Early TV Game Shows
If your family were lucky enough to have a television set in the 1950’s and 1960’s then these early game shows were ‘must sees’.
Reflecting a different time and culture in our recent past with stereotypical line-ups and not so innocent innuendos, game shows and quizzes made compelling viewing.
How many of these do you remember?
What’s My Line?
Originally broadcast on the BBC from 1951 to 1963, What’s My Line? was a light-hearted panel game where a team of four celebrities had to guess the occupation of a contestant.
The contestant would perform a mime of their (usually obscure) occupation and then field yes or no questions from the panel. A celebrity guest would also appear during the show and the panel, at that point wearing blindfolds, would try and identify the celebrity from their yes or no answers alone. The celebrity guest would try and make it more difficult for the panel by invariably trying to disguise their voice in some way.
Eamonn Andrews and Gilbert Harding were to host the show in rotation, but Andrews soon took over full-time and Harding became a regular panellist.
One memorable edition saw Eamonn Andrews playing a trick on the panel by becoming the mystery guest. Originally devised as a fall-back plan in case a guest had to drop out at short notice, the ruse had to be used on 7 December 1952 when the original celebrity pulled out due to the Great Smog which engulfed London that week.
Call My Bluff
First broadcast on BBC2 in 1965 Call My Bluff comprised two teams each trying to guess the correct definition of an obscure word from the Oxford English Dictionary from the three options given by the opposing team. Only one of these options would be the true definition.
Hosted originally by Robin Ray and later, more notably, by Robert Robinson with regular team captains Frank Muir, Patrick Campbell and Robert Morley, the lengthy, humorous definitions of the made up words resulted in Call My Bluff being a great hit with viewers.
The unscripted banter between the panellists really made the show and so it ran for an incredible 23 years.
Ask the Family
Ask the Family was a general knowledge quiz show involving two family teams of four, made up of two parents and their two teenage children.
Presented in a terribly middle-class manner and hosted by Robert Robinson the surprisingly difficult questions were on a variety of subjects. The show became famous for its picture puzzles, photographs of everyday objects taken in extreme close-up and of course its rather jazzy opening music.
Originally broadcast in 1967 Ask the Family ran for 17 years on BBC1.
The Golden Shot
First hosted by Jackie Rae in July 1967 and shown live on ITV, The Golden Shot initially failed to impress viewers and was on the verge of being cancelled but with a change of host in the guise of Bob Monkhouse in October 1967 the show began to pick up in the ratings.
Contestants chosen from viewers at home and the studio audience had to guide a blindfolded cameraman on a ‘tele-bow’ instructing him where to point the camera to fire and hit a target by shouting ‘up, down, left or right.’
Bob Monkhouse completely re-wrote the scripts, drew alternative designs for the targets and trimmed down some of the sections. With simple changes such as ‘Bernie the Bolt’ (instead of the original ‘Heinz the Bolt’) within 5 weeks The Golden Shot had increased its TV viewing figures by 50% and Monkhouse became the highest paid quiz-show host on television.
Top of the Form
Running originally as a radio quiz show Top of the Form progressed to become a TV series from 1962 to 1975.
Hosted by Geoffrey Wheeler the series saw secondary schools pitted against each other in a bid to become Top of the Form.
The series initially featured grammar schools but changed to accommodate comprehensive schools as grammar schools became less commonplace. As the series went on independent schools took part and increasingly dominated. The autumn 1967 series, however, featured only comprehensive schools.
The show was expensive to produce as it required two separate outside broadcast units and this, together with changes in the philosophy of education reportedly led to its ultimate demise.
Which one was your favourite?
Melina - Assistant Editor
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