Winning Streak is an Irish television game show, Europe's second longest-running after the UK's Countdown. Aired weekly in Ireland, five contestants play a number of games to win cars, holidays, and cash prizes up to €1,000,000.
|Presented by||Mike Murphy (1990–2001)|
Derek Mooney (2001–08)
Aidan Power (2008–09)
Kathryn Thomas (2008–11)
Marty Whelan (2009–)
Geri Maye (2011–13)
Sinéad Kennedy (2013–)
|Country of origin||Ireland|
|Production location(s)||RTÉ Television Centre|
|Running time||60 minutes|
|Original network||RTÉ One|
|Original release||21 September 1990|
Broadcast on Saturday nights between early September and late May on RTÉ One, the game show is among the channel's most popular programmes, often ranking among the top five in the ratings. However, there was a significant drop in viewership in the 2008/2009 series.
The show began on 21 September 1990, and has been hosted by popular television personalities Mike Murphy (1990–2001) and Derek Mooney (2001–2008). Prize money for the show is funded by the National Lottery, with entry to the game based on National Lottery scratchcards.
Mooney stepped down as the show's host at the end of the 2007–08 season. The 2008–09 season was rebranded Winning Streak: Dream Ticket and was co-hosted by Kathryn Thomas and Aidan Power. They were the first duo to host the programme and Thomas was the show's first permanent female presenter. Aidan Power stood down, after the 2008/09 season ended on 6 June 2009, because of his commitments to the RTÉ's youth-orientated programme, The Cafe, as well as presenting on The All Ireland Talent Show in early 2010. Marty Whelan stepped into Aidan's shoes, co-hosting the 2009/10 series with Kathryn, which aired from 12 September 2009 (reverting to its original name Winning Streak) until 29 May 2010.
The twenty-first season, commenced on 4 September 2010, again with Kathryn Thomas and Marty Whelan at the helm. Kathryn was then replaced with Geri Maye, who was replaced by Sinéad Kennedy.
Since the show began in 1990, it has been produced in Studio 1 at the RTE Television Centre in Dublin.
These were the Mike Murphy years. The structure of the show was very similar over the series throughout this time. Murphy would meet each contestant individually, chatting to them for a few minutes, then they would play the first game. These games included, among others:
- "The Scratch Card Game", which celebrated the fact that entry was reliant on scratch cards. Each contestant got three 'scratches' on their card, which won them cars, holidays or cash.
- "Treasure Ireland", in which a map of Ireland was shown on the big screen, and contestants chose a number of counties from a random list of about 6. This again won them the same prizes. One county chosen randomly by the computer contained the "Gold" symbol. The contestant that chose this went through to the "Goldmine" game later on in the show.
After a quick recap of each contestant's score, a number of other games were played, which won them more money. If one of them had revealed the Gold symbol, they would then play:
- "The Goldmine". They were taken to a smaller studio, and sat before a table with 7 buttons on it. Six of them were worth increasing amounts of money, eventually building up to a final jackpot for getting all six. One of them was "The Eliminator", which ended the game immediately. There were some rare occasions when the contestant actually picked The Eliminator straight away and won nothing.
Each contestant's current scores up to this point were shown, then came the commercial break. After the break, a celebrity guest would come in and Murphy would interview them briefly. They then assisted him in picking out the five players for next's week's programme. In one series, the celebrity would pick out one card and hang on to it, whilst Murphy drew the five players. The remaining player would then win an amount of money which was determined by a spin of a smaller wheel spun by the celebrity.
Finally, came the end game, "Win and Spin". Here, the contestants played against each other for the first and only time all night. Each of them had six numbered spaces. Two of them were blanks, and four revealed the letters 'S', 'P', 'I', 'N'. Each player went one at a time, and the first to reveal all four letters won the game went up to the spin the wheel. After one series, this was changed to make it a bit fairer, and there were instead three blanks, and three letters: 'W', 'I', 'N'. The contestants got two attempts at revealing the letters, and then "the bubble" was started. This machine is still in use today. Each contestant had two coloured balls each in the bubble, numbered 1 to 5, and one was picked out at random after about five seconds when they were all blown around inside the bubble. The contestant whose ball was picked got to choose a space. It was all down to luck from here. First one to find the three letters spun the wheel.
