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Blankety Blank
Title card from 1985–1986.
Format Game show
Presented by Terry Wogan (1979–1983)
Les Dawson (1984–1990)
Lily Savage (1997–2002)
Country of origin  United Kingdom
No. of series 17
No. of episodes 259
Producer(s) Grundy (1997–1999, 2001)
Thames Television (2002)
Running time 30 minutes (1979–1999)
40 minutes (2001–2002)
Original channel BBC1
(1979–1990, 1997-1999)
ITV (2001–2002)
Picture format 4:3 (1979–1990, 1997–1999)
16:9 (2001–2002)
Original run 4 January 1979 (1979-01-04) – 10 August 2002 (2002-08-10)

Blankety Blank is a British comedy game show based on the 1977–1978 Australian game show Blankety Blanks (which was in turn based on the American game show Match Game).

The British version ran from 4 January 1979 to 12 March 1990 with 187 episodes on BBC1, hosted first by Terry Wogan and later by Les Dawson. A revival fronted by Lily Savage (played by Paul O'Grady) was produced by the BBC from 26 December 1997 to 28 December 1999 for 27 episodes.

From 7 January 2001 to 10 August 2002, The Lily Savage version aired on ITV for 45 episodes. This version was produced by Grundy (producers of the Australian version), then Thames Television.




Main game

Two contestants competed. The contestants were always a man and a woman or two women; at no point did two men compete head-to-head. The object was to match the answers as many of the six celebrity panelists as possible on fill-in-the-blank statements.

The main game was played in two rounds. The challenger was given a choice of two statements labelled either "A" or "B". The host then read the statement, when Les Dawson became the host the programme did away with the A or B choice but was reinstated when Lily Savage became the host.

Frequently, the statements were written with comedic, double-entendre answers in mind. A classic example: "Did you catch a glimpse of that girl on the corner? She has the world's biggest _________."

While the contestant pondered his/her answer, the six celebrities wrote their answers on index cards. After they finished, the contestant was polled for his/her answer. Frequently, the audience responded appropriately as the host critiqued the contestant's answer (for the "world's biggest" question, the host might compliment an answer such as "boobs" or "rear end", while expressing disdain to an answer such as "fingers" or "bag").

The host then asked each celebrity – one at a time, beginning with #1 in the upper left hand corner – to give his/her response. The contestant earned one point for each celebrity who wrote down the same answer (or reasonably similar as determined by the judges) up to a maximum of six points for matching everyone.

After play was completed on the contestant's question, the host read the statement on the other card for the challenger and play was identical.

The challenger again began Round 2, with two new questions, unless he/she matched everyone in the first round. Only celebrities that a contestant didn't match could play this round.

Tiebreaker rounds: If the players had the same score at the end of "regulation", a tiebreaker was used that reversed the game play. The contestants would write their answers first on a card in secret, then the celebrities were canvassed to give their answers. The first celebrity response to match a contestant's answer gave that contestant the victory; if there were still no match (which was rare), the round was replayed with a new question.


A fill-in-the-blank phrase was given, and it was up to the contestant to choose the most common response based on a studio audience survey. After consulting with three celebrities on the panel for help the contestant had to choose an answer. The answers were revealed after that; the most popular answer in the survey was worth 150 Blanks, the second-most popular 100 Blanks, and the third most popular 50. If a contestant failed to match any of the three answers, the bonus round ended.

Another game was played with two new players, and the one who amassed the most from the Supermatch won the game (and if the two winners got the same it would go to sudden death). Here, they could win a better prize (doubling their blanks or a holiday). The player chose one of the celebrities who would write down their answer to a "word BLANK" phrase. The player would then give their answer, if they matched, they won and if not they didn't.

Supermatch "prizes"

Prizes on British game shows of the 1980s seem very poor by modern standards; the Independent Broadcasting Authority restricted prize values on ITV shows, and BBC-programme prizes were worth even less because the Corporation felt it inappropriate to spend licence payers' money on such things. As a result, the poor-quality prizes became a running joke throughout the show's various runs, particularly during the Dawson era. Dawson drew attention to the fact that the prizes were less-than-mediocre, not pretending that the show had "fabulous prizes" as others did, but making a joke of it.

