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Guilty Pleasure Week: British Game Shows


Welcome to day two of Guilty Pleasure week on Funkhouser.  In day one of our series, Kalan Kucera professed his love for Sweedish Rock Band, Roxette.

When approached with the idea of writing about my guilty pleasures this week for Funkhouser, I realized, not unlike Mark Henry, “That’s What I Do.”  In taking the writing position for KSR, I went with the direction of, I’m going to write about some of the things I like, no matter how ridiculous they are.  Case in point, I have written a number of posts about Professional Wrestling, which is probably my biggest guilty pleasure.  I’ve also written almost just as much as my favorite guilty pleasure movie, “Over the Top,” starring Sylvester Stallone.  I asked my Fiance what my pop culture guilty pleasure was, to which she replied, “You like How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days.”  But c’mon, McConaughey… How can you not like it?  I’ve even hinted at today’s guilty pleasure in a previous post, but not to this extent.

The almighty Wikipedia defines a guilty pleasure as “something one enjoys and considers pleasurable despite feeling guilt for enjoying it.  The “guilt” involved is sometimes simply fear of others discovering one’s lowbrow or otherwise embarrassing tastes, such as campy styles of entertainment.”  Thanks to pop culture’s extreme grasp on people today, it’s hard for someone to find something that they consider to be a guilty pleasure.  Sure, you may enjoy watching “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” (that’s still a thing right?), but it’s so entrenched in the pop culture lexicon, one might not get to feel guilt from it, just because you need to know about it to stay ahead of the pop culture curve.

What I consider to be guilty pleasures are the things that you enjoy that you have to bring up in conversation with no segue, because no one is going to be talking about it if you don’t.  It’s like someone who does CrossFit talking about how hard their WODs are to a co-worker, who doesn’t do CrossFit, who is in the middle of working on some important project.  That moment of, “I want to talk about this, and will be embarrassed when you turn around and walk away after I’ve finished my statment.”  What I’ve found myself bringing up all the time to people who could completely care less, is my complete love for British Game Shows.

When I was a kid, and I swear that this is a true story, I woke up not feeling well, but probably still could have gone to school.  I, however, had a inkling in my gut that I should stretch this one out to stay home.  As soon as I turned on the television, I came to realize that it was the day that Game Show Network had been added to our cable.  I thought I’d never go to school again.  Also, shows like Press Your Luck would come on right after school on USA in the 4:00-4:30 PM slot on USA, you don’t get that nowadays.  It wasn’t until the era of YouTube that I found the embarrassingly, glorious nature of British Game Shows.

British Game Shows are just clean and well thought-out in nature, clearly knowing the point of what it is trying to accomplish, and being nothing more than that.  That can not be said for what the US tries to pass off as a game show.  Sure, “The Price is Right” and “Family Feud” are classics, but other than that, we’ve got nothing.  These take it to the limit, giving you people who have wanted nothing more in their life than to be on a game show.  Like, bucket list item #1, followed by “get groceries.”  Let’s take a look at some of the categories (that I’ve made up) for British Game Shows, and why I love them so much:


Quizzers are a stripped down, bare bones version of a game show.  The only concept you will see here are straight up question and answer formats, that have very little room for strategy.  Shows that fit into this category are programs like “Only Connect” and “Mastermind.”  I find that these shows are most embarrassing as you don’t really have to watch them to enjoy them, so listening to them with headphones and shouting out answers, in the office, turns some heads.  People always ask, what are you doing?  To which I reply sheepishly, listening to a british game show.


In Only Connect (VIDEO), two teams of three compete in four rounds, trying to find the connection between four items.  Each turn, a team is given the first item, then can uncover the next if they want.  The earlier they can figure out the connection, the more points they score.  In the second round, they’re given a list of three items, and must figure out the fourth in the sequence.  In the third round, teams are shown a grid of 16 items and must figure out the four groups of four items, as well as how they group with each other.  It’s a smart person’s show, and I try to pretend like I know what all the british references are, but I never understand.


