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The Boozler Family, shown in the final Bamboozle article on 15 December 2009.
Bamboozle! was a quiz game featured on Channel 4 Teletext in the United Kingdom. It was originally part of Teletext's "Fun & Games" category, though the rest of the category had been discontinued for some years before Bamboozle! ended (due to the general discontinuation of all Teletext news and editorial content in December 2009). The last edition, themed around 'Ends and Lasts', appeared on Monday 14 December 2009. The Boozler 'family' appeared one last time on Tuesday 15 December 2009 saying farewell to the Teletext audience.
On 9 August 2010 Bamboozle! was given a new home by Teletext on the iPhone complete with all the retro graphics (no longer available). On 11 July 2019, Teletext Holidays launched a version of the Bamboozle quiz on their 404 error page.
Bamboozle! was originally intended as a real-time game that could be played in conjunction with a broadcast TV programme using a similar multiple choice format as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. The decision by the new broadcast teletext franchise holders (Teletext UK) in 1993 to opt for X.25 packet switching meant that it was impossible to adequately synchronise the broadcast of teletext content in the context of a TV programme. The format thus fell back to the form it had operated in largely unchanged since 1994.
The game used Fastext keys (different coloured buttons on the TV remote control) to select the desired answer from a choice of four, and was "presented" by virtual host Bamber Boozler, who derived his name from the word "bamboozle" and the name of University Challenge host, Bamber Gascoigne. Bamber Boozler's appearance was constrained by the limitations of the Level 1 World System Teletext alpha mosaic display format. From 1993–2005, Teletext competitions editor Julian Edwards created the quiz "Bamber Boozler" and the character "Bamber Boozler". In later years, journalists Charlie Ghagan and, latterly, Roger Wilkinson oversaw the quiz. Roger Wilkinson also provides content for the Teletext iPhone app.
A new set of questions was originally given each week, but this soon became more regular, eventually becoming daily. Each game originally had 25 questions, later reduced to 20, then 15 and eventually 12. The player was required to answer all questions correctly in order to complete the quiz, but was allowed multiple attempts to do so. Initially, if a question was answered incorrectly, the player would have to start again from Question 1, However this was later amended so that a maximum of three questions would need to be answered again. After completing the quiz, there was a score table with themed responses, for example:
according to how many questions were answered correctly at the first attempt.
On particular dates the quiz was themed: for example Halloween featured related questions and images of skeletons and spiders, whilst Guy Fawkes Night featured firework-based questions, and there were numerous Christmas-themed versions. There were also special "name the picture/person" graphical editions.
Other Boozler family members were introduced over the game's first few years – Bamber's wife, Bambette, who normally appeared when a question was answered incorrectly; while Saturday's quizzes were generally easier than the weekday editions and were presented by Bamber's son, Buster, with Bambette's role filled by Bonnie, his daughter. At one point in the quiz's history the red, yellow and green keys were sensible answers and the blue was mostly reserved for a comical response (which was occasionally the correct one). This was later changed and all the keys would have sensible answers.
The quiz started off at 20 questions, then it went down to 15 and then 12. On very few special occasions it was 30, however one question wrong and contestants had to start from the very beginning.
The "Bad Luck" pages appeared when questions were answered incorrectly; they used to feature little trivial messages at first and then mainly birthday announcements. This was scrapped to introduce "Bambette's Bonus" (or Bonnie's Bonus in Junior Bamboozle) where contestants could score again with a question from her. This was not a multiple-choice question and contestants could get the answer by pressing the reveal button.
The makers of Bamboozle! introduced a weekly competition whereby a viewer could contribute the questions to Bamboozle! As well as having their questions used, names mentioned and their image appear on screen (the viewer could supply a photograph, which was converted to a Teletext-style cartoon); the winning contributors also received a £20 WHSmith gift voucher. Even before this, viewer-submitted questions were readily used in various forms ever since the early days of the quiz.
Back in the early days of Bamboozle!, on a number of occasions the quiz would be put on hold and in its place was an adventure game (a different one each time), based on the popular children's fantasy programme "Knightmare". Viewers had to use the fastext keys to navigate their way through the quest.
"Ten to One", was a sports version of Bamboozle! with the host Brian Boozler. The quiz was so called because it presented ten sports questions and players had to get from the ten down to one. It is a double meaning as Ten to One also relates to bookies popular odds on betting in many sports.
This quiz ran concurrently with Bamboozle! for sometime until late 1998 where Brian said "I'm putting down the mic for a bit, I'm back in 1999...", however it never returned. He was however, during the period that the quiz was "rested", a guest quizmaster on Bamboozle! asking the contestants sports questions like before, with Bamber saying at the end "Thanks Brian..... check your score below!".
Junior Bamboozle! was a version run on Saturdays for children. It was hosted by Buster Boozler and the bad luck pages were hosted by Bonnie Boozler.
- Bamber occasionally made reference to the different people that have written the quiz over the years, referring to "the different people that have played me".
- Bamber proved to be so popular with Bamboozle! that he was also used for a brief period to host a few of the other games on the "Fun and Games" menu before they were all discontinued.
- Bamboozle was mentioned in Peter Kay's stand up act (at the Comedy Store), when he quipped that you know your relationship is failing when you're playing Bamboozle together in bed.
- Television and the Second Screen: Interactive TV in the Age of Social Participation by James Blake, Taylor & Francis (2016)
- "The life and death of teletext, and what happened next" by Chris Allcock, Den of Geek (June 28, 2018)
- "Ceefax and Teletext: From Bamboozle to Mega-Zine, 12 reasons they were way better than the internet" by Catriona Wightman, Digital Spy (March 24, 2016)
- The Post-broadcasting Age: New Technologies, New Communities : Papers from the 25th and 26th University of Manchester Broadcasting Symposia, University of Manchester (1995)
- Computer Games and Digital Cultures: Conference Proceedings, Tampere University Press (2002)