The '90s Saturday prime-time TV shows that were so good we'd want to stay in

If you thought The Wheel, Saturday Night Takeaway and The 1% Club were perfect Saturday night TV fodder, you weren't around in the '90s - or you've long forgotten about that decade.

Forget Ant and Dec and Michael McIntyre, the big names of the day were Cilla Black, Noel Edmonds and Jeremy Beadle and they were never off our TV screens as they brought us the best in light-hearted weekend entertainment. Added to that we had a good dose of drama thanks to the likes of American lifeguard series Baywatch, which launched a certain Pamela Anderson into the spotlight.

Here, in no particular order, we look at the best Saturday night prime-time shows of the '90s that had us glued to our armchairs - and quite frankly, we would even think about forgoing a night out for.

Blind Date

Never mind Love Island or Married At First Sight, the original TV dating show remains the best. Hosted by legendary Liverpudlian singer and TV presenter Cilla Black, the ITV series started back in 1985 but ran right the way through the '90s with the final episode broadcast in 2003.

Three singles of the same sex were introduced to the audience. They were then asked a question by a single contestant of the opposite sex, who could hear but not see them, and then the one that grabbed their attention would be their date - after "our Graham" (Graham Skidmore), who was never seen on screen, gave his amusing "quick reminder" of each contestant.

The couple then picked an envelope which revealed where they would go on their date. The following episode showed them on their date and there were interviews with them about the date and each other. While there were lots of mis-matches, Cilla eventually got to wear her hat when Sue and Alex Tatham ended up marrying in 1991.

As well as Blind Date, Cilla famously hosted Surprise, Surprise but that aired on Sundays.

Noel's House Party

Mr Blobby, the character who shot to fame on Noel Edmonds' House Party
Mr Blobby, the character who shot to fame on Noel Edmonds' House Party -Credit:PA Archive/PA Images

Ant and Dec were mere whipper-snappers when Noel Edmonds and Mr Blobby were bringing us pranks and laughs from Crinkley Bottom between 1991 and 1999.

The successor to the Noel Edmond's Saturday Roadshow carried over some of its regular features such as the 'Gunge Tank', the 'Gotcha Oscar' and 'Wait Till I Get You Home'. There were many celebrity guests posing as residents of Crinkley Bottom.

After several changes, the show began to decline in popularity but in 2010, Noel's House Party was voted the best Saturday night TV show of all time.


Pamela Anderson in Baywatch
Pamela Anderson in Baywatch -Credit:Fremantle Media/REX/Shutterstock

From rainly Blighty, we were transported to the golden beaches of LA through this weekly dose of American drama that was screened across the world from 1991. We looked on as the glamorous lifeguards patrolled the beaches of Los Angeles County, California, and Hawaii. It famously starred The Hoff (aka David Hasselhoff) and Pamela Anderson in her iconic red swimsuit.

It became the most-watched television series in the world, with a weekly audience of over 1.1 billion viewers despite consistently negative reviews earning it a reputation as a pop cultural phenomenon and frequent source of parody. It later sparked a movie version starring Zac Efron.

You've Been Framed

Jeremy Beadle
Jeremy Beadle

Launched in 1990, viewers famously contributed to the ITV programme with their humorous home movies and those who had their clips played received £250. We loved nothing more than laughing as a gust of wind blew Auntie Joan's skirt over her head or little Jimmy went hurtling off his skateboard.

Hosted by Jeremy Beadle until 1997, the show's format is based on the Japanese show Fun TV with Kato-chan and Ken-chan (1986), which was also the basis for America's Funniest Home Videos (1989). Lisa Riley, Jonathan Wilkes and Harry Hill later took over presenting duties.

Beadle's About

Like Cilla, Jeremy Beadle was a mainstay of Saturday night TV during the '90s and viewers could also see him on ITV's prank show Beadle's About, which ran from 1986 for a decade.

Love it or loathe it, it featured members of the public who became victims of practical jokes behind hidden cameras. Many of them involved someone's car or van secretly being swapped for an identical one before it exploded or was dropped from a great height as the owner of the original looked on in horror.

After a few minutes, Beadle would appear in disguise and interact with the shell-shocked victim before it was slowly revealed that it was a practical joke. Most saw the funny side but sometimes it would backfire.


Cast of the original Gladiators series together
Casualty -Credit:ITV/REX/Shutterstock

It was revived by the BBC last year and was an instant hit with new audiences but Gladiators was entertaining '90s kids and their mums and dads decades earlier.

Originally hosted by Ulrika Jonsson and John Fashanu on ITV, it was based on the American television programme American Gladiators and saw four contestants compete in a series of physically challenging events against the show's resident Gladiators. The likes of Jet (Diane Youdale), Ace (Warren Furman) and Hunter (James Crossley) became stars in their own right.

The Generation Game

One of the biggest hits of '70s telly was revived for '90s audiences initially with the original host in the hotseat - the legendary Bruce Forsyth - who was later replaced by Jim Davidson.

The format saw four teams of two people from the same family, but different generations, compete to win prizes. One game usually involved the contestants watching a skilled professional construct or perform something, such as pottery or dancing, before having a go themselves to win points.

The winning pair went on to win prizes from a conveyor belt in a memory game and it would always famously feature a cuddly toy.

Stars In Their Eyes

Long before The X Factor was must-see Saturday night telly, viewers were cheering on the contestants of ITV's Stars in Their Eyes which saw members of the public impersonate showbiz stars. Later came a celebrity version - remember Carol Vorderman as Cher or Stephen Mulhern as Robbie Williams?

Launching in 1990 and originally presented by Leslie Crowther before Matthew Kelly took over the reins, one of the best things about the show was guessing who the contestants were going to transform into after uttering the famous line: "Tonight Matthew, I'm going to be..."

After being transformed into their idol by the costume and make up department, it was time for them to sing their hearts out before the votes were cast for the winner.


Casualty -Credit:BBC Pictures

Still going strong, it seems that the BBC's much-loved hospital drama has been going forever - and you'd be right.

Casualty originally aired as a weekly programme during the autumn for its first six series, before expanding to 24 episodes a year by 1992. Original stars included Brenda Fricker as Megan Roach, Clive King as George Harris and Derek Thompson as Charlie Fairhead. In fact, Derek only recently left the series after decades in the role.

From explosions, to car accidents and overdoses, Casualty is certainly action-packed - and if that wasn't enough for drama fans, it also spawned the successful spin-off Holby City.

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