Bob Holness (1983-95)

Michael Aspel (1997)

Liza Tarbuck (2000)

Vernon Kay (2007 special)

Simon Mayo (2012)

Dara Ó Briain (2019)


Andrew Lodge (1983-6)
Peter Tomlinson (1987-95)
Susan Rae (1997)
Dan Strauss (2000)
Simon Mattacks (2012)


Central in association with Talbot Television and Goodson-Todman Productions for ITV, 29 August 1983 to 19 May 1993 (1160 episodes in 10 series)

Central in association with Mark Goodson Productions and Talbot Television for Sky One, 18 April 1994 to 17 February 1995 (180 episodes in 1 series)

(but see Regional broadcast details below)

Fremantle (UK) Productions and BBC North for BBC2, 31 March to 28 August 1997 (60 episodes in 1 series)

Grundy for Sky One, 30 October 2000 to 23 March 2001 (100 episodes in 1 series)

ITV Productions and TalkbackThames for ITV1, 14 April 2007 (Gameshow Marathon one-off)

Thames for Challenge, 14 May to 3 August 2012 (41 episodes in 1 series)

Thames for Comedy Central, 21 March to 5 December 2019 (20 episodes in 2 series)


First letter first

The UK version of this original American show consisted of twenty lettered hexagons. If a contestant nominated a particular space (say, W), host Bob Holness would read out a question in the format "What W is the most north-westerly state in mainland USA?"

File:Blockbusters_bob_foldedarms.jpgMaster of ceremonies, Bob Holness

Buzzing in and answering the question correctly meant that space would be turned your colour. One player had the white spaces, and a team of two players had blue. The idea of the game was to fill in as many spaces as necessary so that a contiguous line of your colour went across the board horizontally (for the blue team) or vertically (for the white player, who could make the journey in one less space than the blues to compensate for their single-ness). The 'two against one' concept proved rather contentious, with many viewers being of the opinion that the double team had an unfair advantage (even if they did have to answer more questions correctly to win), but the format was clearly such a winning one that the whole issue never really mattered that much and it certainly didn't affect the show's popularity or reputation. In any case, there were certainly plenty of single player-victories over all the series.

Getting a question correct also allowed you to choose the next letter. As you can see from the diagram, the single player had a shorter route than the pair of blue players.

The board is constructed in such a way that ties weren't possible, although a frequent occurrence was the "mutual space" whereby both sides needed the same one space in order to complete their line across the board.

On the run

The side who won the best of three matches went on to play the Gold Run. In this game, the participant (either the white player, or a nominated player from the blue team) had to work their way across the board from left to right within 60 seconds (or "within that magic minute", as Bob often put it). The hexagons had letter combinations such as "MTOC" and the contestants had to work out what these stood for using clues given by the host. e.g. "Famous humanitarian from India" would be "Mother Theresa of Calcutta".

Regardless of whether the player won the Gold Run or not, the champion(s) went on to play another team or single player. Winning successive matches earned a chance at further Gold Runs with increasingly impressive prizes. A fourth Gold Run tended to be a holiday break somewhere in Europe, while winning the fifth and final Gold Run led to an excellent adventure holiday somewhere further afield. A failed Gold Run meant that the contestant(s) would get £10 for every correct answer. Correct answers during the main game were worth £5. Oh, and during the main game, there was always the chance that a letter chosen would emit a special noise, indicating that the contestant who got it right would win a prize for his/her school. This was usually something along the lines of a computer or science or sports equipment. Although plenty of contestants achieved this, very few - indeed, only one, to the best of our knowledge - actually won more than one school-prize.

In the later series of the ITV version of Blockbusters they made an effort to cut costs, err... we mean, of course, get through more contestants by limiting players to three rounds only. In fact, one UKGS correspondent reports that when he was a contestant in 1989, he was told that the reason they changed the structure was because they wanted more people to win the big prizes. Even though it would cost more money, it was reckoned that this was a good move as it would lead to more "grand finals" and more instances of what viewers (apparently) wanted to see - kids winning the cool holidays.

