Hot Potato (game show)

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(Celebrity) Hot Potato
Hot Potato (game show) title-card.jpg
Genre Game show
Written by Scott Wyant
Directed by Richard S. Kline
Presented by Bill Cullen
Narrated by Charlie O'Donnell
Theme music composer Hal Hidey
Country of origin  United States
No. of episodes 115[1]
Executive producer(s) Jack Barry
Dan Enright
Producer(s) Allen Koss
Location(s) NBC Studios
Burbank, California
Running time 30 Minutes
Production company(s) Barry & Enright Productions
Original channel NBC
Original release January 23 – June 29, 1984

Hot Potato is a television game show broadcast on NBC in the United States from January 23 to June 29, 1984. Bill Cullen was the show's host and Charlie O'Donnell was the announcer.

The series was produced by Barry & Enright Productions, its only post-scandal series produced by NBC under the Barry & Enright logo. It was also the last network game produced by the company, the last Barry-Enright game before Jack Barry's death and the last network game show hosted by Bill Cullen.


Two teams of three players, each sharing a common bond (e.g., occupation, mothers-to-be, etc.) competed. Cullen read a question and provided the number of answers to the question, which was always at least seven. Questions included both trivia questions with a number of factual answers (for example, naming the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World), and survey questions in which a chosen number of the most common responses formed the pool of acceptable answers.

One member of the champion team started the round by either giving an answer or challenging an opponent to answer. If the player gave a correct answer, control passed to the next member of that team in line. Each subsequent member could answer or challenge an opponent. An incorrect answer meant that the player had to sit out the remainder of the question on a bench behind the team's podiums, and the other team then took control. A player would be cautioned if he/she repeated a previous answer; doing so twice on the same turn sent him/her to the bench.[2]

If a player chose to challenge and the chosen opponent gave an incorrect answer, that opponent was eliminated and the challenging team retained control, moving to the next player. If the opponent gave a correct response, their team kept control and the challenging player was eliminated.

After five correct answers, Cullen would read them back for the contestants. Teams could win a question in one of two ways: by giving a seventh correct answer to the question (regardless of who gave the first six, and regardless of how many correct answers a question had) or by eliminating all three of their opponents.

The first team to win two rounds won the game, $1,000, and the right to advance to the bonus round. A "Seven Straight Jackpot" was later offered to any team that gave seven correct answers in a row without making a mistake or challenging. The jackpot started at $500 and increased by that amount for each match it was not won. This bonus was discontinued the day the format became Celebrity Hot Potato.

Bonus game[edit]

The winning team was given a subject of comparison (e.g., which weighs more, which group has more members, matching tourist attractions to the correct city, etc.), and shown two possible choices. The team debated and then made their choice. If correct, they won $500 and continued. The team could stop at any time and take the money, and they could pass on one question if they wished. However, if they passed, they were required to answer an alternate question.

A mistake at any point ended the round and lost all accumulated money therein. Getting five correct answers won a jackpot that started at $5,000 and increased by that amount each game it went unclaimed. The jackpot reset to $5,000 each time a new champion team was crowned.

Broadcast history[edit]

Hot Potato suffered, as many games did when airing in the 12:00 Noon slot, from many NBC affiliates preempting the show in favor of local newscasts. The show was hurt further by being up against Family Feud on ABC, and in some markets The Young and the Restless on CBS.

On April 23, 1984 the show became Celebrity Hot Potato. From that point until the show's cancellation, teams consisted of one contestant and two celebrity players. Each set of four celebrities appeared on the show for one week, and the team assignments of the celebrities were shuffled after each game in order to maintain variety (usually, one celebrity from the champion's team would remain in place, while the other switched places with one of the celebrities on the challenger's team). A few weeks were played where all three players on a team were celebrities (usually sharing a common bond, such as comedians or stars of a particular TV series]), with their winnings going to various charities.

On July 2, Hot Potato was replaced by repeats of Diff'rent Strokes, which had ended its sixth season on the network a month earlier. The repeats in turn only ran until September 21, with the game show replacing it – Super Password – lasting over four and a half years at Noon.


Repeats aired on USA Network from June 29, 1987 to June 23, 1989 and again from September 10 to December 28, 1990. GSN has aired the series at various times.


  1. ^ ""Hot Potato" (1984)". Retrieved 2009-08-17. 
  2. ^ [1] at 5:18

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