Investigation: The Top 5 80’s Game Shows

There was much comment recently with the passing of perhaps the world’s most famous scientist since Einstein,  Stephen Hawking’s, and rightly so.

The work that the world famous late boffin  carried out on black holes and his attempts to bring a greater understanding to the many mysteries of the universe has inspired a generation of new scientists  to seek answers to the worlds mist difficult questions and his passing is a genuine loss for humanity.

With all the attention that Prof Hawking’s passing correctly received however it largely went unnoticed that in the same week as his passing the world also lost another genius, comedian Jim Bowen.

Okay so the comic and TV presenters work will unlikely see him have a newly discovered comet named after him but in his own field Bowens work was just as legendary.

Known to us all as the host of perhaps the greatest TV gameshow of all time,  Bullseye, Bowen entertained millions on Sunday evenings throughout the 80’s with our weekly  Bit of Bully.

And it’s should be remembered that the 80s were when game shows were at their zenith, so to be one of the most popular given the stiff competition at the time was quite a feat, but which show was the greatest?

Following extensive research (watching challenge TV for 2 days straight) below is The’s  top 5 definitive rundown  of the greatest  80’s game shows of all time.

#5 Catchphrase

Debut Year: 1986

Sunday nights weren’t  Sunday nights for those of us with the channels if we weren’t wondering what Mr Chips were doing.  The show was as simple as it could get, contestants were tasked with guessing what common sayings were being depicted in the animation before them.

Like Bullseye the original show had a tried and tested working man’s club comedian at the helm in the guise of Belfast native  Roy Walker. Oh how we laughed when  Roy would sneakily turn to the cameras and utter the immortal lines ‘its good but its not right’ when the answer given by the heavily permed lady from Leeds was clearly ridiculously wrong , ah simpler times. It has had a reboot in recent times but you just can’t beat the original!

When good catchphrase goes bad !

#4 Blockbuster

Debut Year: 1983

Give me a B please Bob!

Like catchphrase there was nothing overly confusing about Blockbuster. Contestants answered trivia questions based on a letter they had chosen and the first to get a connecting pattern across the board won.

Contestants were generally acne filled students from colleges and polytechnics across the UK. On of the more charming aspects of the show was the featuring of contestants mascots, usually a bear of some sort. Bob Holness, the impeccable polished host got great gas out of them altogether.

The final round The Gold Run  was filed with tension with the lowering of the house lights and shinning of  a spotlight on the  contestant as if they were about to be interrogated by some hard nosed FBI agent. Throw in one of the great TV game show theme songs of all time  and you had the perfect recipe for success.

Blockbuster boasted one of the greatest theme songs in TV history

#3 Family Fortunes

Debut Year 1980

Given that when most of us are asked to be part of a survey we run a mile,  few could have predicted that a show based on answering questions about surveys would be such a huge success.

Yes many an evening was wiled away wondering what the survey said.

A fun format with a likable host in the form of Les Dennis the show pitted families against each other to find out who could guess the most popular responses to public surveys undertaken by exactly 100 people.

The show relied on many staples including host Dennis’s weekly catchphrase ‘if the answer is there I’ll give you the money myself’ and of course the famous  wrong answer buzzer sound ehhhahhhh!!!

Interspersed with these was Dennis’s taking off of Mavis from Coronation Street on an almost weekly basis and you have the perfect family quiz.

Dennis of course has had quite the intriguing career since, he was famously (somehow) married to Amanda Holden who did the dirty allegedly with actor Neil Morrissey of Men Behaving Badly fame, had a public meltdown on Celebrity Big Brother, turned in a brilliant performance on an episode of Ricky Gervais Extras and eventually ended up on Coronation Street himself (without Mavis).

As with Catchphrase it has been rebooted in recent years with serial sex texter Vernon Kay at the helm with a Z list celebrity twist but the current incarnation will never match the Dennis heyday version.

Dennis turned in a brilliant performance on Ricky Gervais Extras 

#2 Where in the World

Debut Year: 1987

Sundays nights in the 80’s weren’t complete without Glenroe followed by the nation’s favourite weekly trivia test Where in the World. First presented by a very moustached Marty Whelan and later by the rather beautiful Theresa Lowe.

The family team quiz tested the memory metal of contestants across 4 rounds, the most famous of which being the anagram round. Who could forget Theresa’s sultry tones as she tried to give some helpful tips to contestants to help unjumble the letters to spell out different  places somewhere in the world?

We remember fondly the perms, the shoulder pads and the dodgy cardigans! Some of the women competitors get up was just as bad! Classic Stuff.

#1 Bullseye

Debut Year: 1981

Innnnnnn One !!! well there could only be one winner really couldn’t there.

Over the last 10 years or so darts has taken on a life of its own and is now a hugely popular main street sport but it wasn’t always thus!

Yes it’s safe to say without Bullseye there would be no Ally Paly and halls full of absolutely sideways fans dressed up as teenage mutant hero turtles cheering on the players at the oche!

A quiz show mixed with darts, who would have thought it would turn out to be the perfect mix.  The format saw 2 players per team, one a dart player and one quiz genius (or so both claimed) taken on 2 other teams.

The object was to win enough prizes to get to the final round where contestants could gamble the haul  they had amassed throughout the show against the mystery special prize,  which was invariable a speed boat or caravan .

Unlike any other quiz show at the time Bullseye had a bit of a nasty side in that if contestants decide to gamble and lost in the final round the contestants would be shown the prize in the now legendary ‘here’s what you could of won’ big reveal

Thanks to Jim, Bully and announcer Tony the iconic show means that when it comes to picking our top favourite 80’s TV gameshows you really can’t beat a bit of bully.

Some of the darts left a lot to be desired