Child’s Play (1984 – 1988)
No, not the eighties horror movie about the evil redheaded doll, but the British game show from the same decade that became something I looked forward to all week and watched with my whole family every Saturday night.
Child’s Play was hosted by ubiquitous British presenter Michael Aspel, but it really could have been anyone in that seat because this show was all about the kids and their often outrageous and obscure descriptions of regular, everyday phrases and items.
I was only a little older than many of the kids that were featured on Child’s Play. In fact, my sister would have slipped right in to the mix, but I would even have to give her more credit than most of the examples on the show.
It may seem a little odd to have a television show dedicated to what is essentially laughing at children for not knowing stuff, but Child’s Play was often very funny. Maybe that makes me a bad person, but there were millions of others laughing right along with me. These days the PC warriors would have the idea shot down before it even got in front of the cameras.
The Crystal Maze (1990 – 1995)
The classic map.
Now that I’m thinking about it, The Crystal Maze was probably the only pure game show of the nineties that I made time to watch, and it’s at least in part thanks to the zany personality of Richard O’Brien; including his constant asides to the audience at home, his chatter about Mumsey, and those semi-regular moments when he would break out his harmonica for a few bars.
The only thing I didn’t really enjoy about The Crystal Maze was the final round, because all the fun stuff happened before. Trying to catch those pesky pieces of gold paper in the Crystal Dome against the clock just seemed like letting the air out of a balloon slowly after all the ingenuity and originality that went into the four zones leading up to it.
O’Brien really was the lifeblood of the show… as evidenced by the fact that when hosting duties were handed over to Ed Tudor-Pole – who seemed to me to be doing a bad impersonation of his predecessor – at the beginning of the penultimate fifth series, I lost interest and stopped watching.
The show is making a comeback this year, so it will be interesting to see if it can recapture the magic of its original run, although without O’Brien’s enthusiasm, that may be a tough ask.