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Hosts
Bob Holness (1983–1995)
Michael Aspel (1997)
Liza Tarbuck (2000–2001)
Simon Mayo (2012)
Dara Ó Briain (2019)
Announcers
Andrew Lodge (1983–1986)
Peter Tomlinson (1987–1994)
Susan Rae (1997)
Dan Strauss (2000–2001)
Simon Mattocks (2012)
Broadcast
Blockbusters 1983
Blockbuster
ITV: 29 August 1983 – 4 June 1993
Blockbusters 1994
Sky One: 18 April 1994 – 17 February 1995
Blockbusters1997
BBC Two: 31 March – 8 August 1997
Blockbusters 2000
Sky One: 30 October 2000 – 23 March 2001
The All New Blockbusters 2012
Challenge: 14 May – 3 August 2012
Screenshot 20190322-231444 Video Player
Comedy Central: 21 March 2019 – Present
Packagers
Central (1983–1995)
Fremantle UK (1997)
Grundy (2000–2001)
Thames (2012, 2019)

A game of skill and strategy, where the game board was a honeycomb filled with letter and a single player played against a team to see if two heads really are better than one.

For the ITV series, both Sky One series, and Comedy Central series, this show was played with teenage contestants; for the other two versions, adults played.

GameplayEdit

A 4×5 board of 20 hexagons is presented with a letter in each hexagon. A letter is chosen at random to start a game. The answer of the question begins with the letter chosen (the only exceptions are X and Z, which are not featured on the board at all). For example, if the letter T were chosen, a sample question might be: "What 'T' is a sport made famous by Serena & Venus Williams?", in which case the correct answer would be "Tennis". The player who buzzes in first gets a chance to answer the question. If correct, the space is marked with their colour. If they are incorrect, the opponent(s) get(s) a chance to answer (should the solo player miss, only one half of the team can answer, with conference). If nobody answers correctly, another question is asked whose answer begins with that same letter. Each correct answer also win money, which in the team's case both players would receive. The amount in all versions prior to 2019 was £5, which has been increased to £20 for the Comedy Central run.

The object of the game is to make a connecting path from one side to the other. This is classified as achieving "Blockbusters." The solo player has to connect from top to bottom (white to white), which can be done in as little as four correct answers. The team has to connect side to side (blue to blue) in as little as five moves. When a side is close to winning the game, their appropriate coloured hexagons flash; sometimes, however, all the earned hexagons flashed; this situation is called "Blockbusters either way" (in later series of the Holness era, this was renamed a "mutual space" on the board). The first side to make the connection wins the game, and the first side to win two out of three games wins the match and the right to play the "Gold Run". If the team advances to the bonus round, only one of them can play (alternating turns with each additional match won (only possible in all versions prior to 2019)).

In the Comedy Central series, certain correct answers award booby prizes, referred to as "spot prizes". In addition, whereas all previous versions broke tie games with a third game, the Comedy Central series has the "Hexagon Standoff", one final question. Whoever buzzes in with the right answer wins, while a wrong answer gives the match to the opponent(s).

Gold RunEdit

The winning player has to connect from left to right (gold to gold) in 60 seconds or less. The difference here is that the hexagons have multiple letters on them (two to four letters), and naturally, they represent an answer of more than one word (eg: "CT", First host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?: Chris Tarrant). Correct answers mark the chosen hexagons gold. There is no penalty for incorrect guesses but passes put up blocks and the player must work around them. If the contestant can make the connection, they win a prize; if they can't, they receive cash (£10 in all versions prior to 2019, £50 in the Comedy Central run) for each correct answer. If he/she is blocked out, the contestant can still continue and try to build up the money for every correct answer until time runs out. Win or lose, the host goes over any missed and/or passed questions, and another match begins.

In all versions prior to 2019, Gold Run prizes increased with each new attempt by the same champions, and were based on how many of them were played to that point; not how many they won. (i.e. contestants who won the last Gold Run won the major prize guaranteed, regardless if they lost any previous Gold Runs).

