Published on June 22, 2016
Published on Apr 2, 2013
Television game shows descended from similar programs on radio. The very first television game show, Spelling Bee, was broadcast in 1938. Truth or Consequences was the first game show to air on commercially-licensed television. Its first episode aired in 1941 as an experimental broadcast.
Over the course of the 1950s, as television began to pervade the popular culture, game shows quickly became a fixture. Daytime game shows would be played for lower stakes to target stay-at-home housewives. Higher-stakes programs would air in prime time. During the late 1950s, high-stakes games such as Twenty One and The $64,000 Question began a rapid rise in popularity. However, the rise of quiz shows proved to be short-lived. In 1959, many of the higher stakes game shows were discovered to be rigged. Ratings declines led to most of the prime time games being canceled.
An evolution of the quiz show, called the panel show, gained popularity in the 1950s and survived the quiz show scandals. Panels of celebrities, rather than members of the public, would answer the questions on shows like What’s My Line?, I’ve Got A Secret and To Tell The Truth, each of which had success in primetime until the late 1960s. In the US, panel shows were largely relegated to daytime television by the 1970s, most notably with Match Game and Hollywood Squares. In the UK, however, panel shows have continued to thrive in primetime as they’ve transformed into showcases for the nation’s top stand-up comedians on shows such as Have I Got News For You, Would I Lie to You?, Mock The Week, QI and 8 out of 10 Cats, all of which put a heavy emphasis on comedy, leaving the points as mere formalities. The focus on quick-witted comedians has resulted in strong ratings, which, combined with low costs of production, have only spurred growth in the UK panel show phenomenon.
Game shows remained a fixture of US daytime television through the 1960s after the quiz show scandals. Lower-stakes games made a slight comeback in daytime in the early 1960s; examples include Jeopardy! which began in 1964 and the original version of The Match Game first aired in 1962. Let’s Make a Deal began in 1963 and the 1960s also marked the debut of Hollywood Squares, Password, The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game.