All contestants, successful or otherwise, took away the (apparently much-coveted) 'Blockbusters' sweatshirt (or rugby shirt, depending on the year), dictionary and personal organiser. The latter item varied over the Holness-years (and possibly wasn't even part of the package in the early years), but there was certainly always an item of clothing and a dictionary for everyone to take away. Pictures of the previous contestants wearing the sweatshirt/rugby shirt were invariably shown when Bob referred to the prizes.

Champion Blockbusters

An enjoyable spin-off ITV series, Champion Blockbusters, invited former winners back to play again. This time, the money was for charity (with the 'mystery letter' boosting the funds considerably when answered correctly), but the contestants still won the Gold Run prizes, all of which were relevant in some way to whatever they were now doing.

Set and match

There are a couple of features of the set that are worth mentioning. The first is the game board, which was quite a feat of engineering. It took up the entire height of the studio, and was powered using 38 slide projectors, each with their own set of slides for the different letters, colours and Gold Run questions.

Slides used by the projectors of the original Blockbusters board

The second is the giant figureheads that adorned the top of the studio. There was a whole set of them, featuring famous people from the past. They were all made out of polystyrene that had been modelled using a hot metal wire. The chief Greek god Zeus took pride of place.

Channel hopping

The show was dropped by ITV after ten years, only to be snapped up by Sky (with Holness still at the helm) shortly afterwards, though these episodes were also shown in some ITV regions. During this series, a new Bonus Question feature was introduced. The regular question was asked and if the person who picked the letter got it correct, they were asked a related question for them only for the chance to win an additional £5. This question didn't affect the board in any way and was simply a general knowledge question linked to the first one.

BBC2 experimented with a cheaper afternoon version for adults, which did not have the charm of the original show. Michael Aspel seemed very wooden and ill-at-ease as the new host - and bizarrely so, given that he was no stranger to hosting quizzes.

Michael Aspel tried his luck with a modern version of Blockbusters

Sky did another version they made for their channel in the new millennium with Liza Tarbuck, but let's just forget about that one.

There was also a Gameshow Marathon one-off with Vernon Kay on ITV in 2007, which had celebrities playing the game as contestants. Not strictly a full scale revival, Ant & Dec played a version three years prior on their show Saturday Night Takeaway where a losing contestant got a second chance at victory. In a touching twist, Bob Holness appeared as a guest and handled the Gold Run as if he'd never been away. Sadly, this was to be one of his last TV appearances.

The gold run from the Gameshow Marathon version of the show

After airing a successful run of repeats of the 1992 series, in 2012 game show channel Challenge recorded 41 brand new episodes, with DJ Simon Mayo at the helm. He proved to be a good host, if rather more feisty than Holness in his approach. One or two changes occurred, such as Mayo always referring to 'hexagons' on the board, which Holness had rarely, if ever, done, and Mayo also referred to 'a flashing white (or blue) board', rather than Holness' 'flashing white or blue light', when either side was near to winning the game.

A look at the set and opening titles from the Challenge version.

In 2019, Comedy Central launched a comedic version presented by Dara Ó Briain. Instead of straddling competitions, each episode was self contained, and contained sixth formers. There was plenty of banter between Dara and the contestants, some of whom gave as good as they got! The game itself was largely unchanged but one board apiece led to a first to the buzzer single question tiebreak - given the terrible name of 'The Hexagon Stand Off' (insert groan here!) - to determine who faced the Gold Run which now closes every show! In addition, there were deliberately naff spot prizes, Gold Run contestants now faced a choice of two themed boards & the money was upped to £20 per question and £50 for every correct answer in an unsuccessful Gold Run. Dara proved a very good host - he didn't try to emulate any of his predecessors and forged his own identity, which included disdain at any mention of that catchphrase…

Key moments

The students showing off their "lucky mascot" toys they had brought with them. Dara would even mention them during the specially filmed contestant introductions!

When Bob once asked, "What 'L' is a sum of money you borrow from a bank?" a girl answered, "Can I have a loan, please, Bob?" Bob's response was to get his wallet out straightaway.

The famous out-take (below) where a contestant answered a biology question with the response "Orgasm" instead of "Organism".

"How am I going to explain this to Mum...?"

