Wheel of fortune (game show)

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Television series
German title Wheel of fortune
Original title Wheel of Fortune
Country of production Germany
Year (s) 1988–2002, 2004–2005, 2016–2018
length 30 minutes
Every day
genre Game show
Theme music Madcon - Keep My Cool (2016-2018)
idea Merv Griffin
  • Peter Bond (1988-1998)
  • Frederic Meisner (1988-2001, 2004-2005)
  • Thomas Ohrner (2001-2002)
  • Jan Hahn (2016-2018)
  • First broadcast November 7, 1988 on Sat.1

    Wheel of Fortune (Engl. Wheel of Fortune ) is a game show , which originated in the United States and is broadcast in many countries around the world, or was. In Germany, the program ran from autumn 1988 to the end of 2002 on various ProSiebenSat.1 Group channels and, with over 4,000 episodes produced, is the most frequently broadcast game show on German television. The show has been running on RTLplus again since September 2016 .

    Game flow

    The principle of the broadcast is to guess words in a grid similar to a crossword puzzle . Here, punctuation marks and numbers already set at the rate of wall. To make the puzzle easier, a category is mentioned beforehand. The three candidates have the goal of earning the highest possible amount of money. To do this, they turn the wheel of fortune, which has several fields with different colors. The fields are predominantly occupied with different amounts of money, but there are also certain action fields that influence the further course of the game:

    • Amount of money : The candidate can guess a letter on the guessing wall by naming a consonant . If the consonant is included in the riddle, the candidate will be credited the amount turned per letter on his account. After a correctly solved consonant, the candidate can either buy a vowel or solve the riddle (he can do both without turning the wheel of fortune) by reading the desired term out loud. Correct pronunciation is crucial here. If the candidate guesses a consonant or buys a vowel that is no longer under the remaining letters, it is the next candidate's turn.
    • Extra spin : Whenever there is a change to the next candidate, the player can prevent this with the extra spin and turn the wheel again or solve the term again. The extra spin is valid until the end of the game round in which it was spun.
    • Suspend : The candidate is not allowed to name a consonant or solve the puzzle and immediately passes it on to the next candidate.
    • Bankruptcy : The candidate's previously earned credit is set to 0 and it is the next candidate's turn.
    • Risk (as lightning) : The candidate wagers a certain amount from his account and the moderator asks a question with two possible answers. If the answer is correct, the amount staked is added to the candidate's account and deducted if the answer is incorrect.
    • Risk : The candidate can accept or reject the later newly introduced risk field. The moderator reveals the risk field that is hidden on the wheel of fortune. Here, the candidate can, among other things, double his previously turned credit, lose it completely or gain a certain amount of money.
    • Special prize and surprise prize (as a question mark) : If this field is turned, the candidate immediately wins a material prize, which he does not lose even after turning the bankrupt field.
    • Vowel : The candidate may name a vowel without having to buy it with the money he has earned so far.

    With the exception of the fields "Extra spin", "Suspend" and "Bankrott", the additional fields have been changed several times in the course of the program's history.

    The candidates are encouraged to turn the wheel of fortune with enough momentum, otherwise they can influence the turned field too easily. The moderator first admonishes the candidates if the shoots are too weak and can also cancel them on repeated occasions by asking the candidate to shoot again.

    As soon as all consonants have been found on the guessing wall, an acoustic signal sounds and only vowels can be bought or the puzzle can be solved. If the candidates do not guess the puzzle within a certain time in a game round, an acoustic signal also sounds, whereupon the presenter of the program makes a sum of money for the last time for this round. From this point on, the candidates are only allowed to guess one consonant or buy a vowel and then have to attempt a solution. If they are unable to do this or if they solve the puzzle incorrectly, it is the next player's turn.

    The winner of a game round is the one who solves the riddle - which of course the players want to delay as far as possible in order to be able to earn the highest possible amounts. The candidate can “buy” the amount won from a range of prizes. Since the presentation of these prizes were given much airtime, wheel of fortune was subject to the directive for infomercials .

    With every further game round the so-called “maximum amount”, the largest amount of money that can be spun, increased.

