Game Show Spoofs

(Invented game shows)
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*[[Through the Keyhole]] - Way back in its TV-am days, there was once a spoof edition with Peter Cook as [[Loyd Grossman]], poking around Loyd's home.  
*[[Through the Keyhole]] - Way back in its TV-am days, there was once a spoof edition with Peter Cook as [[Loyd Grossman]], poking around Loyd's home.  
*[[Top of the Form]] - spoofed in ''At Last the 1948 Show''. A reworked version of the sketch later turned up in ''The Secret Policeman's Other Ball''.
*[[Top of the Form]] - spoofed in ''At Last the 1948 Show''. A reworked version of the sketch later turned up in ''The Secret Policeman's Other Ball''.
*[[University Challenge]] - memorably demolished by ''The Young Ones'', with real-life UC contestant [[Stephen Fry]] among the guest stars, and Griff Rhys-Jones providing the definitive "interpretation" of the [[Bamber Gascoigne]] role. '''[ Watch the clip]'''. Griff also gave us his Bamber in a ''Not The Nine O'Clock News'' sketch involving a supergrass being quizzed UC-style. The 2006 film ''Starter for Ten'' revolved around the lives and loves of a 1980s University Challenge team and featured a turn by Mark Gatiss as Bamber. The format was also copied for a Labour party political broadcast in 1970.
*[[University Challenge]] - memorably demolished by ''The Young Ones'', with real-life UC contestant [[Stephen Fry]] among the guest stars, and Griff Rhys-Jones providing the definitive "interpretation" of the [[Bamber Gascoigne]] role. '''[ Watch the clip]'''. Griff also gave us his Bamber in a ''Not The Nine O'Clock News'' sketch involving a supergrass being quizzed UC-style. The 2006 film ''Starter for Ten'' revolved around the lives and loves of a 1980s University Challenge team and featured a turn by Mark Gatiss as Bamber. The format was also copied for a Labour party political broadcast in 1970.
<div class="image">[[Image:Universitychallenge scumbag bambispoof.jpg|400px]]''"Toxteth O'Grady, USA"''</div>
<div class="image">[[Image:Universitychallenge scumbag bambispoof.jpg|400px]]''"Toxteth O'Grady, USA"''</div>

Revision as of 01:01, 7 March 2009

Good Game Guides - Articles



Whenever you're doing a sketch show, the easy fallback position is to target the game show. So easy to parody, the laughs almost write themselves. Er, quite. Here is our own half-assed attempt to catalogue some of the finer moments of British comedy masquerading as incisive comment. Also listed are other places and references where you might not otherwise expect game show action to pop up.

