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Series / The Generation Game

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A long-running BBC light entertainment Game Show, based on a Dutch format, which first aired in 1971; it is played between four teams, each consisting of a contestant and one of their grandparents (hence the name of the show, since they are a generation apart).

The four teams were split into two pairs, and each pair competed in two rounds each. Typically, the first round involved the four contestants watching an expert or celebrity guest demonstrate an activity (such as, for instance, making a clay pot), and then trying to replicate the results (with the expert as a judge). The second round typically involved more quiz-like tasks. The winning teams in the two semi-final matches went on to the final, which typically involved putting on a play or some other entertainment performance. In all cases, Hilarity Ensues when the contestants inevitably do worse than the expert at said activities. The champions went onto the conveyor belt Bonus Round to win prizes.

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The series was one of the major breakout roles for British television personality Bruce Forsyth, who had previously hosted a British version of Beat the Clock as part of the variety show Sunday Night at the London Palladium. In 1978, Forsyth was poached by London Weekend Television for a competing Saturday night show on ITV, Bruce Forsyth's Big Night; meanwhile, Larry Grayson took the reins on a re-launched Generation Game with his own camp, forgetful stage persona. ITV's bet backfired, as Larry Grayson's Generation Game reached the peak of its dominance. When an ITV technicians' strike brought down commercial television for a period, ratings were recorded as being around 25 million viewers — the highest ratings ever recorded for a game show at the time. After its original run ended in 1982, it was revived in 1990 with Forsyth returning as host. After filling in for Forsyth on one episode, Jim Davidson took over from 1995 to 2002.

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There have been off-and-on talks about a potential revival, beyond a failed 2003 pilot with Paul O'Grady, and one-offs in 2005 (the Celebrity Edition Generation Fame with Graham Norton) and 2011 as part of the Comic Relief charity stunt 24 Hour Panel People. Miranda Hart, who participated in said one-off, was actually being considered as host of a revival too, but it never came to fruition. The most recent rumour of a potential revival came in 2017, when it was speculated that Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins (formerly of The Great British Bake Off) were being offered to host a revival of ''The Generation Game'. In July 2017, the BBC officially confirmed the rumor, announcing that it would be producing a revival with Mel & Sue as hostesses — with two episodes airing as specials in April 2018.

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This series provides examples of

  • Affectionate Parody: That Mitchell and Webb Look did a post-apocalyptic version of the conveyor game on their recurring sketch "The Quiz Broadcast", with prizes including a skull, "food objects", a traffic cone and a clock stand ("We don't know, but they're everywhere"), tablets (of medicinal and Holy varieties), stones, and a "frightening animal". The prizes were carried in front of the conveyor belt by stagehands instead of on it because they don't know how to actually operate the conveyor, and the contestant recalled memories of "The Event" rather than the prizes.
  • Bonus Round: Watch 20 prizes that pass by on a conveyor belt, and recall as many of them under a time limit to win. In the Davidson era, getting 15 prizes awarded everything and a bonus prize too.
  • Catchphrase: If there was something there were no shortage of during the Forsyth and Grayson eras, it was catchphrases;
    • Bruce Forsyth
    • Larry Grayson
    • "[Item]. [item], Cuddly toy!"
  • Clip Show: Each series had a highlights special, while UKTV Gold picked up Brucie's Generation Game: Now and Then in 2007, which featured classic moments, and inviting back runner-ups to play the conveyor.
  • Covered in Gunge: The bonus round in the Davidson era added a strange mechanic involving "Phantom Prizes"; if you named one of them, you got gunged. It still counted.
  • "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune: The original theme music was actually written and performed by Bruce.
  • Lovely Assistant:
    • Bruce Forsyth had Anthea "Lin Li" Redfern (in fact, from 1973 to 1979, they were actually a married couple!). During Forsyth's second run, Rosemarie Ford filled the roll.
    • Larry Grayson's version had Isla St. Clair.
    • The Mel and Sue version
  • Mascot: The de facto mascot of the series were the "cuddly toys" that always appeared on the conveyor belt.
  • Transatlantic Equivalent: An American version was piloted as Piece of Cake with Forsyth hosting, but it didn't get picked up.

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