2002 Poll

We wanted to know what the best UK Game Show of all time was. However, we don't give a stuff about the stupid public's opinion. Instead, we questioned the fanatics who subscribe to our Yahoo! Group. The hardcore. The experts. In August 2002, we asked - nay, commanded - them to list their ten favourite UK Game Shows in order of merit. We took all the entries in, collated the results with the help of Mr Babbage and now know we the truth.

All formats over all time were considered - only programmes that were made abroad and shown in the UK straight from tape are excluded. Links to the corresponding entries in our A to Z of Game Shows have been provided.

By and large, the commentary reflects the view from our lookout as it was in 2002. Partly this is to provide an authentic flavour of what it was like to be alive in the third most exciting year of modern times, and partly it is because we're far too lazy to re-write it to take account of every little thing that happens. We know Bob Monkhouse is dead these days, so don't write in.


Top 30 Shows

30: Chain Letters

Only just sneaks into the Top 30. This show has had one of the biggest selections of hosts in game show history. Take a show, change a host, do it again, and you've got a chain. That's how you play-y-y Chain Letters! Chain Letters!

29: Don't Forget Your Toothbrush

A fantastically original and unique live entertainment show which set a precedent in Live 'n' Loud entertainment. Particular high points amongst the voters were the fabulous throw-things-out-of-your-windows game which nobody has bought the rights to yet which is a shame because it was absolutely PERFECT. Maybe Ant and Dec should pick it up for series two of Saturday Night Takeaway.

28: Treasure Hunt

Now we expected this to be a little higher to be honest. This is the first instance of a Jacques Antoine show in the chart, it isn't the last and it's probably the one the general public will most have an instant recollection of. The show made a celebrity out of Anneka Rice and you can tell she fits into her celebrity role more and more as the series progress. It also features Kenneth Kendall, Wincey Willis and Annabel Croft, who may or indeed may not pop up again with a similar show later on...

27: Scavengers

Gosh, now this IS high. It wasn't very successful, looking at it objectively shows the game not to be very good but, ooh, that set and ooh, that music. But not ooh, that John Leslie though. Our correspondents declared this to be a "bit of a guilty pleasure".

26: Fluke

This is quite a surprise too. A one joke show, being about complete luck, but it's a joke that works very well indeed. One series is about right. Interesting to note it was piloted in America as Beat the Chimp.

25: Blankety Blank

It's been around for ages and probably deserves its placing through sheer resilience. The Terry Wogan years are the UKGameshows.com team's era of choice for his comic inability to control the panel but Les Dawson and Lily Savage have both successfully handled the show in their own ways.

24: Banzai

A pleasant surprise, we wouldn't have bet (hah!) on this coming this high but it makes perfect sense. This Japanese betting show is original and unique. Pale imitators such as Stupid Punts on BBC Choice and Endemol's People's Book of Records have followed.

23: The Waiting Game

A high entry for a new show, Ruby's done the business here. Sadly it's not been rating very well on Saturday evenings which is a shame because the show's own brand of psychology, easy general knowledge questions and Ruby's comedy insulting of contestants can be very entertaining.

22: Scrapheap Challenge

The modern day version of The Great Egg Race fishes quite a way ahead of Heinz Wolff and friends. And why not? This show celebrates the notion of big being beautiful and recycling by getting people to make big machines out of junk. The results were often amusing but the show's other strength is that it teaches quite complex physics and engineering concepts in a fairly basic and entertaining way. It has of course also spun off an American version, Junkyard Wars, which is filmed at our scrapheap and shares Cathy Rogers as host.

21: Have I Got News for You

One of Britain's best and longest running topical comedy programmes, HIGNFY lands in 21st spot. Interestingly, several respondents put this down wondering if it was a game show or not. It sort of is so that's OK by us. It has hit the headlines several times in its history, most recently when host Angus Deayton was caught with a prostitute (allegedly) which meant a very interesting show-down with Big Brother 3. It's not the must-see behemoth it once was, but that's not to say it still can't get laughs however.

