It's a Knockout
|It's a Knockout|
|Created by||Guy Lux|
|Presented by||McDonald Hobley (1966)
David Vine (1967–71)
Stuart Hall (1972–88; 1993–4)
Iestyn Garlick & Nia Chiswell (1991–4), Johnny Tudor (1994)
Keith Chegwin & Lucy Alexander (1999–2001)
|Starring||Ted Ray & Charlie Chester (1966)
McDonald Hobley (1967)
Katie Boyle (1968)
Eddie Waring (1969–81)
Arthur Edward Ellis (Referee: 1969–82)
Frank Bruno (Referee: 1999–2001)
Nell McAndrew (Scorekeeper: 1999–2001)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|Original language(s)||English, Welsh|
|Running time||30–120 minutes|
|Production company(s)||BBC Manchester (BBC)
Ronin TV (Channel 5)
|Original channel||BBC1 (7 August 1966 – 25 December 1988)
ITV (28 May 1990)
S4C (3 August 1991 – 24 December 1994)
Channel 5 (3 September 1999 – 6 January 2001)
|Original run||7 August 1966– 6 January 2001|
- 1 History
- 2 Format
- 3 In other countries
- 4 Charity specials
- 5 Pop culture
- 6 Transmissions
- 7 See also
- 8 Notes
- 9 External links
The series was broadcast on the BBC1 from 7 August 1966 to 30 July 1982, thereafter a number of specials were broadcast until 25 December 1988. The series returned on Channel 5 from 3 September 1999 to 6 January 2001, produced by Richard Hearsey and Ronin Entertainment.
The theme tune was "Bean Bag" by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.
A Welsh version, Gemau Heb Ffiniau (Games Without Frontiers), was broadcast form 3 August 1991 to 24 December 1994 on S4C. It had Welsh teams battling against European contestants dressed in pink colours. Nia Chiswell and Iestyn Garlick presented, with Johnny Tudor joining in the fourth series (1994).
It featured teams representing a town or city competing tasks in absurd games, generally dressed in large foam rubber suits. Games were played in the home town's park, with weather often turning grassland into mud. The team scoring most points would advance to the next stage. Teams could double points in one round by choosing to "play their Joker". The games were refereed by former international football referee Arthur Ellis.
The games were described as school sports day for adults. For example, teams would carry buckets of water over greasy poles or rolling logs. Other teams would interfere, squirting water cannon or throwing custard pies. Limited budgets meant games were often a variation on what could be done with a long piece of elastic, a lot of water, a portable swimming pool and a roundabout.
In its earliest form, the show emphasised skill or organisation applied in a bizarre way, for instance picking up eggs with an industrial excavator, as well as traditional village sports such as climbing a greasy pole. Games of strength were included, for example, carrying a Mini Moke without wheels. From the beginning, a "mini-marathon" would run the length of the programme, with updates on progress between shorter contests. The shift to spectacular displays, with or without costumes, came later, to improve audience appeal and to follow continental traditions.
The teams scored points for how well they did in each event with the winner gaining 3, and the second placed team scoring 2 with the loser achieving one. The teams also had a joker card to before play on one event, which they would receive double points.
The winner of each edition was awarded an It's a Knockout trophy and a chance to represent the UK in Jeux Sans Frontières. Three local teams appeared in the UK show, with around 6 to 8 countries competing in the European finals.
In other countries
The format of It's a Knockout was used in many European countries, with each version forwarding teams for the international version, Jeux Sans Frontieres.
Almost Anything Goes aired in Australia from 1976 to 1978. It was hosted by Tim Evans and Brendan Edwards and featured Sean Kramer and Australian Rules legend Ron Barassi. It was filmed in Melbourne. The 1976 season featured two complete competitions with initial heats and finals, while the 1977 and 1978 seasons featured only one each. Following the 1977 grand final, the season finale featured a competition between the top two teams from the grand final and a team representing New Zealand.
