Going for Gold

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Going for Gold
Presented by Henry Kelly (BBC1)
John Suchet (Channel 5)
Dean Wilson (stand-in)
Starring Alex Kramer (2008-9)
Vicki Letch (stand-in)
Voices of Martin Buchanan
Theme music composer Sandy McClelland
Hans Zimmer
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 10 (BBC1)
1 (Channel 5)
No. of episodes 703 (BBC1)
105 (Channel 5)
Running time 25 minutes (BBC1)
60 minutes (inc. adverts) (Channel 5)
Production company(s) Reg Grundy Productions (BBC1)
Talkback Thames
(Channel 5)
Distributor FremantleMedia
Original network BBC1 (1987-96)
Super Channel (1987-93)
Channel 5 (2008-9)
Picture format 4:3 (1987-96)
16:9 (2008-9)
Original release 12 October 1987 (1987-10-12) – 20 March 2009 (2009-03-20)

Going for Gold is a British television game show that originally aired on BBC1 between 12 October 1987 and 9 July 1996. It has since been revived for Channel 5 from 13 October 2008 to 20 March 2009.

The original series[edit]

Going for Gold was originally broadcast on BBC1 from 12 October 1987 to 9 July 1996, usually, after the lunchtime broadcast of Australian soap opera Neighbours. It was presented by Irish broadcaster Henry Kelly, and its defining concept was that it featured contestants from different European countries who competed against each other to answer questions (all in English) to win a prize. The show was shown on BBC1 in the UK and on Super Channel (later NBC Super Channel) in Continental Europe and on BBC TV Europe (which carried a mix of BBC1 and BBC2 output up to its dissolution in early 1991).

The 1987–1996 run of the quiz show each week had seven contestants that spoke English (each representing a different European country) who would compete against each other for a place in the finals. The show followed a repechage format (now common, but then, unusual), whereby unsuccessful contestants from Monday's show would return on Tuesday, and so on throughout the week. Each episode lasted for 25 minutes, including four rounds.

There were ten series in total (two in 1992). The first five series were broadcast during the winter, and many of these were split in half by the Christmas break. The (second) 1992 and 1993 series went out in the autumn, the last three were broadcast during the summer. The 1996 series featured competitors from the United Kingdom only.

2008 revival[edit]

The show was revived and produced by talkbackTHAMES and aired on Channel 5, premiering from 13 October to 19 December 2008. The new version featured only contestants from the UK and Ireland, was broadcast live and hosted by newsreader John Suchet. Former ITV Play host Alex Kramer, did the newly introduced viewers' phone-in question section from 17 November 2008 until 20 March 2009, repeating the questions several times and talking to the selected phone-in contestant. The set questions involve many clues to an item or person, and the phone-ins were notorious for taking up significant amounts of time during the show.[1]

The show continued its run between 5 January and 20 March 2009. Vicky Letch temporarily replaced Alex Kramer as the viewer's phone-in host whilst Alex was on holiday. When John Suchet was unavailable, the programme was hosted by Dean Wilson. At the end of the series, the sixteen winners with the most daily wins contested four semi-finals, the winners of which competed in the series final on 20 March 2009, won by Iwan Thomas.


Elimination round (Round 1)[edit]

Each edition began with a short general knowledge round to all seven contestants. Out of the contestants who started the show, four would go through to the next round (always referred to as the "first round proper" by Kelly). These four would be the first who managed to answer each of the four general knowledge questions correctly. These questions would usually take the form of a 20 to 30-second description of an object, person, animal or place (usually beginning "Who am I?", "What am I?", etc.), with progressively more details being revealed by Kelly until someone was able to identify it. By the Thursday show, there would be only four contestants left to play the opening round and so several questions were asked and the first person to two points would join the previous days' winners in "the first round proper".

This round was not played in the 2008 version.

Beat the Buzzer (Round 2)[edit]

The Beat the Buzzer round was a general knowledge round, played with hands on plungers. Questions were worth one, two or three points. A contestant who gave a correct answer would be told the subject of the next question, and got to choose the value of that question. If nobody answered a question correctly, the next question was described as "a general knowledge question" and worth one point — but was in fact the next question that was going to be asked anyway. The first three players to reach six points or nine in the 2008 version went on to play the next round.

In the event that a contestant buzzed in and got a question wrong, the question would be offered to other contestants, signaled by a buzzer sounding. But a contestant buzzing in and giving no answer at all would result in a doorbell sound and the answer was revealed

Four in a Row (Round 3)[edit]

In this round, each of the remaining contestants were asked to pick a category (out of a choice of four). The order in which they picked the categories was based on the order in which they progressed from the previous round. Each would then have to answer questions on their chosen category for 40 seconds.

Players scored based on the number of consecutive questions they got right – if an incorrect answer was given, their score returned to zero. The score taken from this round was the highest point reached over 40 seconds. After this round, the two highest scoring players went through to the final round. A "first to two" general knowledge playoff was held if there was a tie, using the same style of questions from round 1.

Head to Head (Round 4)[edit]

In the final, every question was worth between four and one point depending on how quickly they were answered. Again, the questions pertained to a famous person, place, thing, fictional character or event. However, only one player at a time was allowed to the buzzer, as indicated by a timer graphic running down the center of the screen. If a player gave an incorrect answer, their section of the time was passed over to their opponent and the time (and the question) continued.

In the original, the first player to score nine points won the game. While in the 2008 revival, this round kept on playing until time was up. When time was up, the player with the most points was the winner.

Progression to the finals[edit]

The first player to reach nine points in this round won the daily game, and went through to the end of week final (an automatic place in the 'first round proper' on Thursday), from where, the winner progressed to the later stages of the series. The losing players all came back the next day, starting with the same pool of players each weekday, minus the winner of the week's earlier shows.

