Channel 5 play ratings joker by reviving `It's A Knockout'

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The Independent Online
THE DAYS when helpless, wheezing laughter and saturated people dressed as snails were the biggest thing on television are long gone. But Channel 5 is hoping that, 17 years on, the country is still silly enough to enjoy It's A Knockout.

Stuart Hall is to return to the screen this autumn as the maniacal presenter of television's most chaotic game show. Channel 5 announced at the Montreux Television Festival that it would be pitting everyone from glee clubs to teams of accountants against each other in a series of silly challenges, which will remain largely unchanged from the show's heyday in the Seventies.

For those too young to remember, It's A Knockout was an outdoor game show that entailed adults in preposterous costumes taking part in elaborate relay races. At its peak, the show pulled in more than 18 million viewers and if Channel 5 can get a fraction of that, it will be worth the embarrassment of disinterring a programme that gives the lie to the notion that British television has dumbed down in recent years.

Channel 5 is to keep the show domestic for a year before trying to revive that emblem of pan-European co-operation, Jeux Sans Frontieres. Most aspects of the old programme will be resurrected, including "the joker".- which doubles the score on a chosen event - an updated version of the Ronnie Hazelhurst-penned theme tune and lots of water.

The producers of the show are undaunted by its past: "We will remain faithful to the ethos of the programme," said Robin Greene, of the production company Ronin, which has bought the rights to the show from Mr Hall. "We will update it and give it a more contemporary feel, but we certainly don't want to make it too funky and young. We want all the family to tune in."

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