20: The Price is Right

Come on dooooooooooown! to number 20. The show's star might be fading but it's still popular with the hardcore. Personal preference goes to the ultra glitzy hour-long Leslie Crowther 80s episodes (which had William G. Stewart as producer and warm up artiste) over Brucie and ultra-obscure Bob Warman version on Sky. We grew up with Crowther and his huge sparkly sets were a little more interesting than the slightly bland blue effect they have these days. Ah well.

19: The Enemy Within

It's only had about six months to settle in but Nasty Nigel Lythgoe already has fans with this interesting Paul Coia-invented quiz. Despite the fact it's quite clearly The Mole in quiz form. Ooh, and we particularly like it when Nigel starts antagonizing the contestants. You're a housewife. How come you know so much about cheese, eh? Are you a cheat?

18: Survivor

A well deserved place in the Top 20 for the underrated reality show. Underrated until series two, that is, when everyone then began raving about it. Now granted, many of the changes were good - we liked the setting, the post-elimination interviews came across as much more interesting, and and credit to Mark Nicholas for being a good host. However, many were bad - Survivor Raw was utterly pointless, really really look to Big Brother's Little Brother in how to 'do' spin-off shows stakes, and we're not entirely convinced starting with 12 rather than 16 was quite right. Most importantly, series two came across as rather duller than the first. In the bid to win one million pounds... cash, the contestants in series one showed, how do we put this, a not particularly nice side of human nature and it was very entertaining. No-one in series two wanted to be like that so this was a much 'nicer' series which had the knock on effect of being utterly predictable and ended up with, it has to be said, a pretty bland winner. Not that we advocate nastiness in real life of course.

17: The Vault

The highest place of the new quizzes introduced in 2002 and it's a fine show. Not without its faults, certainly, but it's brought back genuine tension into big money quizzes and thusly is deserving of a high position. So... much... dead... air... though...

16: The People Versus

Kaye Adams version over the short lived and slooooowwww Kirsty Young version. Tried to be a rival to Weakest Link, aiming to give away £3,000 to anyone who could answer 15 questions correctly against the clock without getting one wrong (hmm... familiar...). Cheap but well liked and of course had the crucial interactive element of having viewers set the questions for cash. For our money we think the original version had more potential but the newer version wasn't too ba-BONG!

15: Family Fortunes

Another perennial favourite, it ran for almost 25 years (with gaps in-between) of which Les Dennis was the longest serving host before giving it up before it went cheap and daily (like Catchphrase had). Some of us still find its popularity baffling but there is no doubt that it is a popular show for a family audience. It can't all be the stupid answers, surely? When we ran the poll in 2002, Les Dennis had only recently announced he was quitting, and the then-relatively unknown Andy Collins (actually, ignore the "then"), was about to take over as host of a revamped daily version. Which was promptly axed after only one series, possibly due to low viewing figures. A new version is being planned by Channel 4 titled Celebrity Family Fortunes in which famous celebrities and lesser known members of their families compete. No host has yet been announced, but those favourite include Dame Edna Everage (Barry Humphries), Vic Reeves & Bill Bailey.

14: Fort Boyard

"It's not as good as the French version!" "It's not as good as The Crystal Maze!" THAT'S what the crowd shouted when Fort Boyard started on Channel 5. C5 had the last laugh, however, when the show was getting the channel's highest viewing figures for regular programme and rightly so as the mix of adventure, pantomime and fear ON A REAL FORT! remains an enticing mix (and anyone who tells you otherwise is wrong). However it didn't change very much over its four years so despite having a sizable but depleting cult audience it was axed in 2001.

A shame but it is its own fault - the French version reinvents itself when it gets bored and hence is the game show equivalent of David Bowie, both popular AND influential. The UK version is more like Oasis. The first two albums were good but then it got a bit dull. With a bit more money and better direction it could well have become the game show equivalent of, say, Elton John or something.

13: Interceptor

A bidduva legend in game show circles - the Fawlty Towers of our genre. Only eight episodes were ever made and yet it manages to rate so highly. "I want another series. Simple as that," cries one correspondent and that's not something we're going to disagree with. Interceptor was lovely, exciting and tense. Not to mention funny, with the improvised comedy interplay between the Interceptor and Mikey, his long suffering pilot. The classic moments always came around the commercial breaks when a contestant realises the Interceptor's right behind them... It seemed a bit plodding at times, but overall it was cracking.

