Darkest daytime quiz show scandals – from Eggheads ‘murder’ confession to premium phone line scams

If the coronavirus pandemic has one silver lining, it's that many of us have a lot more time on our hands to explore some of the country's finest daytime TV offerings.

From Doctors to The Chase, this whole working-from-home malarkey has been a blessing for our bums and [square] eyes.

But just when you thought it was safe to stick your feet up with a cup of tea and definitely get round to answering those emails, daytime telly has a habit of throwing a curveball or two.

Here's a look back at some of the biggest scandals our favourite quiz shows have faced…

Eggheads

Eggheads star CJ de Mooi didn't foresee the huge storm of publicity a throwaway paragraph in his autobiography would stir up back in 2015.

As a homeless teenager in 1988, CJ fled his abusive childhood to Amsterdam, where he was mugged by a man wielding a knife.

In a desperate struggle, CJ claimed he punched the man in the face and threw him into the canal, but has no idea what happened after that.

"This is the one incident of my life I do regret. I was in a phone box and this old guy, obviously a massive drug user, came up behind me with a knife in his hand," he told the Daily Mirror at the time.

CJ de Mooi faced a police investigation, since dropped, after confessing in print to leaving a mugger for dead
(Image: Mark Lewis)

"He told me to turn around, open my bag and give him whatever was inside.

"It was the only outburst of violence I've ever done. That's one of the main reasons why I absolutely abhor all violence.”

He added: "He caught me on the wrong day and I just snapped.

"I punched him so hard in the face, knocked the knife out of his hand and threw him in the canal. I fully suspect I killed him. I've no idea what happened to him."

CJ's admission was enough for Dutch police to launch an investigation into a possible murder.

CJ, sitting centre, at the height of his Eggheads fame
(Image: BBC)

A European arrest warrant was issued for the quizmaster and he was arrested at Heathrow in September 2016 as he stepped off a plane.

A month later, a court declined the extradition request and ruled it should never have been issued.

The star later explained: "This warrant seems to have been issued because of what I said and wrote in my autobiography – they claim in my autobiography I wrote that I killed a man, I left him for dead, I knocked him unconscious.

"I didn't. Nowhere in my book does it say that, if you please just read the book, all it says is a guy came up behind me with a knife and tried to mug me and the words in the autobiography are: 'I half-punched, half-pushed him into a canal and walked away', that is all it says."

You Say We Pay

Richard and Judy's show got fined a six-figure sum for misleading viewers
(Image: Channel 4)

Veteran daytime hosts Richard and Judy found themselves in hot water in 2007 when their Channel 4 quiz show You Say We Pay was fined a whopping £150,000 for misleading viewers.

Premium phone line watchdog Icstis handed down the fine after an investigation found viewers were entering the competition with no chance of winning.

The show, which was axed over the scandal in 2007, featured Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan urging people to call in to win cash – but a shortlist of winners was typically drawn up by producers at around 5.15pm every day, some 20 minutes before the hosts called the end of the phone-in session.

Richard said he and Judy were 'livid' over the scandal
(Image: ITV)

Almost half of calls – costing £1 a go – during one sample period were found to have been placed after the shortlist was drawn up, but that wasn't being communicated to hopefuls.

Richard and Judy's segment generated more than £3million in revenue between 2005 and 2007, 60% of which went into the prize fund, the watchdog found.

Madeley said he and wife Judy were "livid" about the situation, telling the Daily Mirror at the time: "I think it is a cock-up, not a conspiracy. We're angry on behalf of our viewers."

Channel 4 promised to donate any cash profit made during the competition to Great Ormond Street Hospital.

Bullseye

The late Jim Bowen, host of Bullseye
(Image: ITV/REX/Shutterstock)

Just what is it about quiz shows and murder? Bullseye found itself in the eye of a media storm back in 1989 when it emerged a one-time contestant who had been on the show four years previously was actually a serial killer.

Sick John Cooper slaughtered farmer siblings Richard and Helen Thomas with a gun in 1985, but rather than keep his head down, played darts on the national television quiz show.

Psychopath John Cooper, who murdered four people and appeared on Bullseye in between his killing sprees
(Image: Wales News Service)

Just one month after appearing on Bullseye, in June 1989, vile Cooper murdered tourists Peter Dixon and wife Gwenda, shooting them both in the face with a sawn-off shotgun at point blank range.

It wasn't until 2011 he was finally brought to justice for the four killings, as well as the rape of a 16-year-old girl at gunpoint and the sexual assault of a 15-year-old teen.

He also faced justice for five attempted robberies and a string of burglaries.

In 2011, Cooper was handed a whole-life order for his crimes, meaning he will never leave jail. His appearance on Bullseye helped convict him as detectives matched his footage to that of a sketch of the suspect in the Dixon's murders.

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