Spoofs of real game shows

  • The Apprentice - Spoofed by Kombat Opera as "The Applicants".
  • Ask the Family - Not The Nine O'Clock News re-imagined this as a contest between the Brainies and the Smaughtarses, two "perfectly ordinary" families of quantity surveyors. Watch the clip
  • Bargain Hunt - Taken off by the Dead Ringers impersonation team, and Harry Hill.
  • Big Brother - Virtually every show under the sun's taken this off. Graham Norton and SM:TV Live and to name just two. The celebrity version also featured heavily in the finale of Ricky Gervais' Extras, with a fine performance by Lionel Blair.
  • Blankety Blank - Done by Have I Got News for You as Blunketty Blunk and Dick and Dom in Da Bungalow as (you guessed it) Muckety Muck.
  • Bullseye - done by Naked Video. Watch the clip (scroll to 2:34)
  • Bruce's Price is Right - A clip of this features in the film Little Voice. Also, the Lenny Henry Show spoofed this with The Price is Correct.
  • Call My Bluff became Scrape My Barrel introduced by The Chairman of the Robert Robinson Fan Club on End of Part One.
  • The Chair - Parodied on SM:TV Live
  • Come Dancing - As sent up by Eric Idle's post-Python series Rutland Weekend Television. Watch the clip
  • Countdown - Yes, yes, we all know the Fry and Laurie sketch with Simon Sad and Liz Tragic (SLOBLOCK doesn't even have 9 letters!) - Watch the clip. But did you spot a snatch of the show in the film About A Boy, and thusly the accompanying video for Something to Talk About by Badly Drawn Boy? The Big Breakfast did Countdown Under (see what they did there?)
  • The Crystal Maze - Three of note here: Steve Punt gurning as a skullcapped Richard O'Brien inviting teams to do the Making a Cup of Tea game in The Mary Whitehouse Experience. The Adam & Joe Show, RO'B was played by Yoda who accompanied a load of Star Wars toys. And in Tony Robinson's Maid Marian and her Merry Men it featured in the entire last half of one episode, featuring Wayne Morris as Robin Hood doing a spookily accurate version of RO'B.
  • Deal or No Deal - Impressively, this was spoofed by at least three shows in its first year on air. Dick and Dom had Muck or No Muck with Ian Kirkby donning the beard, as did Rory Bremner and Jon Culshaw in the spoofs in their shows (Bremner, Bird and Fortune and Dead Ringers), neither sounding much like Noel Edmonds, but it was nice of them to try. Culshaw even appeared on DOND itself for the first birthday special, in his Edmonds guise.
  • Double Your Money - Spoofed by That Was The Week That Was with David Frost as a Russian Hughie Green and Lance Percival as the "normal" Hughie Green.
  • Dragons' Den - Done by Messrs Enfield and Whitehouse in Harry and Paul.
  • Family Fortunes - Appeared on an episode of sitcom Barbara and, when Les Dennis was on it, Celebrity Big Brother series 2.
  • Film Buff of the Year - Blue Film Buff of the Year from Naked Video. Watch the clip (scroll to 7:14).
  • Find the Link - spoofed in an advert for Cadbury's Drinking Chocolate which was the second ad ever shown on ITV (after the famous one for Gibbs' SR toothpaste).
  • The Generation Game was spoofed by LWT sketch series End of Part One in the form of Larry Grayson's Fat Ladies Embarrassment Game Watch the clip.
  • Going for a Song was spoofed by Do Not Adjust Your Set.
  • The Golden Shot was parodied on The Benny Hill Show as The Golden Shoot, with Hill impersonating then-host Bob Monkhouse (during the latter's first stint); Bernie the Bolt was changed to Barney the Bolt.
  • Hard Spell - As Muck Spell, this was one of Dick and Dom's more successful games.
  • The Krypton Factor - the lesser-known of the A Bit of Fry and Laurie take-offs.
  • Lose a Million, staggeringly, was deemed worthy enough to appear in the Brit horror flick Shallow Grave. Answers on a postcard...
  • Mastermind - Again, too many to mention really, but the stand-out must shurely go to the Two Ronnies' Sketch, specialist subject: Answering the Question Before Last - Watch the clip. On the Benny Hill Show it was Masterbrane, Paul Hogan's show did Thickhead and Lenny Henry's show did (it says here) Masterbonk. Even Magnus Magnusson himself once hosted a spoof version which appeared out of the blue during an edition of Wogan on April Fool's Day 1987 . There was also Strip Masterbrain, at which point we draw a veil.
"He's a fat man who tells blue jokes."
  • Mr and Mrs / Sion a Sian - Rob Brydon loves this format so much, he's sent it up in at least two of his shows. A version of the quiz was a regular feature of the first series of The Keith Barret Show, and an extract from the real thing provided one of the better items in the generally disappointing Directors Commentary. Do you think he might be angling for a job? Meanwhile, Boredom Television sold their other camera to produce another series of Mr and Mr and Mrs for End Of Part One.
  • Name That Tune was another target for the Benny Hill Show.
  • Opportunity Knocks, in the Bob Monkhouse incarnation, was sent up and knocked down by the cast of Radio Active, in the 1987 episode Mike Says... Here's a Bit of Talent.
  • A Question of Sport - taken off by The Fast Show's 'Chanel 9' (without once making comic reference to Chris Waddle) and A Bit of Fry & Laurie. Watch the Fast Show clip and Watch the Fry and Laurie clip
  • Play Your Cards Right - Played with Brucie as part of Have I Got News for You but using the Iraq War playing cards instead. "Please, this is satire!" Priceless. Also, the Lenny Henry Show did Bonk Your Cards Right. We must have been out that evening. Like at the knitting club or something.
  • The Pyramid Game - as spoofed by Rik Mayall and Victoria Wood in Wood & Walters. Watch the clip here
  • Runaround - appeared on The Big Breakfast as Punaround.
  • Sale of the Century - The Benny Hill Show spoofed this with Sale of the Half-Century. Ho ho! You may stop laughing now.
  • Take Your Pick - The Yes/No interlude was taken off by Tony Hancock and John Junkin on an episode of the variety programme The Blackpool Show in 1966. Watch the clip.
  • Telly Addicts - appears on the video for Blur's It Could Be You.
  • Through the Keyhole - Way back in its TV-am days, there was once a spoof edition with Peter Cook as Loyd Grossman, poking around Loyd's home.
  • Top of the Form - spoofed in At Last the 1948 Show. A reworked version of the sketch later turned up in The Secret Policeman's Other Ball.
  • University Challenge - memorably demolished by The Young Ones, with real-life UC contestant Stephen Fry among the guest stars, and Griff Rhys-Jones providing the definitive "interpretation" of the Bamber Gascoigne role. Watch the clip. Griff also gave us his Bamber in a Not The Nine O'Clock News sketch involving a supergrass being quizzed UC-style. The 2006 film Starter for Ten revolved around the lives and loves of a 1980s University Challenge team and featured a turn by Mark Gatiss as Bamber. The format was also copied for a Labour party political broadcast in 1970.
"Toxteth O'Grady, USA"
  • Ultra Quiz - also fell victim to the Radio Active team, in the 1984 episode Gigantaquiz.
  • The Weakest Link - most people will give the props to Frank Skinner for this one (for kicking a Maureen when she's down), but 2d:TV had a line in Anne Robinson sketches. Children in Need did a Doctor Who Dead Ringers Weakest Link. Live & Kicking did a parody called "The Leakiest Sink" with Sarah Cawood as Anne Robinson. Mitchell and Webb spoofed it (far too late - 2006 is hardly the zeitgeist, chaps) as Hole in the Ring.
  • Wheel of Fortune - spoofed by Alexei Sayle's Stuff, complete with the Up the Chimney bonus round. Also featured in the Tony Wilson biopic 24 Hour Party People.
  • Whodunnit? - given the End Of Part One treatment.
  • Who Wants to be a Millionaire? - okay, so we've had Who Wants to Be A Foreign Millionaire?, Who Wants to Win a Mini On Air? (The Big Breakfast), Someone's Going to be a Millionaire (TFI Friday), Who Wants To Sing Walking In The Air?, and Who Wants To Die On Air? And that's just the made-up formats. Meanwhile, Slumdog Millionaire, a 2008 British film based around the Indian version Kaun Banega Crorepati, was a massive critical and box office hit, winning four Golden Globes, seven BAFTAs, eight Oscars and a mighty truckload of other prizes.
  • Win, Lose or Draw - Dick and Dom again...
  • The whole lot: The 2005 Doctor Who episode "Bad Wolf" was based on the premise of a broadcaster in the far future plucking people from Earth and forcing them to take part in futuristic - and generally deadly - versions of current gameshows and makeover programmes. We got to see their versions of The Weakest Link (hosted by the "Anne Droid"), Big Brother and What Not To Wear; other shows broadcast by the Bad Wolf Corporation included "Call My Bluff with real guns, Countdown where you've got 30 seconds to stop the bomb going off, Ground Force which is a nasty one, you get turned into compost, Wipeout speaks for itself, oh, and Stars in Their Eyes... if you don't sing you get blinded."

