Wheel of Fortune (2)



Nicky Campbell (1988-96)

Bradley Walsh (1997)

John Leslie (1998-2000)

Paul Hendy (2001)


Steve Hamilton - announcer (1988-2001)

Angela Ekaette (1988)

Carol Smillie (1989-1994)

Jenny Powell (1995-2000)

Tracy Shaw (2000, 1 show)

Terri Seymour (2000-01)


Scottish Television for ITV, 1988-2001


Everyone likes Hangman, right? Everyone likes spinning carnival wheels also, right? Some idiot genius came up with the idea of combining the two for this worryingly seminal word game.

A wall of lit boxes indicated the lengths of the words in the phrase that must be guessed, and a clue was given to what sort of phrase was to be guessed. Players took turns consisting of spinning the wheel to generate a random number of points, guessing a consonant that may have appeared in the puzzle and earning the spun sum of points for each appearance their chosen consonant made, until they spun "Lose A Turn", "Bankrupt" (which also lost them all their points for that round) or pick a letter which didn't appear, all turn-ending crimes. Vowels in the puzzle could also be revealed, but this costed the players points instead of generating them.

On their turn, players had the choice to also attempt to divine the nature of the phrase, a correct guess ending the round and winning a prize, chosen from three alternatives. Repeat four times (double points in the later two rounds, the last round eliminating all that tiring spinning to save time) and the top scorer got the chance to solve a puzzle with just the appearances of five chosen consonants and one selected vowel revealed. On solving the end puzzle, the contestant won £2,000. Previously when the show was transmitted in peaktime (moving to daytime in 1999) the option was £20,000 or a car (decided by the choice of a sealed envelope picked by the contestant).

The brilliant piece of cunning behind this game is that it was in players' interests to keep spinning and accumulating points for as long as possible before guessing what the phrase was to win the round. In this way it looked like the players didn't know what the phrase actually was; viewers at home almost certainly would have got the answer before the contestants on-screen and could enjoy happy minutes and seconds shouting out at it.

Campbell's corner

Most people will associate the game most firmly with fellow Scot Nicky Campbell, whose easy-going gentle nature brought the show high ratings. The role of the letter-turner (which, incidentally, went to semi-automatic on the US show in 1997) has also earned some degree of celebrity (or should that be notoriety?) from their roles - in particular, former model Carol Smillie is now a mega-celeb thanks to the Wheel and the recently British appetite for DIY makeover shows.

Carol Smillie and Nicky Campbell

Brad's Box!?

When Campbell left to pursue other interests, mainly going back to his DJ roots, seaside-comedian-type Bradley Walsh was introduced to the show in 1997. A few innovations were added to the format, such as Brad's Box - a special on-the-spot prize (for landing on a certain square) which was in... er... a box.

Bradley Walsh and Jenny Powell

The Leslie generation

John Leslie became the host in 1998, after Bradley left to become a father. Brad's Box became Leslie's Luxury! He'd come a long way since his game show hosting debut (Scavengers).

Jenny Powell and John Leslie

The programme's final host was Paul Hendy.

Key moments

One out-take concerned John Leslie forgetting a contestant's name:

John Leslie sees the funny side

A female contestant in the Walsh era getting a puzzle right after just one letter had been revealed.


Sign off towards the break - "We'll see you in the spin of a wheel" followed by that hand movement.

At the end of the show: "We'll see you next time around!"

"One spin of this wheel could mean a possible fortune!"

"It's time to leave this wheel behind and go for a possible fortune!" This was later shortened to: "Let's go for that fortune!"


From the original US game Wheel of Fortune, devised by Merv Griffin.

Theme music

The theme is called Spin to Win by David Pringle and Bobbie Heatlie.


Possibly the first ever show to use male models ("Prize Guys") to display the prizes.

When the show was first transmitted the contestant playing the final puzzle could choose to play either for a car, a luxury holiday or £5,000.

Tracy Shaw did a one week stint as co-host to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Coronation Street.


An LCD handheld game was available.

Web links

Wikipedia entry


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