    Great game

    In the super game, all candidates compete together to win the super prize. You have to guess five terms from given categories. To solve these terms, candidates are allowed to name five consonants and one vowel. Over time, the "ERNSTL" has established itself among the candidates. The candidates have a total of 90 seconds to solve all five terms, of which 30 seconds are allocated to each candidate. Only if he says the word you are looking for out loud does it count as a guess. The candidates have won the super game if they were able to solve all the terms before the time ran out. The prize is a jackpot that is distributed equally to all candidates.

    Turbo lap

    In the turbo round (later also called the quickie round), the candidates compete against each other and have to solve a given term on the advice wall. As time goes on, more and more letters are revealed, which makes solving the puzzle easier. The winner of this round is the candidate who first presses the buzzer and reads the solution correctly.


    The speed lap is structured similarly to the turbo lap. By turning the moderator it is determined which candidate is allowed to solve the puzzle. To do this, he may first guess a consonant and, after uncovering it in the puzzle, attempt a solution. If he is wrong, it is the next candidate's turn. The winner of the speed round is whoever reads the puzzle correctly first.

    Spectator game

    The spectator game is embedded in a regular game round. In the regular puzzle, however, some letters are highlighted in color. In the correct order, these result in a further solution word that the viewer has to name when calling. The spectator game was later redesigned in such a way that the spectator could name the solution to the riddle they were looking for at each round of the game.

    Bonus round

    The show's winner of the day competes in the bonus round. The winner of the day is the candidate who has earned the most money in all rounds. A category is also given in the bonus round, which the candidate must guess within 15 seconds. While in earlier editions of the program the candidate could name “only” five consonants and one vowel in the bonus round, in later editions the mentioned “ERNSTL” was specified, which the candidate could add two further consonants and a vowel. The candidate wins the bonus round if he reads the answer correctly before the 15 seconds have elapsed.

    American original "Wheel of Fortune"

    Wheel of Fortune game show in the United States

    Wheel of Fortune is one of the oldest game shows in the United States. It was invented by Merv Griffin in 1971 . Legend claims that this happened during a very long car ride with his children playing hangman .

    On January 6, 1975, the broadcast had its premiere on NBC in the United States . It was initially moderated by Chuck Woolery , his assistant was Vanna White . In 1981, Pat Sajak replaced Chuck Woolery as the presenter and has since led the show with Vanna White. The show is produced centrally by King World Productions and then licensed to the numerous American TV stations. Kingworld also produces locally several times a year, for example in Hawaii, Florida or Las Vegas. Due to its immense popularity and license income, the winnings are very high and the prizes are attractive. As a result, this program continues to enjoy enormous popularity.

    International licensing and editions

    Countries with their own version of the Wheel of Fortune

    The international licensing of the show is currently with CBS International . The licensees are subject to strict restrictions on the part of Kingworld. Of course, local peculiarities are taken into account: In Turkey the wheel of fortune is a live broadcast lasting several hours with a very popular joker as the host, in Lithuania the puzzle board is made of cardboard for reasons of cost, in the Philippines the wheel is attached that even veiled women can turn it without violating good morals.

    In Brazil it will be moderated by Silvio Santos , the owner of the SBT channel. The distinctive trademark is a larger microphone, which is very noticeable in the neckline of the collar. Occasionally he also swaps roles and turns the guessed letters himself over, while the lucky fairy takes over the moderation.

    German adaptation as "wheel of fortune"



    Assistants to the moderators



    Success format at Sat.1

    Film studios on the Havelchaussee (1992)

    In Germany, the program went on the air under the title Wheel of Fortune on November 7, 1988 on the private broadcaster Sat.1 . The guessing program was moderated at the time by Frederic Meisner and the actor Peter Bond , who took turns every week. “Letter fairy” (the woman who turns the letters on the guessing wall) was Maren Gilzer . The composer and producer of the wheel of fortune music was Klaus-Peter Sattler . In 1991, in the third year of the Wheel of Fortune , Joy Fleming sang the Wheel of Fortune song to intromusic.

    Was produced Wheel of Fortune through the Wheel of Fortune television production mbH in the studio of VTTV television production company in the Havel studios at the Berlin Havelchaussee . Gerrit Neuhaus was the producer and director. The space on the Havelchaussee was very cramped. Image and sound control were housed in an OB van in the courtyard, while recording and post-processing took place in the main building. Mask and cloakrooms were on the first floor of the main building. The prices were stowed in containers on the premises and there was a long pause after each recording, as the prices of the old shipment had to be removed from the pallet and only then could the new prices be set up. This limited the number of possible recordings per day to 3. This was also the main reason to move to Adlershof later, as the pallets could be prepared here in a front building, which then only had to be exchanged for the pallets from the previous shipment. This increased the number of possible recordings per day to 5.

