In the early days of the video game industry, there were quite a few abortive attempts to mix the medium of interactive entertainment with the more passive pastime of just sitting and watching telly. Shows like GamesMaster and Bad Influence in the UK would try and capitalise on the amazing popularity of video games, but in general, there haven't been many successful shows which have stood the test of time.
Which is why you probably don't remember The Super Mario Challenge, which appeared in European TVs back in the very early '90s as part of The Children's Channel. If you thought Bob Hoskins was a poor choice in the Super Mario Bros. movie, then you're going to feel positively ill when you find out that American magician John Lenahan (the first person in 85 years to be expelled from The Magic Circle, and the voice of the toaster in Red Dwarf, fact fans) was cast in the role of Mario – despite the fact that he's as thin as a rake.
As you can see from the footage above – lovingly archived by Larry Bundy Jr – the format isn't a million miles away from GamesMaster, or the cult 1989 movie The Wizard. Two kids battle it out across a series of challenges set within the Super Mario game series. It's all very cheap and nasty looking, but then again, most kids shows were in the very early '90s.
It's almost impossible to imagine Nintendo allowing this kind of thing to air today as the company is a lot more careful with its brands. But still, we're glad that The Super Mario Challenge exists, if only because it means we now know a lot more about John Lenahan than we did when we woke up this morning.