Tuesday, March 2, 2021
Home Gaming Evil aspidistras and Noel Edmonds - how an obscure quiz show helped...

Evil aspidistras and Noel Edmonds – how an obscure quiz show helped shape gaming in the 80s

It’s a little-known fact but the sight of a wobbling aspidistra plant can bring on quite powerful flashbacks for anyone who grew up in the first flushes of the early 80s home computer era, and it’s all thanks to a kids TV show called The Adventure Game. A selection of episodes of this almost-forgotten oddity were recently added to the Britbox streaming service, while there’s also a DVD boxset containing all the surviving episodes. If you have any interest in how gaming evolved it’s a fascinating case study.

The Adventure Game was created in 1979 by veteran BBC children’s producer Patrick Dowling, who had previously delivered such era-defining shows as the summer holiday staple Why Don’t You…? and brought genteel artist Tony Hart to our screens in Vision On and later Take Hart. The idea came from his interest in Colossal Cave Adventure, the genre-defining computer game written by Will Crowther in 1977 for hulking mainframes, and the rising popularity of Dungeons & Dragons in the UK. Dowling was also inspired by the hit radio adaptation of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and wanted Douglas Adams to write for his show, but production on the TV adaptation of his book made it impossible.

The Adventure Game is best described as an early precursor to The Crystal Maze, an inspiration for subsequent shows like the cult classic Knightmare (https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-07-24-omg-knightmare-returning-for-one-off-youtube-special) and a pioneering example of the now popular “escape room” concept. In each episode a trio of affordable BBC celebrities were transported, via the magic of chromakey, to the planet Arg where they are tested by the playful but gently sadistic inhabitants, the Argonds. These reptilian beasts occasionally appeared in their natural form, the sort of low budget monster outfit that kept Doctor Who afloat, but were mostly represented in human guise. One character, a cranky Argon uncle, preferred to only appear as that uniquely threatening aspidistra, shaking his leaves furiously at contestants thanks to R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker hiding in its pedestal and rolling it around on a child’s tricycle.

Read more

It’s a little-known fact but the sight of a wobbling aspidistra plant can bring on quite powerful flashbacks for anyone who grew up in the first flushes of the early 80s home computer era, and it’s all thanks to a kids TV show called The Adventure Game. A selection of episodes of this almost-forgotten oddity were recently added to the Britbox streaming service, while there’s also a DVD boxset containing all the surviving episodes. If you have any interest in how gaming evolved it’s a fascinating case study.

The Adventure Game was created in 1979 by veteran BBC children’s producer Patrick Dowling, who had previously delivered such era-defining shows as the summer holiday staple Why Don’t You…? and brought genteel artist Tony Hart to our screens in Vision On and later Take Hart. The idea came from his interest in Colossal Cave Adventure, the genre-defining computer game written by Will Crowther in 1977 for hulking mainframes, and the rising popularity of Dungeons & Dragons in the UK. Dowling was also inspired by the hit radio adaptation of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and wanted Douglas Adams to write for his show, but production on the TV adaptation of his book made it impossible.

The Adventure Game is best described as an early precursor to The Crystal Maze, an inspiration for subsequent shows like the cult classic Knightmare (https://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-07-24-omg-knightmare-returning-for-one-off-youtube-special) and a pioneering example of the now popular “escape room” concept. In each episode a trio of affordable BBC celebrities were transported, via the magic of chromakey, to the planet Arg where they are tested by the playful but gently sadistic inhabitants, the Argonds. These reptilian beasts occasionally appeared in their natural form, the sort of low budget monster outfit that kept Doctor Who afloat, but were mostly represented in human guise. One character, a cranky Argon uncle, preferred to only appear as that uniquely threatening aspidistra, shaking his leaves furiously at contestants thanks to R2-D2 actor Kenny Baker hiding in its pedestal and rolling it around on a child’s tricycle.

Read more

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -

Most Popular

Recent Comments