Political spoofs

Some programmes have been presented as game shows to make some kind of political or social point. In some cases, the fictional nature of the show has been hidden from the viewers until the end of the broadcast, although in truth it's not that hard to tell when something's been scripted to the hilt.

  • The Great Big Giveaway Show, hosted by Neil and Christine Hamilton (and with announcements by Darren Day!), was actually part of a police sting operation filmed for Channel 5's documentary Donal MacIntyre's Big Sting. Seventeen fine-dodgers were lured to Portsmouth Guildhall, supposedly to take part in a big money gameshow - and were promptly nicked. So remember, if you're on the run from the law and you get an invitation to take part in a gameshow you never applied for, held in a location that isn't a TV studio and hosted by people you could never in a million years imagine fronting a big money quiz, it may be a trap. Later in the series, MacIntyre also pulled the same stunt in Leeds, with the Richard Whiteley-hosted Just the Ticket.
  • Also making a serious point was the one-off Come On Down and Out, a spoof produced for Channel 4's Gimme Shelter season in 1993, in which homeless people (played by actors) competed to win a house. It was hosted by Andrew O'Connor and Annabel Giles.
  • In 1997, a company called Hubris made a one-off show for Channel 4 in 1997 called A Date With... hosted by Tony Slattery. The show was Blind Date for disabled people, with Slattery making inappropriate jokes at the expense of the contestants. Over the credits, the continuity announcer revealed that the show was in fact a spoof - it turned out all the contestants were trained actors etc. The programme was promoted as a real game show but, as such, few people took any notice of it.
  • Not quite a spoof, but then not quite a game show either, 2008's two-part Horizon special How Mad are You? placed ten people in a castle, gave them tasks, and challenged three psychiatric experts to pick out the five people who had previously been diagnosed with mental health disorders. Paul McGann narrated.

