Aloada Childhood Nostalgia 3: The Game Shows

Aloada Childhood Nostalgia 3: The Game Shows

‘Where am I?’
‘You’re in a room…’

‘Contenders, rrrrrready…’
‘Get out, get out…QUICKLY!’

It could signal the opening lines of a horror movie but in reality, hearing these lines repeated frequently as a child brought nothing but joy (and a small amount of embarrassment…) to my youth!

Did any of them ring a bell? I hope so because for the third installment of my throwback to TV glory days, it’s all about spellcasting

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The idea that Joe Bloggs can come in off the street and walk away with a cash prize or a ‘prestigious award’ is very appealing. Game shows are a staple on TV – whether it’s a bog standard quiz or pitting your culinary wits against challenges in Bake Off.   However, most of my favourites from growing up had a similar theme: a bit of treasure hunting, puzzles to solve and a physical, sporty task.

So, let’s kick off by going back…waaaay back…

FEEDING PLANTS IN OUTER SPACE

Come with me to the Plant Arg, inhabited by the shape-shifting Argonds (that looked suspiciously like dragons!) I don’t remember much about The Adventure Game as I was very young, but what I do recall was a weird plant that made bizarre noises! It needed feeding with tokens, collected by contestants who had travelled to the Argonds’ home turf.

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Aimed at kids, it had some cutting edge effects going on too: the last challenge was a cat and mouse game of direction. Moving around a board, blind, that traversed an ‘open void’ into space, one false move could see you being evaporated by the invisible Vortex. Unless you had some cheese rolls to sling in front of you to see if they got toasted first…

It was edge of the seat stuff, I tell you!

A GAME FOR CLARKE KENT?

Hosted by Gordon Burns and running for almost 20 years, The Krypton Factor was a big hit. The softly spoken presenter was like a kind uncle, who tried to be funny but came off lame, yet everyone loved him!

Much less high brow than University Challenge, I watched it with my Mum (as I did most of these shows) and we taxed our brains, along with the contestants, on challenges for observation, memory, general knowledge and mental agility.

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I think I thought we’d be signed up as international spies if we managed to work out the answers (many of the players were military): I think Mum was secretly testing me out for Mensa (disillusioned!) Oh, and then came the physical assault course at the end and I knew I was doomed to fail!

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Still, I had better dress sense, even back then, than most of this lot so #winning!

Oh, and you know that horrible plastic packaging that covers many an item these days? I still refer to it as being ‘like the Krypton Factor’ when I fail to open it. Every time!

POSH PUZZLERS

Treasure Hunt was high-octane adventuring around the British Isles, via top 80s technology – the audio link-up. Players joined presenter Kenneth Kendall (and the wonderfully name Wincy Willis) in a studio where they solved clues posed to them by Skyrunner, Anneka Rice ‘out in the field’.

Why was she a Skyrunner? Because she had a helicopter of course! And amaaaaaazing jumpsuits. I blame her for the shell-suit revolution!

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Racing against the clock, she would go where the contestants directed her, based on their interpretation of the clues, and sometimes had to endure tasks in order to receive the next clue from a member of the public.

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Anneka was all kinds of amazing – leaping over walls, jumping into rivers (from the helicopter, obvs!) and generally making bright yellow, all-in-one attire sexy. The cameramen that followed her about seemed to think so – there were plenty of bum shots!

By comparison, the contestants were quite dull and often incredibly posh! Plus, whilst Anneka was all girl-powered up, the female players appeared to be very happy if they were anything other than a housewife, like it was an unheard of achievement!

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When Miss. Rice left (to ‘challenge’ herself), another Skyrunner took her place – Miss. Croft (sadly not Lara). Annabelle, a former British no.1 tennis player, was lovely and she even ended up in my neck of the woods one episode. Alas, it wasn’t as good anymore – taking the shoulder pads out of the jumpsuits just didn’t cut it!

ON MY FIRST WHISTLE…

Ah Gladiators, you were my cheesy, Saturday-night guilty pleasure! And the guilty pleasure of many a teenage boy if Jet was anything to go by…

JET 1995

A team of ‘Gladiators’ (former body builders, sports personalities and the like) were the main obstacle to overcome by the contenders, as they tackled assault courses and went head-to-head in physical battles.