The jackpot on the big wheel was IR£250,000 (€317,434); the lowest cash prize was IR£10,000 (€12,697). There were many different coloured segments, each with its own prize value. When the wheel was spun, a ball bounced around, and when it finally came to a stop, the contestant won the amount the ball landed on, which was added to their final total. A spin was only valid if the wheel made three full revolutions, indicated by two red lights and then a green light on the third revolution. This was merely academic, as was the host's insistence on his and the audience's shouting "5, 4, 3, 2, 1" when the wheel stopped to officially confirm the final prize. It was generally ignored, particularly if a big amount had been won. In fact, after a few series, they even stopped showing a countdown graphic on screen at this moment. Some added excitement came courtesy of the fact that for each time the jackpot wasn't won, another black IR£250,000 segment was added to the wheel the next week. For the 2000–01 series (Murphy's last), a new jackpot was added of IR£500,000 (€634,869), and a new segment added to the wheel. There were no additions made for this amount, but the IR£250,000 rule was still applied.
Winning Streak returned in September 2001, with an almost complete revamp: a new theme tune, a new studio, and a new host. The new host was Derek Mooney. The show also got a new (computer generated) mascot, a one-eyed robot named Streak. A new introduction was added which involved the presenter, heard but off-screen, introducing the contestants who stood behind the applauding audience.
The rounds used in each series varied slightly, but the structure of the show remains the same. Mooney would meet each contestant, and then start the first game, "Treasure Ireland", which had become a 3D tour of Ireland.
Each contestant was given a "bonus wheel", for use later, and then they saw on their screen a list of 5 randomly chosen landmarks in Ireland, and chose one. Streak would then fly to that location. Once he reached there, the computer chose a point in that place, and Streak would disappear into the distance and return with a cash prize. The contestant then got a choice of 3 more locations. Streak would then head to the next location. In between journeys, a storm might appear. Sometimes it would disappear before Streak got to it, but more often than not, he went inside. Here the contestant wins a random cash prize or a holiday, and moves on. At the next location, Streak gets out his map. The contestant then sees that map and is given a set of numbers between 1 and 8. There were usually between 5 and 8 numbers that appeared on each map. The contestant was then given a "Lo" and a "No" option, and asked if they wanted to use the "Lo" option here, before moving on to the third and final stage. Since this option removed the lowest cash amount, no-one ever used it at this point, unsurprisingly. They chose one number and won that prize, either cash or a holiday. If they chose a bonus wheel, they were allowed to choose again. They were then asked if they wanted to use the "No" option, which would cancel that prize win, and allowed them to choose again. Sometimes it would be used here. Before they moved on, Streak reached inside his head, and if he pulled out a bonus wheel, then that was added to their wheel count and they moved on. If not, they moved on anyway. At the last location, the "Lo" option was automatically used, and the contestant could win a car as well as cash or a holiday.
After a recap of the scores, there came a commercial break. After the break, the 5 players for next week were drawn, then came Round 2, called "Cash 'Em or Keep 'Em?". Each player was told how many bonus wheels they had, between 1 and 4, and asked if they wanted to keep them for "Win & Spin" later on, or cash some of them to play one of three games.
- "Diamond Dilemma". Worth 1 bonus wheel. The contestant chose one of 12 'diamonds' on a table, worth between €3,000 and €12,000. Mooney would then offer them a cheque worth €10,000. They had to decide whether or not to go for the guaranteed prize of the cheque's value, or take a chance on winning the €12,000, with a chance that they could win less than the cheque.
- "The Ball Drum". Worth 2 wheels. The most popular of the three. The player placed 7 balls (taken from a pool table) into a slot in any order, and then pulled a lever out of shot to release them into the drum. They swirled around and around, and whenever they came to a rest in the middle, there would be one ball in the middle surrounded by the other six. Whatever number that ball had, the player won that amount x 1000; e.g. no. 7 won €7,000. The prize here was between €6,000 and €15,000.
