Host Bradley Walsh (from The Chase) spends the first ten minutes or so of the programme on the way the role of women has changed in British game shows over the years. From being seen as merely decorative ornaments, to becoming “spokesmodels”…
Then there’s a tribute to – followed by a re-enactment of – one of the great British game shows Treasure Hunt, (1982 – 1989) which saw the intrepid Anneka Rice following the contestants’ instructions by flying all over England in a helicopter, solving puzzles in a race against time to find the Treasure. This show never aired in Australia, and I’m sorry it didn’t – it looked like a genuinely fun, exciting and dramatic concept, particularly for the early 1980s, when it debuted.
The account of this dramatic and potentially dangerous show was followed by a look back at The Golden Shot; a popular long-running show in which blindfolded contestants fired a real crossbow at a target, live in the studio.
I kid you not.
Following on from the high-risk-to-life-and-limb concept of this show was a look at what is perhaps its modern day equivalent; the live action cartoon violence of Wipeout. It’s a creation of the Dutch game show production powerhouse Endemol, who spent 500,000 pounds on the construction of its gigantic obstacle course in Argentina. But this enormous cost has been cleverly amortised by shooting all of the international versions of the show (and the format’s been sold to more than 40 territories so far) all on the one set in Argentina, virtually simultaneously.
The show then offers a tip for surefire game show success (provided you’re a game show host, rather than a game show contestant)… Get yourself a catchphrase, and say it over and over again. Then they go through a few of them (just like this article does).
This leads into a look back at lots of “classic” game show bloopers, and Bradley introducing an extended celebration of his own struggle not to collapse in laughter at the name of the German athlete Fanny Chmelar. I guess a lot of people are amused by his staggeringly childish schoolboy sniggering. Bradley seems almost proud of it, too.
Not a fan, myself.
Then, after another mock quiz session where Bradley’s grilled by various game show hosts on what he’s learned, there’s some speculation about The Future Of The Game Show, and what The Next Big Thing will be. The offered answers could hardly be described as unpredictable… a “brilliant, simple format”, “something that viewers can play along with at home”, “something that viewers can win – LIVE – at home”.
Yep, sounds good in theory, although it’s not necessarily a recipe for success. I remember the late 90s Australian game show Talking Telephone Numbers, whose imdb page provides just one solitary – yet informative – piece of trivia about the show;
“Talking Telephone Numbers was cancelled after three episodes.”
So, to get back to the purpose of this post, would I recommend Come On Down! The Game Show Story? Sure, if you’re interested in game shows, (and I’m tipping you are, or you wouldn’t be here). It’s mildly entertaining, but don’t expect to learn loads of insider information that’ll help you become a game show champion. Of course, it never hurts to know your subject, and this show provides a pleasant primer for the history and variety of game shows that have entertained Britain for the last few decades.