Jeux Sans Frontières

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Jeux Sans Frontières
Titlecard
Genre Game show
Broadcast
Original run 1965 – 1999

Jeux Sans Frontières (English: Games Without Frontiers or Games Without Borders) was a Europe-wide television game show. In English-speaking countries, the show is also known as It's a Knockout, the title of the BBC's domestic version.

In its original conception, it was broadcast from 1965 to 1999 under the auspices of the European Broadcasting Union and featured teams from different European countries in outlandish costumes (often large latex suits) competing to complete bizarre tasks in funny games. The original series run ended in 1982 but was revived a few years later with a different complexion of nations and hosted by smaller broadcasters.

In the United Kingdom, participants came from the heats of It's a Knockout. The original presenter was Mcdonald Hobley, but he stayed for just one season before handing over to Katie Boyle, who in turn was replaced by David Vine and Eddie Waring. It was not until 1971 that the presenter most associated with the role, Stuart Hall, took over presenting the UK heats and also provided the British commentary for the international version along with Waring, who was better known as the BBC's Rugby League commentator. Wales had its own team between 1991 and 1994 and the programme was broadcast on S4C in Welsh by Iestyn Garlick.

The idea of the show came from French President Charles de Gaulle, whose wish was that French and German youth would meet in a series of funny games to reinforce the friendship between France and Germany. The games were inspired by the matches between French cities. Some games were played in swimming pools. In 1965, three French men (Pedro Brime, Claude Savarit, and Jean-Louis Marest) spread the idea of the games to other European countries. Teams representing France, Germany, Belgium, and Italy took part in the first edition of the show called Inter Nations Games.[1]

Each participating country hosted one round of the games, presented by the host broadcaster. Every game was umpired by one or two "international" judges. The first judges became household names in the UK, Gennaro Olivieri (1922–2009) and Guido Pancaldi (1922–2011). Both were Swiss and had been international ice-hockey referees (although Pancaldi is often wrongly referred to as being Italian, probably due to his coming from the Italian-speaking Canton of Ticino). Olivieri, from the French-speaking Canton of Neuchatel, refereed the Olympic ice hockey final at the Winter Games in Innsbruck in 1964.

Judges[edit]

Participating countries and wins (summer competitions)[edit]

Between the span of 1965 and 1999, 20 countries participated in 30 editions of JSF (considering Czech Republic and Czechoslovakia as separate participants):

Country Years of participation Editions Wins
 Belgium 1965–1982, 1988–1989 20 2
 Germany 1965–1980 16 6
 France 1965–1968, 1970–1982, 1988–1992, 1997–1999 25 3
 Italy 1965–1982, 1988–1999 30 4
  Switzerland 1967–1975, 1977–1982, 1992–1999 24 2
 United Kingdom 1967–1982, 1991–1994 20 4
 Netherlands 1970–1977, 1997–1998 10 0
 Liechtenstein 1976 1 * 0
 Yugoslavia 1978–1982, 1990 6 0
 Portugal 1979–1982, 1988–1998 15 6
 Spain 1988, 1990–1992 4 1
 San Marino 1989–1991 3 0
 Tunisia 1992 1 0
 Czechoslovakia 1992 1 1
 Czech Republic 1993–1995 3 2
 Greece 1993–1999 7 0
 Hungary 1993–1999 7 3
 Slovenia 1994, 1996–1997, 1999 4 0
 Malta 1994–1995 2 0
  • Liechtenstein participated in 1976, replacing Switzerland in one single heat, and using thus the code FL (instead of CH).

When a team from Belfast represented Great Britain, they were identified as 'NI' for Northern Ireland rather than GB. Wales participated from 1991 to 1994 on behalf of the United Kingdom, and were identified by the code GB in mainland Europe and by C (Cymru, the Welsh name for Wales) in Wales itself. Welsh was the transmission language of the participating broadcaster (S4C).

Czechoslovakia participated in 1992 with Czech teams only. There was no Slovak participation in JSF that year. In 1993 the Czech Republic entered the show as a separate country.

The show inspired Peter Gabriel's 1980 hit single, "Games Without Frontiers" (the direct English translation of the title), in which backing vocalist Kate Bush sings "jeux sans frontières" during breaks. The lyrics also refer to the original title: "It's A Knockout".

Revival attempt[edit]

The EBU announced plans to relaunch the series in summer 2007 with Belgium, Croatia, Spain, Greece, Netherlands, Portugal, Slovenia and Italy thought to be participating countries. However due to financial setbacks, the plans were put on hold - originally for 12 months but later abandoned altogether.

Parody[edit]

The BBC Radio 4 comedy programme I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again featured a version called Guerre Sans Frontieres where gallant little Belgium always had to play the Joker.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]