- "The Compass". The big one, worth 3 wheels. Sometimes no-one had enough wheels to even play this game. The contestant pressed a button which started the large compass 'pointer' moving for a few seconds around eight 'points'. Four of them were worth €10,000, three worth €15,000, and one worth the top prize of €25,000. This one is purely down to luck. Whichever point the pointer stopped on, the contestant won that amount.
Any wheels left over were carried over into "Win & Spin". The format has not changed, even now, for this one. Each contestant had three blanks and three wheels. Any bonus wheels a contestant had were added to their row in place of a blank, making it slightly easier for them to get the three wheels required to spin the wheel. Now, however, no-one gets a free go. It's all decided by the bubble. Every wheel revealed on the board earns that player an extra €2,500. Whoever gets three wheels first spins the wheel, for a jackpot of €500,000. There is now a fixed number of 250,000 slots.
The extra wheel rule in "Win & Spin" was seen as giving a player who kept any wheels an unfair advantage, so in the second half of the series the bonus wheels were changed to "Golden Euros". The player started with one in "Treasure Ireland" and could only have a maximum of three. There was still a chance to win extra money in "Win & Spin" itself, however. Now any "Golden Euros" kept by a player were added to the board, replacing blanks and any that were revealed earned that player €10,000, but it did not count towards their 3 wheels.
Also in this series, the "Phoneplay" game was introduced. An extra panel was added to the scratchcard. Players would ring a phone number and would give their details plus the number they revealed by scratching the extra panel. Those that wanted to enter had to do so by a set time on the Wednesday night after the show to be in the draw with a chance of being one of three players picked at random by the producers to play on the night. They would be rung back and would be on standby when the show would start. After the 5 players for next week would be drawn, Mooney would go to the "Phoneplay" booth and would introduce the three players. They would play over the phone. All they have to do is choose one of three slots, 'A', 'B' or 'C'. Two contain cash prizes between €1,000 and €2,500, and the other contains the star prize of a new car.
A new rule was introduced to the big wheel in "Win & Spin". If whoever spun the wheel landed on the lowest segment, worth €10,000, they got that added to their total and they could spin the wheel again. This has unsurprisingly proved to be very popular, and can only add to the tension of spinning the wheel in the first place. After the second spin, they kept what they got, and their final total was added up. This means that the theoretical maximum a player could win on the big wheel was €510,000. This was only achieved once.
In the 2003-2004 series, the "Ball Drum" was ditched, and players would now require 2 "Golden Euros" to play "Diamond Dilemma". The "Compass" remained the same. One "Golden Euro" allowed the player to play a new game, called "Roulette". A player would get a free ball, but could cash in any number of "Golden Euros" to gain additional balls, which would then be fired into a large roulette wheel, with slots labelled with cash prizes ranging from €3,000 to €10,000. When the wheel stopped all the amounts won would be added together to make a total prize. In the second half of the series, from January to June, all "Golden Euros" had to be used in "Cash 'Em or Keep 'Em?". That meant that players with just the one they started with played Roulette, two, Diamond Dilemma, and so on. The player got just two balls to play with in Roulette.
Also in this series, all the other 95 people who weren't chosen for next week's show were entered into a second draw. From September to December, three players were drawn every week to go through to the big New Year's Eve special edition, Winning Streak: Millionaire, which in the end had 45 players. A series of games were played in this in which everyone won money, but were gradually whittled down to just three people who competed to win the top prize of €1,000,000, the largest cash prize ever given away on Winning Streak. From January to June, three players were drawn each week to go through to Winning Streak: Fun In The Sun. 30 players in all were drawn. They were divided into 6 groups of 5 people who played in a game that was pre-recorded in the studio before broadcast. They each got a sandpit and a hoover each. They had to hoover up all the sand to reveal a number of 'houses' painted on the bottom. Whoever had the most went through to the final. In the final, whoever had the most houses won a holiday home in Spain.