Mastermind (VIDEO), on the other hand, is a straight up quiz show.  It’s sort of like ESPN’s attempt at a game show, Two Minute Drill.  In the first round of this show, contestants come in with a specialized category that they’re the “Master” in, answering two straight minutes of questions about that topic.  In the second and final round, contestants answer general knowledge questions for two-and-a-half minutes.  That’s it, most correct answers after the two rounds wins.  These are the best for listening to while doing work, almost like listening to a podcast.

Gimmick Quizzers

Gimmick Quizzers still have the basis of the question and answer portion of the show, but there are one or two things about the show that add to the experience.  Shows I fit into this category are Pointless, Breakaway, and The Chase.


Pointless (VIDEO), which is my favorite of this category, is a reverse version of Family Feud.  Players are given a category, let’s say, “Tom Cruise Movies”.  100 people were questioned, just like the Feud, but this time, you’re looking for the answer that was said the fewest amount of times, or even better, a correct answer that no-one said at all.  That is a “Pointless” answer.  A true show for people who have really obscure knowledge.


Breakaway (VIDEO), which probably the most gimmicky of the bunch, was one I started watching last year on YouTube.  The game starts with six contestants on a 30 step path.  The contestants work as a team answering questions, moving up one step, and earning money, per correct answer.  At certain “Break Points”, you have the option of breaking away from the group, and trying to do the entire path by yourself.  That’s it. Not much to it, but it’s stressful to try and see someone get 25 consecutive questions correct to win.


The Chase (VIDEO), which has been made into an American show on Game Show Network, is fantastic.  You and a team of three other players must play against a quiz genius to bank money and try to win it at the end of the show.  The main portion of the game is a one-on-one battle against the chaser.  After you play a quick-fire trivia round, whatever money you won goes on the board.  You now play head-to-head with the chaser.  If you answer a question right, you’re one step closer to banking your money. But if you get it wrong, the chaser gets one step closer to you.  If he catches you, you lose all money you earned.  It’s a very stressful game to watch as well, especially with headphones in, sitting at your desk, with other people around.

Americanized British Game Shows

There are a few shows that I think were thought up by Americans, just for the sheer over the top nature of the program.  They’re built for drama, which actually works.  I’ve lost hours in the office, just sitting on the edge of my seat, watching people I don’t know, try and win money.  These people who come on these shows seem like it’s life or death for them to win 100 pounds.  These shows grip me right in the heart and in the gut, and I can’t stop watching them.


In the Exit List (VIDEO), you must make your way through a maze of 25 rooms, layed out in a pyramid type shape.  The further you go back in the maze, the more money you make per question.  In each room, you are asked one multiple choice question.  If you get the answer right, that answer goes on your “Exit List.”  But, if you get it wrong, all four answers go on your list.  At the end of the show, to win the money you made, you must exit the maze in the reverse order you went in, saying one answer or group of answers from your exit list.  This is edge of your seat stuff, folks.


The Cube (VIDEO), is the UK’s version of Minute To Win it, except it all takes place in a huge cube.  All of the games are dexterity games, but you get nine lives to do it.  Why is this one more pleasurable than the US version?  No Guy Fieri.


There are probably 10 more shows I could have added to this list, especially all of the panel shows like: Countdown, 8 out of 10 Cats, Nevermind the Buzzcocks or  Just a Minute, as I spend a lot of time watching those, as well.

Do “British Game Shows” really count as a guilty pleasure?  Maybe not, not in the traditional sense… but when people ask, what do you like watching on TV, and my answer isn’t Breaking Bad, I sheepishly say, British Game Shows, so there’s a sense of embarrassment there.  But, in that I say, own your guilty pleasures, you can be embarrassed about them.  Just don’t stop watching or listening to what you love, just because you might also be embarrassed by it, otherwise programs, movies and music wouldn’t get the love they so unrightfully deserve.


Article written by Richmond Bramblet

3 Comments for Guilty Pleasure Week: British Game Shows

  1. Jeremy
    12:01 pm April 15, 2014 Permalink

    Sadly you have left off the greatest of all British Game shows – Numberwang

    • Richmond Bramblet
      5:12 pm April 15, 2014 Permalink

      Sadly, I’m not sure that the world is ready for Numberwang… it’s too highbrow for most mainstream audiences…

  2. Bill
    9:35 pm April 15, 2014 Permalink

    You mean you weren’t sick that day? Your father!