Banner for the Children's BBC discussion show, Take Two.

Tim Child on CBBC's Take Two (1991)

By Keith McDonald

Knightmare creator Tim Child appeared on Take Two, a Children's BBC discussion show, to hear teenagers' views on television gameshows.


A profile card for Tim Child on CBBC's Take Two (1991).

Take Two was a discussion show hosted by Sarah Greene (former presenter of BBC's Going Live and Blue Peter) which tackled a range of subjects with a panel of experts.

A studio audience of secondary school children put forward their views and asked questions of the panel.

On Friday 20th December 1991 from 4:35pm, Tim Child appeared alongside Bruno Brookes (former Radio 1 and TV presenter of Beat the Teacher) to discuss television gameshows. This clashed entirely with the final episode of Knightmare Series 5.

DownloadWatch the discussion (4.25MB)

Tim Child and Bruno Brookes on CBBC's Take Two (1991).

Why no cash prizes?

One of the discussion points concerned the prizes offered by children's shows. An audience member queried the lack of cash prizes, which would allow winners to buy what they wanted.

An audience member asks a question on CBBC's Take Two (1991).

Tim Child explained that restrictions often limit the type of prizes that can be given on children's programmes. This may make it seem like the programme is being mean, he said.

It's sometimes better not to say let's give a cash prize, but let's give a symbol, an emblem, or something like that.

Tim Child

Prizes on Knightmare by 1991 had included medals (the silver spurs) and then a single frightknight trophy shared between four.

Presenter Sarah Greene asked how many preferred this type of 'prestigious prize' - something small that was rarely achieved and more unique. Around half of the audience agreed.

The audience of children from a 1991 episode of CBBC's Take Two.

One audience member said the budget should go towards a better show rather than its prizes. Bruno Brookes said that's how the industry interprets the gameshow format as well.

"If I'm watching a gameshow at home, I'm getting involved with that person who's fighting his or her way through the game," he said.

"You're really making it for the viewer at home more than those taking part."

A long view of the studio for a 1991 episode of CBBC's Take Two.

Against 'smarmy' presenters

One of the easiest things to get wrong, in the eyes of a teenage viewer, is a show's presenter.

Hugo Myatt's Treguard was known for his ambiguous, detached style in the early seasons of Knightmare before adopting a more relaxed approach once joined by an accomplice in 1990.

But detachment was preferred to sarcasm or smarm. Audience members identified Michael Barrymore and Paul Daniels as presenters that left a bad taste by mocking or patronising their contestants.

Defending the presenters, Brookes said they were often the main appeal of a gameshow. People who apply for these gameshows are aware that fun will be made at their expense, he said.

Child added that presenters often encourage a 'love-hate relationship with the viewer' as part of their act.

Jeremy Beadle is an example. I mean, it's such a joke that even Jeremy himself is making now - that everyone loves to hate him. Perhaps they do this quite deliberately.

Tim Child

Tim Child, creator of Knightmare, on CBBC's Take Two (1991).

Presenter Sarah Greene questioned why gameshow hosts were predominantly male, which opened a broader discussion about how women are stereotyped.

Girls in the audience expressed frustration that women were too often shown for 'glamour' rather than having a practical role to play.

"By their very nature, gameshows are going to be perhaps the last bastion of stereotyping in this area," said Child.

The future of gameshows

Finally, the panel was asked how it saw the future of gameshows over the coming years.

With a nod to Knightmare, Brookes said the ultimate game lay in making the computer simulation-type game more interactive so that every viewer could take part.

For Child, the engaged youngsters of the studio audience were the best games creators in the room. Given time, they would be able to invent the perfect gameshow, he said.

What we've probably got here is a great forum for devising - if we all had more time to spend together - the ultimate TV gameshow.

Tim Child

DownloadWatch the discussion (4.25MB)

Nic thanks everyone who sent information by email: Nick, Don, Phil, Jonathan, Robin, David and Elizabeth.