I don’t know why I liked it so much, it’s not as if I thought I could do better than them (as I did with most of the other game shows) – the Pyramid alone was probably outside the scope of my short legs’ stretching capabilities!

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Wolf was the Gladiator everyone loved to hate, being frequently red-carded for hostility towards contenders. And the strong Scottish tones of referee John Anderson’s instructions (Gladiatorrrrrs, rrrrrready!) became a national institution.

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But it was Eunice Huthart who was the real success story. After appearing on the show as a contender (and winning), she later returned as Gladiator Blaze and not only took the show worldwide but became a stunt woman, appearing in movies such as Goldeneye, Tomb Raider and The Avengers. Oh and she became such good friends with Angelina Jolie that she’s godmother to her daughter, Shiloh. Living the dream…

A ROCKY HORROR PICTURE PUZZLE

The Crystal Maze was the cool, modern sibling of the Krypton factor. Entering as a team, players were guided around the different zones, such as Futuristic, Aztec (my favourite) or Medieval. There they would undergo tasks in differing categories, to try and win a crystal to exchange for time in the Crystal Dome.

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You couldn’t see your team, only hear them. There was a risk of being locked in (it was a race against time) and you were at an even higher risk of being humiliated by host, Richard O’ Brien!

Better known for writing the fabulous Rocky Horror Show and appearing as Riff Raff in the film, the bald wonder would strut his acidic wit about the maze, periodically whipping out his harmonica (the musical instrument of course!) I can’t blame him for the sarcastic comments when contestants were like this one though…

Some other dude took over when Richard left, but frankly he isn’t worth remembering. Which is why I haven’t. However, joy of joys, you can now PLAY THE CRYSTAL MAZE YOURSELF! A full sized replica has just opened in London and teams or individuals can give it a shot, hoping to win enough time to flail around in the Dome and grab a bit of sweet wrapper. Anyone want to join my team?

BUCKET BOFFINS

Love role play? Like a bit of campaigning on the old D&D trail? Still need a pixel fix? Then my final entry, Knightmare, is right up your street!

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Aimed at children 8yrs upwards, a team of four dungeoneers would be welcomed by Tregaurd and set forth on their quest. One member of the team would don a helmet (obscuring their vision) and then be guided through the various locations by their team mates.

Along the way, you would encounter foes and fairies, giant spiders and sorcerers. You have to replenish your strength by collecting food and take down enemies or heal yourself by spellcasting. It was awesome!

Oh did I mention I was on it? No? That’s because I wasn’t… but it nearly happened. My friends and I loved it so much that I wrote off to appear on the show and we got an audition! In preparation for the big day, we spent hours commanding each other (actually just me – I’d been elected explorer) around our living rooms, sidestepping left and right to avoided obstacles.

Naturally, like all good method actors, I wanted to immerse myself in the experience. So what did I use to obscure my vision? A bucket on my head of course! I’m sure my friends just thought it was hilarious watching me and weren’t taking it seriously at all.

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Which is probably why we didn’t pass the audition. That, and the fact that after travelling across the country to the studios in Birmingham, our ‘skill based test’ didn’t require me to demonstrate my prowess under a plastic blindfold box.

It was a maths test. And we sucked at maths. We lost out to a bunch of boys who had clearly never seen sunlight and probably had lifetime passes to Mensa.

I’m not bitter. Do I sound bitter? *sigh*…

I hope you enjoyed the trip to the game show archives. Which ones were your favourite childhood prize givers? Do let me know in the comments and thanks for reading!


Image Credits: YouTube, Pinterest, telegraph.co.uk, denofgeek.com and gameological.com.