    Wheel of Fortune was the second so-called “Daily Game Show” in Germany after the program Ruck Zuck, which started ten months earlier . As a result of a decision by the Neustadt Administrative Court, the program had to be marked as permanent advertising from April 1991 . Over time, the show went through some changes; many game modes (e.g. speed round, bonus round) have been introduced, changed or abolished.

    The wheel of fortune was initially broadcast Monday through Friday at 7:30 p.m. Due to the great success of the program, a Saturday edition was added to the program in April 1991 and a Sunday edition in September 1991. From 1991 to 1997 the wheel of fortune could be seen every day for almost 6 years.

    In 1994 the production moved to Studio A on the former premises of the German TV radio , the former television of the GDR , in Berlin-Adlershof. There, 1200 m² were available for production instead of the previous 600 m². Over the years in the Adlershof studio, the wheel of fortune was gradually equipped differently. Some new fields have been introduced, for example special price, super price, surprise price or risk.

    The wheel of fortune also regularly featured programs with celebrities for the benefit of a good cause; On May 9, 1992, the then Federal Minister for Women and Youth and now Federal Chancellor Angela Merkel played a part in a program on Mother's Day . In the broadcast of December 26, 1990, Bernd Stelter had his first television appearance as a candidate in the broadcast. In 2001 he was there again, this time as part of a celebrity week.

    Although the wheel of fortune was one of the most successful and viewer-rich formats of the station for a long time and still achieved good ratings towards the end with around 4 million viewers, it was discontinued with the last broadcast on May 15, 1998. The viewers of the wheel of fortune were predominantly older people who belonged to the “non-advertising” target group for the private broadcaster.

    When the Adlershof studio was redecorated in mid-1997, the audience seats behind the candidates were replaced by a decorative wall and relocated over it, so that there was much less audience in the studio, it was hardly ever shown on the program and the applause also came from the tape was played. The then Sat.1 boss Fred Kogel didn't like the show because the studio audience was mostly elderly. The planned “program rejuvenation” didn't just include the game shows Wheel of Fortune and Go All Out! , but also series like Der Bergdoktor and Kurklinik Rosenau victim. Dieter Thomas Heck described the discontinuation of programs for older people due to advertising interests at the time as "disrespectful" and as a "violation of human dignity".

    Wheel of Fortune Gala

    In 1993, the “Wheel of Fortune Gala” was created as an offshoot , a 100-minute broadcast, some of which was broadcast live. It ran almost every four weeks on Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and was moderated jointly by Frederic Meisner and Peter Bond. They received support from the letter fairy Maren Gilzer and also from Gundis Zámbó . There were show blocks between the individual guessing rounds. Furthermore, the winning numbers of the South German class lottery were drawn and announced.

    After moving to the television studio in Berlin-Adlershof, the spectator game developed as a tragic “running gag” . In this game, an SKL ticket owner was called from the studio to solve a final game type puzzle. However, at that time the East Berlin telephone lines of the former GDR post office were mostly overloaded and had problems with the compatibility of the lines of the Bundespost , which were used by the West German viewers at the time. Thus, the jackpot rose until the fourth broadcast without a spectator game being played.

    Continuation at kabel eins

    After the broadcast on Sat.1 was discontinued, the wheel of fortune was continued seamlessly on kabel eins on May 18, 1998 . However, there were some changes in the team of moderators: Peter Bond and Maren Gilzer left the team, Sonya Kraus took over the role of “letter fairy”. Only Frederic Meisner remained of the original wheel of fortune line-up . In addition, a new wheel of fortune was built because the wheel of fortune had disappeared from the Sat.1 format. At kabel eins, with the exception of the car as one of three bonus round prizes, material prizes from the game rounds were no longer presented directly in the studio, but via video wall with the then shopping channel HOT (today HSE24 ). With the broadcast on May 10, 2001, the mechanical advice wall was replaced by a digital touchscreen advice wall.

