Growing up, many of us had favourite cartoons that we loved to watch and soap operas as well. We can’t look back fondly at our childhood memories without remembering them. And another fond memory we still have is of the old talent shows we grew up watching.

Can you think of a few now? Well, we have some listed out. Let’s see which ones you remember!

1. Project Fame

Also known as MTN Project Fame West Africa, it is a music talent TV reality show filmed in Lagos and aired in the West African subcontinent. The show used to feature contestants from Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria and Sierra Leone. It was broadcasted by networks in these four countries and across the African continent.
The show began in 2008 with gala evenings held each Sunday night and hosted by Joseph Benjamin and Adaora Oleh. There was a weekly recap show and Eviction night on Saturdays.

Back then, every Nigerian family looked forward to watching this show on weekends with so much excitement. It influenced our childhood and many of us envisioned ourselves becoming the next star of the show. This led many to purchase the form every year and go on to embarrass themselves on national TV to the amusement of Nigerians.

The contestants’ performances were judged by the judges (Kwame, Bibie Brew, Tee-Y Mix and sometimes a guest judge) and faculty members: Mr Ben who conveniently played the role of the typical frustrated intro-tech teachers in our secondary school; Joke Silva, our typical Nigerian mum; Ige who was neither too tough nor too soft; And Kaffy, baddest stepper!

The show birthed many stars that we know today, the likes of Niniola, Chike, Johnny Drille, Chidinma, Iyanya, Ayoola, Bisola and others.

Didn’t you just love this show?

2. Martina Dance All

The Maltina Dance All also known as “MDA” is a medium for talented families to showcase their dance moves in different genres, from Hip Hop to Wazobia to Salsa, all in a bid to become Nigeria’s Dance Family.

It was fun watching these talented families, and their moves could be quite hilarious. Especially the parents, because no one in the family was left behind in this show. Even our parents watched with us and began to see themselves as professional dancers.

Martina Dance All started in 2007 and has since remained the national first and only family dance reality TV show featuring talented dancers selected from various regions across the country. Imagine our dismay when the show stopped abruptly. They had better bring it back o.

3. Gulder Ultimate Search

Gulder Ultimate Search also known as GUS is a reality TV series created and sponsored by Nigerian Breweries Plc. The first season premiered in 2004 with 10 more subsequent seasons after which the show stopped running, much to the dismay of many.

Each season of the show had between 10 to 30 contestants and we particularly enjoyed watching their struggles against themselves, nature and their search for a hidden treasure that brought to the person who found it the grand prize. The tasks were something we all looked forward to and we admired how the contestants scaled through every hurdle, although some failed to and got evicted.

After 7 years, the Gulder Ultimate Search was brought back in 2021 and you can just imagine our excitement! And of the 18 contestants that participated in this season, a sports enthusiast from Akwa Ibom named Odudu Otu emerged as the winner.

4. Who wants to be a millionaire?

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? is a Nigerian game show based on the original British format of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?

It first aired in 2004 but it stopped in 2017 after the main sponsor, MTN Nigeria, pulled out from the game show.

The contestants were asked questions that got more difficult as they progressed, with each correctly answered question attracting a certain sum of money. The contestants were given 3 lifelines at the beginning of the game to assist them:

a) 50/50: The computer would eliminate any two wrong options and leave the right option and the other remaining wrong option.

b) Phone a Friend: The contestant got to call a friend to read the question and the options to them for their response all within 30 seconds.

c) Ask the Audience: The audience used touchpads to show what they believed the correct option was and the percentage of the audience choosing each specific option was then displayed to the contestant.

For 13 years, the show entertained TV audiences and made millionaires of quite a number of Nigerians. On the 11th of September, 2009, Aroma Ufodike from Anambra State appeared on the show and won the coveted grand prize of N10 million. It was a very memorable day in the history of the show and many Nigerians celebrated with the winner.

In February 2022, the new organisers of the show unveiled Frank Edoho as the host, noting the new season will run for 52 weeks with new sponsors and N20 million to be won.

The new edition is tagged “The Rebirth”.

5. Big Brother Naija

This is one show that always has the attention of many Nigerians and would trend for days but it didn’t just start a few years ago.

Big Brother Naija, formerly known as Big Brother Nigeria, is a Nigerian reality competition television series, based on the Big Brother television franchise. The lucky contestants live in an isolated house and compete for a large cash prize and other material prizes, by avoiding being evicted from the house. The viewers at home vote for their favourite housemates so they can remain in the show.

The first season of the show started on the 5th of March 2006, was on hold for a long time until its return 5 years ago. And it’s not stopping anytime soon, cos Nigerians love it!

Which of those old shows did we not include? Which ones did you particularly enjoy watching? And which ones do you want them to bring back? It’s MTN Project Fame for us but let’s hear from you in the comment section!

Co writer: Oluwadamilola Falayi