12: Countdown

Six consonants and three vowels please Carol... it's Countdown! And as we - count down - our list of game shows Channel Four's longest running show jumps to number 12. It seems to have taken a knock to its popularity since it extended to 45 minutes a day but it's not likely to go away. And as it's 20-years-old now it's well over the age of consen(t)ant. And old people watch it and we all know about their vowel trouble. Blimey, this pun lark is difficult isn't it? That Richard Whiteley deserves more respect.

11: University Challenge

Another oldie that's been remade for modern times, although saying that the new version has been running for a good seven years now. Jeremy Paxman, although not quite Bamber Gascoigne, has made the show his own in recent years using his famous pushy journalism technique to treat his contestants acridly whenever they give a silly answer or get an "easy" Greek literature question wrong. His presentation style became the inspiration for The Weakest Link. Still pretty much the only show on telly currently with genuinely tough questions, it looks like its going to keep running yet. Bamber Gascoigne more recently wrote over one and a half million words for his magnum opus www.historynet.com project - that's almost as much as UKGameshows.com!

10: Mastermind

Into the Top 10, and only the best of the best need apply. Funnily enough, only the best of the best need apply to go on Mastermind. The show is famous for it's tough questioning, Magnus Magnusson, THAT chair, Approaching Menace and the Discovery Channel missing the point when it jazzed up for the format for themselves recently. A radio spin off, Masterteam (not to be confused with Angela Rippon and her spellchecker) currently runs on Radio 4 which itself was a spin off from a radio version of Mastermind. Gosh.

9: Wanted

Ah, now this is the original reality game show really wasn't it? Years ahead of its time, Wanted rightly had an audience. Sadly it was a small one and it was axed after two series, but what series they were. Hide and seek for adults on a national scale, we could almost guarantee it would be a success if it was bought back now now that reality game shows have caught on to the public imagination (if they fixed the rules, that is). This was a game played by its contestants 24/7 so likewise the viewers could play along 24/7 by ringing in if they spotted any of the runners. Maybe the phone box game didn't gel with the rest of the game but you'd be hard pressed to find a better way to make a tense sixty minutes. And wasn't it exciting when they played the live show from your home town? Well WE were excited anyway.

8: Big Brother

Well, that settles the Survivor vs Big Brother question really doesn't it? Put people in a house, film them 24/7 and, crucially, give the public the ability to mould their entertainment by letting them decide who stays and who goes. It's also a show everyone has an opinion on and boy, do those non-fans shout! Louder than the fans themselves in fact. The most recent series saw more intrusions from Big Brother to create tensions (the heaven/hell scenario, lots of money to spend on alcohol) which - despite people saying that it was rubbish - pulled in the highest ratings Big Brother has ever had (go figure). We wish they stuck to their old weekly task system, though. The show is also responsible for bringing us the marvellously irreverent Big Brother's Little Brother with Dermot O'Leary, a fanzine programme for E4 and Channel 4 which on occasion was more entertaining than the show itself. C4 have the rights to the show until 2006 and a Celebrity edition is planned for November.

7: Fifteen-to-One

It hasn't been going as long as Countdown but William G. Stewart's knockout general knowledge quiz is considered better than it and it seems to have plenty of lives remaining yet. One voter described it as "the greatest singles quiz on television" - well, others disagree but it's generally held in high esteem amongst the hardcore. And they've added a Walk of Shame in round one, we notice. I wonder whose influence that was?

6: Knightmare

Top kids' medieval fantasy scareathon, and the first real pioneer of a show that is great but also make effective use of technology of the period. Middle class kids walked around a computer generated dungeon, spellcasting and eating wax pork pies along the way. Soon to be remade (possibly for Channel 4) under the name of TimeGate. We're hoping for a game that's a bit less linear but still including the actors from the original. Wouldn't that be perfect? Yes, it would.

