The UK’s Most Enduring Television Game Shows Revealed

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Game Shows are some of the most popular prime time television programmes in the UK. They are family-friendly, offering fun for all ages in evenings and weekends. Some of Britain’s biggest game shows have managed to last for many years, even decades. If you’re craving a cult classic on your television screen, the following five game shows will provide that much needed hit of nostalgia.

Countdown

Countdown has become something of an institution on British television. In 2014, it set a Guinness World Record for the “most series broadcast for a game show”, as it aired its 70th series and 6,000th episode. The show debuted back in November 1982 and will celebrate its 40th year on television this autumn. It was heavily inspired by 1960s French game show “Des chiffre et des lettres” (Numbers & Letters), which has also been an ongoing game show in French television.

Richard Whiteley was the show’s most iconic presenter, proving the face of Countdown for almost 23 years before his death in June 2005. Assistant presenters like Carol Vorderman and Rachel Riley have also achieved fame post-Countdown.

Who Wants to Be A Millionaire?

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? has become a global game show franchise, but its roots lie firmly in British television. The brainchild of trio Mike Whitehill, David Briggs and Steven Knight, the format debuted in September 1998 on ITV, hosted by legendary presenter and regular award ceremony host Chris Tarrant. Since then, the format has been licensed out to more than 160 countries who have aired their own versions. It’s now owned by Sony Pictures after securing the rights for £137.5m. The prize money has naturally altered based on local currencies, with the Indian version allowing contestants to play for 70 million rupees.

Its success has largely been down to the power of general knowledge. Quiz shows are the perfect opportunity for people to showcase their thirst for knowledge. With life-changing sums of money involved throughout, it’s also one of the biggest paying game shows of all time in the UK.

Deal or No Deal

Deal or No Deal is simplicity personified as a game show. Each show saw one lucky contestant given the chance to select one of 22 boxes, containing a random sum between 1p and £250,000. The contestant then opens the remaining boxes one by one, in the hope of having a high-value box of their own. The “Banker” makes offers periodically through the game, enticing players to take the money based on the probability of having a high or low-value box. In its television format, Deal or No Deal lasted 11 years running. It was quite an impressive feat, with Noel Edmonds fronting the show from start to finish. After thirteen consecutive series, the show was axed by Channel 4.

The show still lives on in many ways. You’ll often find reruns of the series on a host of British channels. There’s also a popular board game that offers guaranteed family fun, as well as a live casino version which gives users another unique opportunity to take on a virtual banker.

 

A Question of Sport

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A Question of Sport is comfortably the world’s longest-running sports-themed quiz on television. In 2020, it celebrated its 50th anniversary, with several iconic presenters throughout the last five decades. Sports commentator David Coleman was at the helm for 18 years before former tennis star Sue Barker held the reins for 24 years prior to retiring in 2021.

The concept of A Question of Sport is simple. There are two teams with ‘house captains’ that feature in every episode of the series. The remaining two contestants in each team are hand-picked sportsmen and women – including some that will have graced the county’s iconic Royal St George’s golf course as well as Kent’s county cricket team. There are various rounds including picture boards, observation rounds and mystery guest rounds for sports fans to get their teeth stuck into.

University Challenge

University Challenge is one of the most iconic quiz game shows in British television. It’s one for the intellects, as two teams of undergraduates from historic universities go head-to-head in a battle of general knowledge to become crowned title holders at the end of the series.

It originally aired on ITV between 1962 and 1987 but, following a seven-year hiatus, it was reborn on BBC with presenter Jeremy Paxman at the helm. Paxman remains the presenter today, although he has confirmed plans to retire from the role in 2023.

 

 

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