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 TV shows, and game shows in particular!
Now, this is a bold statement, but we think that 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. We miss them so much that we’ve decided to start a campaign to bring the best of them back to our screens, and we want to see if our favourites were the same as yours.
Join us on a walk down memory lane – how many of these shows do YOU remember, and which is one is ACTUALLY COMING BACK?
1. Robot Wars
Yes, dreams really do come true, because Robot Wars is being rebooted by BBC2! 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. 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’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).
3. 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).
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’.
5. 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!
6. 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. We know Noel’s busy with Deal or No Deal now, but surely he could make time for a return visit here as well?
7. 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 or something of this ilk!) 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.
8. Man O Man
Kind of like a 90s 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 probably quite sozzled 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.
9. Fort Boyard
If you don’t remember Fort Boyard, you missed an absolute BEAUT 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.
10. 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, but not as nail-biting as it was when it became…
11. Don’t Try This At Home
Aww, just look at 90s Davina! In her pre-Big Brother, Garnier and fitness-DVD days, she fronted this high-stakes game show from 1998 to 2001, with Kate Thornton and Paul Hendy. The idea was similar to You Bet!, but required people to perform more death-defying (okay, 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.
Listen carefully, and you can almost hear the ‘boooo-iiing!’ noise of the Catchphrase buzzers. A favourite of word nerds across the land, the original-style Catchphrase had an incredible run for the whole of the 90s (from 1986-2004). The contemporary remake is still going, but we’d love to see the old school version back on our tellies – along with Northern Irish host Roy Walker, because ‘it’s good but it’s not right’ doesn’t sound as good without the accent.
Cancelled in 1995, but never forgotten, Bullseye was the show that made us truly believe that we could win a speedboat (amongst other brilliant prizes), if only we practiced our darts-throwing down the local enough times. All we’ve got today is the interactive DVD game version, but you can’t take to the waters on a disk, guys – so we’d love the chance to take a boat home once more.
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 recently 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…
15. Blankety Blank
Right, so, early Blankety Blank was actually on air from 1979 to 1990, but revived Lily Savage version (from 1997-99) is the one we’re reminsicing about here. Something about the combo of her sassy remarks and the potential for hilarious double entendres that just worked. 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?
16. Challenge Anneka
It is just us, or does the now 56-year-old Anneka barely look any different from this picture? No wonder she was picked as the face of this game show. Even though she was the only contestant, her efforts in travelling the country and organising massive events or projects were just so darn watchable, and also usually charitable, so it was all for a good cause as well. If she can’t be persuaded to come back and front a noughties version of the show, we’ll happily volunteer to take her place (although we can’t promise we’ll look quite so good in that fitted blue jumpsuit).
17. 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 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’. ‘Free Spin’ was the glory segment, and usually their ticket to the prize-packed Grand Finale – where they inevitably failed to solve the last-hurdle word puzzle anyway. Oh, the memories!
Did we miss your favourite off the list? Leave us a comment and we’ll add it to our round-up!