Transcript

Gameshow prizes

Audience member: "I think you should have cash prizes instead of those 'present' sort of prize... People can go out and buy what they want. Say, if you get a stereo or television and you've got a stereo alright, you might not want that."

Tim Child: "There are very, very strict limitations about the size of cash prizes you can give winners on Children's BBC and Children's ITV. The trouble is, because those limitations are so strict, it makes it look as if the programme's being mean. And therefore, it's sometimes better not to say let's give a cash prize, but let's give a symbol, an emblem, or something like that."

Sarah Greene: "Can we just have a show of hands. Who thinks that the prestige value is more important - of having a little prize, but it might be something that nobody else has got? Who thinks it's better to have a small prize?"

Audience member: "I think they should spend more on making the gameshow better and less on the prizes."

An audience member asks a question on CBBC's Take Two (1991).

Bruno Brookes: "The thing not to forget here is that making a programme like a gameshow - you're really making it for the viewer at home probably more so than those taking part. So, if I'm watching a gameshow at home, I'm getting involved with that person who's fighting his or her way through the game and the climax is the prize. You're getting as excited as the participant is."


TV gameshow presenters

Sarah Greene: "Let's go to the people who present gameshows."

Audience member: "Michael Barrymore - I don't think he's very good at presenting programmes because he makes jokes at other people's expense, and I don't think that's a good way to go about things."

Audience member: "Paul Daniels is similar to Michael Barrymore. He's very smarmy to the contestants and he makes them look stupid because he has the answers and they haven't."

Audience member: "When they go on the show, they know that's going to happen. They've seen it on TV and they know what the presenters are like, and they don't have to go on it, but that's what they expect when they go on."

Bruno Brookes (former Radio 1 and TV presenter of Beat the Teacher) on CBBC's Take Two (1991).

Bruno Brookes: "Michael Barrymore is a very funny man. I don't think he sets out to make people look small or stupid, certainly his contestants. I think you made a very good point - people know what he's like before they even go on the show. They apply to be on the show probably being great fans of Michael Barrymore. That's the reason why they want to go on the show."

Tim Child: "There is always, I think, particularly amongst gameshow presenters, that certain feeling of the love-hate relationship with the viewer. Jeremy Beadle is an example. I mean, it's such a joke that even Jeremy himself is making now - that everyone loves to hate him. Perhaps they do this quite deliberately. Perhaps they do those very things that get up your nose as part of their professional act."


Gender balance of gameshow hosts

Sarah Greene: "Something that's occurred to a lot of people while you were having your discussion earlier that when you look at people who host gameshows, there do seem to be a few more men around than women."

CBBC Take Two presenter Sarah Greene (1991)

Audience member: "I think women are stereotyped. You get women who are very beautiful and glamorous but you don't really see any ugly women. I think it's important to show women with glasses, maybe braces, not just show ex-models all the time, which they usually do."

Audience member: "I think the ladies are actually there to add a little bit of glamour to the show. Like, on the Wheel of Fortune, she's a bit insignificant, but she's there - it sort of adds a little bit of razzle-dazzle to it. It makes it a bit more exciting."

Audience member: "Women are portrayed as these sort of sex symbols just to boost the ratings. They're on the TV programme when they don't do much."

Tim Child: "I rather suspect that gameshows are always going to be perhaps the last bastion of stereotyping in this area by their very nature."


The future of gameshows

Sarah Greene: "How do you think that quiz shows and gameshows will develop over the next four or five years?"

Bruno Brookes: "I think the ultimate game surely is the computer simulation-type game you're going to see on the screen where every single viewer through technology can take part."

Tim Child: "I think there's one thing the audience here might like to take on board and that is - you are actually the best games devisors in this room. What we've probably got here is a great forum for devising, if we all had more time to spend together, the ultimate TV gameshow."

Sarah Greene, Tim Child and Bruno Brookes on the set of CBBC's discussion show, Take Two (1991).

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