In the next thirty minutes, you'll see
three people attempt to break world records. You'll see all this and
more today on...
SHOW: THE GUINESS GAME
AIR DATES: September 17, 1979 to September ??, 1980
CREATOR: David Paradine/Hill-Eubanks Group
HOST: Bob Hilton (for a time); Don Galloway (replaced him)
WATCH IT AT: YouTube
I confess that, when I was younger, I was all but OBSESSED with the
Guinness Book of World Records. I would thumb through the paperback copy
the family had and marvel at all the different ways people can set
records. And this started by a stinkin' BEER company. I learned that the
longest surname in the world had 490 letters in it, that the heaviest
man that ever lived weighed over half a ton...and that Peter Dowdeswell
was the biggest glutton on the plant with almost every eating record
they had. So when I stumbled upon "The Guinness Game" one Saturday
night, I was in! I mean, they had prime time specials on network TV once
or twice a year...but now we can watch people trying to break world
records EVERY WEEK! Looking back, it was a simple game; nothing to write
home (or write a column) about...but it was the RECORDS that stole the
HOW WAS IT PLAYED?
Three contestants played. Each were staked $1000 to start. The host
would then introduce a possible record-breaking attempt and explain the
details behind it. Then he asks the contestants if the attempt will
"succeed" or "fail" and to make a wager no more than 90% of their
current stake. They are given about ten seconds to lock in predictions
and write down wagers on a cardboard card. With predictions and bets
locked in, the attempt begins (although, if it's a particularly long or
difficult attempt, it's sometimes started while the host is explaining).
Depending on how the attempt goes, the contestants win or lose money
towards their stake.
Two more attempts at world records are made on the set, each with the
contestants predicting their success or failure. For the third round,
the bets are hidden until the attempt ends. At the end of three rounds,
the contestant with the most money in their stake wins the game and
keeps the cash. The maximum one can win is $6859 (and that's if they
wager the full 90% each time and get it right).
The winner gets the opportunity to predict one final record-breaking
attempt (usually shown outside the studio when the attempt is
particularly big). After being explained about the attempt, all they
have to do is predict if the attempt will succeed or fail. If they are
right, they win a vacation for two to an exotic (for the time) location.
The host then ends the show by saying "...when The Guinness Game returns
in exactly 167 hours, (so-and-so) minutes and (such-and-such)
seconds...and you can bet on that!" The host gives the ACTUAL amount of
time until the show comes back.
As stated, it was the attempts that made the game show. Could a group of
people make a wedding dress in under four minutes? Could two people saw
through three blocks of ice and two logs in under 40 seconds? Could
someone speak the entire "To be or not to be" soliloquy in less than a
minute? Could a bunch of guys launch a man on a human catapult over 30
other nervous people? The tension was palpable...I prayed it would last.
The actual "set" was kinda small in comparison to the rest of the
studio...but that WORKED, since some of the attempts required a lot of
Never saw Bob Hilton hosting; was always Don Galloway. And, while he
seemed a bit wooden, he knew that this wasn't about him; it was about
the attempts. In that sense, he did his job rather well.
And I wonder how many people ACTUALLY timed when the host gave the time
'til the next show to see if he was right? Perhaps, had I been older, I would've
WHAT DIDN'T WORK?
The music, while in the disco sound of the 70s and early 80s, were
lifted from other shows. They couldn't afford their own music? After all
they saved on the "set"?
Most of the attempts were one-and-done. Now I understand that was done
for time constraints but...I'd like to think they could've tried, like,
three times and they only SHOWED the winning attempt or the LAST attempt
if they failed. Sadly, it doesn't look that way. What if the folks got
NERVOUS working in front of an audience?
And, as I said, the game itself was dirt-simple. Bet on an attempt
succeeding or failing...get it right, win money...get the most money,
win the game. I'm thinking that some of the people un-enamored by the
record attempts saw this and said, "What?! What kind of crap game IS
this?!" And that's probably why it didn't last; not everyone was like
WOULD IT WORK TODAY?
As cool as I think it would be, I don't see it happening. I mean, these
days, people make up world records on the fly...and they set it so that
no sensible person or people would even THINK about trying to break it.
No one's gonna want to try...so why bother making a game around the
attempts? Sure, some MAY wanna give it a crack...but not enough to make
a long-lasting show around.
NEXT TIME: You
think you know the music of a different decade better than those who
GRADUATED then? Well,...
Chris Wolvie attempting a record for being the first immortal...so
far, so good.
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