By Mark Nobes

The game show was essential viewing back in the 1970s and 80s, and with no internet or hundreds of TV channels to browse through, the lack of entertainment on offer meant families would often sit down together to watch them.
Trying to get the family to do anything together these days is nigh on impossible, especially in this new age of social media. Even if you do manage it, chances are that your kids or grandkids will be gazing at their smartphone, rather than actually watching the TV or interacting with you.
It's highly unlikely that this golden era of TV game shows will ever return (some would argue that's a good thing, of course) so be thankful that you experienced something very unique indeed.


Who remembers arriving home from a long day at school or work, and then settling down with a refreshing cup of tea to watch Blockbusters on ITV at tea-time with Bob Holness?

With his distinctive voice and trademark question format, the show became an iconic part of television history. Contestants navigated a grid of hexagonal tiles, striving to connect from side to side while answering questions that ranged from general knowledge to wordplay.

The theme music clip brings back such fond memories for me, and hopefully you, too. The tune also featured in the 2014 adverts for Jaffa Cakes.

The original Blockbusters ran from 29 August 1983 to 4 June 1993. 

Bob Holness hosting Blockbusters
"I'll have a P please, Bob"

Blockbusters board game by Waddingtons


This charades-based panel show ran from 1979 until 1992 on ITV. The team leaders were Lionel Blair (boys) and Una Stubbs (girls), although Liza Goddard replaced Una Stubbs in later series'. Between 1979 and 1983 the show was hosted by Michael Aspel, who was replaced by Michael Parkinson in 1984.

It made a brief return in 1997 and then had a one-off special in 2001.

Una Stubbs - If You Can Dance You Can Do It - vinyl LP (1982)
Did you have fun and keep fit with Una Stubbs? Fitness and fun don't go together for me! The 19 track vinyl LP "If You Can Dance You Can Do It!" was released in 1982. Hmm, another nice photo for my 80s fashion board on Pinterest!


The fabulous clip starts with the dodgy Anglian Television ident, followed by a few minutes of the Sale of the Century quiz show featuring the legendary Nicholas Parsons as the host. The show ran from 1972 until 1983 and this episode was shown on 20th May 1983.

The programme was always a ratings winner, and reached viewing figures of around 20 million at its peak. Of course, with only three TV channels, such figures were far easier to achieve than they are today.

On Dec 22nd 1978, 21.2 million viewers tuned in to watch the show due to a strike at the BBC. This remains the highest ever viewing figure for an ITV game show.

TV Times Cover 1976-10-09 Nicholas Parsons
TV Times cover from October 1976


Bob's Full House was an 80s TV game show featuring the late, great comedian Bob Monkhouse as the host. The show would begin with a lengthy and topical stand-up comedy routine from Bob Monkhouse in his legendary slick style.

The format of the show centered around bingo-style gameplay, where contestants aimed to fill up their electronicbingo cards by correctly answering a series of questions. Bob Monkhouse's quick quips and engaging banter with contestants kept the show entertaining, and his genuine enthusiasm for the game was evident in every episode.

"Bob's Full House" remains a cherished memory for many, thanks to Bob Monkhouse's stellar hosting and his ability to make even a game of bingo feel like a thrilling and unforgettable experience.


The Adventure Game, 24 May 1980 hosted by Newsreader Moira Stuart with Elizabeth Estensen, Fred Harris and Mark Dugdale .

This very British and very eighties game show was aimed at children, but it had a cult adult following. It was originally broadcast on BBC1 and BBC2 between 24 May 1980 and 18 February 1986, and its main feature was the iconic Vortex.

It featured a unique blend of science fiction, puzzle-solving, and interactive storytelling. The show defied traditional game show conventions and left an indelible mark on the world of British television.

The theme for each show was that the two celebrity contestants and a member of the public had travelled by space ship to the planet Arg. The planet is occupied by the Argonds, which are shape-shifting dragons.

One of the show's most iconic elements was its alien inhabitants, the Argons. These peculiar creatures were a mix of puppetry and early computer-generated imagery, and they challenged contestants with peculiar tasks and riddles. The most famous of these Argons was the enigmatic Rangdo of Arg, a horned, green-skinned alien who often perplexed contestants with cryptic clues.

Contestants, who were sometimes celebrities, were tasked with crossing a room filled with invisible traps and obstacles, which could only be detected using a mysterious device known as the "anti-gravity generator." Failure to navigate the Vortex successfully resulted in being "evaporated," a fate dreaded by all!

I was almost a teenager when this show started and I probably watched every episode!

The Adventure Game - titles and vortex


Before Scrapheap Challenge came along, we had this smaller scale challenge show with a similar concept - the competitors were challenged to create a mechanical device to solve a problem.

The initial challenge of the programme was to actually create a machine to transport an egg as far as possible without breaking it, which is why the series was called The Great Egg race.

Series one (in 1979) featured Brian Cant as the main presenter. In 1980, Professor Heinz Wolff took over the role and former Blue Peter presenter Lesley Judd joined the programme in 1984.
Professor Heinz Wolff in 2010


1970s Blue Peter presenters Peter Purves, Lesley Judd, Val Singleton, John Noakes and, of course, Shep
Lesley Judd joined the Blue Peter team in 1971 and presented the show until 1979. Left to right; Peter Purves, Lesley Judd, Valerie Singleton, John Noakes and Shep.