Wheel of Fortune (2)
Nicky Campbell (1988-96)
Bradley Walsh (1997)
John Leslie (1998-2000)
Paul Hendy (2001)
Angela Ekaette (1988)
Carol Smillie (1989-1994)
Jenny Powell (1995-2000)
Tracy Shaw (2000, stand-in)
Terri Seymour (2001)
Announcer: Steve Hamilton
STV for ITV, 19 July 1988 to 21 December 2001 (13 series)
(1988-9 co-production with Action Time)
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.
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.
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.
The Leslie generation
The programme's final host was Paul Hendy.
One out-take concerned John Leslie forgetting a contestant's name:
A female contestant in the Walsh era getting a puzzle right after just one letter had been revealed.
One man managed to spin the wheel the wrong way. It ruined the mechanism and the studio technicians spent hours trying to get it to work again.
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!"
"Let's call up the bank..."
"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!"
At the beginning of the show, originally: "Wheeeeel o-o-of Fortune!" followed by: "Your host - Nicky Campbell!" or, in later series: "With Nicky Campbell and Carol Smillie!"
From the original US game Wheel of Fortune, devised by Merv Griffin.
The theme is called Spin to Win by David Pringle and Bobbie Heatlie.
The opening titles from 1988 B.C. (Before Carol)
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. The cash prize was, for a while, the highest jackpot on British television, the previous highest amount having probably been (albeit briefly) the £3,200 offered on Lingo, but the £5,000 record was beaten in 1990 by The $64,000 Question's £6,400. When the IBA's restriction on gameshow winnings was dropped the prize fund went up to £10,000 in the early 90's and then to £20,000 by the late 90's. When the show moved to daytime in 2000 the prize fund was dropped to a "Fortune" of £2,000.
Tracy Shaw did a one week stint as co-host to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Coronation Street.
Waddingtons produced a tie-in board game, which rather bizarrely didn't actually mention that it was based on the TV show.
An LCD handheld game was also available.
An episode from 1989