Game Shows Wiki
Jack Barry (1983 pitchfilm)
Bill Cullen
Charlie O'Donnell
Pilot: 12/1/1983
NBC Daytime: 1/23/1984 – 4/20/1984
NBC Daytime (Celebrity): 4/23/1984 – 6/29/1984
Barry & Enright Productions

(Celebrity) Hot Potato was a short-lived game show that features two teams of three players, all with something in common (ex. being dentist, mothers-to-be or left-handed) tried to name the most popular responses (similar to Family Feud) to a question that had been asked of a group of people.


Two teams of three contestants that share a common bond competed in this short-lived game show where they answered questions with a number of answers (at least seven) to them.

Main Game[]

The game was played in up to three rounds. In each round, host Cullen read a question which was either a factual or survey question. One member of the team in control chose to either answer the question or challenge one member of his/her opposing team (this was classified as "tossing the Hot Potato," hence the name of the show). When deciding to answer, if the answer given by the player was correct, the team kept control and play went to the next player in line; if the answer was wrong, the player who gave that answer was knocked out of the round--having to sit on a bench behind the team's podium--and control passed to the opponents. A player would also be knocked out if he/she gave a repeat of an incorrect answer or repeated two correct answers. On a challenge, the challenged player gave an answer. If the challenged player was wrong, he/she was knocked out. But if the challenged player was right, the opposing player who challenged them was knocked out. The team who won the challenge also took control, with the next person on their team choosing to answer or challenge. After the fifth answer to the question had been given, Bill would recap which given answers were in the question, and which wrong answers had been given. Until then, it was up to the players to remember.

To win a round, the entire opposing team (all three of its members) had to be knocked out of the round, or one member of the controlling team had to come up with the seventh answer to the question. The first team to win two rounds won the game, $1,000 and a chance to play the bonus game. In the pilot, losing teams won $500 if they won a round.

Starting on February 6, 1984, any team that got all seven correct answers in a row without missing or challenging, won the "7 Straight Jackpot" which started at $500 and grew by $500 for each match it was not won.

Bonus Round[]

In the bonus game, the winning team was given a subject followed by the question (Ex: "Which has more members?" or "Which is the dirtiest?"). Then they were shown up to six pairs of choices; on each choice they had to choose the one that answers the question. At some point in the bonus round, the winning team could pass on a pair of choices if they didn't know the answer, but they could only do it once a bonus game. Each correct answer was worth $500. One incorrect answer along the way forfeited all the money earned in this round. To prevent this from happening, the winning team could decide to stop the game and keep the cash after a correct answer.

Getting five out of six questions right won a jackpot which started at $5,000 plus $5,000 more for each bonus not won. New champions always started at $5,000. The highest jackpot won was $20,000 which was won in one episode by the Waitresses.

Pilot Bonus Round[]

Not much is different except for these differences:

  • There were seven pairs of choices instead of six.
  • For the first three pairs instead of answering together, each member of the winning team answered individually for $200/correct answer. The money earned in those questions was used as stake money to create a base amount up to $600.
  • Next the remaining four pairs of choices were played in a "double or nothing" fashion; instead of stopping in between choices, the winning team could stop during choices. The maximum payoff was $9,600.

Winning teams stayed on the show until they were defeated. The biggest winning team was the Accountants (consisting of Pam Noggle, Mike McHugh, Alison Dunn) who won $40,000.

Celebrity Hot Potato[]

After the first 13 weeks of Hot Potato shows, the game was changed to have celebrities play the game alongside civilian contestants. The "7 Straight Jackpot" was axed for this version.

A few weeks were played where all three players on a team were celebrities (usually sharing a common bond, such as comedians or stars of a particular TV series), with their winnings going to various charities.

Needless to say, the new celebrity format was not all that successful, and the show consequently died on June 29, 1984.



Pilot opening - "Stop, Look And Listen" by Donna Summer
Pilot closing - "You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real)" by Sylvester
Series - Music by Hal Hidey


NBC Studio 2, Burbank, CA


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  • Hot Potato was Bill Cullen's last network game show, and his next-to-last game show overall. When the show was canceled, Bill then hosted The Joker's Wild after original host and producer Jack Barry died.
  • The saddest thing about the show was the fact that it aired at Noon (Eastern), which was the timeslot for newscasts (though the time slot varied likewise; as noted in the print ad above, the three aforementioned stations aired it at 10AM).
  • The show was mostly remembered by its giant Hot Potato sign with steam coming out of it at the start and end of the show. The sign was raised to reveal the bonus board.

Additional Pages[]

Hot Potato/Episode Guide
Hot Potato/Quotes & Catchphrases


Adam Nedeff's Hot Potato Page
Adam Nedeff's older Hot Potato Page
David Livingston's Hot Potato Page
Xanfan's Hot Potato Page
Xanfan's older Hot Potato Page
Josh Rebich's Hot Potato Rule Sheet