Invented game shows

A few nods to game shows that didn't really exist, even if some of them sounded rather promising:

  • Monty Python's Flying Circus did a number of game show spoofs, the most complete of which was probably Blackmail whereby a well-known politician had to ring in and stop the money clock before too many compromising details were, er, compromised. . Others included Spot The Braincell (a reworking of At Last The 1948 Show's "Nosmo Claphanger Show" - see below), Stake Your Claim and The World Forum Trivia Game (shurely one for the National Geographic channel?).
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set featured a game show so complicated that by the time the rules had been explained, there was no time for the actual game. This sketch (penned by Eric Idle) had previously appeared on radio in I'm Sorry I'll Read That Again and was later redone by the Python team on the LP Monty Python's Previous Record. If you have Flash, you can hear the ISIRTA version on the SOTCAA Python Pages - scroll down to point 4.
  • 2DTV suggested Paper in the Bin.
  • In The New Statesman, the Honorable Member for Haltemprice, Alan B'Stard, featured on a quiz game called What's the Question? hosted by Nicholas Parsons.
  • At Last The 1948 Show amalgamated The Golden Shot, Double Your Money and Take Your Pick into The Nosmo Claphanger Show with John Cleese as an amalgam of all the worst aspects of Bob Monkhouse, Hughie Green and Michael Miles.
  • Only Fools And Horses featured the incomprehensible Goldrush, hosted by Jonathan Ross, though only because ITV wouldn't let them use Who Wants to be a Millionaire?. They're actually using the set at the BBC centre for people who come in on tours!
  • Tyneside children's drama Byker Grove featured Ritual Humiliation. And that wasn't just Ant and Dec's haircuts. Oi!
  • Father Ted gave us Morning Quiz hosted by closet alcoholic Henry Sellers and The Eoin McLove Show on which Ted's specialist subject was William Shatner's Tek Wars.
  • Radio sketch show A Look Back At The Nineties gave us what sounded at the time like the ultimate bad-taste quiz "Are They Dead Yet?". Not long after, Simon Mayo did it for real and no-one batted an eyelid.
  • Yes, Quizzlestick! OK, it wasn't real, but between you and us... nobody's noticed. Or they have and they don't care. Adam and Joe also did a spoof of 100% called 200%, but that's less well remembered.

