accomplishment on the part of the challengers: the items to be recalled could appear in any order, and there was an element of recognition to them, whereas recalling a list of items (or knight’s moves) would be the same thing every time. Going further, the quantity of information to be memorised just wasn’t particularly great, especially in the timeframe permitted.

    You want to see a truly impressive memory feat? Watch Ben Pridmore memorising a pack of cards and recalling them. That video is ten years old and the record has fallen conisderably since then, but for showing the whole procedure, it’s as good as it gets. Ben Pridmore, the subject, has since done a version of his thing on Epic Win (where he lost) and on Britain’s Got Talent (where he happily joined in with the panto at his own expense). Ben is also famously lovely and self-effacing in a way that you might not expect.

  11. Kj Van Nieuwenhuijzen

    Hi Ben,
    I just wanted to thank you for your kind (and extremely smart :-)) words on Take It Or Leave It. I developed this show/format together with Mark van Berkel about 15 years ago here in Holland. And although a “bit” biased, this format is still one of my favourite shows we created. Although it ran in only about 10 countries, which is not too bad, I still believe it deserved a bigger channel and audience in the UK. ChallengeTV did a great job but still very little people know about the show. It shows your immense knowledge on game show formats in general that you have put our show on number 13. Much appreciated!
    Btw. I am very curious what you will think of my latest format called Singletown, going on air on September 4th on ITV2!
    Thanks again and keep up the bloody good work!
    Best Kirsten Jan van Nieuwenhuijzen (former founder Intellygents)

    1. Brandon

      This is always very cool, when we get people from within the industry commenting on here. If you could change something about Take It or Leave It, or any of your other formats,what would you change?

    2. RoarJustice

      Thank you very much for the kind words, you made a great format!


  12. Des Elmes

    *Finally*, I find some time to properly talk about Ben’s latest selections…

    I think I can safely say that I’m not the only one who didn’t expect to see Sell Me the Answer there – indeed, I had *completely* forgotten about that show. Can’t say I expected to see Survivor, Friends Like These and the Moment of Truth either – although I was delighted about the latter two. Very pleased to see the original Wipeout and Turnabout too – and I can’t argue about DOND, even if it continued *well* beyond its ask-by date.

    And who *didn’t* expect to see Blockbusters and 5MTAF? Ben has had the ‘Busters board on his table right from the start… 😉

    On to what I have to say about some of the shows themselves, and I’m going to start with Survivor. Created by a Brit, developed by a Brit, yet it’s an American institution that flopped in Britain – I can’t be the only one who sees the irony here. Mind you, I was one of the many, many people who just couldn’t help but pay less attention to the first series (despite Charlotte and Jackie being easy on the eye) than to BB2 (Brian, Helen, Paul, Bubble, a heavily pregnant Davina etc etc etc).

    And the theme tune isn’t *quite* as memorable as “Ancient Voices”, is it? Even though it, too, is the work of Russ Landau…

    Even when I was a huge DOND fan (2005-09), I considered that show’s shelf life to be six years at most. Sure enough, I consider 2011 to be its last truly good year – with Suzanne and Tegen winning the £250k, and the run of live shows, but also the extension from 45 minutes to 60 (which, I don’t think many people can disagree, ultimately did more harm than good – as did the shortening and eventual scrapping of the summer break). I’d even say now that had it ended at the conclusion of season 4 in 2009, it wouldn’t have been obviously too soon.

    Had 5MTAF been treated that bit better by C4 (i.e. had it not been put directly opposite Xander, Richard, Bradders and the Chasers), it’s not beyond possibility that it might have grown to become a replacement for DOND (just as Pointless grew to become a replacement – indeed, *the* replacement – for the Weakest Link). In the end, DOND was more or less replaced by Fifteen-to-One Mk 2 – and again, I can’t be the only one who sees the irony here, as it was considered a replacement for the original FTO when it launched.