5: The Krypton Factor

The fact that this got this high is quite, quite life-affirming. This is possibly the closest to perfection half hour television programme you can ever get, with tonnes of variety and genuinely tough, but fun-to-watch challenges. They ruined it all with their final series where they added the unneeded Super Round (which wasn't actually all that bad but general consensus agrees it shouldn't be there). Why hasn't someone (Channel 5?) seen fit to remake this yet? Are they stupid or something? Or what? But whatever you do, remake one of the 'proper' series. And don't bother with rubbishy human interest stories that nobody cares about - we want the game (it got over 10 million viewers in its prime, let's not forget). And we want Gordon Burns to host. And what's more it would be quite good if you held off the mood music. Thanks.

4: (The) Weakest Link

3: Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

Oooooooh! Now this was close, and in the end Millionaire swung it by a single vote. We bundle these two together because both are revolutionary quizzes in their own right and it makes sense to talk about the impact they've both made on the modern quiz.

WWTBAM? came first and blitzed EVERYTHING. It had simple rules. Anyone at home could pick up the phone and be in the studio in two days' time to play for one million pounds. Let's just say that again: One. Million. Pounds. The previous highest cash prize was being given by the The National Lottery Big Ticket which offered £100,000. And all you had to do to win £1,000,000 is answer 15 multiple choice questions straight. Chris Tarrant's catchphrases have entered the public conscious. It took the rulebook and added a ton of its own rules. However, it got arrogant after its first million win and insisted on being on all the time rather than in two week series that it used to. So, people got bored and whilst it still pulls in the viewers it's only half as popular as it was. Still look at its influence on modern day quizzes - they've mostly got metallicy sets, multiple choice questions and gothicy mood music. And most of them have high prizes too. Millionaire certainly raised the stakes.

The Weakest Link on the other hand is very much the anti-game show. Millionaire added to the rulebook, WL rips it in half and chucks it away. It's got Millionaire's lights and music but that's where the similarities end. First, it's pay out (thanks to the license fee) is far lower - to win the £10,000 on offer the team would need to answer a minimum of 72 questions correctly (out of about 130) and that's without banking. Secondly, it's blatantly unfair, with the most knowledgeable player tending to get voted off towards the end for being too much of a threat (the final round tripling the prize money is not enough of an incentive to keep them on). And the losers leave with NOTHING (as do most losers in many shows these days). The biggest shock to the system is Anne Robinson - The Ultimate Management Consultant. Contestants answering back to Anne adds to the fun - this is what makes the celebrity specials (and also the drag queen specials) so very very funny. Sadly it seems many shows now utilise a nasty presenter for the sake of it rather than considering just WHY Anne Robinson works and why Alastair Stewart just looks silly on King of the Castle.

2: The Crystal Maze

"Get the crystal!" "I can't find it!" "It's right in front of you! Agh! You've been locked in." This is just one of many scenarios of one of the Britain's most fondly liked action-adventure games. It's actually quite difficult to define exactly what was so good about it. There was a large variety of games (over 300 in the six year run), the wondrous set (which was huge and actually existed in a real sense), the seemingly stupid contestants (see opening line) or Richard O'Brien (and we must be honest, an overwhelming number of respondents favoured Richard O'Brien over Ed Tudor Pole) who was harsh and honest but incredibly funny with it. Put them all together and you have one of the most compulsive and entertaining shows in history. However (and we will be honest, this is a surprise albeit a nice one), as great as The Crystal Maze is, it's not QUITE as great as...

1: The Mole

How to run a TV Channel the Channel 5 way:

1) Set out to capture a fairly low brow audience.

2) Commission a Golden Rose of Montreux award-winning show.

3) Decide that you want to go upmarket.

4) Axe your most upmarket and critically-acclaimed show which also, co-incidentally, has just been voted the Best UK Game Show... Ever. Thanks, then.

