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I'll have a P, please Bob! Blockbusters is back

The gameshow returns tomorrow, the latest 80s television programme to enjoy a revival
  • @kunaldutta

To a generation, it is best remembered for the smirking students who revelled in being on television while asking: "Can I have a P, please Bob?" Tomorrow, Blockbusters returns to television screens nearly 30 years after it was first broadcast in Britain and after an absence of 11 years.

There will be changes, naturally: BBC presenter Simon Mayo will replace the question master Bob Holness, who died earlier this year. The rather mundane sweatshirt and dictionaries will be replaced by e-readers, plasma televisions and five-star holidays. And the contest is open to everyone, not just students.

All other aspects are the same: including the show's signature theme tune and Gold Run finale.

The revival of Blockbusters is part of a wider trend for traditional quiz shows. Jeremy Fox of DRG, the global distributor of the show Catchphrase, said: "Game show television got lost in the days of endless reality TV and the flurry of phone-in scandals. But we have passed that stage now. Britain's Got Talent and the X-Factor are the natural progression to shows like Opportunity Knocks or Kids Say the Funniest Things. It has brought families back around the television."

Professor Ellis Cashmore, sociologist at the University of Staffordshire, said: "Britain is a conservative country. In times of recession these are the formats that suit the moment. They are familiar and carry affection among an entire generation. And they are returning to our screens at a time in history where many of us are vying for stable lives and security."

Media guru Peter Bazalgette described the game show revival as "a safe bet". He added: "Old classics have a familiar and ready-made brand behind them. You don't lose precious episodes familiarising audiences with new rules. The only concern is that the world has moved on since 1984. Modern game shows need to have an interactive element to keep viewers entertained. Classic revivals may bring audiences but can result in a passive experience."

Here, The Independent on Sunday looks at seven classic game shows that could soon make a return to our television screens.

Family Fortunes

Then: Bob Monkhouse was the original host of Family Fortunes, first broadcast in 1980 and running until 2002. He was followed by Max Bygraves, Les Dennis and Andy Collins. In the show, two families answered questions supplied by the public. The show's catchphrase was: "You said... our survey said..."

Now: All Star Family Fortunes is the modern celebrity-studded remake. It is still one of the most popular game shows on satellite television. Past contestants have included Edwina Currie, the former Tory minister, and Melinda Messenger, Trevor Nelson and Peter Andre. The finale of the seventh series will run at the same time as the first episode of Blockbusters tomorrow. And plans for another series are already under way.

Play Your Cards Right

Then: One of Bruce Forsyth's finest moments; couples were invited to guess whether a card's value would be higher or lower than the original. Attracted millions of viewers. Forsyth was livid when the show was axed in 2003 after more than 15 years.

Now: The show looked certain to make a comeback last October after an absence of nearly a decade. That was until regulators stepped in after concerns that it could endorse gambling. The Gambling Commission is expected to deliver its verdict imminently, while Vernon Kaye has been lined-up to present the new version which is in production.

Surprise Surprise

Then: The family reunion show presented by Cilla Black ran for 14 series between May 1984 and September 1997. The show featured unsuspecting members of the public in tear-jerking reunions with long-lost relatives. Four annual specials were produced between 1998 and 2001.

Now: Holly Willoughby has been lined up to present a special episode later this year. Plans are under way for a re-launch in 2013. Should it return to our screens, the show will retain the same format. Cilla is expected to make a cameo appearance.


Then The picture-led game show presented by Roy Walker ran on Saturday evenings on ITV between January 1986 and December 2002. Contestants would try and decrypt pictures to form a catchphrase. Later presenters included the Australian entertainer Nick Weir and children's television presenter Mark Curry.

Now DRG is in the process of resurrecting the show having recently secured rights from its US owners. The distributor is now in talks with UK broadcasters for a new format that is expected to be launched early next year.

Through the Keyhole

Then Hosted by David Frost, the show's format was to take contestants on a video tour of a famous guest's property. It featured Loyd Grossman who was given keys to the home of a celebrity. A spoof edition once featured Peter Cook impersonating Loyd and looking around Loyd's own home.

Now Fremantle, the same firm behind the revival of Blockbusters, have bought the rights for a rescreen. Plans to bring it back on television are still in the pipeline.

Blind Date

Then At the peak of its popularity in the 1980s Blind Date was watched by 17 million viewers. Its presenter Cilla Black quit after 19 series in January 2003, announcing her decision to viewers on air during the show's first ever live edition.

Now Take Me Out was ITV's latest attempt to adapt the original. Trading on the nostalgia of those in their mid-thirties, the show has commanded more than five million viewers a week. Hosted by Paddy McGuinness, it was plunged into controversy when one contestant was found to be a male escort with a criminal conviction.

Give Us A Clue

Then The charades quiz show appeared on ITV from 1979 until 1992. It was first presented by Michael Aspel and then by Michael Parkinson.

Now There have been numerous attempts to revive the show. BBC made a new series in 1997, hosted by comedian Tim Clark. But it was short-lived. A 2010 pilot with Kirsten O'Brien came to nothing. The show returned for Comic Relief last year and featured Sara Cox, Christopher Biggins and David Walliams. But plans for a new series have been shelved.

The Eighties revival

Adverts The Dulux dog and the Milky Bar Kid are back on our screen as brands tap into 80s nostalgia.

Confectionery The Wham bar, the 1980s classic will make a comeback this summer. Thirty million bars a year were sold at its peak. The same British firm is behind revivals of Barratt Refreshers, Sherbet Dip Dabs, Sherbet Fountains and Fruit Salads.

Clothing Shows have been crammed with Eighties fashion. Milan fashion week featured heavy metal studs, leather leggings, safety pins and sequins, power shoulders and flashes of neon.

Music Jason Donovan, Bananarama, Pepsi & Shirlie and Sinitta performed at a Pete Waterman gig this year. The Rewind Festival in Henley-on-Thames, has sold out and features The Bangles, T'Pau and Rick Astley.

The Falklands Disputes over the islands are back in the news 30 years after the war. A row erupted last week over an Olympic advert featuring an Argentinian athlete training on a British war memorial.

Margaret Thatcher The Iron Lady, the film for which Meryl Streep won the best actress Oscar, has heralded a surge of interest in the former prime minister.