TV Cream

TV: B is for...


"Goodbye! Cheers!"WE’RE ALL FAMILIAR with this one. Take two Morrissey lookalikes, one weirdo you wouldn’t touch with a bargepole, some teddy bears with scarves, a firm-but-friendly host who was the first James Bond (fact!) easy-to-middling questions, five pounds (gosh!) for every correct answer and a seemingly infinite potential for unfunny catchphrases (“Can I have a P please, Bob?”), and what do you have? Essential viewing, if only because it coincided with your tea. Fridays always marked by tedious hand-jive business at the end (fucking sixth-formers!) Stellar opening titles, flying through the futuristic city of octagon boffins inside the foyer at Central TV. Studio was similarly decorated with stone pictures of famous clever bastards, like that bloke with the beard lying down (later designers lost plot slightly with induction of Hilda Ogden into BB Wall Of Fame). Crunch time came with “Put yourself on the hot spot please!” for the chance to win a hand-gliding holiday in northern France. Alternative was to do badly and get a Blockbusters jumper. Kids wore school uniforms in the early days, but this uncool practice soon died out. The board, meantime, was always fascinating, worthy – you’d think – of a penetrating investigation by SUE ROBBIE on TX, but ultimately revealed to just be flashing lightbulbs. As usual, all latterday revivals were shit. But hey, that’s Blockbusters! Those clever bastards in full: Abraham Lincoln, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Tina Turner, Mother Teresa, George Bernard Shaw, Amy Johnston, John Wayne, Harold Macmillan, William Shakespeare, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, Meryl Streep, Albert Einstein, Lenin, Harrison Ford, Mao Tse Tung, Kenny Dalglish, Bob Geldof, Beethoven, Martina Mavratilova, Hilda Ogden, Woody Allen, Toyah, Confucius, Queen Elizabeth I, a punk rocker, Moses, Daley Thompson, Marilyn Monroe, a teacher, an astronaut, a diver, a Rastafarian, and Tutankhamen.



  1. Richardpd

    January 8, 2022 at 3:47 pm

    At one time it briefly switched to Channel 4 with older contestants, I think due to ITV nearly axing it but quickly changing their minds. Channel 4 must have commissioned a series from Central as a summer fill-in for Countdown.

    The theme tune was Quiz Wizard by Ed Welch, later to score most episodes of One Foot In The Grave,

    One amusing out-take involved a girl getting Karma Sutra mixed up with Kamikazi with Bob just about keeping a straight face!

    • Adrian

      October 19, 2022 at 4:04 pm

      Yeah, and the other was “What do you call a microscopic lifeform?” “Orgasm!”

  2. Glenn Aylett

    October 19, 2022 at 4:20 pm

    Blockbusters was enormous in the mid eighties and featured every type of teen, from nerds with bad skin and glasses to goths dressed in black. You seemed to be able to identify with the contestants as you’d see kids like this at school or in the street, which added to the appeal. Also Bob Holness had this jocular, likeable personality that made Blockbusters so watchable.

  3. Richardpd

    October 19, 2022 at 10:49 pm

    I remember it was a must watch for a few years.

    Bob Holness’s accent also added to the charm, being hard to place as it had some American tones with enough British sounded to confuse things.

    Along with Elon Musk & Prue Leith he’s on the long list of people you didn’t know were from South Africa.

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