Billed as a reality TV show (really an action-adventure game), The Mole is possibly the most utterly compulsive, the most interesting, the most "this show will take over your life for nine weeks" show we've ever seen. The tale of ten people doing tasks but one of them actually being the enemy is fantastic with a narrative structure that's pitched perfectly. It could have been rubbish if the challenges weren't up to much but thankfully there was nothing to worry about. They were all entertaining whilst containing a ton of variety and the ability to be sabotaged in some way with the viewers being able to play along to find out who The Mole was. And it's this wondrous aspect of the show, that it rewards viewing and reviewing and arguing your theories with other people over, so much so that there's real actual pride on the line and it's a huge kick in the teeth if the person you suspected gets eliminated. And as a bonus they show you all the sabotages and hidden clues at the end of the series, many of which make you think "oooh, now that's really clever that is."

But all this is irrelevant really because it isn't on anymore. Gah!

Runners up

Out of the 72 shows nominated in total, here are the nearly men who didn't quite make it into the big 30. Better luck next time!

31 - Defectors

32 - Whittle

33 - Greed

34 - Sale of the Century

35 - Telly Addicts

36 - Play Your Cards Right

37 - Going for Gold

38 - Winning Lines

39 - Gambit

40 - Catchphrase

41 - Now Get Out of That

42 - Blockbusters

43 - Robot Wars

44 - They Think it's All Over

45 - 3-2-1

46 - A Question of Sport

47 - Turnabout

48 - Jeopardy!

49 - X-Fire

50 - What's My Line?

Not too many surprises there, we think, although Blockbusters looks a bit low at 42 and Gladiators and Lost were a bit more deserving than 54 and 53. It's nice to see Challenge TV's only show Defectors at 31, especially considering some of the competition it beat.


Results of top 50 by genre:

Scoring system: 10/9/8/7/6 points for 1st/2nd/3rd/4th/5th place, 5 points for top 10, 4 points for top 15, 3 points for top 20, 2 points for top 30, 1 point for top 50.

Genre No. of shows in Top 50 Points scored
Quiz, general knowledge 15 42
Action/adventure 10 44
Puzzle 5 10
Family game show 4 9
Reality 2 8
Quiz, academic 2 5
Stunt/dare show 2 4
Comedy panel game 2 3
Technological 2 3
Childrens 1 5
Lifestyle 1 3
Panel game 1 1
Quiz, themed 1 1
Sports 1 1
Variety 1 1

Results of top 50 by primary channel:

Channel No. of shows in Top 50 Points scored
ITV 18 50
Channel 4 12 40
BBC ONE 11 19
Channel 5 4 16
BBC TWO 4 14
Challenge TV 1 1

Top 30 Hosts

After the fun of trying to find the best UK game show ever, we posed another question to the list. We wanted to find out who they thought was the best UK game show host ever. We let our voters themselves determine the criteria they use to decide on their top 10s (a very strong performance on individual shows? Or their entire careers?) which we then collated together for this list. The results, as you will see are, er, "different"...

30: Fred Dinenage

Best known game show-wise for Gambit but also known more recently for Pass the Buck, Under Offer and having a rogue 'N' in his name, Fred comes across a bit like an amusing uncle, light-hearted but in control. Something he's had plenty of practice at being in broadcasting (mainly news and kids TV) for over thirty years.

29: Les Dawson

Best known for Blankety Blank, Dawson's rather contemptuous attitude towards the show win him the plaudits here. He also popularised the Blankety Blank Chequebook and pen as a consolation prize on a show where, well, every prize was a consolation prize really.

28: Dale Winton

Will always be associated with Supermarket Sweep (which was renamed later to Dale's Supermarket Sweep, you know you've made it when...). Was also the host of a host of lottery shows (see what we did there?) and Pets Win Prizes. Finally, Dale Winton is camp. And that's all you need to know.

27: Nicholas Parsons

Surprisingly low down (in chart terms, we mean), Parsons is synonymous with TV's best loved long-running weekly quiz from Norwich Sale of the Century and the even longer running Just a Minute (a radio show at heart but television versions were made for Carlton in London and more recently by the BBC). Slightly brusque as a game show host, Parsons has been in show business since the beginning of time. Fact!

26: Sophie Raworth

The first of the "interesting" choices we think, she's only hosted Judgemental which we'd describe, in a nice mood, as "unspectacular" and already she's more fondly thought of than Nicholas Parsons. Hmm...