    At the end of 2001, Frederic Meisner also stopped for the time being. In order to modernize the show, Kabel Eins hired the ZDF presenter Thomas Ohrner, known for Dingsda and Hidden Camera, to lead the wheel of fortune. After the departure of Sonya Kraus in 2002, the photo model and then Miss Germany Katrin Wrobel became the new letter fairy . During this time the show was produced more simply. The “super game” was abolished and instead of prizes in kind, only cash was won in the rounds through the round turnover and a daily prize from HOT was presented via live broadcast.

    The audience interest in the show sank significantly during this time and it was discontinued in 2002. On October 31, 2002, the last issue ran on kabel eins.

    Continuation at 9Live

    From 2004 to 2005 there was a new edition of the wheel of fortune on the quiz channel 9Live . From March 2004 the program was initially broadcast daily and from July 2004 three times a week. The moderator was again Frederic Meisner, and Ramona Drews , Jürgen Drews ' wife , was responsible for turning the letters .

    As planned from the start, only one season with 100 programs was produced as a so-called “low budget” production. This could be seen, for example, in the rather simple design of the studio and the applause players, as a real audience was dispensed with for cost reasons. Because in contrast to previous programs, the production at 9Live was only intended to attract new viewers for the actual core business of the station, the call-in programs .

    When the broadcasts were discontinued in March 2005, the wheel of fortune disappeared from German screens. However, there was a new edition of the wheel of fortune in the game show marathon on ProSieben in 2007 .

    Furthermore, it was said on 9Live in various programs in which the prize is decided with a “wheel of fortune” that it was the “original wheel of fortune”. After the station was discontinued, this was auctioned for 8,000 euros on the Internet auction house eBay .

    New edition at RTLplus

    For the RTL offshoot RTLplus , which went on air in June 2016, a new edition of the wheel of fortune was announced. This was the first time that the show switched from channels operated by the former ProSiebenSat.1 Media AG to the RTL Group. Jan Hahn will moderate with Isabel Edvardsson, the letter fairy . It was first broadcast on October 17, 2016. The first two seasons consisted of 60 episodes each. The third season, which includes 45 issues, has been running since October 10, 2017. In February 2018, RLTplus stopped producing new episodes due to a lack of audience ratings. Repetitions of old episodes will continue to be broadcast.


    • In a broadcast in 2001, “www.yahoo.de” was the word sought and was described by the moderator as the “most used search engine on the Internet”.
    • Hella von Sinnen had to place a bet on the show on March 19, 2001 from Wetten, dass ..? Redeem and turn over the letters on the guessing wall if there are several game rounds.

    Web links

    Individual evidence

    1. ^ Wheel of Fortune - 1999 - Correct pronunciation is everything! Retrieved October 14, 2016 .
    2. Wheel of Fortune - 1998 - Weak spin. Retrieved October 14, 2016 .
    3. Galina Mavricheva: The comparative analysis of the same quiz formats on German and Russian television . Dissertation. Osnabrück 2009 (PDF; 3.8 MB), accessed on January 5, 2009
    4. Angela Merkel: Appearance and Look of the Chancellor. Archived from the original on April 29, 2012 ; accessed on October 14, 2016 .
    5. programm.ard.de: I have the honor. Retrieved October 14, 2016 . I.
    6. ^ Sylvia Grosser, Daniela Opitz: Social Policy of the Federal Republic of Germany. In: htwm.de. April 1, 1998, archived from the original on March 14, 2009 ; accessed on January 10, 2015 .
    7. Wheel of Fortune Gala. Retrieved October 14, 2016 .
    8. ^ Wheel of Fortune - 2001 - Premiere of the digital guessing wall. Retrieved October 14, 2016 .
    9. Hayo Lücke: Original wheel of fortune available on eBay , onlinekosten.de on June 29, 2011, accessed on July 10, 2011
    10. RTLplus brings Sat.1 presenter for the "wheel of fortune" . May 18, 2016. Retrieved May 18, 2016.
    11. Uncertain future: RTLplus puts its game shows on hold . January 24, 2018.
    12. ^ Wheel of Fortune - 2001 - Internet puzzle. Retrieved October 14, 2016 .
    13. ^ Wheel of Fortune - 2001 - Hella von Sinnen as a letter fairy (complete broadcast). Retrieved October 14, 2016 .