Blankety Blank is a
British comedy game
show based on the 1977-1978 Australian game show Blankety Blanks (which was in turn
based on the American game show Match
The British version ran from 18 January 1979 to 12 March 1990 with
187 episodes on BBC1
, hosted first by Terry Wogan
and later by Les Dawson
. A revival fronted by Lily Savage
(played by Paul O'Grady
) was produced by the BBC
from 26 December 1997 to 28 December 1999 for 27
From 7 January 2001 to 10 August 2002 the Lily Savage version aired
for 45 episodes. This version was
produced by Grundy
(producers of the Australian version), then Thames Television
Two contestants competed. The contestants were always a man and a
woman or two women; at no point did two men compete head-to-head.
The object was to match the answers as many of the six celebrity
panelists as possible on fill-in-the-blank statements.
The main game was played in two rounds. The challenger was given a
choice of two statements labelled either "A" or "B". The host then
read the statement, when Les Dawson became the host the programme
did away with the A or B choice but was reinstated when Lily Savage
became the host.
Frequently, the statements were written with comedic,
double-entendre answers in mind. A classic example: "Did you catch
a glimpse of that girl on the corner? She has the world's biggest
While the contestant pondered his/her answer, the six celebrities
wrote their answers on index cards
they finished, the contestant was polled for his/her answer.
Frequently, the audience responded appropriately as the host
critiqued the contestant's answer (for the "world's biggest"
question, the host might compliment an answer such as "boobs" or
"rear end", while expressing disdain to an answer such as "fingers"
The host then asked each celebrity – one at a time, beginning with
#1 in the upper left hand corner – to give his/her response. The
contestant earned one point for each celebrity who wrote down the
same answer (or reasonably similar as determined by the judges) up
to a maximum of six points for matching everyone.
After play was completed on the contestant's question, the host
read the statement on the other card for the challenger and play
The challenger again began Round 2, with two new questions, unless
he/she matched everyone in the first round. Only celebrities that a
contestant didn't match could play this round.
Tiebreaker rounds: If the players had the same score at the end of
"regulation", a tiebreaker was used that reversed the game play.
The contestants would write their answers first on a card in
secret, then the celebrities were canvassed to give their answers.
The first celebrity response to match a contestant's answer gave
that contestant the victory; if there were still no match (which
was rare), the round was replayed with a new question.
A fill-in-the-blank phrase was given, and it was up to the
contestant to choose the most common response based on a studio
audience survey. After consulting with three celebrities on the
panel for help the contestant had to choose an answer. The answers
were revealed after that; the most popular answer in the survey was
worth 150 Blanks, the second-most popular 100 Blanks, and the third
most popular 50. If a contestant failed to match any of the three
answers, the bonus round ended.
Another game was played with two new players, and the one who
amassed the most from the Supermatch won the game (and if the two
winners got the same it would go to sudden death). Here, they could
win a better prize (doubling their blanks or a holiday). The player
chose one of the celebrities who would write down their answer to a
"word BLANK" phrase. The player would then give their answer, if
they matched, they won and if not they didn't.
Prizes on British game shows of the 1980s seem very poor by modern
standards; the Independent Broadcasting
restricted prize values on ITV
shows, and BBC
-programme prizes were worth even
less because the Corporation felt it inappropriate to spend
payers' money on such
things. As a result, the poor-quality prizes became a running joke
throughout the show's various runs, particularly during the Dawson
era. Dawson drew attention to the fact that the prizes were
less-than-mediocre, not pretending that the show had "fabulous
prizes" as others did, but making a joke of it.
Dawson affectionately ridiculed the show with dialogue such as "And
for the benefit of anyone who hasn't got an Argos
Catalogue, here's some of the rubbish
you might be saddled with tonight." On one memorable occasion, the
300 Blanks star prize was actually decent
- a trip
on Concorde. As the audience, expecting the usual poor prizes,
clapped and cheered appreciatively, Les waved them down with "Don't
get excited - it goes to the end of the runway and back."