"...unless it's a general knowledge question."
  • Dale Winton challenges Renton to 'Take the Test' in the film Trainspotting.
  • In 2005, the Beeb's speculative docu-drama If... TV Goes Down The Tube featured The Cage, a boring reality show of 2015 in which some people are, er, locked in a cage, and one of them commits suicide on air.
  • Quickfire, the quiz game hosted by Bob Martin in the comedy drama of the same name. (The title character host was played by Michael Barrymore, who co-wrote the script with Bob Mills.)
  • I'm Alan Partridge contained numerous references to Skirmish, a military quiz Alan apparently hosted on that well-known cable TV station, UK Conquest. At one point there were plans to actually make an episode of this show as a one-off, but they came to nothing, alas.
  • Kenny Everett's Star Quiz took celebrity guests and completely humiliated them. It featured on The Kenny Everett Video Show (or Video Cassette) where the likes of Bernard Manning, Terry Wogan and Billy Connolly were given a good gunging for failing to utter a silly secret word (e.g. Rampart) whilst being asked questions such as "A British Prime Minister on a famous occasion said 'You've never had it so good'. How many furlongs in a mile?".
  • One of the regular features of Channel 4's not-very-funny comedy series Balls of Steel was presenter Alex Zane duping real members of the public into taking part in various unfair game shows, such as "Alex Zane's Buzzing Game" (with a dodgy buzzer that wouldn't buzz when it was supposed to, and did when it wasn't), "Alex Zane's Lying Game" in which contestants were hooked up to a "lie detector" (actually an air-conditioning unit with bicycle lights attached) and "Alex Zane's Cleverness Game", a Mastermind-like quiz with a lot of incorrect answers. Generic catchphrase: "Nice to see you - yes it is."
  • It's a Shame! was a recurring skit on a late series of Going Live!. Hosts Trevor and Simon hosted a show with no budget, no prizes, no shame, and no respite from their silliness.
  • Victoria Wood's character in BBC's dinnerladies, Bren, appeared on "Totally Trivial", which was hosted by Henry Kelly.
  • The last episode of Jonathan Creek (which incidentally featured Bamber Gascoigne in a cameo) satirised celebrity reality shows with a sub-plot involving the programme Animal Farm, in which minor celebs lived in a pig sty, with pigs. Eyebrows were raised when, mere weeks after this episode first aired, Five announced they were making The Farm. (Thing of note: many years earlier, Creek creator/writer David Renwick also penned the Two Ronnies' "Mastermind" sketch.)
  • For BBC Three's Mischief, Danny Robins devised a deliberately bad taste reality show, Let's Make A Baby (a.k.a. IMPREGnation) in which thirteen strangers would share a house and the first couple to conceive would win a hundred grand each. Robins and David Brook (the man behind Quiz Nation) then toted it around the international formats fair in Cannes to see if anyone would go for it. Which quite a few did.
  • Marc Wootton's High Spirits With Shirley Ghostman featured Spirit Academy, supposedly a search for new "psychic talent". Which turned out to be an uncannily accurate premonition of the subsequent Britain's Psychic Challenge. Spooky!
  • The comedy show Rob Brydon's Annually Retentive featured Brydon playing himself (or at least an approximation thereof) as host of the invented game show Annually Retentive, a celebrity panel game about years gone by, which shamelessly steals rounds from Have I Got News for You, Never Mind the Buzzcocks and the like. The programme cuts between the panel show (which is recorded as a real show) and its production meetings and suchlike (which are scripted).
  • That Mitchell and Webb Sound/Look gave us the maths quiz that EVERYONE is talking about - NumberWang! The writers have suggested that it's the opposite joke to Quizzlestick.
  • Fry and Laurie created Dont Be Dirty!, "the show that shows that you don't have to be dirty."
  • The Armstrong and Miller Show introduced the fantastically pointless 1950s panel game How Many Hats?, complete with panellists based on Gilbert Harding, Isobel Barnett and David Nixon.
  • Sketch programme The Peter Serafinowicz Show featured "television's most futile game shows", including Heads Or Tails and Who Would Like to Win £100. There was also X Factor spoof You're a C**t, Big Brother clone 'Clone House and call-to-lose channel Riddles to Riches.
  • The Outer Hebrides Broadcasting Corporation brought us the simplistic 'Come On Now, Out With It' as part of Naked Video. Watch clip (scroll to 2:50)
  • Channel 4 laughed at overnight premium-rate quiz shows on Swizzcall; by the show's airing in October 2007, the genre was fast becoming history.
  • ITV's big drama hope for 2008, Rock Rivals, revolved around two judges on a fictional X Factor-style talent show. In a weird blurring of reality and fiction, at the end of the series viewers were asked to vote for which fictional act should "win" the show-within-the-show.
  • I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue once presented The Quiz of Quizzes, which packaged elements from Play Your Cards Right, 15-to-1, Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, Countdown, Family Fortunes, Just a Minute, Deal or No Deal and The Weakest Link into 5 minutes & 48 seconds, precisely.
  • 2008 brought us Peter Kay's one-off talent show spoof Britain's Got the Pop Factor and Possibly a New Celebrity Jesus Christ Soapstar Superstar Strictly on Ice... hosted by the real Cat Deeley. Taking the joke a stage further, or milking it beyond what is strictly decent (you decide!), a spoof follow-up to the spoof show (so is that a double negative, thus making it a real show, or what?), Britain's Got an Extra Pop Factor and Then Some 2 + 1, was presented by Ben Shephard.
  • Still in casting shows, Search for a Sexxbomb appeared in the 2009 series of Skins. The game sought a new member for a salacious band, and included the obligatory sob story from every contestant. And Scott Mills hosting.
  • And finally, who could forget Spitting Image's ultimate Paul Daniels hosted game show: Knock Your Odd Block Mr Family Price Lines-2-1?


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