25: Kaye Adams

Another interesting choice. Her only game show experience was in hosting the daytime version of The People Versus (let's all just forget about Public Property, shall we? - everyone else did). That said, she has plenty of experience in live daytime magazine shows. And already she's more fondly thought of than Sophie Raworth. Hmm...

24: Angus Deayton

Has been the host of the satirical quiz Have I Got News For You since the invention of toasted pannini bread (1990) until in October 2002 he started to become the news rather than comment on it. Best known for coming across as slightly smug, reading the autocue, asking "...in what way?" and sleeping with a prostitute the very same week that Big Brother 3 started. Allegedly.

23: Paul Ross

He might be annoying and not as televisual as his brother but Paul has turned his hand to hosting almost every game show known to man and to his credit he's not bad at it. Can certainly keep games under control and moving which is a good thing. He will forever be known in our circles as the man being beaten up on Endurance UK after slapping his assistant one too many times. Oh, and for producing The Word. Which is the greater punishment, though?

22: Paul Coia

Not just a game show host... but a DJ and devisor too. Paul has hosted (famously) Catchword and (less famously) Spellbound on the early days of Sky. He devised The Enemy Within, which polled very well in our top 50 game shows. His wife Debbie Greenwood doesn't make the Top 50 hosts, though. Was she a good host? She was First Class! (No, we don't tire of that joke.)

21: Jeremy Beadle

Came to the fore hosting the Truth or Consequences inspired Game for a Laugh Beadle made more marks (potholes?) on the television landscape as the host of Beadle's About and You've Been Framed. Unfairly maligned, we think, he proved his intelligence on Win Beadle's Money and became Mr Saturday Night Entertainment again being locked up on Spitbank Fort in Portsmouth as part of Ant and Dec's Road to Global Domination.

20: Emma Forbes

Uh, really? She's been away from television for a long time. She's most famously known for co-hosting Talking Telephone Numbers with Philip Schofield although slightly more recently and more low key hosted a short-lived revival of What's My Line. Not really very gameshow-y really, although she was quite good as the resident cookery expert on Going Live! and as host of its follow-up Live and Kicking.

19: Matthew Kelly

Like Beadle, found fame on Game For A Laugh where he broke a leg filming a stunt. This was good preparation for his other job as an actor as it turns out. Matthew Kelly has been an unsung hero of the ITV prime time schedule for the last twenty years being a long running host of You Bet! (taking over from Bruce Forsyth) and the even longer running Stars In Their Eyes (taking over from Leslie Crowther). A well deserved place in the top 20 we think for the slightly camp yet confident performer.

18: Pat Sharp

The 18th best game show host of all time? Above the mighty Matthew Kelly? Really? Well, we can't argue with the results (well, we are). In his defence, he hosted Fun House for over ten years and is probably best known for having a silly mullet hair cut and then cutting it off. He is a very successful DJ and once had his own profile on the prestigious South Bank Show. Or was it Adam and Joe?

17: Glenn Hugill

Only hosted The Mole so far, but whaddahost - he did it with style who does a nice line in having a laugh one minute than chastising the contestants the next. He gets lots of bonus points for popping up on the show's message board to chat to ver fans occasionally. An actor by trade, we wonder where he's going to turn up next.

16: Les Dennis

With a history of playing supporting roles in various light entertainment shows in the eighties (oh, and winning New Faces of course), the impressionist Les Dennis is most famous for popularising the catchphrase "if it's up there I'll give you the money meself!" as the long running host of Family Fortunes. He's recently left that show and can currently be seen as one of the regular debaters on Jo Brand's Hot Potatoes.

15: Roy Walker

Only famous in game show town for Catchphrase, but it was a show he made his own introducing the nation to an easy going manner and "say what you see" and "it's good but it's not right" (funnily enough, it's reckoned that 97.5% of all catchphrases in Britain have begun with Roy on Catchphrase). Last seen on television making a cameo on affectionate comedy Phoenix Nights in tribute to his club roots.

14: Paul Daniels

It's not cool to like Paul Daniels but if you actually forget all your preconceptions and actually watch him - he's a really really really good game show host. Known for Every Second Counts, Wipeout and more obscurely, Odd One Out. Quick with the gags and keeping the game moving, we're surprised he hasn't had more to be honest.

