Andy Craig


Action Time in association with Jay Wolpert Enterprises for BBC1, 15 October 1990 to 8 February 1991 (74 episodes in 1 series)


This was a morning quiz show, hosted by Andy Craig, which ran for one series.

Two contestants faced questions on four subjects selected from about 20 on the wall board, such as cookery, nature, radio and art. An expert on each subject would then be brought on, and the contestants competed on a buzzer question in order to have first pick of expert, who might be a museum curator on art, a cookery writer on food, or a known "name" like Chris Packham on nature or the late Bill Cotton on television.

Round One was a buzzer round, with most questions being straightforward, for example, "Which Flemish artist was court painter to King Henry the Eighth?" (Hans Holbein), though some questions began as if asking about one subject and switched to another: "In cookery, a fungus shaped like a cornucopia is called a Horn of Plenty, but Kenneth Horne and Richard Murdoch starred in which long-running radio comedy series?" (Much Binding In The Marsh) - contrived, but a trap for the early buzzer-in! The experts could be nominated to assist the contestant, though quite often the art and nature experts couldn't give much help on cookery or radio! It also didn't help matters that only the contestant could buzz: had the experts been able to, they may have been able to work out when best to buzz and therefore answer the question, but of course, that would have been far too easy - and no doubt there were viewers who enjoyed seeing said experts dropped right in it and thus completely flummoxed on their own subjects. Craig was always only too keen to point out when the experts had been majorly caught on the hop by an over-eager contestant's buzzing.

There followed an Expert round (four questions to each expert, on his/her speciality, e.g. Cookery - What is a Glasgow Magistrate? A herring), then the Head to Head, where contestants answered alternately, still on the four subjects. A wrong answer anywhere in this round "froze" your score - if you were behind at that stage, you lost immediately, but if you had been ahead, you had to sit helplessly whilst your opponent could continue answering until they'd either passed your score or got a question wrong and had their own score "frozen".

The points winner went on into the Time Climb final round, to win a "luxury weekend for two in Paris". Here Expert 1 of the contestant's team was asked questions until he had given three right answers, then Expert 2 had to get four right, and finally the contestant had to answer five right, to reach a total of twelve answers within 90 seconds. Progress was marked on a multi-coloured Eiffel Tower at the side of the screen, lighting up progressively from the base.


The show had the distinction of being the first BBC quiz during which viewers were asked a question and could phone a premium line to win a £100 prize, if selected. Profits from the phone line went towards the programme costs, and it was found that the numbers calling in rose when easy questions were asked (What is the capital of France?) but fell sharply if the difficulty level went up (What is the capital of Bulgaria?). The BBC loved the money-earning idea, and quickly extended it to other shows, but later found a problem: shows couldn't be repeated without the "phone-in" question being edited out.


"...So you're through to the Time Climb..."

"...We're playing, remember, for that romantic weekend in Paris..."


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