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The Plight of the Game Show Host
inventions such as YouTube rendering
television obsolete, and with Noel Edmonds mercilessly sucking up the crumbs
of what is left like some giant hen with a protracted Hoover for a beak,
there is not much call nowadays for the traditional game show host. More and
more, we are becoming used to seeing vaguely familiar bodies roaming the
corridors of our workplaces as they get on with their new, civilian lives.
But it is not an easy adaptation process, and the road to normal living is
proving to be a fraught and troublesome one. In offices up and down the
country, frequent displays of bizarre and often
dangerous behaviour from these former personalities are testimony
to this. In a Carphone Warehouse outlet in Stoke-on-Trent, former
game show host Chris Tarrant now plies his
trade trying to hawk mobile phones for a living. Cited by the Government as
one of the success stories to date, Tarrant has excelled in offering
customers the same kind of chummy, friendly service that came to personify
his role in the hit ITV series Who Wants to be a Millionaire? Nevertheless,
the need for continued surveillance and support for Tarrant was found when
he one day began writing cheques to
customers for £32,000 in return for letting him use customer’s phones to
“phone a friend”.
down the road on an industrial estate just outside Walsall is former
Catchphrase presenter Roy Walker. Working
in the accounts department for a major home loans company, Walker frequently
jostles his co-workers, nudging them aggressively while trying in vein to
get them guess what he’s trying to act out like some kind of demented game
of charades. “Roy’s had a few problems settling in,”
supervisor Mike Head, 48, admitted. “We try to do the best we can to help
him fit in. But sometimes he just forgets where he is. Recently he nearly
deafened a colleague when he shouted “Right!” into his ear from a distance
of just a few inches.”
Head also suggested that Walker is prone to slip into his former persona
seemingly involuntarily. “He’s getting better.
One thing he still does a lot though is, when talking to clients on the
phone, he has this propensity to use phrases like “…and it’s all courtesy of
Catchphrase” or “it’s good but it’s not right”. Such lapses have cost the
company in the past, as clients quickly tired of the
repetitive nature of his often-persistent calling.
"Riiiiiiiiiiiiiii !!!" "We're
looking for glass. Our survey said? Nothing for glass"
And Walker is not the only former game show host to have
cost his new company money with such lapses. Family
Fortunes’ front man Les Dennis, now working in a Nationwide
building society, willingly handed over money to the value of £900,000 after
telling a stunned customer “If it’s up there I’ll give you the money
myself”. Though the money was eventually recovered, the customer drove away
with a “star prize” Ford Focus, which
Dennis had hotwired in a local car park shortly after handing over the
Bowen and fellow Bullseye stalwart referee
Tony Green have displayed perhaps the most
alarming demonstration of the problems associated with “mismanagement” of
the reintroduction process referred to in certain sections of the media.
Working as car mechanics, a customer was struck in
the temple by a dart thrown by Bowen, claimed by a delirious
Green “that’s the Bullseye!” Though the customer was not killed, he is
understood to be recovering in an intensive care ward in London.
Many of these displaced showmen and women attend weekly rehabilitation
training, described by insiders as being akin to that which former SAS
soldiers receive when retiring from military duty. Heavily funded by the
Government, these seminars are seen as essential to prevent the sort of
short-term damage to business and the
economy at large so far seen.
Without this critical agency support, it
is clear that former game show hosts pose a very real threat to public
safety in this country.