That’s Blockbusters!

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love —

That thy format is so pleasing; that the contestant must forge a path from top to bottom or from side to side; that a game may not end in a tie; that the tesselations of thy board are so continually stimulating and invigorating, and that thy blue, white and yellow colour scheme is so visually appealing.

That one contestant must face two, apparently to test the validity of the statement that two heads are better than one; that the single contestant often prevails; that thy contestants must shake hands before the contest begins; that politeness reigns over all.

That the Gold Run is so well realised; that after a chain has broken down irrevocably there is still an incentive to continue for the remainder of the minute; that if one fails to make it from end to end there is a monetary consolation.

That thy victorious contestants receive prizes tailored to their interests: that a jazz aficionado will receive a recording session at Abbey Road, a keyboard, and a trip to New Orleans; that a lover of classical music will receive a trip to watch the CBSO record their new CD with Simon Rattle and a holiday in Salzburg; that a boy who has never visited his native land of Hong Kong will be taken there and will meet relatives he has not met before.

That thy contestants are encouraged to remain in touch with the programme after they have left; that the exploits of former contestants will be communicated periodically.

That each school may benefit from the appearance of its pupils: that a special prize may include a top-of-the-range hi-fi system for the sixth-form common room or a state-of-the-art computer with a memory of 40MB; that thy format plays up to the illusion of school by signalling the mid-programme break with the sound of a bell; that what is ostensibly an entertainment programme should also possess an educational brief, and that answers will often be added to by a further illuminating fact or piece of trivia.

That for thy heavenly Host thou hast elected the celestial Bob Holness, his Holy Bobness; that no greater Bob shall ever exist than He; that He shall be worshipped.

That Bob plays up his own absurdity; that the affection between the contestants and Bob is genuine and not ironic; that he is like a teacher who rides a motorbike and wears leather jackets and who is indulgent of cheeky remarks from his charges; that he chastises the contestants gently, after the manner of Bamber Gascoigne; that his hair and his dress always appear impeccable.

That the occasional impertinence of the contestants does not disguise their charm; that the obnoxious contestants will be put gently in their place by Bob; that the contestants are not ashamed of their unfashionable hobbies and interests.

That thou hast given to the world the catchphrase ‘That’s Blockbusters!’ which continues to provide inspiration to others.

That thy theme tune by Ed Welch is so exhilarating and so instantly lovable; that thy cool title sequence was apparently inspired by Blade Runner.

I do not love that so many of thy contestants say ‘haitch’ instead of ‘aitch’, but perhaps this is a sign of the times.


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8 Responses to “That’s Blockbusters!”

  1. Pete Says:

    What C hast thou lost? Control!

  2. Gareth Says:

    What B art thou talking? Actually there are multiple answers to that one.

  3. Pete Says:

    Is it “brainy”?

  4. Gareth Says:

    You’ve won this round…

  5. mikealx Says:

    My favourite ever contestant had a “lucky jar of pickle” instead of a soft-toy mascot. His valedictory words were “Does anyone want a jar of pickle?”

  6. Gareth Says:


  7. Fran Wilson Says:

    Is it still on??

    Q please, Bob!

  8. Gareth Says:

    Until recently there have been repeats of episodes from about 20 years ago on Challenge. It’s been really delightful getting reacquainted with it. I used to watch it quite devotedly after school when I was about 8 or 9, but don’t think I appreciated its brilliance at the time.

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