And the lesser-known one where another student offered the answer "Kama Sutra" instead of "Kowtow".

Uh-Oh, she's in trouble.

On another occasion, a highly unusual answer to the question, "What 'P' are known as 'the lungs of London?'" was 'Prostitutes' when in fact the answer was 'Parks'. Another was when Bob asked, "What 'L' do you make in the dark when you're making a wild guess?" and one contestant answered, 'Love' (the answer being 'Leap', of course).

A lesser-known out-take goes as follows:
Bob: What W are made from plastic or card for carrying papers, and from leather for...
Contestant buzzes
Bob: Yes, Wallet?

Perhaps not an outtake as such, but two unusual answers were given when Bob asked the question, "What 'N' is meant by the phrase, 'Hit him on the Boko?'" One member of the double team buzzed and said, "Nob". The question was duly passed to the single player, who said' "Nag". The answer was in fact "Nose", so it could be argued that 'Nob' (not in the rude sense, obviously) was actually on the right lines.

On one edition, the contestants were asked, "What 'D' is a rag, usually yellow in colour, that's used for polishing furniture and ornaments?" and one unfortunate young man buzzed in and answered "Dishcloth" (the correct answer was 'Duster', of course). True, the former answer wasn't exactly a brilliant one (although, let's face it, we've all come out with wrong and embarrassing responses in the heat of the moment, whether on TV or not), but Bob, if anything, laughed rather too much at it, to the extent that the whole thing seemed unnecessarily silly and embarrassing for the contestant. Even sillier was the fact that when the latter's younger brother appeared in a later series (and fared considerably better), Bob insisted on showing the clip again - surely it would have been better not to have bothered? Ironically, the same incorrect answer was given to the same question by another contestant some years later, but thankfully, although some laughter was generated on that occasion, Bob did not blow it up quite as much out of proportion as he had previously, so it seemed that lessons had been learned.

One occasion when Bob couldn't help chuckling a little (more out of surprise than anything, one would suspect) was when he had to ask the question, "What 'H' is the name of the man who hosts 'Blockbusters?' - cue a mad rush for the buzzers.

On another show, in which the double team were Welsh, Bob asked the question, "What 'C' is the Welsh word for 'Wales'?" The non-Welsh single player buzzed in first and gave the answer, 'Cymru', mispronouncing the word, but also spelling it correctly, and Bob accepted it because of the latter. Naturally, there were quite a few laughs - mainly from Bob, of course - at the fact that the double team had failed to answer the question, but they both took it very much in the right spirit.

Probably the most unusual question, which the contestants (understandably) failed to answer on the night, was, "What 'C' has four stiff-standers, four dilly-danders, two lookers, two crookers and a wig-wag?" The answer was 'Cow' (four legs, four teats, two eyes, two horns and a tail).

Many questions were of the 'trick' variety, ie there was a twist in the second half, leading to the downfall of contestants who interrupted them too early (a self-confessed speciality of the show's original question-setter, Ann Meo - see also under 'Trivia' below). Three such examples were, "What 'M' was the mouse created by Disney as a girlfriend for Mickey?", "What 'D' is a camel that isn't alive?" and, "What 'Y' could be a longing for some Japanese currency?" Not that the contestants to whom the questions were offered following the incorrect answer always managed to capitalise, however - one example of this was when Bob asked, "What 'J' sits in a box...?", at which point one member of the double team buzzed in and answered, 'Jack'. Bob then offered the full question to the single player: "What 'J' sits in a box and decides on the outcome of a court case?" and she answered 'Judge' - the answer was, in fact, 'Jury'.

The oh-aren't-we-wacky-students (and Bob as well, of course!) always did the weird clappy-wavy dance thing (technical term: "hand jive") that ended each fifth programme. This is because five programmes were recorded during one day, and the producers let them do it as the final thing before they went home. After extensive analysis of the tapes, we bring you the dance in full:

Hand-over-hand (x2)
Potato-hands (x2)
Elbow-point-twirl (x2)
Repeat x3

Clap in the air.

That hand jive didn't make its televisual debut until three years later...

One gold run contestant giving Simon Mayo "World Wide Web" before he'd even asked the question, only for him to (rather sourly) mutter "just give me the letters".