13: Tim Vine

A bit of a wildcard here, Tim's hosted Whittle for Channel 5 and Fluke (one of our top 30 shows) for Channel 4 before going on to further success in sketch comedy. Tim's talent is energy and an endless supply of pun-based one-liners for use after questions. Actually, we wouldn't mind another series of Whittle.

12: Ted Rogers

The genial host of 3-2-1. Everybody liked Ted Rogers. Another host on the list with a background in the northern club comedy circuit, he turned to acting when 3-2-1 finished after 11 years (and not before time, we reckon. We're insistent that the early ones were the best).

11: William G. Stewart

The quiz show host with gravitas, William Gladstone Stewart is best known for the long running daily quiz Fifteen to One (with a foray into Famous People, Famous Places which didn't last long). Bilge Stewart (as nobody calls him) is just as well known for producing many big name entertainment shows over his career from games (The Price is Right, Family Fortunes) to comedy (Till Death Do Us Part, Bless This House). He comes from a redcoat background.

10: Anneka Rice

The most famous bottom on television thanks to Treasure Hunt, Anneka could also be seen running around in a jumpsuit for Challenge Anneka. Always bright and breezy, Anneka grew into her role on Treasure Hunt which Annabel Croft found difficult to follow. She used to read the news in Hong Kong.

9: Phillip Schofield

Best known for essentially hosting the same show in two different guises (Talking Telephone Numbers and more recently Winning Lines), Philip is very much a master of live television finding fame as the continuity man for Children's BBC and then hosting the quintessential Saturday morning show Going Live for six years. He used to work in television in New Zealand, fact fans.

8: Gordon Burns

A journalist by trade, Burns very very competently hosted The Krypton Factor for almost twenty years. He went on to host various language and communication based games (Password, A Word In Your Ear, Relatively Speaking). It's difficult to put your finger on what makes Burns such a good game show host - he doesn't sing or dance or crack jokes every fifteen seconds but what he does he always does well. "Dull, but good dull" one of our correspondents sums up. We ask again - why hasn't a remake of The Krypton Factor happened yet?

7: Davina McCall

Possibly a controversial choice as opinion tends to be divided over her. Is she annoying, talentless and insincere or is she friendly, good at live television and exactly the right person you want greeting you after several weeks locked away in near solitude? Well the voters have put her seventh on the list if that's any indication of anything. Began her television career as a VJ on MTV, shot to fame overnight as host of God's Gift (sorry, we do of course mean Big Brother) which she said she was going to leave after series two but IN FACT! came back for series three. She successfully hosted The Vault on Saturday nights. We suspect she leaves Montreux award winning Oblivious off of her CV.

6: Bob Holness

The original 007, Bob is best known for Blockbusters and the immortal student catchphrase "Can I have a P please, Bob"? Blockbusters hasn't been quite same under Michael Aspel or Lisa Tarbuck on the various other channels it's popped up on. More recently he's chaired the word quiz Call My Bluff. A good host who remains calm and carries gravitas recently he bemoaned the fact that gameshows these days aren't about knowledge and betterment and more about nastiness and huge amounts of cash.

5: Anne Robinson

Most famous for The Diamond Game about ten years ago. Yeah, right. Anne Robinson caused a stir as host of the elimination quiz show The Weakest Link. Normally it's the contestants who are the stars of any show - not here it isn't. Here the contestants are there to be teased, laughed at, belittled and told off for not being very good. It broke a rule (the one where the host has to be "nice") and achieved instant status. This isn't new to her of course, she worked on and edited various big-selling newspapers and famously gave short shrift to representatives of companies as host of the consumer show Watchdog. The big question is how much help does she get in putting down the contestants? We understand that many of the put downs before the votes are written. We also know that researchers write down the responses to the questions behind the scenes, and they and Anne are privy to a lot more biographical information than the viewer gets. However - watch her live. She's very good at playing to an audience and we find it very difficult to beleive she's getting a lot through the earpiece - many of the conversations she has with contestants are edited out for the final cut and some of these conversations last several minutes. We approve, but it looks like viewers might be getting a little tired as the ratings have been down recently. One of only two hosts on the list to successfully host a show in the US (Three if you count Tim Vine and Beat the Chimp, which we, er, don't.)

