It's a Knockout: Wikis


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It's a Knockout
Stuart Hall in the original 1970's It's a Knockout (British version).
Genre Gameshow
Directed by John Rooney
Presented by Eddie Waring
David Vine
Stuart Hall
Country of origin  United Kingdom
Language(s) English
Original channel BBC
Picture format 4:3
Original run 1 January 1966 (1966-01-01) – 1 January 1982 (1982-01-01)
Status Ended

It's a Knockout was a popular British television gameshow. Commentators included Eddie Waring, David Vine and Stuart Hall - who was famous for his florid descriptions of games and costumes (something Hall is still noted for in his BBC Radio football reports), collapsing into genuine hysterical laughter mid-way through commentating on any particular game on a regular basis. It's a Knockout was extended as a Europe-wide series in 1967, under the French name Jeux Sans Frontières.



It's a Knockout, which was adapted from the French show Intervilles, ran from 1966 to 1982 and then again from 1999 to 2001. It featured teams, each representing a town or city, competing to complete bizarre tasks in absurd games, generally while dressed in outlandish costumes (often large foam rubber suits). Games were played in the home town's park, with British weather often adding to the entertainment by turning the grassland into a mud bath. Teams would be awarded points for their performance in each round, with the team scoring most points winning the game and advancing to the next stage. Teams could double their points in one round by choosing to "play their Joker". The games were refereed by former international football referee Arthur Ellis, and the theme tune was Bean Bag by Herb Alpert and the Tijuana Brass.

The Games

The games were best described as school Sports Day for adults. For example, team members would attempt to carry buckets full of water over greasy poles or rolling logs to fill up a receptacle. Often, members of the other teams would be allowed to interfere; for example, members of one team may have been permitted to squirt the other teams with water cannons or throw custard pies at them. Limited budgets meant that games were often a variation on what could be done with a long piece of elastic, a lot of water, including the use of a portable swimming pool and a roundabout. It was not unusual for these Heath Robinson games to break needing the judge to invent some bizarre way of scoring them fairly.

In its earliest form, however, the show tried to emphasise skill or organization applied in a bizarre way, for instance picking up eggs with an industrial excavator, as well as more traditional village sports such as climbing a greasy pole. The location of the contest might resemble a muddy building site more than a stadium, especially with games like piano demolition, where a piano had to be passed through a small hole with the aid of a sledge hammer. Games of strength were included, for example, carrying a Mini Moke without wheels along a course. From the beginning, a long term contest known as the "mini-marathon" ran for the length of the programme, with updates on progress between the shorter contests. The shift to spectacular displays of silliness, with or without costumes, came later, probably to improve audience appeal, and also to be in line with European traditions which feature more use of bizarre costume than in Britain.

The winner of each series was awarded the It's a Knockout Trophy (see [1] for the trophy won by Shrewsbury in 1969).

Other versions, offshoots and revivals


British revivals

In addition to special editions of the original series such as "celebrity", "championship" and "Christmas", there were at least two revivals.

The Grand Knockout Tournament / It's a Royal Knockout


In 1987, It's a Knockout was revived by Prince Edward for the one-off charity event, The Grand Knockout Tournament, more commonly referred to as It's a Royal Knockout, involving four celebrity teams each captained by members of the British Royal Family. Although the show itself was reasonably successful, it proved disastrous for the royal family's image among the British media and public, Prince Edward’s in particular.

International It's A Knockout

A one-off event in 1988, similar in format to It's a Royal Knockout, but without the royal involvement. The event took place at numerous locations around Walt Disney World in Florida, and featured celebrity teams representing the UK, USA, and Australia.

1999 revival

In 1999 the show was revived again, this time by Five. This series was hosted by Keith Chegwin, Lucy Alexander and Frank Bruno. It ran until 2001.

Europe ("Jeux Sans Frontières")

It's a Knockout was extended into other European countries in 1967 under the French name Jeux Sans Frontières, a change of name which inspired Peter Gabriel's song "Games Without Frontiers". It was very popular in the UK, acquiring audiences of up to 19 million.

In other countries


Almost Anything Goes aired in Australia during the late 1970s and featured Australian Rules legend Ron Barassi. An Australian version of It's a Knockout ran on the Ten Network 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 NSW, however due to numerous complaints from local residents the show was forced to be canned by 1987 [2]. This version aired in Mexico on the TV Cable Network Multivisión and was a success during 1992. It was also adapted and shown on Argentina as Supermatch. This version was heavily edited, and the anchors were replaced by off-screen commentators.

New Zealand

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)

Almost Anything Goes
Genre Game show
Presented by Charlie Jones (play-by-play, 1975–1976)
Lynn Shackelford (color commentary, 1975–1976)
Sam Riddle (field reporter, 1975–1976)
Dick Whittington (field reporter, 1975)
Regis Philbin (field reporter, 1976)

Soupy Sales (1976–1977)
Bill Boggs (1977–1978)
Country of origin  United States
No. of seasons 4
Producer(s) Sam Riddle
Location(s) Various
Original channel ABC (1975–1977)
Syndicated (1977–1978)
Original run July 31, 1975 – September 1978

An American version, called Almost Anything Goes ran on ABC from 31 July to 28 August 1975 - handily winning 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.

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 hosted by Soupy Sales ran on Saturday mornings from 11 September 1976 to 4 September 1977; After this, a syndicated celebrity version (All Star Anything Goes) hosted by Bill Boggs ran from 16 September 1977 to September 1978.

See also

External links


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