    I still have many good memories from those first four years – including, of course, Laura becoming the first quarter-millionaire. I don’t know how I managed to avoid all the spoilers, but I did. (Well, actually, I came across *one* spoiler – a comment on the old Teletext TV comments page. However, being considerably more naive back then, I thought it was just the work of someone looking to pull everyone’s leg… ;))

    (To be continued)

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I like 5MTaF, but I think the idea was better than the execution. Asking one contestant to do a granular job in selecting the amount of time on offer was largely irrelevant when it took between 5-20 seconds to ask a question, especially with no real knowledge of how the games played out beforehand – you might as well have just picked a minute for each of them then just hoped for the best, the idea that saving five seconds here and there so you can have five seconds longer elsewhere made no real difference, yet it was the show’s main strategic point. I think it would have been better, or at least would have offered the potential for more interesting options and tactics, if they had six or seven minutes to play with and reduced the time in the timer.

      There is lots to like about 5MtaF – the set and particularly props, music, selection of games, Davina, the concept – but I just think the way the game plays out is too irritating to pick up a big audience. You can’t say C4 didn’t give it a chance, it led with celebrity episodes at the weekends, but people didn’t really watch them either.

      1. David Howell

        It was definitely a show that wasn’t quite as great as it threatened to be, and it was a pretty purist show in a slot where that never stood a chance, even though they gave it a shot with a post-Grand National lead-in showcasing an amusingly terrible performance from Ann Widdecombe. The strategic aspect wasn’t ideally executed, if there was higher variance in the round length it could have worked better. (You could argue exactly the same thing about 1000 Heartbeats, come to think of it.)

        Didn’t the celeb editions also face one or both of Pointless Celebrities and Celebrity Chase?

      2. David B

        We covered potential improvements to 5MTaF in a 130+ comment thread when the show first came out. I still think the music and graphics package is one of the best in the last decade, but overall it was a bit too hard to play. In particular, the need to go over missed questions really slowed down the pace. Why not reveal answers TO THE AUDIENCE as you go?

        But the oddest thing to me was that it was surprisingly hard to see what was going on with the egg timer because there was already three points of interest (the contestant, the person in the background, and the question graphics). I know they had to kind-of hide it when a team were doing badly to avoid puncturing the suspense, but sometimes things like 1000HB are most entertaining when things are going badly.

  13. Des Elmes


    The folks at TV Cream will, understandably, maintain to the grave that Bob Monkhouse was better at hosting Wipeout than Paul Daniels – though they accept that Paul was a good host too, and his version had the better theme tune by far.

    Well, I think many of us would agree that Paul’s version also had the better logo, the better titles, the better graphics, the better set – and even the better scoring system. It made perfect sense to increase the money for a correct answer as they decreased in number on the board – whereas in Bob’s version £50 wasn’t much of a reward for finding the last correct answer with two or more Wipeouts still there, was it?

    And I’m not ashamed to admit that that theme tune, and indeed the entire music package – by David Arch of GMTV and Strictly fame – is one of my favourites.

    My favourite episode, meanwhile, is the one where contestant Luned won £1,110 while one of her opponents, Tim, hit no less than eight Wipeouts. Paul becoming more and more worried as Luned risked more and more money on each turn (hey, £1k *was* still a fair amount of dough to win on a game show in ’94), and more and more relieved when she found a correct answer and immediately passed… while Tim’s efforts were rewarded with soy sauce and ciabatta bread. xD

    Turnabout’s theme, meanwhile, was the work of Martin Cook – better known, of course, for his collaborations with Richard Denton. But even though the show *was* great, it never received *quite* as much attention as Going for Gold, did it? And, in all likelihood, it never will – though, obviously, it’ll always be remembered for the pond if nothing else.

    Finally, there isn’t much I can say about the Moment of Truth that hasn’t already been said on here – and I agree with everything that *has* been said, in particular regarding the music package. (Phil Binding and Simon Moore were the composers, if you want to know.) As for the memory challenges, I *do* agree that they weren’t quite as impressive as the ones on You Bet! – but then again, were they realistically expected to be? And they were still fun to watch, particularly the knight’s tour.

    As regards my predictions for the Top 10, all I will say at this point is that there are five shows I fairly strongly expect to see in it. Regardless, some big names *are* going to miss out – because Ben said so. 😉


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