Other International versions[edit]

Going for Gold began its life as an American pilot, Run for the Money, hosted by Bill Rafferty and produced for ABC in 1987, at ABC Television Center. The pilot did not sell in the States; however, Grundy took it to Europe where it became what is now Going for Gold. Run for the Money would have been played with four contestants (one a returning champion) starting with the Beat the Buzzer round, and daily winners receiving $5,000 for their efforts, with $50,000 going to a champion that retired undefeated.

The programme has been adapted in France, where it became a very famous game: Questions pour un champion, which still airs today on France 3 and TV5Monde, is hosted by Julien Lepers.

Turkey has a version of Bilir Bilmez on TRT 1 in 1996. Hüseyin Köroğlu hosted.

The Channel 5 quiz One to Win was a half-hour show whose format was effectively based on the latter three rounds of Going for Gold, repackaged and with a different host (initially, Paul Roseby, then later, Robin Houston, better known as the 'voice of the computer' on another Channel 5 quiz show, 100%.). Unlike Going for Gold but like 100%, One to Win featured low cash prizes for the winner – just £200 per episode but with a bonus for five consecutive wins – and offered its champions the option to return on the next edition of the show.

ATV in Austria has just launched a version of the show this year, called Quiz Champion.

This program adapts Going for Gold in Indonesia, called Jadilah Pemenang and airing on Shine TV, an MNC Media and Kompas Gramedia Group company. It aired every day (except Friday because it aired on X Factor Indonesia RCTI) at 8:30 p.m.

In Serbia, B92 airs their version of Going for Gold as Pitanja za Šampiona (Questions Champion) since 2006.

Theme tune and opening sequence[edit]

Going for Gold had a memorable theme tune, which was composed by Hans Zimmer, a German composer who has since carved a successful career in Hollywood, and Sandy McLelland. During the opening sequence, the theme tune would be sung (by McLelland), whilst the contestants would appear one by one on the screen and would wave, smile or gesture in various ways to introduce themselves to the audience.

The theme tune was a Europop soft rock tune. In an interview for Empire Magazine, Zimmer acknowledged the role the theme tune had in his career: "Let me tell you why I love Going For Gold. Going For Gold truly meant that I wasn't starving, and I could pay my rent and I could pay the electricity bill. If you want to be an electronic whizz-kid synthesiser composer there's nothing worse than when the electricity gets cut off, which kept happening to me frequently in those days for non-payment of bills. And Going For Gold, God bless them, they kept me alive!"[2] The lyrics are as follows and were sung by Sandy McLelland.

The heat is on, the time is right, It's time for you for you to play your game, 'cause, people are coming, everyone's trying, trying to be the best that they can, when they're going for going for gold!

Only the first verse was ever used at the end of the show, but there were further verses to the song.

Production team[edit]

  • Series Producer: Mark Noades
  • Director: Tim Verrinder
  • Producers: Ian Cross and Luke Kelly
  • Associate Producer: Terri Marzoli
  • Questions: Julia Hobbs and Fliss Williams
  • Programme Associate: Nic Ayling
  • Researchers: Jason Betts, Lisa Fisher, Holly MacArthur and Aaron Morgan
  • Programme Manager: Allison Dore



Series Start date End date Episodes
1 12 October 1987[3] 31 March 1988[3] 92[3]
2 17 October 1988[3] 23 March 1989[3] 84[3]
3 6 November 1989[3] 22 March 1990[3] 68[3]
4 5 November 1990 21 March 1991 68
5 4 November 1991 19 March 1992 68
6 7 September 1992 17 December 1992 60
7 26 July 1993 18 November 1993 68
8 25 April 1994 18 August 1994 60
9 27 February 1995 5 July 1995 75
10 1 April 1996 9 July 1996 60

Only 53 episodes are missing from its 703 episode collection, which meant that 650 episodes still survive in the archives and they include Episodes 1-3, 5-19, 21-26, 28-30, 32-35, 37-39, 41-50, 52-58, 60-62 & 64-92 of Series 1, Episodes 1-4 & 6-84 of Series 2, Episodes 1-3, 5-10, 12, 14-23, 25-26, 28-32, 34-37, 39-41, 43-45, 47-48, 50-56, 58, 60-63 & 65-68 of Series 3, Episodes 1-3, 5-8, 10-14, 16-17, 19-22, 24, 26-30, 32-38, 40-41, 43-45, 47-51, 53-57, 59-65 & 67-68 of Series 4, Episodes 1-6, 9-11, 13-14, 16-19, 21-24, 26-29, 31-32, 34-35, 37-39, 41-42, 44, 46-47, 49-58, 60-62, 64 & 66-68 of Series 5, All 60 Episodes of Series 6, 8 & 10, Episodes 1-49 & 51-68 of Series 7 and all 75 episodes of Series 9.[4]

Channel 5[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 13 October 2008[5] 20 March 2009[5] 105[5]


  • Series 1 – England: Daphne Hudson
  • Series 2 – Norway: Erik Matteson
  • Series 3 – England: Howard Atkinson
  • Series 4 – Belgium: Luc Sucholtz
  • Series 5 – Denmark: Soren Bergman
  • Series 6 – Wales: Christine Coslett
  • Series 7 – Belgium: James Deloz
  • Series 8 – Netherlands: Mieke Poelman
  • Series 9 – Norway: Sven Goll
  • Series 10 – England: Mike Ramsden

The prizes were always related in some way to gold. The prize in the first season were tickets for the 1988 Summer Olympics in Seoul (i.e. Gold Medals). A prize in a later year was a gold-mining trip to Australia.

On Five, the winner of each programme received £1,000; the series winner won £5,000.

  • Series 1 – Wales: Iwan Thomas


External links[edit]