Dawson affectionately ridiculed the show with dialogue such as "And for the benefit of anyone who hasn't got an Argos Catalogue, here's some of the rubbish you might be saddled with tonight." On one memorable occasion, the 300 Blanks star prize was actually decent - a trip on Concorde. As the audience, expecting the usual poor prizes, clapped and cheered appreciatively, Les waved them down with "Don't get excited - it goes to the end of the runway and back."

Most famously was the consolation prize - the Blankety Blank chequebook and pen, which Les would often call "The Blankety Blank chequepen and book!" The "chequebook" consisted of a cheap-looking silver trophy in the shape of a chequebook. When one contestant had won nothing, Les rolled his eyes and asked her "I bet you wish you'd've stopped at home and watched Crossroads - do you want me to lend you your bus fare home?"


Regular members of the celebrity panel on the original BBC show included Kenny Everett, Lorraine Chase, Gareth Hunt, Gary Davies, and Cheryl Baker.

Despite Les Dawson's constant jibing of the consolation prize, the Blankety Blank chequebook and pen ("Never mind love, you might have lost, but you'll never be short of something to prop your door open with now...") are now worth a great deal, as they were never commercially available and only a limited number were made.

When he was host, Terry Wogan had an unusual stick-like microphone. It was modeled on the Sony ECM-51, Gene Rayburn's microphone from the 1973–1982 American version but was, in fact, an ECM-50 mounted on a car radio aerial. He always referred to it as "Wogan's Wand". On one memorable occasion Kenny Everett bent it in half (with Wogan, obviously not expecting this, carrying on valiantly through the show with the wand at a 45-degree angle). This led to a running gag on Everett's subsequent appearances on the show, when he would come up with new ways of damaging the wand, such as attempting to cut it in half with shears. (This instance at least was visibly planned, as Wogan deliberately bends forward for him to grab it, and when the wand refuses to break, Everett quips "It worked in rehearsals".) In his very first show when he took over from Wogan, Les Dawson broke Wogan's Wand in half across his knee, muttering "Been wanting to do that for years."

In a 1987 edition, Les Dawson's old friend Roy Barraclough made an appearance on the panel. Les had for many years played opposite Roy when they played a couple of grotesque old ladies, Ada and Cissie. On first seeing Roy, Les looked him up and down, looked puzzled and said, in his "Ada" voice, "I must say you look familiar, have you got a sister?" Without even looking up, Roy replied he had no idea what he was talking about.

From 1993–1995 satellite channel UK Gold repeated all series of Blankety Blank with the exception of Series 10 (1987).


Blankety Blank returned to British screens as a one-off edition as part of the BBC's annual Children in Need telethon in which Terry Wogan reprised his role as the host of the show accompanied by his wand microphone. The contestants were impressionists Jon Culshaw and Jan Ravens from Dead Ringers.

In 2006, the show was brought back this time as an interactive version on a DVD disc with Terry once again reprising his role of host and once again being accompanied by his magic wand type of microphone. Note that the theme tune to the interactive DVD version of Blankety Blank is not the original theme, but a version that was used for the ITV series which was called Lily Savage's Blankety Blank.

A one-off edition was shown on 21 April 2007 as part of Gameshow Marathon hosted by Vernon Kay.

2003 spoof

A spoof was shown in 2003 as part of Comic Relief, taking the form of a "lost" Wogan-era episode with Peter Serafinowicz as Wogan. The celebrities were Willie Rushton, Su Pollard, Johnny Rotten, Ruth Madoc, Freddie Starr, and Liza Goddard (played by Nick Frost, Matt Lucas, Martin Freeman, David Walliams, Simon Pegg, and Sarah Alexander). Stirling Gallacher and Kevin Eldon played the two contestants, while Paul Putner was the star prize of a chauffeur.

The skit began with one of the Wogan-era opening sequences (using the theme from the era with a slightly-slower tempo), and featured an accurately-rebuilt set.


Series Start date End date Episodes
4 January 1979
3 May 1979
6 September 1979
25 December 1979
4 September 1980
26 December 1980
3 September 1981
26 December 1981
4 September 1982
27 December 1982
3 September 1983
25 December 1983
7 September 1984
25 December 1984
6 September 1985
27 December 1985
5 September 1986
26 December 1986
18 September 1987
1 January 1988
9 September 1988
16 December 1988
7 September 1989
12 October 1989
30 November 1989
12 March 1990
8 May 1998
19 September 1998
26 June 1999
28 December 1999
7 January 2001
17 June 2001
4 May 2002
10 August 2002

See also

External links


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