Wipeout (1988 U.S. game show)

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For the 2008 U.S. TV series, see Wipeout (2008 U.S. game show).
Created by Bob Fraser[1]
Directed by Jerome Shaw[1]
Presented by Peter Tomarken
Narrated by Jim Hackett
Bob Ridgely
John Harlan
Theme music composer Otis Conner[1]
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes 195
Producer(s) Bill Mitchell[1]
Location(s) Paramount Pictures Studios
Hollywood, California
Running time approx. 22-26 minutes
Distributor Dames-Fraser/Paramount Television[1]
Original channel Syndicated
Original run September 12, 1988[1] – June 9, 1989

Wipeout is an American game show that aired from September 12, 1988 to June 9, 1989, with Peter Tomarken as host. The series was produced by Dames-Fraser Productions and distributed by Paramount Domestic Television.

Reruns of the series later aired on the USA Network from 1989 to 1991.[1]

Main game[edit]

First round[edit]

Three contestants competed on each episode.

The game began with the players given a category, with sixteen possible answers on a four-by-four grid of monitors. Eleven of the answers fit the category, while five did not and were called "Wipeouts". Play started with the contestant in the leftmost position, and for each correct answer that player gave he/she earned money. That player could keep answering until either passing (which he/she was only permitted to do after making at least one selection) or finding a Wipeout, which cost him/her any money earned to that point. Either way, control passed down the line.

The first correct answer of the round was worth $25 and each subsequent answer was worth $25 more than the one before it, with the eleventh and last worth $275.

Play continued until all eleven answers or all five Wipeouts were found. The two players with the most money kept their totals and advanced to the Challenge Round.

In case of a tie for second, a tiebreaker category was played with twelve answers, eight of which were correct. A coin toss determined who started and play continued until one contestant found a Wipeout (and in turn, lost the tiebreaker) or found the last correct answer (and moving on to the Challenge Round).

"Hot Spot"[edit]

One of the correct answers was the "Hot Spot". The contestant that found it was given a token to display on his/her podium and if that player avoided a Wipeout for the remainder of the round and had one of the two highest money totals at the end of the round, he/she won a prize (usually a vacation).

If the contestant holding the Hot Spot found a Wipeout, it was taken away from that player and put back on the board behind one of the remaining correct answers.

Challenge round[edit]

A board with twelve answers was shown to the contestants, containing eight correct answers and four Wipeouts. Players alternated bidding based on the number of correct answers they could find. Bidding continued until one player challenged another or until the maximum bid of eight correct answers was given. If the player with the higher bid was able to complete the contract, they won the round. If a Wipeout was revealed, the other player could win the board by coming up with one of the remaining correct answers. However, if another Wipeout was uncovered, control passed back to the highest bidder who resumed where he/she had left off prior to uncovering the first Wipeout.

The first player to win two boards won the game, a prize, and advanced to the bonus round.

Bonus round[edit]

The Wipeout bonus round had the day's winner play for a new automobile.

The bonus round did not use the same monitors that the main game did. Instead, a set of twelve large monitors laid out in a four-by-three grid was used. The objective of the bonus was demonstrated before each round started as Peter Tomarken would get to play his own random category.

The champion's goal (with the actual category) was to find the six correct answers that fit. To select an answer, the champion would light it up by touching its monitor. Once six were lit, the champion ran back to the starting point and hit a buzzer. He/she was then told how many answers were right and if less than six were, the champion went back to make changes. To do that the champion had to turn off one of the monitors before changing an answer, as no more than six at a time could be lit.

The champion had sixty seconds to work with and kept making changes until time ran out or all six correct answers were chosen. Doing that won the car.

For the first few weeks of the show, any players that did not win the car simply left with whatever cash they had won in the first round and the Challenge Round prize, as well as the Hot Spot prize if claimed. After the show introduced returning champions, players stayed until they won the car or were defeated.

Versions outside the US[edit]

Country Local Name Host Network Year Aired
 Australia Wipeout Tony Johnston Seven Network 1999-2000
 Germany Riskier Was! Gundis Zámbó Sat.1 1994-1995
 Netherlands Denktank Kas Van Lersel RTL 4
 Spain Alta Tensión Constantino Romero
Luis Larrodera
Antena 3
Tensión sin Limite Ivonne Reyes VEO7 2011
 United Kingdom Wipeout Paul Daniels (1994-1997)
Bob Monkhouse (1998-2002)
BBC1 1994-2002

Their Descriptions[edit]



The German version is called Riskier Was! (lit. Riskier What!) aired on Sat.1 hosted by Gundis Zámbó aired on Sat.1 from 1994 to 1995. Unlike other international versions of Wipeout, this version alone had a blue cartoon Rhino as the mascot of the show.


The Dutch version is called Denktank (lit. Think Tank) aired on RTL 4, RTL 5 & Veronica from 1994 until 1999, hosted by Kas Val Lersen.


A Spanish version originally called "Alta Tensión" (lit. "High Voltage"), and later "Tensióm sin Límite" (lit. "Unlimited Voltage") had three separate runs: one from 1998 to 1999 on Antena 3 hosted by Constantino Romero, one from 2006 to 2008 on Cuatro with Luis Larrodera as host, and one in 2011 on Veo7 with Ivonne Reyes as host.

Format changes[edit]

Round 1 was played with three boards like the UK. For the first two boards, €100 was awarded for the first answer plus an additional €100 for every subsequent correct answer revealed, up to €1,000 for the tenth correct answer (only ten correct answers are on the board). The third board paid €200 for the first answer plus an additional €200 for every subsequent correct answer revealed (up to €2,000 for the tenth correct answer); instead of a bonus prize, one of the answers on one of the boards hid a "wild card," which preserved the money if a player found a Wipeout.

In round 2, instead of bidding, one player selects a category, after which their opponent selects answers until finding a Wipeout, at which point their opponent takes over control of the board. A player wins the board by selecting the eighth and final correct answer. If one player finds the fourth wrong answer, their opponent automatically wins the board.

In the bonus round, seven of the answers were right, and five were wrong. Trying to turn on more than seven answers resulted in an error tone and the answer not being activated. Like in America, winning the bonus round awarded a new car.

United Kingdom[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Schwartz, David; Ryan, Steve; Wostbrock, Fred (1999). The Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows (3 ed.). Facts on File, Inc. pp. 264–265. ISBN 0-8160-3846-5.