ITV offices, circa 1987. A man sits behind a desk, flipping listlessly through a pile of pitches for new television programmes. There’s a knock at the door, and an eager face peeks round.Head of Light Entertainment: 'Ah, Roger. Come in. Sit down. I’m just looking through these pitches. They’re all awful. We desperately need a new Saturday night ratings winner so please tell me you’ve got an idea.'Roger:[animatedly] 'Yes I have, and oh boy you’re going to like it! I'm thinking that we should be looking at something studio based, with a big name presenter.'Head of Light Entertainment: 'Ah, excellent start! Keep talking, keep talking.'Roger: 'Celebrities. Each week there'll be different celebrities involved. And members of the public. Members of the public put under pressure to complete a challenge.'Head of Light Entertainment: [perking up] ‘Ok, this is working for me. Flesh it out a bit for me though, give me some more detail.'Roger: 'Ok, so for the first show I'm seeing Dickie Davies, Richard Digance and Kate Robbins deliberating over whether a retired civil servant from Portsmouth can correctly identify parts from a lawn mower engine.'Head of Light Entertainment: [deflating rapidly] 'Um....'Roger: [excitedly] 'And after that we can have Kenny Lynch, Nerys Hughes and Derek Griffiths guessing if an administrative assistant from the West Midlands can recite, from memory, every classified advertisement published in last Tuesday's edition of The Uttoxeter Advertiser.’ Head of Light Entertainment: [biting fist] 'Er, this isn't exactly what I had in mind...'Roger: [unstoppable now] 'How about Sandra Dickinson, John Fashanu and Gloria Hunniford trying to discern whether a parking attendant from Clacton is able to eat fifteen hard boiled eggs in under three minutes?'Head of Light Entertainment: [close to tears] 'But this is absolute rubbish! Z list celebrities watching repetitively dull feats of limited physical and mental prowess from people who clearly haven't had any kind of social life for the last twenty years? What else have you got?’Roger: [sadly] ‘I haven’t got any other ideas.’ Head of Light Entertainment: [Thinking for a minute} ‘On the other hand, this is the 1980s - people will watch anything. Ok, let's get this made!'And so You Bet! was born. The exclamation mark is part of the show's title, by the way - there is no part of me that thinks watching Bruno Brookes, Helen Shapiro and Geoff Capes scratching their heads over whether Janice from Taunton is able to identify 1950's LPs by taste alone is deserving of that particular punctuation. I'm not making up these groups of celebrities either - each set mentioned has genuinely featured on You Bet! (it gets more irritating every time I have to type it). It reads more and more like the cast of some low-budget, end of the pier pantomime the further through the years you go: Bobby Davro, Letitia Dean, Barry McGuigan; Dame Hilda Brackett, Cliff Thorburn, Michaela Strachan; Willie Thorne, Diane Keen, Timmy Mallett. You couldn't make up a more banal band of ‘famous’ people if you tried. I can't look at the list without hearing Chris Morris' voice reading them out on The Day Today as a roll call of victims of some kind of light entertainment disaster.Now, I may have used some poetic licence on the challenges that I described (although I'm pretty sure the lawn mower parts one was in it once) but in reality, I didn’t use all that much. A quick Google search (I’m not even going to pretend that I sat through all the episodes - I have some self-respect) tells you all you need to know. Let’s jump to series three, where you could have witnessed a ‘speed hairstylist’, ‘two tyre fitters under pressure’ and somebody ‘erecting a tent in the dark.’ The weekends don’t get more exciting than this people!Oh hang on, yes they bloomin’ well do! In series four it was edge-of-the-seat-stuff: a seven year old named some sharks, an attempt was made to ‘drive up a ramp AND down again while carrying a set dinner table’ and somebody else (clearly a lunatic) tried to ‘identify 10 people by just their hands’. Phew. There were ten series of this. TEN. 101 episodes of nail-biting tension, hosted firstly by Bruce ‘Seriously, he’s HOW old?’ Forsyth from 1988 until 1990, followed by Matthew Kelly from Game for a Laugh until 1995, and finally by Darren ‘What is he famous for exactly?’ Day from 1996 until the show finally ran out of maniacs desperate to display their ‘talent’ on national television in 1997.(Don’t worry though – You Bet! may have been buried in the TV graveyard, but it was replaced in 1998 by Don’t Try This At Home! (note another ‘let’s try and convince everybody that this show is going to be fun!’ exclamation mark) although I prefer to call it ‘Don’t Try Watching This At Home!’ as you really shouldn’t. It was as awful as You Bet!, although as the challenges were now renamed ‘stunts’ and were slightly more dangerous than their predecessors there was always the chance that somebody might get hurt which made it much more interesting.The format of You Bet! began in the Brucie years with four challenges on every programme - one sponsored by each of the celebrities, and one by the host – and all were bet on by both the panellists and the audience. The celebrities accumulated points for each bet they got right; the amount depended on the percentage of the audience who also predicted the correct result. If the sponsor said that their challenger would complete the bet and they didn’t, then said celebrity would have to complete some ridiculously lame forfeit. At the end of the show there was some complicated equation done which ended up with a lot of money for the winning celebrity’s chosen charity. Actually I don’t think it was that complicated if truth be known; I’d just normally wandered off by that point of the show to see if I too could make a model of the House of Parliament out of marzipan using only my feet. (Oh, and Mr Forsyth used to rap at the end of the programme. Yes – rap. I can’t bring myself to talk about it though.)When Brucie left and Matthew Kelly took over the reins the show started evolving through various tweaks of the challenges and forfeits – none made a massive difference to the overall pointlessness of watching people in anoraks sweat whilst trying to remember the name of every toilet cleaner ever invented in the entire world. You Bet! was modelled on the German language programme ‘Wetten, dass?’ which started in 1981 and is still going strong in Europe. It’s broadcast live on six or seven occasions throughout the year from various cities in Switzerland, Austria and Germany and here’s where I thank goodness that ITV didn’t copy the entire concept for the UK’s version, as the original show often lasts for nearly THREE hours at a time…It’s the most successful European Saturday television programme there is – so who are these crazy people who want to spend three hours of their lives watching social misfits trying to identify pre-war teaspoons whilst standing in a wind tunnel? I guess that’s the only thing that I can say in favour of our decade’s worth of ridiculous challenges…am I glad we weren’t forced to sit through three hours’ worth? You Bet!