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Fifteen to One

WILLIAM G STEWART moved seamlessly from ITV sitcom producer and PRICE IS RIGHT pink tracksuit-wearing warm-up ubergrupenfuehrer to high spec quizmaster on superior Channel 4 when-COUNTDOWN-wasn’t-on gameshowery. Was very much all about the questions, the contestants’ names read out in an opening roll call while they were pictured as if about to receive a death sentence. On walks William G to remind us how many questions, most of which he wrote, there are and where the former winner is placed, and off we go. The best shows were always those that left time at the end before William got to animatedly take the winner through the remaining questions in silhouette, because that meant bits of business clearing up queries about the wording of previous questions, trivia about trends in show winners, a chance to see a question card for ourselves and a continual fascination with the Elgin Marbles, even extending as far as a lengthy summary of the case and later a faux-special edition as part of a WITHOUT WALLS strand that both attracted the attention of the Broadcasting Standards Council. They ended up doing a special editions, FIFTEEN TO ONE SCRAPBOOK, in 1999 that only ever seemed to be repeated when the cricket ended early, among other things giving us a chance to see voiceover nabob and Susie Dent of the semicircle Laura, who it turned out on the last show is the present Mrs Stewart. The only show that gave away antique earthenware as series prizes. William’s range of catchprases (“I think the standard gets higher every year!”; “go away, enjoy the summer holidays and come back and see us in the autumn”) were never destined to catch on, though.

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  1. Paul

    September 15, 2009 at 2:30 am

    I was on this once. I was absolutely mediocre. I got through the first round but chose last years winner at random when I got a question right. He then kept selecting me over and over. Clever bastard! So I never got through to the last three. William G was a really nice bloke though. We all had our photos taken with him after the show.

  2. IanW1968

    December 21, 2013 at 12:10 pm

    I was on it twice and second time got through to the last 3 courtesy of hardly being nominated/everyone else bombing out quickly. Bright old fellow won by ripping through about 25 questions and all 3 of us were still standing at the end.

  3. Frank McClure

    April 11, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    I was on first series, in 1988, knocked out middle round 2….Battle of Bull Run!!!, as I am constantly reminded, even to this day. I know which war it was in now!!

  4. David Bally

    August 25, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    I was on this show in 1991. I had to attend an audition session in Poole, and, not only was I one of the youngest at 29, I was also one of the few that got answered all their questions correctly, so much so in fact, that when i was “nominated” the producers who were hosting the auditions, got someone else to answer instead. One question I remember from the audition was “which film was awarded 8 oscars, 1 full size and 7 miniatures?” The answer was obvious, Snow white and the seven dwarves!

    The filming took place at Wandsworth studios, and 3 episodes were recorded in one block. When Mr William G Stewart came on there was spontaneous applause, he then went on to tell us about his days as producer/director of such TV Greats as Bless This House, and Father Dear Father, which I had not known until then, but he failed to explain what the G stood for.

    On the actual show I managed to get through to the final three, and then the final two, but was just pipped at the post. One competitor, an elderly lady, was asked “which computer input device is named after a small rodent?” She replied, “Mole?”

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