There’s no denying that the children’s game shows today are pitiful in comparison to the mighty shows of the 90s era.
Remember Fun House, Finders Keepers, and Get Your Own Back?
It was every kids dream to star in one of these programmes, or to get the chance to dunk a parent in gunge. But what made these shows so awesome? We’ve headed back in time to round up the key elements that made them work.
1. A catchy theme tune
First things first: these shows needed a catchy intro song to get you in the mood for an eventful half hour. Fun House did just that with their jazzy jingle that everyone at home just had to dance along to. That theme tune prepared you for a ‘fun, crazy’ and ‘outrageous’ game show. Something our present day television is missing.
2. An (overly) enthusiastic presenter
The first ingredient of an excellent TV game show is the presenter. The are the glue that holds the show together, and keep them running smoothly. It’s a given that children’s TV presenters have got to be enthusiastic and excitable in order to hold the audience’s attention. But presenters in the 90s were another level of madness. BBC’s Get Your Own Back presenter Dave Benson Phillips is a prime example of this. His enthusiasm levels can only be achieved through drinking extreme amounts of coco cola and chugging blue Smarties. His behavior might seem slightly irritating to us now, but it worked at the time.
3. Excessively cheering crowds of children
Children attending 90s game shows such as 50/50 definitely needed a breakfast of Weetabix beforehand. In almost every shot children are seen arms flailing above their head, screaming like they’re at a 17th century jousting tournament. The bus home back to school must have been a real snooze fest after burning all that energy off at every opportunity.
4. A disturbing obsession with gunge
It has become very clear that the vast majority of 90s game shows had a love affair with gunge. At the time the excessive use of the thick gooey sludge as punishment for failure probably didn’t faze us. But looking back the over-use of this element almost seems creepy. It comes across particularly sinister in BBC’s Get Your Own Back – as the words ‘HELP ME’ have been scrawled in gunge in the final gunge pit. Weird.
5. Ridiculously elaborate set designs
Set designs were everything on these game shows, and one of the very reasons that every child dreamed of starring in an episode. Game shows created their own worlds that looked undeniably fun for any age group to explore. Finders Keepers had an incredible set that the competitors got to satisfyingly trash in attempts to find things to win the game. Sounds like a good method of stress relief to us.
6. A necessary fear factor
Its a given that the tasks kids were given were fun and amusing, and had everyone at home green with envy wanting to join in. But they were also pretty intense. Viewers were probably sat at home biting their nails, especially at the tasks on CITV’s Jungle Run. Not only did said challenges include time limits, dangerous obstacles and the narration of the presenter adding to the tension; but they also had monkeys. Yes monkeys, who would try and disrupt them as much as possible. It seems harsh, but necessary for the viewers’ entertainment naturally…