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Movies & TV

04th Oct 2019

21 game shows ranked from worst to best

Ciara Knight


Game shows are the perfect accompaniment to any activity.

Preparing dinner? Stick on a game show. Painting the living room? Stick on a game show. Eating a sandwich? Stick on a game show. Stick on a game show? Stick on a game show.

Britain has truly struck gold when it comes to TV shows of the gaming variety. The options are endless, as is the discourse surrounding them. When it comes to shouting “You idiot! Everyone knows that!” at the telly, you’re spoiled for choice.

Some game shows are excellent, while some are slightly less so. It’s nothing personal, just some formats are complete dog shit. We’ll still watch them, though. That’s our God-given right as licence fee payers.

Here’s 21 British game shows ranked from worst to best. All decisions are final.

21. Tipping Point

Tipping Point has been on our screens for seven years and it still feels like the show is in its infancy, yet Ben Shephard has aged a thousand years from the stress of watching those large coins arse around the board before ultimately delivering disappointment with their final placement. No one has ever sat through a full episode of Tipping Point without shouting multiple profanities at the TV, before turning the station over to find solace in a Wife Swap rerun. The general knowledge questions are too easy and the mechanism is a tease. It is a weak game.

20. Family Fortunes

Most of us could’ve gone our whole lives without knowing that someone from Emmerdale has a hot cousin, yet here we are, watching Tommy obliterate Toyah Willcox in a fastest finger first general knowledge round. It’s an infuriating game that serves little purpose other than to remind you that the general public is made up mostly of morons. The most logical answer is never on the board and the format relies far too heavily on slightly older contestants giving wacky answers that everyone laughs at. Yes, I know it’s for charity and I’m going to hell for berating it.

19. Hole In The Wall

This show was just a great excuse to make celebrities look stupid on the telly, no more, no less. The threat of drowning made things exciting, as did the unnecessarily tight bodysuits that the contestants had to wear. But did it add anything meaningful to our lives? Human Tetris is a bold concept that’s funny for approximately ten minutes, then it just gets old. The wall really took the piss at times, forcing the celebrity contestants to contort their bodies into impossible shapes for sport. Also, they should’ve just named the show ATM.

18. University Challenge

This show can be very isolating to watch if, like me, you are an idiot. Obviously it is targeted at Dads, smart people and university students whose friends are on the show, so if you fall outside of that remit, you’re probably going to have a hard time participating in proceedings. The whole point of a game show is for the viewer to spit dinner all over themselves as they shout answers at the TV, but with University Challenge, you have to take on the role of a silent observer, hearing nothing but the sound of your own shortcomings as a person. Stay in school, kids.

17. Catchphrase

Okay, I’ll bite. HOW HAVE THEY NOT RUN OUT OF CATCHPHRASES BY NOW? It’s been on telly since 1986 and Mr Chips is still finding catchphrase-friendly activities to do throughout every show. Some of them are complete nonsense. The contestants don’t stand a chance. Mr. Chips should be 305 in human years now, but he’s still chipping away at his day job on that obnoxiously large screen. The only redeeming quality of Catchphrase in this day and age is when Mr. Chips is doing something seemingly suggestive, but that’s it.

16. Mr & Mrs

We get it! You are married! It should be compulsory for all couples featured on Don’t Tell The Bride to appear on Mr & Mrs five years into their marriage, just so we can see how deeply the contempt for one another has developed after their complete shit show of a wedding took place. Watch Phillip Schofield get flustered, carefully examining his cue cards for the correct thing to say when the wife walks off stage saying “I don’t know why we bother” after her husband gets every question about her wrong. This show isn’t as dramatic as it should be, is what I’m saying.

15. The Price Is Right

It’s been on and off our screens since 1984 and it feels like we’re coming close to the time where we can finally lay The Price Is Right to rest. It’s a great show, but we’ve had our fun. With Brexit looming, the price of goods will fluctuate beyond a recognisable parameter. We could be looking at ride-on lawnmowers costing upwards of £2.4m if things keep going the way they’re headed. The show is no longer feasible. Brexit claims yet another victim and it’s the general public who will pay the price. Nice to see you, to see you nice.

14. Mastermind

Imagine being in the audience of Mastermind. The expectation to be deadly silent and respectful is too much. You’re not there to enjoy yourself, you’re there to play the part. Everything is so clinical. The participants are always geniuses and basically what I am saying is that much like University Challenge, I feel left out as a viewer because I am an idiot. If someone’s specialist subject is anything other than Gavin & Stacey trivia, I’m switching to another station. This is a grown up show for proper grown ups. I am personally very offended by their blatant exclusion.

13. Countdown

You don’t fully appreciate Countdown until you reach the age of 55, that is a sad fact of life. Now don’t get me wrong, you can dabble a bit, but it’s like a fine wine that hasn’t quite reached maturity just yet. As far as shows go, it’s just good clean fun. The format is airtight, the banter is controlled and the letters, well they sometimes have a mind of their own but that tends to get edited out before the show makes it to air. You feel a bit smarter after watching Countdown, so long as you switch over before it gets to the maths round because that is insanity.

12. Eggheads

I’m not sure anyone has ever watched an entire episode of Eggheads to completion, much like no one has ever used an entire pot of Vaseline. You dip in and out of Eggheads, it’s usually on in your grandparents’ house or on the display TVs in an electronics shop. The whole show feels a bit like an inside joke. I still have no idea how the format works, but it feels like a friendlier version of The Chase because the smack talk is non-existent. Overall, it’s a misleading title. The show has got nothing to do with eggs.

