It's a Knockout

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It's a Knockout!
GenreGame show
Created byGuy Lux
Presented byMcDonald Hobley (1966)
David Vine (1967–1971)
Stuart Hall
(1972–1988; 1993 & 1994)

Bernie Clifton (1990)
Iestyn Garlick &
Nia Chiswell (1991–94)
Keith Chegwin &
Lucy Alexander
StarringTed Ray &
Charlie Chester (1966)
McDonald Hobley (1967)
Katie Boyle (1968)
Eddie Waring (1969–1981)
Arthur Edward Ellis (referee: 1969–1982)
Frank Bruno
(referee: 1999–2001)

Nell McAndrew (scorekeeper: 1999–2001)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series17 (BBC1)
4 (S4C)
2 (Channel 5)
No. of episodes272 (BBC1)
45 (S4C)
24 (Channel 5)
Running time30–120 minutes
Production company(s)BBC Manchester (BBC)
Ronin TV (Channel 5)
Original networkBBC1 (1966–1988)
ITV (1990)
S4C (1991–1994)
Channel 5 (1999–2001)
Picture format4:3
Original release7 August 1966 (1966-08-07) –
6 January 2001 (2001-01-06)
Related showsJeux Sans Frontières
It's a Knockout! (Australia)
Top Town

It's a Knockout! is a British game show first broadcast in 1966. It was adapted from the French show Intervilles, and was part of the international Jeux Sans Frontières franchise.


The series was broadcast on 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 and using consultants and games from the French production. It was developed for Channel 5 with Alan Nixon, and the first show featured Stuart Hall tied up with rope in his garage wishing the new presenters well with the series.

An episode was made by TVS for ITV on 28 May 1990 as part of its ITV Telethon that year with Bernie Clifton as the host.

The theme tune was "Bean Bag" by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

Welsh version[edit]

A Welsh version, Gemau Heb Ffiniau (Games without Frontiers), was broadcast from 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. Locations included Bodelwyddan Castle, with Nia dressed as Alice in Wonderland.

The series was re-dubbed into English by Stuart Hall and broadcast on The Family Channel, from 1993 to 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[edit]

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[edit]


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, but due to numerous complaints from local residents, the show was dropped in 1987.[1] This version aired in Mexico on the TV Cable Network Multivisión and was a success in 1992, and also in the U.S. on KCAL-TV in Los Angeles, CA in 1990–91. 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.[2]

New Zealand[edit]

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![edit]

The American version of It's a Knockout!, re-titled Almost Anything Goes!, aired on ABC in the United States from 31 July to 28 August 1975. It won 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. A syndicated celebrity version (All Star Anything Goes!) hosted by Bill Boggs ran from 16 September 1977 to September 1978.

Charity specials[edit]

Two charity specials were made in the 1980s. The Grand Knockout Tournament of 1987 featured 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.

Nevertheless, 1988 brought It's a Charity Knockout!. Games took place around Walt Disney World Resort in Florida, and featured celebrity teams representing the UK, USA, and Australia.

Pop culture[edit]

Jeux Sans Frontieres was the inspiration for Peter Gabriel's hit song "Games 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.

The show was also featured prominently in The Goodies and the Beanstalk as a motive for the Goodies to climb the giant beanstalk; the grand prize was 5000 puppies.



Series Start date End date Episodes
1 7 August 1966 18 September 1966 7
2 14 May 1967 6 September 1967 12
3 12 May 1968 13 September 1968 13
4 14 May 1969 3 September 1969 11
5 30 April 1970 18 September 1970 14
6 21 April 1971 24 September 1971 14
7 19 May 1972 29 September 1972 14
8 18 May 1973 14 September 1973 14
9 3 May 1974 20 September 1974 13
10 23 May 1975 15 October 1975 15
11 21 May 1976 1 October 1976 16
12 22 April 1977 2 November 1977 16
13 21 April 1978 8 November 1978 16
14 11 May 1979 6 November 1979 17
15 9 May 1980 10 October 1980 17
16 29 May 1981 6 November 1981 15
17 28 May 1982 29 October 1982 15


Date Title
26 December 1970 It's a Christmas Knockout!
8 May 1971 It's a Cup Final Knockout!
27 December 1971 It's a Christmas Knockout!
6 May 1972 It's a Cup Final Knockout!
26 December 1972 It's a Christmas Knockout!
5 May 1973 It's a Cup Final Knockout!
26 December 1973 It's a Christmas Knockout!
4 May 1974 It's a Cup Final Knockout!
23 December 1974 It's a Christmas Knockout!
3 May 1975 It's a Cup Final Knockout!
11 July 1975 It's a Celebrity Knockout!
26 December 1975 It's a Christmas Knockout!
1 May 1976 It's a Cup Final Knockout!
9 July 1976 It's a Celebrity Knockout!
26 December 1976 It's a Christmas Knockout!
21 May 1977 It's a Cup Final Knockout!
16 August 1977 It's a Celebrity Knockout!
26 December 1977 It's a Christmas Knockout!
14 April 1978 It's a Miners' Knockout!
21 August 1978 It's a Celebrity Knockout!
26 December 1978 It's a Christmas Knockout!
29 August 1979 It's a Celebrity Knockout!
24 December 1979 It's a Christmas Knockout!
11 July 1980 It's a Celebrity Knockout!
27 December 1980 It's a Christmas Knockout!
31 August 1981 It's a Celebrity Knockout!
2 January 1982 It's a Christmas Knockout!
30 August 1982 The Knockout Star Gala
29 August 1983 The Knockout Star Gala
27 December 1983 It's a Christmas Knockout!
28 December 1984 It's a Christmas Knockout!
19 June 1987 The Grand Knockout Tournament
25 December 1988 It's a Charity Knockout! from Walt Disney World


Date Title
28 May 1990 It's a Telethon Knockout!


Series Start date End date Episodes
1 3 August 1991 19 October 1991 11
2 18 July 1992 3 October 1992 11
3 26 June 1993 25 September 1993 11
4 6 August 1994 29 October 1994 11


Date Title
24 December 1994 25th Anniversary Knockout!

Channel 5[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 3 September 1999 5 November 1999 11
2 14 October 2000 6 January 2001 13

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Geoff Shearer (17 October 2011). "Ten sets up knockout blast from past". The Courier-Mail.

External links[edit]