Heaven and Hell Live!
Team captains: Katie Pukrick and Malcolm Jeffries
Illuminations for Channel 4, 19 August 1997 (pilot)
You know, just because something's groundbreaking that doesn't automatically make it good. Pneumatic drills fer instance. So the world's first interactive internet game show might sound like an impressive title to have but...
Set in a the virtual worlds of Purgatory, Heaven and Hell, the overbird of Purgatory named Dante (played by Mr Lister himself, Craig Charles) sets challenges to the Lost Souls of the world played by real actual avatars controlled by sad people who 'do' chat rooms at one o'clock in the morning.
The two main characters, representing Heaven and Hell respectively were:
Angelika Fox, a woman with big pointy breasts (something that was pointed out - hah! - many times over the show which is perhaps surprising and perhaps not) voiced by ex-boy band bloke Malcolm Jeffries, and
Johnny Demonic, a devil, voiced by ex-Sunday Show host Katie Puckrik.
The other 150 people there could side with either of those two, or they could be apathetic and just chat to each other. In fact most people sided with apathy, something we personally can't be bothered with.
Interestingly, our three main characters obviously weren't actually tapping away at the keyboard because they were looking at the screen and telling their operator what to type (we say sometimes because the actual chat box only sometimes bore some relation to what was being said). To be fair, the conversation between Craig, Malcolm, Kate and the various correspondents was perhaps the most interesting bit of the show and they did try and get into their avatar characters. A bit.
The graphics were... awful, basically, but this was 1997 and things have moved on, most of us have better than 16.6K connections for example. Purgatory was very brown, Heaven was very tasteless and Hell seemed to be modelled around the insides of the female genitalia.
So what of the challenges then (of which there were four)? They were these (apologies if they sound a bit vague, but even Charles himself admitted to reading out the rules for his own benefit rather more than anyone else's... we also include the scores as well just so you know what's going on):
Corporeal Treasure Hunt: Dante gives clues to the whereabouts of Rickets' body (the show's skeletal correspondent). These could be in purgatory, heaven or hell. We think it was ten Lost Souls for each bit found within the four minute time limit. Johnny: 10 - Angelika: 10.
Soul Stacking: Some gymnastics set in Heaven as Johnny and Angelika try and persuade as many lost souls as possible to jump on top of watch other for obvious reasons. And then for some reason they were asked to do some soul diving which meant diving off heaven through Purgatory into Hell, for no other reason other than the fact that it looked nice, or at least it would look nice if the frame rate wasn't so slow, with people commenting that they should 'put on more weight' and that they 'aren't affected by gravity'. Johnny: 30 - Angelika: 10 - and no, we're not sure how they came to that conclusion either.
Graveyard Pursuit: A bit like the original version of video board game Atmosfear, only not, the two characters start on opposite gravestones and try and catch each other up by answering general knowledge questions with Dante letting people advance for correct answers and being told to go backwards for particularly bad ones. Despite Angelika clearly winning, the total scores at this point are Johnny: 30 - Angelika: 9. Obviously. (Angel was fined a lost soul for apparently sucking up).
Finally, and with Charles swapping the scores around as much as three times between the last round and this one so nobody knows what was going on, we play Soul Gambling. Our two contestants amble around Hell looking for some Soul Pods. When one is found they gamble some of the Lost Souls they have. If it transports them to Heaven then they win double, if they land in Purgatory nothing happens and if they stay in Hell they lose the Souls. Funny because Katie Puckrick found loads and Malcolm Jeffries was obviously getting very annoyed because he couldn't find any. Final score: Johnny: 70 - Angelika 9.
So, a thoroughly deserved win then for a special one off programme which was very, very live and also very very very mediocre. We were meant to be playing the voyeur on this virtual world but the actual world itself was quite dull, the graphics weren't that impressive and people seemed rather overly fascinated by the fact that they could change their boob size. Still, the conversations almost saved the show. Almost.
You could order a CD before the show to take part online. We've thrown ours away.