During Dara's run as host, one particular game had come down to the aforementioned mutual space. In an odd and, some would argue, slightly conceited move, the Blue Team, who were in control of the board, decided to take a trip around the remaining letters first before going for the connection. A somewhat shocked Dara went along with their plan and duly asked the questions while the team racked up £20 per answer! Thankfully for them, they also managed to answer the crucial final question to reach the Gold Run...but failed to win the top prize.


At the beginning of the show on the original version: "And here is the host of Blockbusters - Bob Holness!" which later became: "And now - please welcome the host of Blockbusters - Bob Holness!"

"Put yourself on the Hot Spot, please!" (In earlier series, Bob used to either say that or, "Take your place on the Hot Spot, please!" but as time went on, the "Put yourself" version was the one that stuck).

"Gold to gold in 60 seconds or less", followed by either, "Tell us where you want to start on the left and we'll start the clock" or, "We'll start the clock when you tell us where you want to start on the left".

"£10 for every correct answer if you don't make it".

"Congratulations, and this is your prize - take a look at this!"

"Retake your seat and we'll carry on with the game - thank you very much!" This was often followed by, "Well, there we are!"

"Let's play 'Blockbusters'!"

"...And there's flashing blue (or white) light..." (this changed to "a flashing blue or white board" during the Mayo-era).

After a winning correct answer in the main game: "....And that's Blockbusters!" Michael Aspel tried to do the same, but somehow his, "....And that is Blockbusters!" never had the same ring to it, but then neither did his version of the show.

"Don't go away!"

"He/she'll be doing that Gold Run - not right now, but in a couple of minutes' time - don't you dare go away!"

There was a lot of joking around with the way in which contestants nominated the next hexagon to play for. It started with "Can I have a P please, Bob?" - the nation's favourite game show catchphrase, if a 2008 survey on behalf of Churchill Insurance is to be believed - and progressed to "I want U, Bob" (which only the girls said, strangely enough). The 80s druggies got their kicks with "I want an E, Bob." One enterprising "rave" group, Skin Up, actually released a single called "Blockbuster" which revolved around this phrase (plus someone impersonating Bob Holness incredibly badly). Bob apparently found this rather amusing but the bigwigs at Central didn't agree and got it withdrawn. Booo!

Contestants also quite often asked for a "B for Bob", to which Bob usually responded, "If this is the answer to the question, you're in trouble, mate!" or words to that effect - but it never was. Ironically, during the Mayo-version, the contestants were encouraged to use the NATO phonetic alphabet when selecting their letters, ie 'R for Romeo', 'T for Tango', etc, which presumably meant that the question-setters had to avoid using the relevant 26 words as answers to the questions.


Blockbusters started life in the USA in 1980, one of the many Mark Goodson game-shows. The idea was spotted by a producer who piloted the show in the early 1980's in the UK.

Theme music

"Quiz Wizard" composed by Ed Welch. The opening four notes of Beethoven's 5th Symphony can be heard mid-way through and, neatly, they were given a slick visual nod in the original titles (seen below) when the composer himself appears on a rotating hexagon right on cue!

Opening titles from 1983-7.

Opening titles from 1987-93.

Henry Marsh and Paul Boross composed a different, yet audibly similar, theme for the Aspel/BBC series.


One of the contestants for the pilot show was David Elias, a quiz-setter by profession who won a series of Countdown. However, when the series was commissioned it was decided that teenagers at sixth form or in college should take part. Hence, he was the oldest ever contestant on Blockbusters - the Holness-version, anyway.

