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Oh, they just don’t make them like they used to, do they? No, we’re not talking about heartthrobs, chocolate bars, or even a good old-fashioned bag of crisps – we’re talking about classic shows, TV quiz shows, and 90s game shows in particular!
Now, this is a bold statement, but we think that 90s game shows might just have peaked in the 1990s. Maybe it was the mullets, maybe it was the costumes, maybe it was the incessantly chirpy breed of hosts and their sidekicks (BLOBBY!), but whatever it was, they were SO much better than the shows of today.
1. Robot Wars
Yes, dreams really do come true, because BBC2 rebooted Robot Wars in 2016 for three series! Previously a later addition to the 90s TV schedules, starting in 1998, Craig Charles did a stellar job of commentating whilst Matilda, Sergeant Bash and Sir Killalot battled it out for the win.
We know our kids (and hubbies) weren’t the only ones that tried to create their own version with remote control cars and cardboard blades – it might be time to fill out an entry form…
2. The Crystal Maze
Whether the contestants went to the Aztec, Futuristic, Medieval or Ocean zone, you knew you were in for a rollercoaster of emotions with the Crystal Maze, as they either emerged victorious with a gem in hand, or got lost and locked in their game room, possibly forever. The Crystal Dome at the end with the flying gold and silver tokens was the BEST bit – and we still reckon we’d tot up a tidy sum (a real vote of confidence, seeing as only 17 of the show’s 83 teams ever ended up winning the grand prize).
Fans were thrilled in 2017 when Channel 4 announced the return of the show hosted by Richard Ayoade. And, because that wasn’t enough, a second series was commissioned in 2018. The fresh new revamp was well received, especially when TOWIE’s Gemma Collins was team captain for the first episode.
Saturday night TV hasn’t been the same since this competitive blend of circus skills and wrestling was cancelled. From the lycra uniforms to those giant cotton buds and that excruciating final challenge, The Eliminator, (our calves burn just at the THOUGHT of that Travelator), this was brilliant Saturday night entertainment – and even nowadays, if we’re about to start a countdown, we preface it with, ‘over to John Anderson’. Due to popular demand, Gladiators made a return in 2008 and 2009 but unfortunately only aired on Sky 1.
4. Blind Date
The late, great Cilla Black presented loads of telly over the years, but we have to say, we think Blind Date is probably our favourite. The romance, the drama, the cringe-inducingly cheesy responses to a potential love match’s questions – it was an absolute winner of a formula, where you could win the greatest gameshow prize of all, TRUE LOVE.
The cynics amongst you say that no one ever truly got that, but we’ll have you know that there was an actual Blind Date wedding, and they celebrated their 20-year anniversary in 2011!
But hold your horses as there are rumours Blind Date is making a comeback with a modern-day reboot, featuring dating apps, social media and differing sexual orientations.
5. Noel’s House Party
Altogether now, ‘BLOBBY!’ Noel’s House Party was all about fun and frolics in the fictional town of Crinkley Bottom. Contests included the Lyric Game, Grab a Grand and Beat Your Neighbours, interspersed with routine gungings of celebrities, and the infamous ‘Gotcha’ segment.
In 2018, there were rumours Mr BLOBBY would make a come back but sadly we have yet to see this return to screens.We know Noel’s busy with Deal or No Deal now, but surely he could make time for a return visit here as well?
6. Moment of Truth
Another Cilla classic, but this time, contestants weren’t competing for ‘lurve’, they were competing for prizes from Ms. Black’s Dream Directory – but could only get their hands on them if they could perform a very specific, difficult task (which, strangely, was almost always plate spinning!).
They’d only have a week to practice, so the pressure was really on – but just think of the cars, holidays or massively clunky 90s TVs they won when they succeeded.
7. Man O Man
Kind of like a 90s gameshow version of modern day classic Take Me Out, Man O Man which aired from 1997-1999, involved a group of 10 men trying to prove their… um… manliness to the audience of women.
If they didn’t live up to expectations, they were unceremoniously pushed into a pool, until there was just one man left standing, and he won a motorbike! Fun fact: Nell McAndrew made one of her first TV appearances on the show – only back then, she was known as Tracey.