Most famously was the consolation prize - the Blankety
chequebook and pen, which Les would often call "The
chequepen and book!" The "chequebook"
consisted of a cheap-looking silver trophy in the shape of a
chequebook. When one contestant had won nothing, Les rolled his
eyes and asked her "I bet you wish you'd've stopped at home and
do you want me to lend you your bus fare home?"
Regular members of the celebrity panel on the original BBC show
included Kenny Everett
, Lorraine Chase
, Gary Davies
, and Cheryl Baker
Despite Les Dawson's constant jibing of the consolation prize, the
chequebook and pen ("Never mind love, you
might have lost, but you'll never be short of something to prop
your door open with now...") are now worth a great deal, as they
were never commercially available and only a limited number were
When he was host, Terry Wogan had an unusual stick-like microphone.
It was modeled on the Sony ECM-51, Gene
's microphone from the 1973-1982
but was, in fact, an ECM-50 mounted on a car
radio aerial. He always referred to it as "Wogan's Wand". On one
memorable occasion Kenny Everett
it in half (with Wogan, obviously not expecting this, carrying on
valiantly through the show with the wand at a 45-degree angle).
This led to a running gag on Everett's subsequent appearances on
the show, when he would come up with new ways of damaging the wand,
such as attempting to cut it in half with shears. (This instance at
least was visibly planned, as Wogan deliberately bends forward for
him to grab it, and when the wand refuses to break, Everett quips
"It worked in rehearsals".) In his very first show when he took
over from Wogan, Les Dawson broke Wogan's Wand in half across his
knee, muttering "Been wanting to do that for years."
In a 1987 edition, Les Dawson's old friend Roy Barraclough made an
appearance on the panel. Les had for many years played opposite Roy
when they played a couple of grotesque old ladies, Ada and Cissie.
On first seeing Roy, Les looked him up and down, looked puzzled and
said, in his "Ada" voice, "I must say you look familiar, have you
got a sister?" Without even looking up, Roy replied he had no idea
what he was talking about.
From 1993-1995 satellite channel UK Gold
repeated all series of Blankety Blank
with the exception
of Series 10 (1987).
returned to British screens as a one-off
edition as part of the BBC's annual Children in Need
telethon in which Terry Wogan reprised his role as the host of the
show accompanied by his wand microphone. The contestants were
impressionists Jon Culshaw and Jan Ravens from Dead
In 2006, the show was brought back this time as an interactive
version on a DVD disc with Terry once again reprising his role of
host and once again being accompanied by his magic wand type of
microphone. Note that the theme tune to the interactive DVD version
of Blankety Blank
is not the original theme, but a version
that was used for the ITV series which was called Lily Savage's
A one-off edition was shown on 21 April 2007 as part of
hosted by Vernon
A spoof was shown in 2003 as part of Comic Relief
the form of a "lost" Wogan-era episode with Peter Serafinowicz
as Wogan. The
celebrities were Willie Rushton
, Johnny Rotten
, Freddie Starr
, and Liza Goddard
(played by Nick Frost
, Matt Lucas
, David Walliams
, and Sarah Alexander
and Kevin Eldon
played the two contestants, while
was the star prize of a
The skit began with one of the Wogan-era opening sequences (using
the theme from the era with a slightly-slower tempo), and featured
an accurately-rebuilt set.
18 January 1979
3 May 1979
6 September 1979
25 December 1979
4 September 1980
26 December 1980
3 September 1981
26 December 1981
4 September 1982
27 December 1982
3 September 1983
25 December 1983
7 September 1984
25 December 1984
6 September 1985
27 December 1985
5 September 1986
26 December 1986
18 September 1987
1 January 1988
9 September 1988
16 December 1988
7 September 1989
12 October 1989
30 November 1989
12 March 1990
8 May 1998
19 September 1998
26 June 1999
28 December 1999
7 January 2001
17 June 2001
4 May 2002
10 August 2002