They’re a funny old thing, gameshows. Some take the nation by storm, others you wouldn’t watch if you were paid to, with the rest fitting somewhere in between. Those that fall into the first category are ripe for resurrection and slotted back into schedules as if they’d never been away, with varying degrees of success – Channel 4’s recent resurgence of The Crystal Maze has been one of the greatest comebacks in TV history. Yet when it emerged last month that The Weakest Link, complete with Anne Robinson, could be making a return to our screens after a five-year absence, opinion was divided somewhat: do we really want people going round mimicking that God-awful catchphrase all over again? Whilst you’re busy pondering, here are five game shows that, for different reasons should remain exclusive to Challenge TV.
The one that gave Dale Winton his big break and probably the last and most successful of those mid-morning game shows, before the era of multi-channel television really took hold. This was actually called Dale’s Supermarket Sweep, as the original version came from the U.S., but either way it was as cheesy as they come. It had a revival some years later, with Dale still presenting, but gone were the contestants’ brightly-coloured sweaters and the loud suits, as had the naffness that made it such a hit in the 1990s. In a nutshell, it was definitely for its time and could never work now, especially as its proud boast was being the only supermarket from which you could walk away with £2,000 – some people spend that in a month down Waitrose nowadays.
I’m going against my religion here, to the point of contradiction, as it’s the one show I personally would dearly love to see back on our screens, and I suspect I’m far from being the only one that would welcome it back. The circumstances would have to be right though, otherwise it would fail miserably, just like it did when it was rehashed for the early 2000s. If the current quiz climate changed, with the focus being more on substance than personalities (save the host), then there would be hope, but until then forget it.
Going for a Song
Back in the swinging sixties, collecting antiques was seen by the vast majority as inaccessible and not all that hip, so when this quiz launched in 1965, it was introducing the masses to hitherto unchartered territory. Even the show’s resident expert, the thoroughly middle-class Arthur Negus, became somewhat of a celeb in its wake. The original run came to an end in 1977 and two years later The Antiques Roadshow was introduced to happily fill the void. So when Going for a Song came back in the mid-90s, it lasted for a few years but it was almost as if it was surplus to requirements, even with the thoroughly working-class Eric Knowles stepping into Negus’ shoes (Knowles receiving a custard pie square in the face in the video above was deemed to be far more entertaining than an excerpt from the show). Antiques were beginning to become commonplace on our screens and you can definitely have too much of a good thing. In fact it was only cooking that became more widespread, which leads us nicely on to…
Ready, Steady Cook
Of course cooking had to get in somewhere. The format here was simple: two contestants were given ten pounds to spend on a bag of ingredients, leaving the celebrity chef they found themselves paired up with to do their best with what was in front of them. It was generally fascinating at times to find out what they would come up with. The thing is, with every man and his dog fancying themselves as the next Tom Kerridge, and the rest having at least watched Bake Off or Masterchef with relish (no pun intended), such gastronomic feats are no longer seen as a black art and no doubt plenty watching at home would be able to come up with half-decent dishes of their own.
Pets Win Prizes
A little known and little remembered show from the mid-90s that ran for three series. Originally presented by Danny Baker, the reigns were passed over to (him again) Dale Winton for the second and third runs. Basically, this involved pet owners pitting their beloved companions – be it a dog, cat or rabbit, right through to snails – against competitors of the same kind in various games. This was regularly panned by the critics, but it was probably due in part to their frustration at the show never taking itself seriously. Be that as it may, whilst the vast majority of it all was harmless, there’s no way that it could escape the clutches of today’s animal rights activists (rightly or wrongly), which probably goes some way to explaining why it rarely, if ever, forms part of the Challenge schedules.