|Created by||Nick Nicholson and E. Roger Muir|
|Directed by||Elena Jasechko|
|Presented by||Bob McLean (1974-75)|
Jim Perry (1975-89)
|Narrated by||Jim Perry (1974-75)|
Dave Devall (1975-89)
|Opening theme||"Soul Bossa Nova"|
|Country of origin||Canada|
|Executive producer||Gerry Rochon|
|Production company||Glen-Warren Productions|
|Original release||September 9, 1974 -|
March 10, 1989
Definition is a Canadian television game show, which aired on CTV from September 9, 1974 to March 10, 1989, and filmed at its flagship studios of CFTO-TV at 9 Channel Nine Court in Scarborough, Toronto, Ontario. For most of its run, it was hosted by Jim Perry.
Nick Nicholson and E. Roger Muir, the creators of The Newlywed Game, created Definition, resulting in the show being syndicated for some international audiences as well. The series was produced by Glen-Warren Productions for CTV.
Dave Michaels hosted the pilot for Definition. Michaels had previously announced the Nicholson-Muir game show Matches 'n Mates with Art James and later anchored news for KABC-TV, WXIA-TV, and CNN during the first Gulf War. For its first season, the show was hosted by Bob McLean, with Jim Perry as announcer. Beginning the next season, Perry moved in front of the camera to take over as emcee, with veteran Toronto weatherman Dave Devall filling the vacancy in the announcer's booth, positions they both held for the rest of the show's run.
Definition was the longest-running daytime game show in Canadian television and the third longest-running daytime game show in North American television, behind Concentration and The Price Is Right. It made host Perry a household name during the 1970s and 1980s. Only a handful of episodes still exist, however, due to a then-common practice known as wiping.
Beginning in the 1980s Definition encouraged viewers to send in their own puzzles via mail, with at least one chosen per episode. A viewer would have his definition acknowledged on air by Perry if it was chosen.
Definitions format was loosely based on the word game Hangman. Two teams of two competed, originally a contestant and celebrity and from 1986 on two pairs of regular contestants. The teams would take turns guessing letters in a phrase for which Perry had offered a pun as a clue. The game is similar to Wheel of Fortune, which debuted around the same time.
The challengers began the game with one teammate "giving away" a letter to their opponents that they believed was not in the puzzle. If they were correct, the other teammate "took" a letter that they believed was in the puzzle. If this guess was also correct, all instances of the letter were revealed and the team could try to solve the puzzle.
A team lost control if any of the following occurred:
The first team to solve two puzzles -- changed to three in 1986 -- won a prize and advanced to a bonus game. For this round, the champions faced one final definition in which the letters would be revealed one by one in alphabetical order. Solving the puzzle awarded $10 for every unrevealed letter, while failing to do so awarded $10 as a consolation prize. After every fifth consecutive win, the champions earned the right to play for a larger bonus prize, such as a refrigerator. When civilian/celebrity teams played, the civilian member of the champion team switched celebrity partners for the next game.
The show was frequently mocked, as were most Canadian game shows at the time, for the cheapness of its prizes, which were typically courtesy gifts such as small appliances. Only in its annual "Tournament of Champions" did the show typically offer major prizes such as new cars. A 2008 article in the National Post by Canadian television historian Peter Kenter claimed that most prizes were in fact overstock products from a retail warehouse; according to Kenter, who was a contestant on the show in 1987, he did not actually know what his prize would be until it was delivered to his home several weeks after taping, as even the producers had no knowledge of what the prizes would be during production, and the on-air prize announcement was actually a later overdub.
The show's theme song was taken from "Soul Bossa Nova", an instrumental jazz piece by Quincy Jones. Later seasons of Definition used a new arrangement of the song which was not as readily recognizable.
The program's use of "Soul Bossa Nova" led both to the Canadian hip hop band Dream Warriors sampling the song for their 1991 hit "My Definition of a Boombastic Jazz Style", and to Mike Myers using the song as the theme music to the Austin Powers film series.
A British version of Definition aired on the ITV network from 1978 until about 1986, produced by HTV West and was originally hosted by Don Moss and then by the late Jeremy Beadle. Theme music was provided by guitarist Wout Steenhuis. British audiences were also able to witness the Jim Perry-hosted version when it aired on UK cable station, Living TV (formerly UK Living) in the 1990s.