I have come to discover that Challenge is easily the most dangerous TV channel in existence. I flick through the channels and end up being sucked in to watching gameshows of the past.
Part of it is morbid curiosity about programmes that I can’t remember. The other day I saw that 321 was on. I’d never seen it before, so I thought I’d take a look. I was hooked for the whole hour (although I muted some of the performances!).
In the episode I watched, the contestants won a camcorder the size of a baby. The voiceover announced, “You could be the Alfred Hitchcock of ’87!”
Then I caught an episode of Big Break. I used to quite like Big Break when I was a kid, and it was good to watch it again. (Insert obligatory caveat about Jim Davidson here.)
It reminded me of Full Swing, which I think may be a contender for the worst gameshow in history. It ran for just one series in 1996, and it’s not difficult to see why it didn’t return.
Full Swing was basically exactly the same as Big Break, but for golf instead of snooker. Immediately the problem is clear. While snooker (like darts with Bullseye) is ideal for filming in a studio for a gameshow format, golf can’t really take place within the confines of a studio.
So instead, Full Swing consisted of a shaky mish-mash of virtual reality, crazy golf and astroturf putting.
Worse, the format was almost exactly the same as Big Break. The snooker gameshow is actually quite clever, and stayed true to the rules of snooker while tweaking it for the gameshow format. Full Swing took the Big Break format, and tried to wrap golf around it.
Even the theme tune was almost identical! Only, instead of shouting “Big Break”, they would shout “Full Swing!”
John Virgo’s trick shot was replaced by a crazy golf shot. Unfortunately I can’t find a video of it online. As I recall it was like playing Mouse Trap. All the contestant had to do was make one little putt, and the golf ball hit a button or something, then this contraption started up. It sent the golf ball on a convoluted helter-skelter journey until it ended up in the hole.
It might have looked impressive the first time, but there really was no suspense in it. Once the contraption started up, there was no way the ball couldn’t end up in the hole.
I have managed to find one single video of Full Swing on the internet. I guess all other evidence of the programme’s existence has been destroyed. This episode even has John Virgo in it! Enjoy!