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The Sunday Share: The strange things you used to see on TV at night

April 21st, 2024 at 06:12pm

Somewhere around 2006 to 2008, a new and bizarre twist on the gameshow format took over the wee small hours of television both in Australia and the UK, maybe elsewhere too. It was a live-to-air interactive gameshow which tried to get viewers to call in to answer extremely simple questions for a chance to win cash prizes. The catch was that these shows were really there to make money for the networks by requiring viewers to ring premium rate phone numbers for a chance to get through, and most of the time the callers did not get through but were instead put on a callback list, and eventually when a producer decided enough money had been made, one of those callers would be called back at random…in the middle of the night, when the majority of the target audience was inebriated or crazy.

In between calls it was the host’s job, with some support from the crew, to fill time with whatever their imagination could dream up. Many many hours of filling airtime while the hosts slowly went as crazy as some of the callers.

What could possibly go wrong?

Well…one of the hosts of the British version of Quizmania, Greg Scott, was the subject of more than a few peculiar live-to-air moments and managed to roll with most of them very well indeed. This has been one of my favourite video clips on the internet for many years. My favourite moment is the caller who seems to have called the wrong channel with an answer to a question on a competing show on another network.

Eventually these shows died off almost entirely, although there was a studio in the Czech Republic churning out dozens of versions this type of show for various countries only a few years ago. As free-to-air TV viewership dwindles, it’s hard to see how this type of thing would make enough money to pay the bills these days. It was a strange form of fun while it lasted.


Entry Filed under: The Sunday Share

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