Blockbusters was notable for being the first game show on British TV to run five times a week (Countdown was still only on four nights at this stage, only expanding to five in October 1984, more than a year after Blockbusters). Many thought this was overkill, but this was subsequently shown to be wrong as the show ideally slotted into the invariably tricky 5.15pm slot, this being in the days when Home and Away was a purely Australian institution. Indeed, throughout most of the 1980s, the show ran for 6 days a week, being shown at 5.05pm on Saturdays in addition to the weekday broadcasts. However, in 1990, it was only shown 3 days a week and then at the rather less convenient time of 6.30pm, which clashed with the BBC's regional news programmes. Later still, it became a daytime show, which resulted in a considerable drop in ratings and the show was axed as a result. Different regions also lagged behind in broadcasting the show, and if you lived somewhere where you could get more than one ITV region, it was not uncommon to be able to switch from one to another and see a completely different episode. As a result of this, some regions finished airing the show before others - while Carlton and UTV (and presumably the originating company, Central) aired the final "networked" episodes in June 1993, most regions ran the series over the summer to finish in September. Grampian had such a backlog that it didn't finish airing the show until November. (See also 'Regional Broadcasting Details', above).

Bob once revealed that the young man who had famously said 'Orgasm' instead of 'Organism' had not had such a rough deal as one might think. Of course, he would have been horribly embarrassed at the time, especially with the whole studio cracking up laughing - and no doubt he also took a lot of flak from his friends back at school - but apparently, every time the outtake is shown on 'Alright On The Night', 'TV Nightmares' or any other outtake show, he gets a small repeat fee. Not bad going, really.

Although the letter-sequences in Gold Runs usually formed phrases, a notable exception occurred in an early edition of the show when a contestant chose the combination 'ZZZ' and was asked to name three African countries. She managed to name two of them (Zimbabwe and Zambia), but was unable to get the third, which was Zaire (now, of course, The Democratic Republic of the Congo).

The question-setters for the original version were Ann Meo (1983-7) and Hilary Murphy (1987-93). Meo revealed in an interview in the 1989 'Blockbusters' annual that the letters that began the most words in the English language were P and S, while the ones that began the least (bearing in mind that X and Z were never used on the main board) were J, K and Q. She claimed that she used to sit in the studio cursing as a string of questions on the most difficult letters fell by the wayside, thus creating more work for her. She also stated that another of her most thankless tasks was to adjudicate on dubious answers, especially as the audience were always on the side of the contestants and didn't like to see them fail. As Meo put it, "Sometimes I was lenient and sometimes strict - but I always had a reason". (See also under 'Key Moments' above).

In addition to the main Zeus figurehead that was above Bob, there were many others that were displayed in the studio on a rotation basis. These included: Abraham Lincoln, Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Tina Turner, Mother Teresa, George Bernard Shaw, Amy Johnson, John Wayne, Harold Macmillan, William Shakespeare, Charlie Chaplin, Winston Churchill, Meryl Streep, Einstein, Lenin, Harrison Ford, Mao Tse Tung, Kenny Dalglish, Bob Geldof, Beethoven, Martina Navratilova, Hilda Ogden, Woody Allen, Toyah Willcox, Confucius, Queen Elizabeth I, a Punk Rocker, Moses, Daley Thompson, Marilyn Monroe, a Teacher, an Astronaut, a Diver, a Rastafarian and Tutankhamun. They were made out of polystyrene, and moulded by cutting out the relevant sections using a hot wire.

Some of the polystyrene figures from Blockbusters being auctioned off

The format was so successful in Dubai that shops and offices closed early so that everyone could rush home to see it. In the mid-90s, there were two editions of the show for kids in Israel - one in Hebrew, one in Arabic.

Mathematically speaking, it doesn't make any difference which space a contestant picks at any point in a game. Since whoever selects a space, it is decided by an equal race to the buzzer (so that whenever in the game a space is chosen, the same team should theoretically win it), and because a completed game board can only have one winner on it, the process of playing can be thought of as uncovering the final grid to "see" who wins. Therefore, the best tactic is arguably to simply choose the spaces that will delay the ending of the game and hence accrue a player the most cash (or, of course, to choose the letters with the most potential for hilarious innuendo). Former contestant Stuart Langley writes: "Interested to read the point about the best tactic being to fill the board and take the money as that is exactly what Anita Garrad and I did when we were on the show (many years ago). We were apparently the first and only people to do this. However, at the next ad break we were taken to one side by the producer and told not to do it again. I guess they were worried it would catch on and bankrupt the show." And Tim Allison observes: "While it may not make any mathematical difference what space is picked, I am sure that it makes a psychological difference. There seemed little benefit to me going round the board on the 1984 series when it might increase opponents' confidence. The gold run prizes were far better than the cash and not worth the risk - not that I was much good at gold runs."

