In the Dark
Julian Clary (pilot)
Fuji International Productions and Fundamental Entertainment Television in association with United Productions and Meridian for ITV, 23 December 1996 (pilot)
United Productions and Meridian for Channel 5, 2 September 1998 to 2000 (2 series)
Nobody was more In The Dark about this show than its pilot host Julian Clary. It had a pilot over here and the format was considered a big success, being sold to lots of other countries, including America. Now, this was going to be the show that broke Julian Clary to the American public so a whole series was taped for American television. Six hours before the first show was due to go out it was pulled.
In the show, three couples try and do normal things but they've got to do it, and here's the mad and crazy twist, in the dark! Yes, collapse with laughter as people try and paint pictures when they can't even see the canvas in front of them! Watch normal people make fools out of themselves trying to clear up a mess they can't even see! Marvellous.
Julian Clary was a good frontman of the show, ready with the jokes and innuendo. What's more, during his pilot some of the games would involve a bit of Noel's House Party style 'you've been trying to serve your old schoolteacher!' style humiliation after the game. Of course, we knew all of the time because of the excellent zero-light cameras.
The couple that survive until the end get to play the final round for the big prize entitled The Dark Room. Here, one player goes into the dark room and tries to find a giant fuse, of which there were several in the room. To help, there was a light switch which would offer five intermittent short bursts of light when it was pushed. Once a fuse was found, they had to find the exit and when out, the fuse would be opened and a question inside read (which would always have a 'light' reference in the same way questions on Strike it Lucky would always have a reference to Striking it Lucky). Three correct answers wins the prize.
BUT! ITV didn't make a series even though it made the pilot. Instead, that prize went to Channel 5 where Clary was dropped in favour of Channel 5 celebrity and upcoming comic Junior Simpson. To be fair, the format was almost the same but it didn't seem quite as amusing, call it the Curse of Channel 5 if you like. First Junior Simpson is far too energetic for a late-night show. Secondly they took the surprise guest aspect out. Thirdly, it was Channel 5.
Perhaps the main criticism was that they made the cardinal sin of making the host give out the points for each game. If the viewer didn't agree with his verdict, they begin to dislike the host. Bad, bad, bad. No doubt this is why in Generation Game and its imitators they wheel on experts to do the marking.
See pictures of the set design by Andy Walmsley
Part 1 of the pilot episode.