Alistair Divall


Announcer: David Hopewell


HTV West and Reg Grundy Productions for ITV, 13 March 1989 to 18 December 1992 (205 episodes in 5 series)


Music game which was produced from the Australian format juggernaut we call the Grundy-o-matic. Two teams of over-excitable, now middle-aged, '60s mods battled it out to be the first to identify popular song tunes from their first nine notes, seemingly "played" by a 1978 Korg XJ-1000 on its last legs.

So many numbers, so little time.

To win a 'note' for the mystery song, a contestant from each team joins Alistair and one player picks an envelope which contains a hidden number between 1 and 9. This is revealed to determine which note of the song they are playing for. A piece of pop music is heard, and each player can press one of three buttons to determine which of the three words offered will be the next word in the lyric when the music stops. If they choose wrongly, they still have to sing their incorrect answer (weakly, usually) and Alistair offers the other player a chance.

Alistair's card trick, which is revealing a number.

Correct answers gain one note a song, followed by an opportunity for the whole team to guess what the song is. (If both players got the question wrong, there's no guess at the main tune and the next lyric is played for a reward of two notes.) There was a follow-the-bouncing-ball effort which helped you with the rhythm too. To speed things up a bit, the 1st, 5th and 9th notes are given for free with the 7th note being added for free as well in round 3 from the second series onwards.

'Passed by Alone'. A working title for Akon's 'Lonely'.

Keynotes was famous for its crass scoring system of £30, £60 and £120 prize for guessing the first, second and third round song (although in the first series, it was £50, £100 and £200). Unless neither team could guess the third round tune, the first two rounds didn't mean jack.

The challengers huddle up as a yellow computer generated ball bounces with joy.

The end game was as good as they come, however. The winning team could double or treble their winnings, depending how many rounds they win, by identifying the correct lyric word for up to nine tunes in 30 seconds, each correct answer earning a note for the main tune. Very tense, and superbly infuriating when they'd fail to identify daft songs like Nellie the Elephant from nearly all the notes. If a team win five consecutive shows they would win a £500 bonus.

The challengers become champions as the approach the dreaded bonus round.

Seems rather coy these days, but it was nice to have a 9.25am morning show that had a budget more than £247.61 (yes, Crosswits, we mean you).

The cheap but stable set.

Key moments

The "scrum down" action each team would do every time they tried to guess the main tune.

Every answer the contestants gave following the formula "Is it (X), Alistair?"

That clock in the desk used for the end game that would keep popping up and down.


Based on a Reg Grundy format from Australia which debuted in 1964, which was revived in 1992 using the UK set design and rules but ten times the cash amounts and a holiday for the bonus prize.

Theme music

Bill Sharpe


The musical tunes were arranged by Keith Chegwin, working under a pseudonym.

At the end of one show, during a time when Britain was in something of an economic crisis having just dropped out of the ERM, the host delivered this immortal line: "I'm Alistair Divall: remember that name because it never 'divall-ues' the pound!"

A US pilot was unsold in 1986 with Kevin O'Connell as host and an out of place yet very intriguing theme tune, which a year later was also used in another unsold Reg Grundy pilot in the US called Run for the Money. A second US pilot was tried in 1989 with Clint Holmes as host and the contestants were all celebrities, but that wasn't sold either. However, the opening sequence was used for the UK version's entire run.

Web links

Wikipedia entry


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