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Opportunity Knocks is a British television talent show originally hosted by Hughie Green.

The original radio version started on the BBC Light Programme in the 1940s but moved to Radio Luxembourg in the 1950s. It was shown on ITV from 20 June, 1956 to 29 August, 1956, produced by Associated Rediffusion. A second run commenced in 11 July, 1964 until 20 March, 1978, produced first by ABC and then by Thames Television. Hughie Green presented a single episode of Opportunity Knocks for RTÉmarker in 1979. It was revived by the BBC from 1987 to 1990, hosted initially by Bob Monkhouse from 1987 to 1989 (under the title "Bob Says Opportunity Knocks!") and subsequently by Les Dawson in 1990.

Voting system

Unlike its rival New Faces, the winning acts on Opportunity Knocks were decided not by a panel of experts but by the viewing public. In the ITV version this took the form of a postal vote, the winner of which was announced the following week. The BBC revival was notable for being the first TV show to decide its winner using the now-standard method of a telephone vote. In both versions the studio audience reaction to each act was measured by a clap-o-meter, but this did not count towards the final result.

The programme was recorded the Friday before transmission, so votes had to be in by Thursday. They also, according to host Hughie Green, largely to ensure fairness, had to be in "your own handwriting".

Although Opportunity Knocks did produce a number of talented acts, the method of putting the contest to a public vote did sometimes result in victories for novelty acts, in particular those involving children or animals. On one notorious occasion the young Su Pollard was beaten into second place by a singing dog.

Famous alumni

Entertainers who appeared included Paul Daniels, Pete the Plate Spinning Dog, Mary Hopkin, Bonnie Langford, Les Dawson, Maureen Myres, Barry Cummings, Royston Vasey (later to find fame as Roy 'Chubby' Brown), Little and Large, Bobby Crush, Berni Flint, Tony Holland, Millican & Nesbitt, Neil Reid, Peters and Lee, Lena Zavaroni, Frank Carson, Max Boyce, Pam Ayres, Gerry Monroe, Our Kid, Sweet Sensation, Tammy Jones, Champagne and Tony Monopoly. Several winners of Opportunity Knocks (notably Tammy Jones, Champagne, Tony Monopoly, Sweet Sensation) later attempted to represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest, taking part in the A Song for Europe competition.

Influence

Today, most of the elements of this show are visible on the British program Britain's Got Talent, which was created by record company executive Simon Cowell. The method of deciding a winner by telephone is used on that show, Pop Idol, and many other similar programs around the world. Britain's Got Talent can be said to be an evolution of the original Opportunity Knocks.

A reference to the show can be heard on The Beatles' live performance of "Yesterday" at Blackpool Night Out. George Harrison introduces the song, saying "For Paul McCartney of Liverpool, opportunity knocks!". This version appears on Anthology 2.

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