In the second half of the series, a new game was squeezed in at the start, before Treasure Ireland, "The Sliding Door Game". After the contestant had been interviewed, they picked one of five 'sliding doors' on the board, each of which contained a different amount of money.
Treasure Ireland itself was given an update in this series. There were new graphics in between locations, so instead of the screen showing an aerial shot of Ireland, and Streak coming up from the last location visited to fly down to the next, he is shown travelling at speed across long stretches of land. Instead of 8 numbers, players now have 7 'objects' to choose from. They choose a letter denoting that object and Streak selects it. The prize is then revealed.
The objects and letters are:
- A for Ace (a hand of playing cards with the Winning Streak logo on one side)
- B for Bell
- C for Chalice
- D for Dice
- E for Egg
- F for Fez
- G for Gold (that is, a pot of gold)
The storms were also updated. Now they not only had the power to give, but to take away as well. As well as gaining extra cash or holidays, players who entered storms could also lose either of their "Lo" or "No" options. But since most people always chose to save their "Lo" option for the last destination, it was invariably that one that they lost.
In Win & Spin, a star was randomly placed amongst someone's row on the board, replacing a blank. If they revealed it, they won €5,000.
For the 2004-2005 series, there came the biggest revamp for some time. There was a new theme tune, new studio, new opening titles, and new rules. Following on from the success of the touchscreen element of the 2004 series of summer show Fame and Fortune, Winning Streak now also uses the touchscreen.
In The Sliding Door Game, now only 2 of the doors contain money. One has €5,000, the other has €6,000. Two of them allow the players that choose them to play Diamond Dilemma. They are numbered 1 and 2 to determine who plays that game first. The final door lets that player play the Goldmine, which returned after several years away.
Treasure Ireland has slightly changed again. The 7 'objects' remain from before, but there are now bonuses hidden in some screens, which give the player an instant prize and allows them to choose a second prize. At the first destination, the player chooses from three objects, and take what they win. At the second destination, all 7 objects are present, and the top cash prize is revealed, usually no more than €10,000. When the player picks a prize here, they are given a choice. They can either "Bank" it or "Bin" it. If they bin it, they can choose again, and bin again, and choose again, so long as the next prize won is higher than the one before, until they get to the top prize. If the next prize chosen is lower than the one before, they take that lower amount and move on. At the third destination, a car is also up for grabs, which is shown to the audience. If they bin the first prize, they can only pick once more this time, and that's it.
After the 5 players are drawn for next week, and Phoneplay is played, Round 2 begins, which now doesn't have a name. In Diamond Dilemma, three cars are now also hidden amongst the cash prizes, and the cheque value has now been reduced to €6,000. For each week a car isn't won, another is added to the game the next week. In the new-look Goldmine, played on the touchscreen instead of in a separate studio, there are 7 "scuttles" on the screen, and the player gets two free attempts. From the third guess onwards, the Eliminator comes into play. If the player gets to the end without hitting it, they win a car.
After Phoneplay, an extra draw was made, just like last series. One player was drawn each week to go through to a special week-long series over the Christmas period, Winning Streak: Winner Takes All. However, it was listed in most TV guides as just Winner Takes All, which caused some confusion, as some people thought RTÉ were actually showing an old UK game show of the same name. In the main show, there were two games, Pick A Present and The Snow Bank.
Pick A Present did exactly what it said on the tin. Each contestant got to pick a present from the big Christmas tree which replaced the big wheel in the corner of the studio. Each had a picture representing a line from the song "Twelve Days of Christmas". Each was 'scanned' on a conveyor belt, and the prize value added to the total cash pot for the New Year's Eve final. In The Snow Bank, the player's 'prizes' were placed in descending order, and the highest and lowest played off in a spin of a small wheel, with slots marked "Hi" or "Lo". Whichever slot the ball in the wheel landed on, that player chose one of five 'ice-cubes' which lit up either green or red, if they lit up green, they went through to the next episode. After 3 games, the last of which had 6 players to make up the numbers, the final was played, which had five finalists.