4: Richard O'Brien

The man who made The Crystal Maze his own. An unlikely choice for a game show host really but then The Crystal Maze was quite an unconventional choice for a game show. But like many unconventional things it turned out to be inspired. Not scared to tell off the contestants one minute for not being very good and then having a laugh with them the next minute and then talking to camera to fill up some dead air and finally getting his harmonica out and playing the same tune every week for many people Richard WAS The Crystal Maze. In particular we like his asides to the camera while the games are playing detailing the fictional ongoing soap of Mumsey, Ralph and Dwayne. At this point, we should give a nod to Sandra Caron who played Mumsey to full humourous effect.

3: Bob Monkhouse

Is he funny or annoying? Another host to tends to split the critics. We should just point out that there is a large gap in terms of votes between these top three and the others. Monkhouse has been working in comedy since the beginning of time and is best known in television for his game show exploits having hosted everything from Bob's Full House to Wipeout via Celebrity Squares, Family Fortunes, and The $64,000 Question. Bob always seems to fit in some sort of ownership to his shows (there's always a "Bob's Button" or a "Monkhouse Minute") we notice. Bob tends to adjust his gag-per-minute rating depending on the show in question. Hasn't really hosted any duff shows, other than perhaps Monkhouse's Memory Masters. And we think Daniels was a better host of Wipeout but still, you can't argue with his track record.

2: Chris Tarrant

Of course we all know him for Who Wants to be a Millionaire (where even people who had once found him annoying warmed to him) but let's not forget his previous track record, the excellent Everybody's Equal and the less excellent Lose a Million (and the even less excellent P.S.I.). Tarrant's made the most of the vehicle made with him in mind being used to drawing out tension in his Capital FM Breakfast Show games. Again, as with many of the top people in this list, the hosts very much seem to own the game. It's difficult to imagine anyone else in Chris' seat. But who's at number one? We'll take a break...

1: Bruce Forsyth

It is, of course, Bruce Forsyth who featured in a whopping 76% of the top 10s of all the votees. A sprightly entertainer whose jokingly caustic relationships with the contestants, assistants and audience appeal to all ages. No matter what the current state of television, Brucie always seems to find somewhere to fit in. If anything, he's on better form these days than he has been in the past.

His shows always seem to be simple mainstream ones, although he arguably branched out successfully hosting You Bet! for two years. He also hosted Bruce Forsyth's Hot Streak in the US. He recently fell out with ITV after they moved Bruce's Price is Right to a graveyard slot but seemed to make up with them again when they gave him a big money series of Play Your Cards Right for Saturday evenings (which after bowing down to political correctness when the remake first started now features Dolly Dealers again). Bruce Forsyth - voted by the hardcore as the Best UK Game Show Host... Ever!

Runners up

But now we salute the also-rans. The next names almost made it into the list but didn't poll enough votes. Here then is the roll of honour:

50 - Michael Barrymore

49 - Dave Spikey

48 - Annabel Croft

47 - Melinda Messenger

46 - Bill Dod

45 - John Leslie

44 - Ruby Wax

43 - Nigel Lythgoe

42 - Andy Collins

41 - Richard Orford

40 - Eamonn Holmes

39 - Lily Savage

38 - Cilla Black

37 - Keith Chegwin

36 - Mark Little

35 - Richard Whiteley

34 - David Dickinson

33 - Jim Bowen

32 - Ted Robbins

31 - Andrew O'Connor

Surprises? We suspect that Barrymore might be higher up if it wasn't for the recent revelations. It's nice to see Nasty Nigel get a mention after his performance on The Enemy Within but we'd question being beneath Andy Collins of Family Fortunes fame. Also nice to see Richard Orford get a mention. We're a bit surprised that Cilla, Chegwin, Whiteley and O'Connor polled so low. And a big-up to Ed Hall who deserves a bit better than the 79th place he finds himself in. That'll teach him for Temptation Island.


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