George Marshall


Channel X and BBC North for BBC1, 15 November 1993 to 26 January 1994 (32 episodes in 1 series)


Possibly created just because no-one had made a quiz show beginning with X before. Noted for its cringeworthy, yet memorable, catchphrases (see below).

Players (in this case, three individuals) competed for letters from an 'Alphabank' (huh?) which, like Blockbusters, were also the initial letter of the answers to the questions corresponding to them. They can choose any letter from A-W or an 'X-Y-Z', a question based on a picture, clip or piece of music which could have any letter as the answer. If the contestant got it wrong, it would be thrown open to the other two participants.

Unlike Blockbusters, there was no board to speak of - merely, a series of slots in your desk where you inserted your letters (Perspex rods). You could either get one from the board, or steal them off your opponent. The ultimate aim was to get the longest contiguous series of letters, rather than having the most letters.

Regardless of the number of letters won, the contestants would only score points if they were part of a 'string' - a series of letters in alphabetical order (why, rather like "XYZ"). Only the contestant's longest string possible counted and they were allocated no more than 3 'X-Y-Z' questions.

Not astoundingly original by any means, but it should have been given more of a chance to develop a cult following.

Key moments

The (in)famous consolation prizes to all losing players - the XYZ mug tree (postage and packing extra).


Before the game starts: "Letters Play!"

During play: "It don't mean a thing if it ain't in a string"

At the end of the programme: "ABC-ing you!"


Devised by Simon and Amanda Ross.


Apparently, this was one of three programmes that was developed at short notice to fill the 1.50pm Going for Gold slot vacated by the cancellation of BBC soap flop Eldorado, which was repeated at lunchtimes. The show (alongside its successor The Great British Quiz) aired from Mondays to Thursdays while Fridays was taken by The Travel Quiz.

Host George Marshall is an impressionist by trade, his party piece being Sean Connery.

Web links

Wikipedia entry


Two full episodes.


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