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The Plight of the Game Show Host

Anyone fancy a new phone?With 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”.

Just 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 funds.

Sundays wouldnt be the same without a bit...Jim 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.