As interest in old television programmes increases exponentially - the result partly of the paucity of good modern programmes but also a consequence of the many channels now screening old material in lieu of anything better - the featured stars of yesteryear [before the concept of a "TV star" was even contemplated] are once again finding [in most cases very posthumous] fame. Take for example heart-throb and dashing debonnaire presenter Michael Miles-Worsethanmost host of the once-popular game show Make Me Sick. Largely forgotten until the programme re-aired earlier this year, Miles was at one time simultaneously voted "Most Popular Broadcaster of the Year", "Dorset Television's Best Dressed Host" and, in a listener's poll, "The Man Most Men Would Prefer Their Wives To Run Off To Lyme Regis With". A former colonial administrator and later turf-accountant, Miles was a natural with audiences and contestants alike, working them like a heavy suet mix.
At its height, Make Me Sick attracted sizeable audiences not least because, at 7pm on a Friday, it was on the only programme available on the only broadcasting channel in service. Featuring the famous Treasure Chest worth up to £30 as well as the infamous Box 13 Mystery Prize [often a working holiday on a nearby beetroot farm] the show began by giving contestants a series of desirable prizes and then taking them away systematically as they failed to answer increasingly difficult questions*. Most left the Studio feeling nauseated as they lost everything including their dignity.
*Anyone looking for evidence of dumbing down in the programmes of our own times might usefully compare Make Me Sick's 'Mr Sinclair, to keep and take home the hand-held manual food whisk and make Mrs Sinclair a very happy woman, name the first 45 elements in the atomic table together with their correct symbols and atomic numbers' with Dorset TV's current Tripping-up Point's 'Tracy, for £20,000, a holiday to Tobago, a new fitted kitchen and a chance to win the £100,000 jackpot, name a colour beginning with the letter "R" '.
Perhaps the element of Make Me Sick which has best stood the test of time, however, is the famous "Perhaps-Maybe Interlude" in which contestants had to use one or other of those words in answer to a quickfire round of personally-intrusive questions [eg DId you and your husband have marital relations before coming into the studio today?]. It was meant to be a relief from the excruciating tension generated by the more serious rounds of the quiz, but was not without anxieties of its own as mild-mannered but unforgiving ex-RAF pilot Bob Transverse-Walker interrogated the contestants whilst Alec "Great" Dane signalled that they had lost their entire prize haul of the evening through just one slip of the tongue.
Make Me Sick continued broadcasting into the 1960s but not into the colour era, by which time it was regarded as a little too homespun [as well as too challenging] by an increasingly ill-educated public many of whom were far from clear what a multiplication table was let alone how to eat off it. More than 20 listeners tuned in on 12 March 1964 to hear Michael utter for the last time the immortal words: "So until next time ... this is your quiz inquisitor Michael Miles-Worsethanmost saying goodnight, good-luck and cheerio. Goodbye everybody". Did he know?