The Best Aussie Kids Game Shows from the ’90s

A*mazing Vidiot EC Plays Lift-Off Pick Your Face Total Recall Aussie Kids Game Shows 90s

They don’t make game shows like they did in the ’90s. Which is probably a good thing. Back then safety wasn’t a top priority and political correctness was an afterthought. Still, it was entertaining! Follow me through the spinning tunnel into a world of knee-pads, name tags and oversized teddy bears in school uniform…

Now You See It

Channel: Seven Network and Nine Network
Aired:
1985-2000
Host: Mike Meade (1985-1990), Sofie Formica (1991-1993), Scott MacRae (1998-2000)
This was straight up educational “fun”. Students competed for individual and school prizes by playing word games. The solo round was the best thing about the whole show because the player got to circle hidden words on the screen with a stylus. It was ultimately replaced by Download, which also focused on word games but they upgraded the electronic co-host to computer program Miss Bytes.

Challenger

Channel: Nine Network
Aired:
1997-1998
Host: Diarmid ‘Dougie the Pizza Boy’ Heidenreich (1997), Adrian DeVito (1998)/Zoe Sheridan (1998)
Two teams of three would compete in a series of challenges – both mental and physical. Out of all the physical challenges, Big Squeezy was definitely the highlight. Kids wore hamburger-style suits and maneuvered through an obstacle course and then awkwardly dove into foam shapes and answered questions while trying to catch their breath.

EC Plays Lift-Off

Channel: ABC TV
Aired:
1994
Host: Mark Mitchell
EC Plays Lift-Off was a spin-off of the TV show Lift-Off. This game show had it all – an awesome theme song, an incredible set, theatrical host Con the Fruiterer Mark Mitchell (as kid-hater Mr Fish who transformed into a kind-hearted fairy), EC the creepy faceless mute doll and fun, interactive games. One of the games actually had contestants stick their hands into the Wakadoo fish and guess the food inside! The ultimate goal was to collect shapes to create a finished jigsaw puzzle. Clips of characters from Lift-Off featured throughout – who remembers Lotis the talking elevator, Beverley the one-eyed plant and the puppets from Wakadoo Café? The winning team got to choose between a few exxy items and the losers got backpacks filled with Lift-Off products.

Guess What?

Channel: Nine Network
Aired:
1992-1993
Host: Andrew Fyfe, Alison Brahe (1992)/Jaquie Rindt (1993)
You probably won’t remember this show but the illustrations might look familiar because Andrew Fyfe was the cartoonist on Hey Hey It’s Saturday. On Guess What? he drew images on a white board and contestants had to guess what the phrase or word was. It was a bit slower than all the other game shows but enjoyable because you could play along at home. The female co-hosts had to chat to the teams about their hobbies (aka vamp) while Andrew finished his elaborate drawings.

Time Masters

Channel: Seven Network
Aired:
1996-1998
Host: Tony Johnston
Before Go Go Stop, there was Time Masters. The game Scramble asked contestants a question and showed them flashes of a green path on the light-up game board. Then they raced up, stepping on the the correct path on the floor and pressed buttons to select the right answers on the board at the top. A basketball round encouraged some unhealthy rivalry by dunking a kid from the opposing school in a water tank. The final challenge was a Daytona-style arcade game that probably ate up the show’s whole budget.

Pick Your Face

Channel: Nine Network
Aired:
1999-2003
Host: Angus Smallwood
Mostly memorable due to the big, pimply, snotty noses contestants had to shove their hands up! In round one, players would pull items out of the nostrils that would give them clues to discover a celebrity. The other rounds were variations of ‘guess the celebrity’ games which you could play along with at home.

A*Mazing

Channel: Seven Network
Aired:
1994-1998
Host:
James Sherry

A*mazing truly lived up to its name. James Sherry was the ultimate cool guy, the theme song was catchy and you actually wanted to participate. Kids competed to win a prize for their school and more importantly win a Game Boy for themselves! There was a big light-up keyboard on the floor, a Nintendo battle (mostly Donkey Kong) and of course the MAZE! Kids needed to collect letters and keys hidden throughout the elaborate obstacle course before time ran out. Some of the most memorable elements were the mirrored doors, the pirate’s cove, the three penguins and the car. If you want to see A*mazing return to Aussie screens, show your support on the BringBackAmazing Facebook page created by none other than James Sherry!

Vidiot

Channel: ABC TV
Aired:
1992-1995
Host: Eden Gaha (1992-1993), Scott MacRae (1994-1995)
A*mazing was the coolest game show for primary school kids but Vidiot was a must-watch for cool high schoolers. Three teens competed against each other by answering pop culture questions to win prizes like CDs, TVs and boomboxes. To add to the cool-factor, they would get Aussie celebrities (mostly Home and Away cast members) to co-host segments. The funky set had smoke machines, a TV set host stand and player buzzers with hooks from popular songs. This needs to come back!

Honourable mentions: Big Square Eye, Blockbusters, Total Recall and Wipeout

Check out our post on The Best Aussie Kids TV Shows from the ’90s to relive all your childhood faves!

Melpo

TV enthusiast, avid children's book collector, amateur food photographer and lover of all things kitschy.