Busman's Holiday



Julian Pettifer (1985-8)

Sarah Kennedy (1989-91)

Elton Welsby (1993)


Announcer: Charles Foster


Granada for ITV, 26 February 1985 to 28 June 1993 (103 episodes in 8 series)


Basic premise here is that three teams of people from different professions battle to win an exotic holiday where they have to work.

These three groups (probably swimming pool attendants, vicars and electricity meter readers, always dressed in their normal work-clothes) compete in quizzes based on the worlds of travel and occupations in order to win a working holiday. Cracking.

There were terrific sound effects for the buzzers, something like 'diddle-eh!' and the sound for an incorrect answer, sounding like an electronic Tellytubby 'Eh-oh!' Before Tellytubbies existed, of course.

Host Sarah Kennedy on location in Grenada with the director Jenny Dodd.

The first round was a multiple-choice round on world geography. The second round involved the teams being asked questions on each others' jobs. In the early Julian Pettifer days, two team-members from two of the teams would simply answer questions, while the remaining two would attempt to complete a clever practical brainteaser, such as, relating to the driving instructors, watching a film of a driver deliberately committing driving-errors, and deciding which three would cause him to fail his driving test and, probably best of all, the first of two Royal Navy-related brainteasers involved a group of sea cadets holding flags to give a semaphore message that the contestants had to decipher. (The answer, by the way, was, "Hats off - three cheers", and the successful contestant duly received this accolade). The round was always very entertaining, and should not have been changed. Later versions of the round simply involved watching the team in question doing their job, docusoap-style, and questions being asked to both the other teams. One or two of the Sarah Kennedy series also featured each of the team captains being invited out front to ask both the opposing teams individual questions that they themselves had prepared on their own jobs, before Sarah asked the other teams some more questions to be answered on the buzzer.

The third round involved all three teams being asked questions on their own jobs (and no doubt feeling embarrassed if they failed to answer correctly, as Sarah Kennedy was always keen to point out). The final round involved asking questions all about one particular destination. Hilariously, the teams were told that the particular destination was going to be one of four places that they'd been informed about some days before the recording, so the team that did best was the one that did the most research into that destination.

The winning team had already won an European holiday. In the Julian Pettifer era, they would return the following week to try to win an additional world holiday. In the Sarah Kennedy era, this changed to an end game which involved trying to convert the European working holiday to a world holiday by putting forward one team member to answer questions on a random place as chosen by the departures board. In the final series, hosted by Elton Welsby, the end game changed to "Around The World In 80 Seconds", which involved answering questions on various locations in order to upgrade to a world holiday. Although the show was on its way out by this time, this particular endgame was better, since it meant more variety in the subject matter.

And of course we got to see how last week's winners got on on their holiday, which is, y'know, nice. In the early Julian Pettifer days, the winners of the European holiday would be seen back in the studio, doing just what they were doing at the end of their holiday (such as the dentists playing with clockwork teeth, the Royal Navy team saluting and the whisky blenders raising their glasses in a toast to an excellent holiday). Another clever (albeit gimmicky) touch that should not have been changed. Like another excellent Granada quiz, The Krypton Factor, 'Busman's Holiday' thoroughly deserves to be revived - and preferably in the style of the first two Pettifer-series, which were definitely the best.


A celebrity special in 1991 featured TV detectives against sports commentators and Home and Away actors. A gladiatorial battle of intellects, clearly.

During the Pettifer and Kennedy eras, there were three teams of three. For the Welsby series, this changed to two teams of three.

Pettifer used to give the scores with references to the teams' jobs - such as 'The driving instructors are just getting into gear', or 'The coach drivers are, at the moment, slowcoaches.'

On at least one of the Kennedy series, both she and the team-member competing for the world holiday were, for some bizarre reason (dramatic effect, perhaps?) raised high up on an elevated platform. One can only hope that none of the contestants who played the endgame suffered from vertigo.

On one show, they had genuine bus drivers (from Northampton, for what it's worth) on the show, against teams consisting of dog groomers and "buskers" (in reality, university students). The bus drivers won! Sometimes, there would be a theme linking the three teams, such as one edition that featured wedding photographers, registrars and rabbis. (The registrars won.) However, arguably the most unusual and varied sets of teams were featured over 2 consecutive weeks in 1987: firstly, football referees, dinner ladies and traffic wardens. The referees won and returned the following week to beat teams of rock-climbers and nuns.

In early 1987, there was to be an edition of the show featuring ship-workers: however, the programme was not shown, since, as Pettifer explained, it was shortly after the Zeebrugge ferry disaster and it would therefore have been inappropriate to show the contestants being filmed at work. In any case, the sports teachers who had won the previous week won again, so both their trips abroad were shown, followed by another edition of the show with three new teams.

Two teams in the Pettifer-era introduced themselves by singing - three opera tenors sang "Helloooooo!", while three cathedral choral singers sang an impressive full-blown choral intro.

During one of the Kennedy series, a team of ballroom dancers were, unlike other teams, all allowed to participate in the part of the show whereby the captain asked questions to both the opposing teams. In this case, the captain asked the questions, while the other two did some superb demonstrations of certain dances.


(Julian Pettifer): "And the captain of the (whichever) team is...."

"No - I can offer that!"

"Forfeits two!"

"...And looking at the scores at the halfway point, we see that...." (followed by the aforementioned references to the teams' jobs).

"Penultimate question!"

(Sarah Kennedy): "Let's go to the destination board!"

"...And who's won? It's the (whichever) team!"

(At the beginning of the show), "And now, please welcome the star of the show - Sarah Kennedy!"

Winning Teams

Although it is obviously not possible to list all winning teams, given the vast number, the following are examples: Whisky Blenders; Helicopter Pilots; Dentists; The Royal Navy; Environmentalists; Ambulancemen; Mining Surveyors; Social Security Officers; Hospital Scientists; Sports Teachers; Horse Vets; University Lecturers; Oceanographers; Police Frogmen; Ornithologists; Karate Instructors; Marriage Guidance Counsellors; Hang Gliders; Football Referees; Hot Air Balloon Pilots; Airport Officials; The Clergy; Test Track Drivers; Billingsgate Fishmongers; Sandhurst Lecturers; Registrars; Bus Drivers, Cathedral Choral Singers and Waste Disposal Officials.


A group of clergypeople win a trip to the Vatican City. In the centre is the Rev David Smith, a 'professional' UK game show contestant.
Rev Smith gets a personal audience with the winner of "Poland's Got Talents"


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