In the Simon Mayo series, one contestant named Ryan decided to do the equivalent in his first Gold Run, lighting up extra hexagons in the hope of making some extra money before completing his run - not realising that he would only get the money if he didn't win the prize, which as he rightly surmised, was worth quite a bit less than the £80 he thought he'd made. In his second Gold Run, he deliberately didn't finish the run and just lit as many hexagons as he could, only for Simon to tell him (with, we fancy, a little too much pleasure) that the prize he would have won, was worth considerably more than the cash. After that, he wised up and just played his third Gold Run straight. Incidentally, one of the pair he beat en route his first gold run was Andy, who was one of four contestants who would go viral in 2017 for not knowing who Quasimodo was.

Bob's trademark "sign off" of saluting his right hand into the air (usually accompanied with "Goodbye now!" or "Cheers!") was complained about by viewers who thought he was imitating the Nazi "Zeig heil" salute.

In later series, a bell (annoyingly loud, might we add?) would ring indicating when an advertising break was about to talk place. Bob would read out one more question before going into the ads. What purpose this served is unknown, but it seems most likely that it arose because breaks previously only occurred in between games, therefore there had to be an indicator that a game was due to be interrupted. No excuse for such an ear-splitting bell, though.

During the Sky/Holness era, the item of clothing given away was a t-shirt designed by a viewer. On it was the famous Zeus figurehead with a speech bubble saying "Can I Have A P Please, Bob?". The fan in question was interviewed by Bob in front of the gameboard after the first Gold Run of the series.

During the rehearsals of the first Sky One series, when someone did a test Gold Run they'd put up gag prizes; two of them included an old rusty lawnmower, and the contents of the producers' drinks cabinet (a couple of cracked tumblers and an almost-empty bottle of booze).

The actions for the Blockbusters hand-jive are in fact the secret forbidden arm movements for Riverdance. Admittedly this may not be literally true, but wouldn't you love to see someone try it?

In August 1987 there was a special episode called Blockbusters Abroad following Gold Run winners on their prize holidays.

Bob brought out his glove-puppet friend Harold the Hedgehog on the show on a semi-regular basis, apparently quite often as a result of requests from contestants and/or viewers. A double team who appeared on the show in 1985 brought in a spider puppet named Horace, whom they later sent to Bob, ostensibly to be a friend for Harold, but we don't seem to recall Horace making any further appearances. However, Harold did reappear, at the request of Sandi Toksvig, on at least one occasion during Bob's tenure as host of Call My Bluff many years later: Bob and Harold between them helped Sandi to define one of the words.

There were a few contestants who appeared on the show before they were famous including Labour Party politician Kerry McCarthy (1983), Big Brother contestant Jon Tickle (1991) Blue Peter presenter Konnie Huq (1992), stand-up comedian Daniel Kitson (1994) and Ricky Gervais's former partner in crime Stephen Merchant (1997).

Regional broadcast details

Blockbusters' broadcast history is rather complicated. What we know is as follows:


In 1983, all regions started broadcasting the series from Mondays to Fridays. Some stations moved Blockbusters to an earlier slot because soap operas were being broadcast at 5.15.

  • Border, Central, Granada, HTV, UTV and Yorkshire: Mondays to Fridays at 5.15pm from 29 August to 4 November 1983.
  • Anglia, Channel Television, Grampian, Scottish, Thames, TSW, TVS and Tyne Tees: Mondays to Fridays at 3.30pm from 5 September to 11 November 1983.

