TV Cream

TV: G is for...

Going for Gold

"People are coming..." "...and everyone's trying"

PAN-CONTINENTAL LATE 80s joke, mainly thanks to ludicrously ambitious Euro-harmony raison d’etre, and much-derided sub-Wogan compere HENRY KELLY. 

Original incarnation offered holiday to Seoul Olympics as first prize (cue animation of Olympic mascot swirling a ribbon thing on his head), later series strained to maintain golden theme, hence much ballyhoo about trips to pan for gold in the Australian outback, mentioned by Kelly about seven times a show (and repeated the next morning). Bland as hell, how-many-cliches-can-we-fit-in theme: “The heat is on, the time is right, it’s time for you, for you to play the game, people are coming, everyone’s trying, trying to be the best that they can, when they’re going for, going for GOLD!” The hapless Kelly usually blathered about the 28 nations taking part (handily splitting Britain into England, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Guernsey, Jersey and the Isle Of Man) but no-one ever seemed to mention that the Brits had the built-in advantage of having English as their mother tongue. 

Perennial, never-changing format as follows: seven multi-national contestants span round on rotating desk for elimination round, perched behind seemingly metaphorical mushroom-shaped buzzers. Klaus from the Cafe Hag commercial (“Ah, Henry Kelly! Schmells good!”) turned up every day. First four contestants to get a question right progressed to the “first round proper” (eh?), the detritus spinning off to try again tomorrow. Inevitable Wednesday afternoon battle for final place between two remaining contestants invariably cast xenophobic “come on Malcolm, beat the kraut/wop/frog” air across living room/hall of residence/sixth form common room. Four qualifiers bantered uneasily with host: “I am big fan from Imran Khan” quoth one Eastern European cricket fan, while Kelly vouchsafed that “Going For Gold is so popular in Belgium”. Quite. Remaining contestants answered questions worth one, two or three points, with first three to eight progressing to one-minute “specialised subject” round: “I am not so good with the geoh-graf-ey!”. Best two went”head to head” in absurdly complex final, featuring celebrated “Where am I? I am a river in northern Africa” questions as time ticked away “in the big four zone”. Daily winners went on to Friday final, and the whole thing went on for months and months and months. 

Shown as part of Reg Grundy double bill after [cref 1490 NEIGHBOURS] in early daytime schedules, while no-doubt huge airfare bill for BBC was mitigated by pathetically cheap perspex trophy for daily winners. Effect on European brotherhood deemed negligible. Kelly went on to mispronounce composers’ names on Classic FM before being ousted by Simon Bates and his gossip network.



  1. Applemask

    October 29, 2009 at 2:50 pm

    “Biros” anecdote uncorroborated.

    • Matthew Harris

      April 28, 2018 at 6:22 pm

      No it isn’t you dumb fucker, it’s been repeated straight from the mouth of Henry Kelly himself.

  2. Glenn A

    October 29, 2009 at 7:42 pm

    Well the alternative on Border was the ten dollars an episode Australian soap A Country Practice, which always looked like it was filmed in the dark, so Going for Gold was the far jazzier and funnier alternative- basically let’s have a laugh at our friends across the Channel and their ridiculous accents.

  3. nickatbasel

    November 2, 2009 at 7:27 am

    Crass it might have been, but it was more interesting than Artificial Intelligence lectures in the afternoon.


  4. Des Elmes

    September 1, 2010 at 1:55 am

    Mercifully, next to no-one watched the fairly recent revival on Channel 5, which not only had British contestants only and no opening elimination round, but also had an AWFUL LOT of call-and-lose quizzes.

    John Suchet looked uncomfortable doing these, so they brought in Alex Kramer – who would have still been in primary school when the original GFG started.

    Fancy that – one of Britain’s finest and most respected newscasters, and a hostess of many a late-night phone-in quiz, presenting a show together…

    I’d like to think that if Henry Kelly watched any bit of it, he didn’t like it.

  5. Joanne Gray

    February 14, 2017 at 9:08 pm

    I did see a French version about 2004 when I was flicking through all the channels on Sky Digital one boring wet afternoon. The only difference really that it wasn’t pan-European, just for French contestants (maybe French speaking Belgians and Swiss too?) as the channel was a French entertainment channel. The questions were easier to follow than in the English language version.

  6. Richardpd

    May 29, 2023 at 4:49 pm

    There theme was written by future Oscar winner Hans Zimmer, who apparently doesn’t feel any embarrassment about it as it as he earned steady royalties from it for a few years while he made the transition to working on films.

    An out-take where someone’s buzzer broke did the rounds on the Auntie’s Bloomers for a few years.

    I remember catching a French version in 1993 while on holiday, along with the original game show countdown is based on.

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