An Australian version of It's a Knockout ran on Network Ten from 1985 to 1987. The teams were divided into the Australian states: New South Wales (NSW), Victoria (VIC), Queensland (QLD) and South Australia (SA). The show was hosted by Billy J Smith along with Fiona MacDonald for the duration that it aired in Australia. They would arrive to the show in a golf buggy. The show was filmed in a field in Dural, New South Wales, however due to numerous complaints from local residents the show was dropped in 1987. This version aired in Mexico on the TV Cable Network Multivisión and was a success during 1992. It was also adapted and shown in Argentina as Supermatch. This version was heavily edited, and the anchors were replaced by off-screen commentators.
In October 2011, it was announced that Channel 10 Australia would re-launch a new version of It's a Knockout for its 2011–12 summer programming line-up hosted by HG Nelson, Charli Robinson and Brad McEwan. Due to insurance costs the show was filmed in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and ran for eight 1-hour episodes between December 2011 and January 2012 and featured teams of 15 from each state of Australia.
In New Zealand, a series based on It's a Knockout called Top Town ran from 1976 to 1990, and was revived in 2009.
United States: "Almost Anything Goes"
The American version of It's a Knockout, re-titled Almost Anything Goes for audiences in the United States, aired on ABC in America from 31 July to 28 August 1975 – handily winning the time slot on Thursday nights against reruns of The Waltons on CBS and a short-lived Ben Vereen variety show (Comin' At Ya!) on NBC.
In the first season, there were four regional events (North, East, South, and West); each had teams representing cities with populations of 20,000 or smaller from three different states, and each city had to be within 200 miles of the other two. The four winners then met in a national final. The second season consisted of 14 episodes, broken up into nine episodes where all three cities were from a particular state, three regional finals (East, South, and West - there was no North regional in the second season) consisting of three state winners, a national final consisting of the three regional winners, and a "Supergames" where the second season winner competed against the first season winner and a team of celebrities representing Hollywood.
For its second season (24 January to 2 May 1976), AAG moved to Saturday nights after the cancellation of the short-lived Saturday Night Live with Howard Cosell variety show. Sports announcers Charlie Jones and Lynn Shackelford were the play-by-play and color men on this version which featured small towns across America playing the games. Sam Riddle, who was one of the producers, served as field reporter in 1975 along with Dick Whittington, the latter being replaced by Regis Philbin in 1976.
Boulder City, Nevada won the 1975 series and Chambersburg, Pennsylvania won the 1976 series. In a showdown, Boulder City beat Chambersburg and a celebrity all-star team. However, it was up against The Jeffersons on CBS and Emergency! on NBC, and was shortly cancelled thereafter due to low ratings.
A children's version, called Junior Almost Anything Goes and hosted by Soupy Sales, ran on Saturday mornings from 11 September 1976 to 4 September 1977; After this, a syndicated celebrity version (All Star Anything Goes) hosted by Bill Boggs ran from 16 September 1977 to September 1978.
Two charity specials were made in the 1980s. 1987 saw The Grand Knockout Tournament, featuring four teams of celebrities, each figureheaded by a member of the British royal family. The event, held at the Alton Towers theme park, was widely derided as a failure, particularly in terms of public perception of the royal family.
Jeux Sans Frontieres was the inspiration for Peter Gabriel's hit song Game Without Frontiers. The words Jeux Sans Frontieres are repeated as the chorus of the song, and the phrase It's a Knockout is used in the song as well.
It's a Knockout UK Tournament Format
It's a Knockout UK Qualifying Heats
Jeux Sans Frontières International Tournament Format
- Telematch, the German adaptation of Intervilles.
- Supermatch, on Argentina
- Simply the Best, another UK adaptation, broadcast on ITV in 2004
- It's a Knockout at the British Film Institute
- It's a Knockout – UK 90's remake at the British Film Institute
- It's a Knockout – UK at the Internet Movie Database
- It's a Knockout – Australia at the Internet Movie Database
- It's a Knockout – UK 90's remake at the Internet Movie Database
- It's a Knockout at UKGameshows.com
- A website devoted to the TV show including details of the BBC, Channel 5, Royal Knockout, JSF and international versions.
- Another website devoted to the TV show including details of the BBC, Channel 5, JSF and international versions.
- It's a Knockout at the National Film and Sound Archive