1984 - 1988

  • Border, Central, Granada, HTV, Tyne Tees, UTV and Yorkshire: Mondays to Fridays at 5.15pm and Saturdays at 5.05pm.
  • Anglia, Grampian and Scottish: Wednesdays to Fridays at 5.15pm and Saturdays at 5.05pm. Mondays and Tuesdays were filled with Emmerdale Farm. For the first 5 weeks, Scottish aired the series at 3.30pm as Crossroads held the 5.15pm slot, but that was changed from 10 October 1984. The fifth series didn't start airing until 12 September 1987. In early 1988, Anglia moved the series to 6 days a week and completed the series in March while Grampian and Scottish completed the series on 19 April 1988.
  • Thames/LWT: Wednesdays to Fridays at 5.15pm and Saturdays at 5.05pm. From September 1985, it was changed to Mondays to Wednesdays and Fridays to Saturdays at 5.15pm.
  • TVS: Wednesdays to Fridays at 5.15pm and Saturdays at 5.05pm. Mondays and Tuesdays were filled with Sons and Daughters. The fifth series was switched to Mondays to Fridays at 5.15pm and Saturdays at 5.05pm.
  • TSW: The first 71 episodes of the second series were not transmitted at all because the 5.15pm slot was taken up on all dates with Crossroads, The Young Doctors and Emmerdale Farm, which was later moved into early peak time in 1985 (as it was on Thames). The last 49 episodes did air in the mornings during the summer holidays from Mondays to Saturdays from 1 July to 24 August 1985. The third series aired on Mondays, Fridays, and Saturdays at 5.15pm. The fourth and fifth series aired from Thursdays to Saturdays at 5.15pm.
  • Channel Television: Same as TSW's schedule until January 1986, it was then switched to TVS's schedules. This meant that approximately 16–20 episodes were skipped as TVS were further ahead.

1988 - 1989

  • Anglia, Border, Central, Channel Television, Grampian, Granada, HTV, Scottish, Thames/LWT, TVS, Tyne Tees, UTV and Yorkshire: Mondays to Fridays at 5.15pm and Saturdays at 5.05pm from 2 September 1988 to 10 February 1989. However, Anglia and Scottish aired some episodes on Sundays instead of Saturdays.
  • TSW: Mondays to Fridays at 5.15pm and Saturdays at 5.05pm from 3 October 1988 to 10 February 1989.
  • No episodes broadcast between 19 September to 3 October due to the 1988 Olympics.

1990 - 1992

The show was delayed by all ITV regions until January 1990 as no slots were available to air the show. This was because Home and Away took over the 5.10pm slot and Emmerdale was now being aired at 6.30pm, before it was moved to 7pm in January 1990. Anglia, Central and TSW were airing repeats from September to December 1989.

  • Anglia, Central and Thames: Aired three times a week from January 1990 onwards on Mondays to Thursdays at 5.10pm and aired Home and Away at 6pm. Days of the week changed and additional episodes were added as well to make it four per week on occasions.
  • LWT No longer broadcast any episodes.
  • Scottish: Tuesdays and Thursdays at 6.30pm from 3 January to April 1990. From May 1990, it was moved to a lunchtime slot around 1.30pm, with the number of episodes fluctuating from none to up to four from this point onward.
  • Grampian: Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6.30pm from 3 January 1990.
  • Border, Channel Television, Granada, HTV, TSW, TVS, Tyne Tees, UTV and Yorkshire: Tuesdays to Thursdays at 6.30pm, but with many exceptions:
    • Granada moved the time slots around during this period, In Autumn 1990, the series was moved to 5.10pm, on occasion moved 3.25pm to allow episodes of Families to have the 5.10pm slot. The series was moved again to 6pm from Wednesdays to Fridays in 1992.
    • UTV reduced its time slots to one episode a week from January to October 1992, then from 26 October 1992, it was aired at 3.20pm from Mondays to Fridays.
    • TVS reduced its time slots to two episodes a week for most of 1990, but during 1991–92, it went back to three episodes plus an additional episode around Saturday lunchtimes.
    • TSW also dropped its time slots to two episodes per week every so often; however, in a bid to catch back up the series, it was moved to 5.10pm from Mondays to Fridays in September 1992.
    • For around 18 months in 1991–92, Tyne Tees started airing more local output in the 6.30pm time slot, which resulted in fewer episodes per week. When Tyne Tees and Yorkshire decided to merge their scheduling in January 1993, Tyne Tees increased its episode output to catch up (In November 1992, it was airing four times a week on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays), but had to drop over 50 episodes.


