The Best Challenge & Quiz TV Shows From The 1990s

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13 Oct 20

The Best Challenge & Quiz TV Shows From The 1990s

For as long as television has been around, there has been a continuously evolving stream of popular and entertaining shows gracing the screens of the viewing public. Contemporary productions from Agents of SHIELD to Z Nation mean there are plenty of choices on the A to Z of TV shows.

But what about shows from the past? Unlike today’s reality TV and binge-watching scenario on Netflix, during the 1990s there were a number of incredibly popular family game shows, quiz shows, and challenge shows to watch.

Classic programmes like Wheel Of Fortune, Catchphrase, and Stars In Their Eyes regularly pulled in millions of viewers and enjoyed prime time positions in the schedule. Without streaming options, audiences were less fragmented and millions tuned in to watch the same shows at the same time. A number of these shows have even been revived years later with new hosts and new contestants.

Fort Boyard (1998)

Although originally a French game show from 1990 , a UK series of Fort Boyard was first broadcast in the late nineties. For a few years, the show was presented by Melinda Messenger and also starred Leslie Grantham as the Master of the Fort.

The show was filmed at a fort of the same name, located on the west coast of France. This adventure-style game show was a fun and exciting watch for many tv audiences. They got to see contestants, and sometimes even celebrities, take part in both physical and mental challenges around the location.

Human Bell, The Catapult, and The Snake Pit, were just some challenges that contestants might have faced. The finale with The Treasure Room was one of the intense time trials, with Fort Boyard’s gold guarded by tigers.

Gladiators (1992)

If you are a huge fan of recent physical challenge games such as Ninja Warrior UK and Total Wipeout, you would probably have loved Gladiators.

If you haven’t already seen it, the show involved ‘contenders’ playing against muscular and athletic ‘gladiators’ in a series of physical events. The games tested the player’s stamina, skill, speed, and strength to see if they could make it to the end and be crowned the champion.

Lasting for a thrilling eight series, Gladiators was a show that a lot of families loved in the 1990s. At the time, the cast enjoyed celebrity status in the UK, and everyone had their favourite Gladiator. Ranking Gladiators from worst to best can be hard, but Wolf, Jet, and Saracen are just some of the top ranking members of the team that fans loved to watch each week.

The Crystal Maze (1990)

Over the years, The Crystal Maze has had some quirky tv presenters such as Stephen Merchant (2016) and Richard Ayoade (2017-). But back when it first began in 1990, Richard O’Brien was the first to lead contestants through a series of challenges.

Unlike other challenge shows that rely mostly on physical ability, this show also tested contestants on their thinking and puzzle skills too. The Crystal Maze is divided into four divisions set in different periods of space and time. Here, the contestants take on the challenge of winning time crystals. For each crystal, a team gets five seconds of the time within the crystal dome for the final challenge, and tries to collect gold tokens for a prize at the end of the show.

Nominated for several BAFTAs, The Crystal Maze was a fun and exciting TV show for audiences to watch, both back in the 1990s with the original series and now in the present day with the revival, and has become something of a cult classic.

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire (1999)

Who Wants To Be A Millionaire may have just recently come back on UK television with Jeremy Clarkson taking over as host of the show, but it was back in the late nineties when the show began.

First presented by Chris Tarrant, this is one of the most well-known quiz shows across the world, laced with big prize money and tension. It’s an engaging quiz show with a simple format that makes it perfect for people to join in with at home and see which questions they would get right. Luckily, contestants have life-lines to help them through their game such as Ask the Audience, Phone a Friend and 50/50.

Over the years, there have been board games, console video games and even official Who Wants To Be A Millionaire online slot games for adult fans to play at sites like It’s clear that audiences enjoyed watching players try to reach the top one million pounds prize money as the show has had over 630 episodes aired since it was first broadcast.

Supermarket Sweep (1993)

Also known as Dale’s Supermarket Sweep, this game TV series premiered in 1993 in the UK was based on America’s Supermarket Sweep TV show. Here, teams are divided into three, whereby each attempt to earn as much time as they can to answer questions related to products and prices.

The time accumulated in the mini sweep by either team is the sole determinant of the time they have in the Big Sweep collecting shopping items in a mock supermarket set up in the studio. With every correctly answered question is a reward of an extra 10 seconds, with some offering a bonus of 30 seconds when all contestants in the team agree to a correct answer.

This fun game was so popular with audiences that it has now been revived in the present day with Rylan Clarke-Neal as presenter.