It's a Knockout was the British version of the French programme, Intervilles, and part of the international Jeux Sans Frontières franchise.


BBC1: 7 August 1966 – 29 October 1982
BBC1 Specials: 26 December 1970 – 25 December 1988
ITV Special (It's a Telethon Knockout!): 28 May 1990
S4C (Gemau Heb Ffiniau): 3 August 1991 – 29 October 1994
S4C Special (25th Anniversary Knockout!): 24 December 1994
Channel 5: 3 September 1999 – 6 January 2001


BBC Manchester (BBC)
Ronin TV (Channel 5)


McDonald Hobley (1966)
David Vine (1967–1971)
Stuart Hall (1972–1988, 1993 & 1994)
Bernie Clifton (1990)
Iestyn Garlick & Nia Chiswell (1991–94)
Keith Chegwin & Lucy Alexander (1999–2001)


Ted Ray & Charlie Chester (1966)
McDonald Hobley (1967)
Katie Boyle (1968)
Eddie Waring (1969–1981)
Arthur Edward Ellis (referee: 1969–1982)
Frank Bruno (referee: 1999–2001)
Nell McAndrew (scorekeeper: 1999–2001)


In this version of the popular European format, three teams representing a town or city competing tasks in absurd games, generally dressed in large foam rubber suits. Games were played in the home town's park, with weather often turning grassland into mud.

The games themselves were described as school sports day for adults. For example, teams would carry buckets of water over greasy poles or rolling logs. Other teams would interfere, squirting water cannon or throwing custard pies. Limited budgets meant games were often a variation on what could be done with a long piece of elastic, a lot of water, a portable swimming pool and a roundabout.

In its earliest form, the show emphasised skill or organisation applied in a bizarre way, for instance picking up eggs with an industrial excavator, as well as traditional village sports such as climbing a greasy pole. Games of strength were included, for example, carrying a Mini Moke without wheels. From the beginning, a "mini-marathon" would run the length of the programme, with updates on progress between shorter contests. The shift to spectacular displays, with or without costumes, came later, to improve audience appeal and to follow continental traditions.


The teams scored points for how well they did in each event as follows:

  • 1st Place – 3
  • 2nd Place – 2
  • 3rd Place – 1

The teams also had a joker card that they could play on one (and only one) event, in which they would receive double points.

The winner of each edition was awarded an It's a Knockout! trophy and a chance to represent the UK in Jeux Sans Frontières, in which six to eight countries competed for the title of Continental Champions.

In Popular CultureEdit

This show was the inspiration for the 1980 Peter Gabriel hit Games Without Frontiers (which is the English translation of the franchise's French name). In addition, the franchise title and the English title are both said at least twice in the song, making it one of the few game shows in the world to have a pop song about it.[1]


  1. Lyrics to the Song
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.