The Comedy Central series offers a choice of two categories for its Gold Run, and winning awards a holiday.

Championship FormatEdit

Defending champions could keep going for up to five matches undefeated, in order to win a major prize. From the seventh ITV series, it was reduced to three, so that more contestants could take part over the course of a series. In the first Sky One series this was changed back up to five matches and reduced to three again on BBC Two. In the second Sky One series, it increased to five again. For the Challenge series, the maximum amount remained at five matches. In the Comedy Central series, all shows are self-contained.

PrizesEdit

In the first two series, all contestants who appeared on the show received a Concise Oxford Dictionary and a sweatshirt (both having the show's logo on them). By the third series, the computer game based on the show was added. Within a year, the sweatshirt was replaced with a cardigan (again, with the show's logo on it) in a choice of colours, and an embossed filofax (later an electronic organizer) accompanied the dictionary. In the first Sky One series, it was changed to a Blockbusters Encyclopedia and T-shirt. In the BBC Two series it was a fountain pen. In the second Sky One series it was a Blockbusters Dictionary and a CD ROM. In the Challenge series the players received an Elonex E-book reader. In the Comedy Central series the players receive a hoodie and reuseable mug.

TriviaEdit

Starting in 1986, at the end of every Friday programme, everyone in the studio (including host Bob Holness) did a dance called the Hand Jive. This is because five programmes were recorded every day, and a future contestant got bored waiting his turn for several shows a day; so they did this dance before they went home. The way the dance went was as follows: Knee-clap
Hand-clap
Hand-over-hand (×2)
Potato-hands (×2)
Elbow-point-twirl (×2)
(Repeat ×3)

Knee-clap
Hand-clap
Clap in the air.

The Hand Jive was dropped when the show moved to the BBC in 1997.

From 1987–1990, a spinoff show called Champion Blockbusters was produced, and ran for four series. It was played similar to the original version, except that the contestants were former champions who had all won Gold Runs and/or reached the five-match maximum.

The BBC version of Blockbusters was the only version where the family pair was not represented by the colour blue; they were represented by the colour purple instead.

MerchandiseEdit

Blockbusters spawned a number of items of merchandise. 12 quiz books were released from the show[1] which also led to a spin-off: "Blockbusters Gold Run Volumes 1-5" being produced.[2]

In 1986, Waddingtons created a board game version of the show, which was named Game of the Year in 1986 by The British Association of Toy Retailers.[3] This led to several successful spin offs; a "Gold Run" Card Game, a Junior Blockbusters board game (a children's edition) and a Super Blockbusters board game (essentially, a second edition standard game with its own set of "Gold Run" cards).[4] A computer game version of the show was also created for the Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro and ZX Spectrum.

In 2006, a DVD Interactive Game version was released with Bob Holness reprising his position at the helm. The DVD is based on the same format as the TV show, with virtual set design and game graphics matching the original version of the programme.[5]

GalleryEdit

MusicEdit

Theme: "Quiz Wizard" by Ed Welch

NOTE: Although the theme was updated as the years went by, the BBC version was the only version that did not use it. Instead, it used a similar sounding theme (presumably it was the same theme, but with changes in the notes).

InventorEdit

Based on the American game show of the same name by Steve Ryan.

Additional PagesEdit

List of Blockbusters episodes and specials

ReferencesEdit

  1. http://discover.nls.uk/default.ashx?q=Blockbusters&search-box-submit=go&searchtype=1&cx=004988112283334510717%3Alqhse3e39qi&ie=UTF-8
  2. http://web.archive.org/web/20100709095407/http://www.80sactual.com/2009/01/blockbusters.html
  3. http://web.archive.org/web/20051229071806/http://www.toyretailersassociation.co.uk/toty/80.htm
  4. http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_AzT5pruwnbg/RsNfiv8AotI/AAAAAAAAB2s/1EAUnhbJy1o/s1600-h/blockbusters4.jpg
  5. http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B000HN32D2
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