1 9 8 1 – 1 9 8 5 (UK)
100 x 30 minute episodes
“Watching us, watching you”
At the bidding of four permanently smiling hosts sat on high stools, contestants performed asinine stunts in the studio, which were interspersed with pre-filmed hidden camera pranks – usually embarrassing, always graceless. Throughout, the audience collectively brayed like a donkey at this taste-challenged derivative of Candid Camera.
GFAL – as the show was known for short – came from nowhere to hit a high of over fifteen million viewers during its first series in Autumn 1981. The idea of a show which mixed slapstick with thrills and belly laughs with amazement had been buzzing around in a few heads for some time. But it all really started with a terrifyingly blank sheet of paper.
When Alan Boyd arrived as LWT’s Head of Light Entertainment the decision was taken to make 14 shows to put up against the programme he used to produce at the BBC, the long-running Generation Game.
The vicar whose impressions of Liberace were of a professional standard; the laundry worker who built a magnificent robot in his spare time; the sales manager who just couldn’t stop dreaming up zany characters to play; the man who devoted his life to decorating the inside of his house with beautiful Old Master-style paintings just because he fancied the idea . . . all of them were discovered on GFAL – and all of them went on to appear on other tv programmes around the world.
GFAL revealed the long string of weird customs and events – usually staged to raise money for charity – that went on around Britain. The people who entered the world custard pie throwing championships or raced tin baths around the harbour at Cowes did it because they loved it.
The original four presenters were Henry Kelly, Matthew Kelly, Sarah Kennedy and Jeremy Beadle (pictured).
The bearded Beadle made something of a speciality of Candid Camera-type shows, following Game For A Laugh with Beadle’s About (1986 – 1996), People Do The Funniest Things (1986 – 1987) and Beadle’s Box Of Tricks (1989). He also hosted You’ve Been Framed (1990), a showcase of allegedly amusing home video howlers.
On 25 January 2008, it was reported that Jeremy Beadle had been admitted to the London Hospital and was subsequently placed in a critical care unit due to severe pneumonia. He died on 30 January 2008, at the age of 59.