Blankety Blank, 1979
The original environmentally friendly game show, it ought to be it’s been recycled that many times and is now back on our screens.
Blankety Blank is the now legendary comedy game show that sends itself and other game shows up playing up at every opportunity how cheap it was, right down to the prizes. Originally running for 290 episodes and 17 series. It was based on the Australian game show Blankety Blanks (which in turn was based on an American game show Match Game) that ran from 1977 – 1978.
Originally the show ran in 3 blocks with three different hosts from: 1979 – 1983 with Terry Wogan, 1984 – 1990 with Les Dawson, when it was cancelled much to Les Dawson’s disappointment (by then it had racked up 218 episodes).
Seven years on in 1997 the BBC resurrected it for 27 episodes with Lilly Savage (Paul O’Grady) in charge, cancelled by the BBC again in 1999. Another 2 year break and ITV brought it back with Lilly Savage still hosting for 45 episodes between 2001- 2002.
Another gap and rumours began to circulate that the show was about to rise from the ashes as in 2016 David Walliams hosted a one off Christmas Special for ITV. A follow up series did not materialise.
Channel hopping and finally a new series
After a 4 year break comedian Bradley Walsh hosted another Christmas Special in 2020 this time for the BBC. This time a new series was commissioned. Again hosted by Bradley Walsh it began airing in October 2021.
Tribute to Les Dawson
Although each presenter brought their own slant to the show, there will be few people who argue that Blankety Blank was at it’s peak under Les Dawson, who could hardly control himself from hysterics as each week he pored scorn and ridicule at the quality prizes on offer. Dawson affectionately ridiculed the show with dialogue such as “And for the benefit of anyone who hasn’t got an Argos Catalogue, here’s some of the rubbish you might be saddled with tonight.” On one memorable occasion, the 300 Blanks star prize was actually decent – a trip on Concorde. As the audience (expecting the usual cheap prizes) clapped and cheered appreciatively, Les waved them down with “Don’t get excited – it goes to the end of the runway and back.”
Each week two contestants, always a man and a woman went head to head in the race for those ‘fire salvaged’ prizes, with the help of a celebrity panel. I
It’s interesting that a show based around rubbish prizes benefitted from an IBA (Independent Broadcasting Authority) ruling in the 1990’s lifting the limits on prizes. This meant by Lilly Savage’s time the star prize was generally a holiday. In the latest series there are even cash prizes of £500, £750 and a prize worth over £750.
Terry Wogan 1979 -1983
Les Dawson 1984 – 1990
Lilly Savage (Paul O’Grady) 1997 -1999 (BBC) and 2001 – 2002 (ITV)
Channel: BBC1 1979 – 1990 and 1997 – 1999, ITV 2001 – 2002
Original Run: 18 January 1979 – 12 March 1990
Second Run: 26 December 1997 – 28 December 1999
Final run: 2001 – 2002
Blankety Blank enjoys regular repeats on the digital channel: Challenge