The 1980s by Frank Elstner: Who Invented the Most Famous TV Shows?

Television legend Frank Elstner will turn 80 on Tuesday. That Lenz’s home “Whitten, Das…?” Inventor is well known, but do you know who is behind successful TV formats like “Millions Show” or “Dancing Stars”? To anyone we have formats like “Do you understand the fun?” Or “Starmania” owe? And from which countries do songs like “The Masked Singer” or “2 minutes 2 million” come from?

We took a closer look at the inventors of the big TV shows.

“Millionaire Show” “Who wants to be a millionaire?”:

The contest program “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” is shown. On Austrian television since 2000, it was first presented by Reinhard Wenderich, later by Barbara Stokel, and since 2002 by Armin Asinger. In Germany, the show is broadcast on RTL with Günther Jauch as the questioner, the premiere of this art took place in England in 1998 under the name “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?” On the private channel ITV 1. The idea goes to English David Briggs, Mike Whitehill and Stephen Knight return.

The ORF casting show, which first aired in 2000 and can now be seen again in a new guise, is the invention of the Austrian television producer. Misha Zickler. He was also responsible for formats like ‘Taxi Orange’, ‘Heroes of Tomorrow’ and ‘Q1 A clue is wrong’.

“Do you understand the fun?”

The Swiss had the idea of ​​using a hidden camera to deceive unsuspecting people or celebrities Kurt Felix (1941-2012). The program is a further development of his television program “Teleboy” on Swiss television, which aired from 1974 to 1981 and which already showed hidden camera films. From 1980 on, Kurt Felix directed the show “Understand It’s Fun” on ARD for ten years, starting in 1983 his wife Paula was by his side as co-coordinator.

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Two of the greats of German-speaking television entertainment: Kurt Felix (left), who died in 2012, and Frank Elstner, who is now celebrating his 80s.

Photo: (Environmental Protection Agency)

“Dancing Stars”

The dance show, which has been on ORF since 2005, is based on the BBC Strictly Come Dancing programme, which is marketed internationally under various titles such as “Dancing with the Stars” (USA) or “Let’s Dance” (Germany). BBC employee Vienna Vardanese The idea was at a 2003 meeting to revive an old dance show and this time let the celebrities dance. And as a thank you, Vardanese is said to have received a reward of £4,000 from the BBC, a bottle of sparkling wine and a box of chocolates.

“The Masked Singer”

The show, in which celebrities sing in full-body costumes, originally hails from South Korea. The King of Mask Singer started there in 2015. After more branches in Asia and the United States, the show debuted in Germany in 2019, and “The Masked Singer Austria” celebrated its premiere on Puls 4 in 2020.

“King of Mask Singer” – a form from South Korea

Image: YouTube screenshot

“2 minutes 2 million”

Startup programs such as “2 Minutes 2 Million” on Puls 4 and “Die Höhle der Löwen” on VOX are offshoots of the British program “Dragon’s Den” (“Dragon’s Den”), where potential investors learn from candidates about pitching their ideas, developments and projects. The basic concept comes from Japan, but the international variants are based on the British concept in detail.

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