Trivial Pursuit



David Frost (non-broadcast pilot)

Rory McGrath (1990)

Tony Slattery (1993-4)


David Paradine Productions and Mike Mansfield Enterprises for BBC (non-broadcast pilot)

Initial for BBC1, 4 September to 18 December 1990 (16 episodes in 1 series)

Action Time for The Family Channel, 6 September 1993 to 1994 (2 series)


Two shows based on the same game yet totally different.

The Rory McGrath show was closer to actually playing the board game itself - indeed, the first round was just a very sped up first-on-the-buzzer romp where if you got the question right you gained control of the die. The person with the least bits of pie went out but they were allowed to take something from the studio home with them (there many pieces of strange arty objects just lying about).

Rory McGrath posed the questions on the original version

The three people left played (yes!) the obligatory one minute round on the subject of their choice (of the main six), least amount of correct answers, or the slowest if two people scored equal lowest went out. Everyone always went for Science or Entertainment.

Then the two left had to try and build a bridge to the central hub. If they got a question right, one square went their colour. If they made it to the middle, they could then start knocking down their opponent's bridge. When the bell went, whoever was closest to the middle won.

To win the big prize, they had to do a complete circuit round the outside of the board within two minutes. If they landed on a question they had to get it correct before they were allowed to roll again so they wanted to land on as many white 'free go' squares as possible, as if they had the choice! Strange show but quite nice.

Quiz me do

The Tony Slattery version was totally different and relied far more on hitting a buzzer and knowledge than the "strategy-Lite" of the McGrath version. Three people attempted to fill their 'pie' as quickly as possible. Each of the six segments was split into two and the general rule was that if you got a question correct you could decide which colour would come next. One difference between the McGrath and Slattery versions though is that the Slattery version used different subjects, there was a Media round and a strange round which didn't look like the subjects came from a proper set.

Sorry, but he couldn't look more like a smug git if he tried.

In the last round, the Control round, whoever buzzed in and answered a question could decide what subject was next and had the question to themselves. They could keep going like this until they got one wrong, in which case it was open to anyone and if they got it then they took the control. This would keep going until time ran out, in which case whoever had filled the most bits won, or someone filled their pie in which case they won. If someone won and there was a bit of time time left, the other two could keep going and win a glass bowl.

The winner went through to the end game to win a holiday, they had to get one question correct from each subject within a minute to win. Again, quite a nice, switch-your-brain-off kinda show.


The Rory McGrath version was devised by Simon Ross.

The Tony Slattery version was adapted from a Martindale Hillier Entertainment programme, broadcast on The Family Channel in the USA. The broadcast credit was "Devised by Wink Martindale, Bill Hillier, Peter R Berlin, Rob Fielder."

Theme music

Bob Carter for the Rory McGrath version.

The first series from the Tony Slattery version uses the same theme music as the US version while the second series was composed by Action Time's in-house composer Simon Etchell.


Although put together by an entirely different production set-up (a co-pro between Paradine Productions and Mike Mansfield Enterprises), there was a non-broadcast BBC pilot of Trivial Pursuit back in 1988, with David Frost as the quiz master. The guests were (we kid you not) Lord Chalfont, Lord Lichfield, Lord Stockton, Sue Arnold, Alan Coren and Nigel Dempster. And it was co-written by football pundit Martin Kelner!?

Web links

Wikipedia entry


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