Wheel of Fortune was a British television game show based on the American show of the same name created by Merv Griffin. Contestants compete to solve word puzzles, similar to those used in Hangman, to win cash and prizes. The title refers to the show’s giant carnival wheel that contestants spin throughout the course of the game to determine their cash and/or prizes. The programme aired between 19 July 1988 and 21 December 2001 and was produced by Scottish Television (STV) for the ITV network – having effectively replaced Now You See It as STV’s prime time game show offering for the ITV network. It mostly follows the same general format from the original version of the programme from the United States, with a few minor differences.
Unlike the American version, where the numbers on the wheel correspond to the amount of money won by each contestant, the British version instead referred to these amounts as ‘points’ – they had no cash value, their only purpose was to determine the grand finalist, or to choose a winner for a particular round. There was a reason for this; between 1960 and 1992, the Independent Broadcasting Authority and for the last two years its successor the Independent Television Commission imposed caps on the top prize game shows could give away per week, and standardising the prize on offer per episode ensured the program did not breach the set limits and be forced off the air for that reason like The Price Is Right had been in 1984. Points earned from all players carried on to proceeding rounds, and only scores for the current round were susceptible to Bankrupts, meaning a winner could be crowned that never solved a puzzle, but acquired a large amount of points. This rule would actually encourage sacrificing a player’s turn if he or she didn’t know the puzzle rather than risking his or her points by spinning again.