The remaining players in the final picked all the presents in any order from the tree, and the final cash pot was revealed, which in the end totalled over €630,000. They then went to the bubble to decide the order for the final run on The Snow Bank for the jackpot. This time, whoever got the green cube won the jackpot. Every other person got a 'present' from 'Santa', who turned out to be Marty Whelan. That 'present' was a car each.
A whole new dimension was added to Winning Streak for 2005. A new element was introduced called the "Doubler", and the new wave of updated scratchcards, changes to the rules on the show, and TV ad that accompanied it effectively saw the show being renamed Winning Streak: Doubler. A traditional rule of scratchcards, is that by matching three of the same amount of money, you win that amount. The Doubler allows you to win double an amount by revealing two of that amount plus the Doubler 'D' symbol; e.g. two €5 amounts plus the Doubler 'D' symbol = €10 won. Needless to say, 'players' are not allowed to cheat and send in their scratchcards for the draw for next week's players with just two stars and the Doubler.
On the show, the Doubler has virtually taken over the whole game. The Sliding Door Game and Phoneplay are the only things that have escaped.
In Treasure Ireland, a player can reveal the doubler at the first destination and win double the amount won on the next choice, and again at the second destination, but not on the third. In Diamond Dilemma, the Doubler does not replace any cars, it merely joins them amongst the cash prizes, so potentially a player could win two cars here, although this has never happened. Double cash has been won though.
In the Goldmine, after the contestant gets their two free attempts, the computer randomly places the Eliminator and the Doubler amongst the 5 remaining 'scuttles', thus reducing the risk of picking the Eliminator by one scuttle. When the Doubler is selected, all money won up to that point is doubled, and anything won after that is added to that player's total as normal. Someone has whittled the choice down before to just the Doubler and the Eliminator, and even better than that, they chose correctly.
Finally, in Win & Spin, the player with the least amount of money at the end gets their total doubled if the person who actually gets to spin the wheel lands on one of 25 slots on the wheel with the Doubler 'D' symbol. Add that to the €10,000 = extra spin rule, and it makes for lots of tension on the big wheel.
Winning Streak celebrated 15 years on air with the 2005-2006 series. The format was largely unchanged from the last series, and scratchcards still carried the Doubler for the first half of the series.
In Treasure Ireland, a number of new destinations have been added to the map, and the letters have been removed from the items. There are also 3 new items. The Ace, Fez, and Gold have been replaced with a cat, a diamond, and a key.
On 24 December 2005, Derek Mooney announced that he would be taking a brief hiatus from the show until March. This was because he was the new host for the coming series of You're A Star. For 11 weeks, starting from 31 December, and ending 11 March 2006, Laura Woods, presenter on The Café on RTÉ Two, took his place. Yet more format changes came with the change of host.
Phoneplay also changed. There were three 'phones', called "Happy", "Lucky" and "Grumpy". One gets a cash prize, one a car, and the other cash and a car. They are then jumbled up and the phone players then choose one as normal. When the double prize phone is picked, the computer chooses which of the two prizes is won, so now, two cars can potentially be won on Phoneplay.
2006 saw new rules for a new year. The biggest change was the removal of the Doubler, which of course affected the Goldmine, as there's now one more chance to choose the Eliminator. Scratchcards read Winning Streak: Extra.
There is now a car available in the Sliding Door Game, but it is no longer available in the Goldmine. Instead avoiding the Eliminator until the end wins the player an extra €25,000. Only one player now plays Diamond Dilemma. There are now 12 silver diamonds and 3 gold diamonds. The silver diamonds contain cash prizes between €3,000 and €10,000, plus one 'Extra'. If the player chooses the 'Extra', then they get to choose one of the three gold diamonds, which contain prizes between €25,000 and €50,000. The cheque to walk away from the game with is now worth €7,500.
