The show revolved around a variety of practical jokes, either in game-type formats played out within the studio or as often elaborate set-ups on unsuspecting members of the public, either studio-based or shot on location. Studio games included the Dunk Tank, Glube Tube and Pie Chair in which varying amounts of mess were dealt out. Each segment would end with the victim being made aware of the joke by a presenter, who would then announce that the person had proved to be “game for a laugh”.
It has been said that the original format was called Gotcha and was designed as a BBC show to be presented by Paul Daniels, David Copperfield (the British comedian) and Pamela Stephenson. The pilot show was rejected, allegedly, for being ‘too vulgar’. Jeremy Beadle then rewrote the format, with producer Michael Hill in the United States.
According to the show’s original producer, Brian Wesley, in his 1982 book on the series, “The Game for a Laugh birthplace was the Hollywood office of producer Michael Hill.” Jeremy Beadle and Hill’s Los Angeles-based TV production company Hill-Eubanks Group envisaged a show in which “the people were the stars”. Hill developed the eventual show with Beadle and with Jeremy Fox, then head of London-based Action Time, and the son of BBC TV executive Sir Paul Fox. Fox then presented the format to LWT. Jeremy Fox also brought to the show a wealth of stunts from Truth or Consequences, a show created by Ralph Edwards Productions in Hollywood from whom LWT bought the rights. At LWT, Head of Light Entertainment Alan Boyd put the finishing touches to it.