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Supermarket Sweep

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  • Supermarket Sweep

    Those with access to ITV 2 this autumn would have had a chance to see Rylan Clark-Neal host both an iconic and ironic revival of the "get as much in your trolley within two and a half minutes" game show which has done for mimicking shoplifting what Through the Keyhole had done for breaking and entering. I was surprised that the original format came from the United States back in the 1960s because the format feels to me like a very 1990s one - the "Supermarket Grab" competitions that had appeared in women's magazines such as Take a Break every week in the nineties (my late mother used to read it), and I naturally thought that the game show was a TV spin-off of such things.

    The original Sweep started on Monday 6th September 1993 at 9.25 am - where only disabled, housebound, retired and truants could see it - even a trip down at the local DHSS or the Post Office queue waiting for the Giro, (which are traditional Monday at 9.30 am places to be in lieu of work), were excluded from that particular group. Despite a high portfolio of Bullseye, Blockbusters and most Bob Monkhouse game shows to be seen on commercial television, this was the first Central game show to be shown in that slot, which was mostly given to middle-ranking companies such as Tyne Tees (the first company to do two game shows there) and Anglia. This was done by an independent for Central before Thames in its modern incarnation took over production many years later. It stayed in that slot until 1998 when Vanessa, Trisha and Jeremy Kyle took over, although at some point, Border put A Country Practice in the 9.25 am slot so that Sweep could be seen at 5.10 pm after CITV.

    Supermarkets on television are obviously limited to the obvious chains and are indeed very limited in TV shows (Leonard Rossiter in Tripper's Day, and Bruce Forsyth in Slinger's Day, anyone?) , and in the early 1990s when Sweep was founded, Ken Morley was enjoying huge fame as Bettabuy's (Morrisons in real life) manager Reg Holdsworth in Coronation Street - so who better to officially open the game show supermarket? In order to cut the ribbon to open the "store", Morley had to find the scissors in order to do the job, but they were hidden on one of the shelves in the aisles. Cue the female assistants chanting "hey Kenny" in true Toni Basil style as Morley rushed around to find them. When the job was done, Morley walked back with the implements, saying "never run with scissors". The ribbon is cut and the first series officially begins.

    An average opening title sequence consists of the supermarket seen from above the shelves (but not as high as CCTV cameras would be placed), showing it been frequented by ordinary people just like an ordinary shop that we are used to, and I assume that they are actors seen there. A Fred Dinenage lookalike can be seen I the opening titles of the series circa 2000. The late Bobby Bragg goes on about "a very special supermarket where some lucky person could win a lot of money". The Supermarket Sweep logo flies across the screen, with the word "Sweep" written in in almost the same font as the Bullseye logo. Then we get to "meet" the contestants - as this is a daytime series, out of the three groups of two people each, (equating to six people in total of course), two of the teams are mostly likely to be female, and one male. When they are in place, the late Dale Winton (formerly of Nottingham's Radio Trent and Wolverhampton's Beacon Radio), makes his camp appearance usually in Hawaii shirt and black leather trousers with a cheery "morning shoppers!" "Morning, Dale" the mostly female contestants call back.

    They all have a minute added to their clocks and they need to get as many things right to get the most amount of time. "What product am I looking for?" asked the host for the Mini Sweep. When a contestant gets it right they have to find it, and of course it has the Sweep logo on it (conveniently over the Kellogg's logo which is a common thing all through the rounds in the first half in order to avoid product placement in the Winton era). Punter finds it and rushes back and is awarded ten seconds on their clock. Then Winton used to annoyingly throw the tin or packet under his legs to someone off camera before he moved on.

    The contestants are interviewed - a lot of them are students, hence the fact that they have heard of the show as they are usually at home in the morning and don't have lectures until after lunch. During the first half, we have various rounds such as Round Robin, and the "Tarby's Frame Game" round where one would have to find the link between two words such as Baking tin and tin foil. Contestants should always answer as if one is in class and saying "Dale" when addressing the host as if they are addressing him as "Sir" or "Miss" (with no irony intended). Is it "sausages", Dale? Do a few more rounds to accumulate time on the contestants' clocks within the next ten minutes until it's time for the commercial break (which means at 9.42 am, a Sweep ad break would consist of adverts for Pampers, SMA baby food, Lil-lets, Daz Automatic, ambulance chasers and loans).

    We come back for part two and we see some difference as to how the contestants are dressed - they are now wearing coloured sweaters for each team of pink, blue and yellow - a bit like Krypton Factor contestants had to for their respective rounds. the pink team (which is great when men get that colour) have the most amount of time, and of course as a result, they are most likely to win the main game. In Rylan's recent version, contestants not only had to wear the sweaters but to "completely get changed" so any female contestant who happened to be wearing a skirt at the start of the show would be wearing trousers or leggings by the time of the main sweep game - this didn't happen in Dale's day - only the sweaters were added.

    Continued in the next post.
    Last edited by George 1978; 21-10-2019, 01:27.
    Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!

  • #2
    Re: Supermarket Sweep

    Continued from the previous post.