In Treasure Ireland, there are now four objects at the first destination. If the player chooses a cash prize, they may choose again. If a higher amount is then revealed, then they take that amount. If the same amount is revealed, the two are added together, and that is then added to the player's total.
Phoneplay also changed again. This time, there is one phone, with ten digit buttons (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 0). Each phone player gets €1,000 to begin the game with. If they choose a cash amount higher than that, they keep that, and the next player chooses. However, the word 'Extra' is hidden in three different places on the 'board'. If one is chosen, then that player chooses again. When the third 'Extra' is chosen, the game ends and the player who revealed it wins €20,000.
Finally, in Win & Spin, the old 250,000 rule was reintroduced. Every week it wasn't won, another €250,000 slot was added to the wheel.
A new logo came for Winning Streak this series, the first time this has happened since the beginning. Scratchcards now read Winning Streak: Win A Million, and a second draw for another Christmas mini-series takes place in which one person is selected to go through from a drum which contains special envelopes containing the stubs from the cards with the letters 'G' 'O' 'L' 'D' on them.
The Sliding Door Game has been relaunched as Goldrush. Diamond Dilemma is now no more, but the Goldmine still remains. Cash prizes and cars can also be won. The top prize in Phoneplay is now a car.
A new home game called Home Spun also arrives in this series. One caller selected from a number who have texted or called with a special code will win whatever is spun on a mini-wheel, with a maximum prize of €10,000.
Finally, the minimum prize on the big wheel is €20,000. The spin again rule has been abandoned in favour of "Spin Pal". If the player lands on a Spin Pal slot, then as well as taking the amount on it, everyone else has €20,000 added to their totals.
A brand new series of Winning Streak returned in September 2007 and continued until mid-June 2008. The series went on its usual summer break with a new lottery show called The Big Money Game as its summer replacement hosted by Laura Woods. After this season, Derek Mooney stepped down as host.
In 2008, the show was revamped and rebranded Winning Streak: Dream Ticket, with which updates it went through the most changes in its history. There were new presenters (Kathryn Thomas and Aidan Power), a new set, new games and an updated format. The set was bright and modern. Viewer text competitions and audience prizes featured, with five players being guaranteed at least €20,000 for their participation and one of those had a chance of winning €250,000. The programme was available to watch worldwide online for the first time.
The new series began on 12 September 2009, with Kathryn Thomas co-presenting with Marty Whelan (now taking over from Aidan Power, who then landed a job on The All Ireland Talent Show). The series, in its 20th year, reverted to its original name. Near the end of the season, the jackpot of €500,000 was won. Síle Seoige replaced Kathryn Thomas as co-presenter with Marty Whelan for the 16 January 2010 episode while Thomas was filming in Trinidad and Tobago, and John Creedon stood in for Marty Whelan for the final edition of this season (29 May) while Marty himself was in Oslo to do his annual Eurovision Song Contest commentary that same evening. When Marty Whelan went off to do his Eurovision commentary each year, a guest presenter took the position. In 2010 this was the aforementioned John Creedon, in 2011 it was Brian Ormond, while Dáithí Ó Sé took the job in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
On 21 December 2011, Geri Maye was announced as the new co-presenter, alongside Marty Whelan. She had previously presented the Dream Maker Wheel segment. She replaced Kathryn Thomas. She presented until the 2013-2014 season when Sinead Kennedy replaced her.
On 1 September 2012, the video introductions were axed. On 4 January 2014, for the first time ever, a new €1,000,000 slot was introduced on the wheel.
On 18 October 2014, Nuala Carey stood in for Sinead Kennedy, who was celebrating her wedding.
It was announced in December 2014 that the show would be moved to a "summer slot" instead of the usual autumn to spring slot from 2015 onwards. Instead Nicky Byrne would host The Million Euro Challenge. It was confirmed by Marty Whelan that Winning Streak would be back on RTÉ One on Saturday 20 June 2015 and would run each Saturday night throughout the summer. However "The Million Euro Challenge" was axed after one series bringing Winning Streak back to its autumn-spring slot.
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