Hot Potato

Hot Potato was the last network game show hosted by Bill Cullen (he did several for syndication later) and one of his least successful. It aired on NBC from January of 1984 through June of the same year. The quiz pitted two teams against each other, each team comprised of three people who had something in common — three firemen, for example. Or three former beauty queens or something of the sort. Later, when it was clear the show wasn’t working, they abandoned that idea and each team was made up of two celebrities and a civilian, with the non-celeb taking home whatever the team won.

The game itself had a bit of Family Feud in it. The show conducted a survey on some question of vital interest like, “What’s your favorite pizza topping?” The idea then was to identify the seven most popular responses to the question. When it was your team’s turn, you could either try to answer or you could challenge someone on the opposite team to answer. If they couldn’t, they were eliminated. So your team could win the round one of two ways: You could give the seventh answer or you could knock out all three players on the opposing team. If you won two out of three games, you got to play a bonus round for more cash.

After long associations with Goodson-Todman and Bill Stewart Productions, this was Cullen’s first game show for the Barry-Enright production company. He went on to host The Joker’s Wild for them in syndication.