    The contestants are shown the inflatable bonuses; the "Manager's Special" - a tin with the relevant coloured sticker on, the "assistant" with a pudding bowl haircut and looks very Beatles-alike, shows the punters how to stick price labels (a thing of the past in real supermarkets) on the sets of tins for a 50 bonus, and of course the Shopping List. "Are you ready to go shopping?" Dale asked. "Yes, Dale!" is the response. After counting down, we are under way. Warm-up man Bobby Bragg gave commentary. The odd glimpse of a cameraman can be seen, almost within six inches of bumping into and falling over the "shopper" in the process; someone breaks some eggs and so therefore there will be a penalty; we see someone get the bubble bath on Dale's shopping list - the yellow team member is colour coordinated and gets the banana bonus (usually worth 50); and we get to see someone's backside, in an almost Kinder Bueno waiter-style, when they either pick up something off the floor to avoid a penalty or reaches for something on the bottom shelf. All is done in around two and a half minutes.

    When it is all over, Winton said "let's do those shopping totals" (exactly like he said "let's do those chart positions" when he presented Pick of the Pops) - cue extras as check-out assistants totalling the items up. At this point, we would have got a "viewer's question" where one would dial 0891 etc for it - edited out of the Challenge repeats many years later. "Let's see what your inflatable's worth" - of course I always thought that the biggest one was worth the most money, but it seemed to be the opposite in most editions. One point to make is that a lot of the totals are around 250, and take the bonuses away that would leave probably just over 100 - I know that most of the Winton era episodes are from around 20 years ago, inflation and all that, but I can equal and even beat that when I do my monthly online shop, and even the Rylan era contestant totals can be lower than that!

    And we find out who has won - the probability was that it would be the pink team as they had the most time on the clocks to begin with. The other teams go home with the value of their goods in their trolley, so one assumes that anyone who has got 257 worth of shopping would get a cheque for that amount, and so therefore they would not be going home as if they had gone to do their weekly Tesco shop and have a car boot full of groceries! The final part is to find the 2,000 hidden away in the store and find the solution to three rhyming clues in order to get to it - now, despite going round the supermarket to find these the answers to these clues, one never gets a glimpse of where the money is hidden until one gets onto the final clue if it is found. But sometimes the punters find the money in time and they are like someone who has won the Pools. The show is wrapped up - Dale said his "next time you're at the checkout and you hear the beep" catchphrase and so on, the guests answer in unison, and the show ends with people waving, and applause.

    Moving forwards to the Rylan Clark-Neal version, a lot of changes have been made of course, and that obviously reflects the changes on broadcasting we have had since even 2007 when Winton's last series went out. The product placement factor that the programme is sponsored by Tesco (just in time for its 100 year celebrations), and logos are incidentally seen on set - one difference is that the Coop, Asda or Somerfield logos (before it became part of the Coop itself) were covered by Sweep stickers to avoid that fact, even though supermarket companies were mentioned in the credits at the end of the programme. On more than one occasion, people have written to Notes and Queries places asking whether Supermarket Sweep is indeed set inside a real supermarket, a la Bettabuy's in Corrie, making one feel that people have difficulty separating fact from fiction.

    Also, Rylan had so many "guests" from Reality TV popping in which obviously I have never heard of, being referred to as "celebrities", but no doubt that if I had passed one of them in the street I probably wouldn't know who they actually were, and also the articulateness of the contestants coming down along the conveyor belt in the start of the show made me think that they had done acting or dancing themselves. I have to admit that it does feel a bit alien to someone like myself - if they were soap actors or someone from the mainstream, then I would relate to it a bit more - it is like the Strictly Come Dancing factor where apart from Anneka Rice and AN Other, I have hardly heard of the rest of the celebs on the 2019 series. The question is, how much has it originally changed since the 1990s? It does seem fresher and modern in its identity, but like just like a lot of game show revivals in recent years it can be a lot difficult to watch when one has the original version in mind. I don't know whether we will see another series with Clark-Neal in charge but it would be interesting how many changes are made.

    Another point is how Rylan is portrayed not only as host but also as manager - he wears a name badge which when one thinks about it gives comparison with shows like Blue Peter and Rainbow where the presenters on there also wore a badge on screen. We also have "Gary", the Ken Bruce lookalike as a security guard which seems to be a very odd preposition in the show, let alone an ironic choice considering that in real life security guards are there to shop theft and make sure that "customers" pay for their items, yet, on the show itself, no one pays for the items as they are given the money themselves! And on the whole, as the Winton era show was just half an hour long (well, 24 minutes sans adverts), I so feel that the first half is too padded out to reach the best part of an hour, and I think that is one of the few problems with regards to the 2019 series - don't get me wrong, I do love watching it!

    What do you think about Supermarket Sweep and the fact that no one pays for their shopping on there? - was Dale Winton or Rylan Clark-Neal the best host for the show?
    Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!


    • #3
      Re: Supermarket Sweep

      I'm not if it was just when Granada scheduled it, but I first remember seeing the show at lunchtimes in the mid 1990s, as my college timetable left me with most lunchtimes free so I used to eat at home while watching the TV.
      The Trickster On The Roof


      • #4
        Re: Supermarket Sweep

        It might have been 1.25 pm or something where the afternoon showing of Home and Away was, although I am certain that it wasn't until 1998 when Vanessa and Trisha was on at 9.25 am.
        Telling it almost exactly like it was so many years later - and proud of doing so!