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40 thoughts on “Aloada Childhood Nostalgia 3: The Game Shows

  1. I used to love all of these game shows, though ‘Crystal Maze’, ‘Krypton Factor’ and Knightmare’ were my favourites. 🙂 Thanks for the information about the Crystal Maze in London. I’ve been saying for a while now that I need to visit my brother in London – that might have to be a place to visit while I’m down there!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome – you’ll have to let me know how it goes if you decide to get a team together. We’re in London next month but only overnight, otherwise I’d be signing up straight away!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I know, it was rubbish! It’s not like you even had to solve maths questions on the show. I think they were intimidated by the ingenuity of my bucket. 😉

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  2. Oh my – this has taken me waaay back! The Crystal Maze was a particular favourite of mine, even when Ed Tudor-Pole took over, it still maintained it’s magic. Not quite as magical as some of the contestants’ hairstyles, but that’s another story. Knightmare was a surprisingly scary after school show. Some friends and I always ‘sort of’ wanted to go on it but were actually too nervous. So I applaud your bravery!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Haha, thank you! I’m sure it was stupidity rather than bravery – I think wearing a bucket on my head for a prolonged period affected my decision making!
      The hairstyles were a marvel – Pat Sharpe’s especially… 😉

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      1. I find that very inspired, in fact. I can’t believe no one has thought to bring that show back – although today’s kids might find it a bit low-tech!
        Pat Sharpe, what a legend! But I now have the theme tune to Fun House blaring through my head… could be worse 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Apologies! I seem to be guilty of filling people’s heads (mine included) with random TV themes with these nostalgia posts. My cartoon edition had me singing Defenders of the Earth and Poddington Peas for weeks!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Down at the bottom of the garden… among the birds and the bees… there’s a lot of little people… called the Poddington Peas!
        No apology needed – this is fairly awesome, to be fair 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  3. A group of kids from my school managed to bag a place on a kid’s game show. I seem to think it was called time team, although I could be making that up…
    They held a fairly legendary status for a while, well until it was aired and we all saw one of them fall over in spectacular style and that they didn’t actually do very well. Oh the fickle world of fame….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ooh I wonder if it was Time Busters? That’s the one we were invited on after failing the Knightmare audition. But as it involved actual running, as opposed to a leisurely stroll in front of a green screen, we bailed! Good job, I’d have totally been the one hitting the deck and laughed out of school!!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I loved al of these and actually met the Treasure Hunt team at a book signing event in Selfridges. It was avid viewing for me and I never missed it. Thanks for the information about The Crystal Maze opening in London. I’ll have to check it out. I remember it being in Blackpool, one year I was there, and we had great fun running around the maze trying to solve the puzzles without getting locked in. It would be great if some of these shows came back to our screens.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’d love it if they resurrected them – or even just repeated them. (They’re generally never the same with a reboot are they?) I love the fact you met the TH team 😊 If you pay a visit to the new maze, hope you’ll do a post and tell us all about it!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I never watched Funhouse that much – I think Pat Sharpe’s mullet disturbed me! Yeah, I’m still gutted about Knightmare. We were invited to go on another, new show as a consolation (Time Busters) – but we found out it involved actual running and climbing stuff so thought, nah! Besides, it never aired for about 4 years after we auditioned so how embarrassing would that have been, seeing yourself looking like a time traveling dork when you’re 17!
      Just been reminded of another kids game show though – Finders Keepers. Loved that (contestants were dozy though!)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I used to love Gladiators and as I was quite young I used to have a tantrum if the contestant I wanted to win wasn’t winning. My tantrums were never as big as Wolf’s though! Thanks for the nostalgia. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. “The Water Babies” was my first real book at age 6, and watching “The Treasure Hunters” clip gave me insight into my lifelong fascination with the British Isles. Same language as mine but so culturally different from the U.S. I was just about to go into my Everything British is Better mode when I watched the Gladiator clip, oh I see, much more low-brow Americanized. I will never forget the first time I visited England, and watched British news. It was delivered at a much higher level than the sensationalized American news I was used to. Your post has been nostalgia for me, but of a different sort, reminding me of my four trips to what I consider is the Land of Literature. That Treasure Hunters clip makes me want to go back to visit Yorkshire. Is the land still so pristine?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So nice to hear from you! Don’t know if you realised but I posted on your blog the other day to see if you were ok, as not ‘seen’ you about.
      As a Yorkshire girl, born and bred as they say, I have to say it is still pristine! There are some beautiful places in Yorkshire, as there are across the UK. But like everywhere else, there are good parts and rough parts!
      Yes, that’s why Gladiators was my guilty pleasure. Not going to tax any brain cells with that one! Still, I’d be hopeless if trying to compete in it. 🙂

      Like

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        Liked by 1 person

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