Smile! You might be on TV

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We all love having a giggle and usually this is at someone else’s expense. Who remembers Candid Camera? This show seems to be loved as much now as it was when it was first on our TV screens more than 40 years ago. If you’re unfamiliar with the show – hidden cameras were placed to capture the surprising and hilarious reactions of unsuspecting members of the public as pranksters play practical jokes on them.

The television show that we saw in the UK had been adapted from the original American series of the same name. That show began life on American radio as early as 1947, called Candid Microphone. It first appeared on television in the U.S in 1948.

Here in the UK, Candid Camera arrived on our TV screens in 1960, presented by Bob Monkhouse. It featured Jonathan Routh and Arthur Atkins as the pranksters and ran until 1967. A special episode aired in 1971 and then the show returned for two series in 1974. Two shows in 1975 and six ‘best bits’ episodes in 1976 but series nine later that year, would be the last.

Candid Camera has been hugely influential on both TV and Radio.  How many shows have used pranks to great effect. Although Candid Camera was not seen again, other shows that continued in this vein include Beadle’s About, Just For Laughs, Game for a Laugh and Trigger-Happy T.V. Candid Camera was probably the first time that people had the slightly unsettling realization that someone, somewhere, might just be pointing a camera at them. Of course, these days we are used to having cameras absolutely everywhere. Any future episodes of Candid Camera could be filmed using a Body Worn Camera. For more information, visit

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The creator behind the original American show was a man called Allen Funt who developed his love of public humiliation in the Army. He started by secretly recording his fellow soldier’s complaints and then played them over the Armed Forces Radio. This could have gone either way but lucky for Allen, his stunts proved very popular and thus Candid Microphone was born.

Allen Funt was once on a flight that was hijacked and forced to fly to Cuba. Several passengers recognised him and became convinced that the whole thing was a hoax and they would be appearing on television. Thankfully everything worked out well for those on the flight but I guess the moral of that story is that once a prankster, it’s hard to be taken seriously again.


Bob Monkhouse – Host – (2 episodes 1960 – 1961)
Jonathan Routh   – The Practical Joker (18 episodes, 1960-1976)
Dolly Parton  –  Herself (2 episodes, 1975)
Peter Dulay  – Himself – Host (29 episodes, 1974)
Arthur Atkins – The Practical Joker (29 episodes, 1974)
Sheila Bernette – The Practical Joker (29 episodes, 1974)
Bill Lynton  – The Practical Joker (29 episodes, 1974)
Eve Polycarpou – The Practical Joker (29 episodes, 1974)
Jonathan Routh  – The Practical Joker (18 episodes, 1960-1976)


Channel: ITV
Created By: Allen Funt
Original Transmission Dates: September 10th 1960 – December 17th 1976