A number of new ITV companies began broadcasting, with Carlton and Westcountry having hour long news, while most of the other area wished to have more local programmes in the early evenings which resulted in some areas, moving the series back before CITV.

  • Anglia and Central: Mondays to Wednesdays at 5.10pm, then switching Wednesday to Friday at 5.10pm. Completed on 19 May 1993.
  • Carlton: Mondays to Fridays at 3.20pm. Completed on 4 June 1993.
  • HTV: Mondays to Thursdays at 1.45pm. Completed on 2 August 1993.
  • Scottish: Continued to air the series between two and four times most week until 1 September 1993. Reappeared daily at 5.25am over the Christmas period from 18 December 1993 finally completing the series on 7 January 1994.
  • Westcountry: Mondays to Fridays at 1.45pm. Completed on 3 September 1993.
  • Border, Tyne Tees and Yorkshire: Continued airing from Tuesdays to Thursdays at 6.30pm. Completed on 28 September 1993.
  • Meridian: Tuesdays and Wednesdays at 6.30pm. Completed on 14 December 1993.
  • Grampian: Mondays to Fridays at 1.45pm. Completed on 21 December 1993.
  • Granada: Aired 2–3 episodes most weeks at 5.10pm. From April to August, it was moved to 3.20pm. Completed in January 1994.
  • UTV: Mondays to Fridays at 3.20pm until August 1993, then switching to Saturday lunchtime until completed 15 January 1994.


After the final ITV series, Blockbusters was no longer networked on ITV. It continued for one more series on the satellite channel Sky One.

  • Sky One: Mondays to Fridays at 7:00pm from 18 April to 30 September 1994 before moving to 6:30pm from 28 November 1994 to 17 February 1995.
  • Anglia and Central: Mondays to Wednesdays at 2.50pm from 18 April 1994 to 12 July 1995.
  • Meridian: Wednesdays from early June until early September 1994.
  • Tyne Tees and Yorkshire: Around 70 episodes from Tuesdays to Thursdays at 6.30pm between 11 July to 29 December 1995.
  • Border: Around 50 episodes aired up to twice a week at 5.10pm

For the record, the BBC2 editions in 1997 began at 4pm (pushing Today's the Day to a later slot of 5.30pm) but later moved to 1.40pm. Sky One's revival in 2000 aired at 6pm. Versions on Challenge and Comedy Central both went out after dinner, at 8pm.

Unusually, ITV decided not to air any celebrity episodes of Blockbusters; games usually last for a bit less than half an hour, and any shortfall can easily be filled by celebrity chatter. Challenge rather learned the hard way why not when they mounted a celebrity episode, with the winner of Alex James vs Fatima Whitbread and Keith Duffy taking on the winner of Konnie Huq vs Paul Daniels and Debbie McGee; rather predictably, both the single players won, and Konnie had to ask Keith to join her for her game against Alex. No such bathos afflicted Comedy Central's celebrity editions, which pit David Walliams against Alesha Dixon and Amanda Holden, Josh Widdicombe against Stacey Dooley and Oti Mabuse and James Acaster against Scarlett Moffatt and Jordan Banjo.


Twelve Blockbusters quiz books were published by Sphere, plus five "Gold Run" books. A very successful board game was also made, which became the British Association of Toy Retailers' Game of the Year for 1986. This was followed by a Junior version as well as a 'Super' edition which also included the Gold Run. A separate Gold Run travel card game was also available. Virtual gamers didn't miss out either as video games for the Amstrad CPC, BBC Micro, Commodore 64 and ZX Spectrum were made. As if that wasn't enough, an annual was printed in 1989, although this was the only one to be published to our knowledge.

Web links

Wikipedia entry

British Comedy Guide (2019 revival)

Thomas Scott's contestant diary

Article about the US version

Andy Walmsley's set design (BBC)

Memories of Blockbusters and Bob Holness from Kerry McCarthy, later an MP.


How it all began that fourth Monday of August in nineteen hundred and eighty three.


To correct something on this page or post an addition, please complete this form and press "Send":
If you are asking us a question, please read our contact us page and FAQ first.

Name: E-mail:   
A Labyrinth Games site.
Design by Thomas.
Printable version
Editors: Log in