11. Who Wants To Be A Millionaire?

It was an exciting format for a few years, then everything went to hell when those greedy rascals tried to cheat the system with their foolproof method of coughing very loudly to signify that the correct answer was being read out. The show lost a bit of its sparkle after that, as we slowly realised that everything in this fragile world can be easily ruined. Some people are corrupt and it trickles all the way down to the sanctity of TV game shows. Also, nobody ever really wins £1m, so it’s false advertising. ‘Who Wants To Be A Thousandaire?’ isn’t as catchy, though.

10. Golden Balls

Sadly we were given just two years of Golden Balls, so it’s possible you missed that very small window of elite game show content. It was like Deal Or No Deal mixed with Would I Lie To You? and it was glorious. Remember that savage moment when a seemingly timid lady robbed a man of £100,000 because she was the greatest undiscovered actress the world has ever seen? The Academy Awards snubbed her that year because they felt her performance was too raw for audiences to handle. They handed her details over to authorities and she is in prison for life now.

9. The Million Pound £100k Drop 

True to its name, the show dropped from £1m to £100k when it returned last year after a three-year hiatus. It still slaps, though, as you get to see the physical money that people lose as a direct result of their stupidity. Typically, the teams of two are usually made up of a daredevil and a very anxious person, meaning they’re constantly battling to put ‘just in case’ money on some of the other answer options. It’s a great premise for a game show because the shots of cold, hard cash flying through the tube down into oblivion are hypnotic. It’s a real slap in the face for contestants as they’re stood face-to-face with their losses.

8. Deal Or No Deal

Aside from the fact that the game could’ve been over within seconds if the player simply opened their box first and cut out the pageantry involving eliminating the other ones, it was still a banging show. The sense of community remains unmatched in the British game show universe, where you always got a very strong suspicion that the contestants were all plucked from a polyamorous commune and told to ‘tone down the flirting a little’ for TV. One question still remains, though. WHO THE HELL WAS THE BANKER? Show yourself, coward.

7. Pointless

How dare a show steal the name of my autobiography and turn it into such a wonderful premise for competitive gaming. The gentle banter between Osman and Armstrong gives this one a special edge, as does the unique nature of the format whereby contestants have to try to outsmart members of the general public that are tragic enough to take part in surveys. Last week, Alexander Armstrong was on Chris Moyles’ radio show and he revealed that Richard Osman’s laptop doesn’t work. It’s a prop, and ever since I learned that, my life has not known peace.

6. The Crystal Maze

Peak childhood was watching The Crystal Maze on a Saturday night, getting jazzed by the mysterious theme song alone, being told by your mum to simmer down or you wouldn’t be allowed to watch it all. Even as a young pup, you’re berate the contestants, confidently announcing “I could do that, easy” to no one in particular, while your dad visibly strategises how he would spend the prize money. Richard O’Brien was the perfect level of spooky and whimsy to carry the show. It was flawless, the perfect game show for your formative years during the early 90s.

5. The Weakest Link

This show had everything. Good quiz questions, a villainous host who winks, cut-throat eliminations and for some reason, white boards. I sometimes shout ‘Bank’ right before someone asks me a question and let me tell you, it kills every time. The show was an absolute force, especially when the newly-eliminated contestants were given a post-match interview in which they absolutely slated their fellow competitors and the injustice of the game. It’s about time that a revival gets put in motion. Pay Anne Robinson whatever she demands, then double it.

4. Total Wipeout

People! Injuring! Themselves! On! The! Telly! That’s it, that’s all it takes for a game show to go off. Total Wipeout had a chaotic energy about it, whereby the contestants all fully believed that they wouldn’t end up getting bounced into the water like a coin hitting an inflatable lilo. Sadly, the show only lasted five series, but it was enough. Hats off to the production team for building the course in Argentina because it absolutely would not have worked on site in Britain. The obstacles were reliant on the participants’ sun-induced confidence and a general ‘fuck it, I’m on holidays’ mentality.

3. The Cube

Despite the name giving off a “Just work on the format, we’ll come up with a catchy title later” energy, The Cube is exactly what it advertises. The best part is that contestants haven’t really got any way to prepare for the show. Sure, they could practice a few trials from previous episodes, but you can never prepare for what The Cube is going to throw your way. Rubik’s thought they had the cube market all sewn up, so from a consumer’s point of view, it’s nice to see some competition in the games industry. The Cube is a solid show and a solid format. Unmask The Body 2020.

2. Supermarket Sweep

Supermarket Sweep was top tier entertainment. Supermarkets are essentially hell on earth, so for someone to have the presence of mind to turn one into a game show is inspired. Dale was the perfect host as he offered the perfect amount of whimsy for what was a consciously bananas show. The contestants always seemed to have been plucked out of a quiet countryside library, never having seen nor heard of the show before. The key to winning was raiding the supermarket tills for every penny they contained, but nobody ever thought of it. Idiots. Maybe in the reboot!

1. The Chase

Hell yeah. The Chase! With Bradders! What a show. What a format. What a cast. Everything fits perfectly into place like the final bits of a 1000 piece jigsaw. The presenter is banter, the Chasers are complete know-it-all arseholes when it’s required of them and the contestants are generally up for whatever nonsense the game throws at them. We’ve got drama, tension, humour, stupidity and greed all working in perfect harmony to deliver what is very seriously a flawless game show. It’s been running for a decade and it will live on forever. Nobody would dare cancel The Chase and if they try, we will simply riot until logic is restored.

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