8. Fort Boyard
If you don’t remember Fort Boyard, you missed an absolute gem of a 90s game show. Melinda Messenger and Leslie Grantham, along with ‘the Professor’, guided contestants around the actual French fort, getting them to complete a series of challenges and collect keys and clues, culminating in an actually insane finale involving a human in a cage and real-life tigers. Crazy, but brilliant. Bring it back, Channel 5 – we’ll all watch.
9. You Bet!
For those who need their memories refreshing, You Bet! was the ITV show where a line-up of celebs and the studio audience would bet on the ability of a random member of the public to perform a certain task. Matthew Kelly, of Stars in their Eyes fame, was the host, and it was nail-biting stuff.
10. Don’t Try This At Home
In Davina McCall’s pre-Big Brother and fitness-DVD days, she fronted this high-stakes game show from 1998 to 2001, alongside Kate Thornton and Paul Hendy.
The idea was similar to You Bet!, but required people to perform more death-defying (sometimes just a bit scary) stunts, like swinging from a bridge, or facing their fear of snakes. It totally lived up to its title, as we didn’t want to do any of that at home, but we loved watching other people have a go.
11. Supermarket Sweep
The pic ‘n’ mix counter, the pricing gun challenge, the bouncy bonuses and of course, those super-stylish pastel team jumpers – we loved everything about Dale Winter’s Supermarket Sweep. Back in the 90s, it was our life’s dream to run down those aisles filling our trolleys with ironing boards and frozen turkeys, and ticking those crucial items off Dale’s shopping list. However, it was a dream that died in September 2001, when the show was cancelled (and before you say it, no, the 2007 revival doesn’t count, because it definitely wasn’t the same).
However, we were absolutely thrilled when an ITV reboot aired in September 2019 with host Rylan Clark-Neal. Rylan took to Twitter to share his excitement, writing, “Been waiting a while to say this but it’s finally time to GO WILD IN THE AISLES ONCE AGAIN!”
Cancelled in 1995, but never forgotten, Bullseye was the show that made us truly believe that we could win a speedboat, if only we practiced our darts-throwing down the local enough times. We have got the interactive DVD game version, but you can’t take to the waters on a disk guys.
In 2019 the 90s gameshow was set to make a comeback in a new series Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow. Alan’s new show will include rebooted versions of Play Your Cards Right, Strike It Lucky, Bullseye and The Price is Right.
Just glancing at that hexagonal board fills us with nostalgia! The theme tune for this trivia-based game show was amazing, so much so that it was used in this Jaffa Cake advert where those cute little monkeys come out of the tube instead of chocolatey-orange snacks – so if you’ve found yourself humming it lately, that’s probably why…
Because we love it so much, Blockbusters has been revived a whopping four times. The latest series, a comedy-version, premiered on Comedy Central in March 2019 and was hosted by Dara Ó Briain.
14. Blankety Blank
Blankety Blank was actually on air from 1979 to 1990, but revived Lily Savage version (from 1997-99) is the one we’re reminiscing about here. Something about the combo of her sassy remarks and the potential for hilarious double entendres just worked.
Returning for a one-off Christmas special in 2016 hosted by David Walliams, fans are still feeling nostalgic about this show. Paul O’Grady, you’re wasted only making shows about dogs, are you sure you don’t want to come back and do this too?
15. Wheel of Fortune
Spin the wheel, tot up your points and wait for the cash to start rolling in was the simple premise behind this basic but very addictive 90s game show. It was all plain sailing for Wheel of Fortune contestants – that was, until they spun a ‘Lose a Turn’, or even worse, a ‘Bankrupt’. Oh, the memories!
It’s almost been two decades since this 90s game show aired. It was rumoured back in March 2018 that there may be a reboot after former host Jenny Powell the Daily Star Sunday, “I’ve had talks about bringing Wheel of Fortune back. I have actually enquired about who owns the right to the show. I’m working on it.” Here’s hoping!
Did we miss one of your favourite 90s game shows off the list? Leave us a comment and we’ll add it to our round-up!