Love Knockout 'Here Come The Belgians'

I love It's A Knockout

"Hah, Hah, Hah, And the Belgians are in disarray!"

The social fabric of the nation would be much the poorer if it wasn't for It's A Knockout.

In the 1960s Eurovision meant something more than a song contest that's occasionally won by a transsexual Israeli. It's A Knockout was our contribution to the pan-European project Jeux Sans Frontières (Games Without Borders) which was initiated by none other than Charles de Gaulle. Three teams from around Great Britain would compete in each, the winners would represent our brave isle against our European neighbours.

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Games would invariably involve people dressed in cumbersome giant outfits, some wet groundsheets and buckets of coloured water. The European version got far more complicated, as if it was a training ground for European bureaucrats.

The joy of It's A Knockout was amplified a thousand times when a local Manchester newsreader got his hands on it.

He had an ability to laugh for hours on end at the drop of a hat (or bucket of bright yellow water). Once he was paired with the almost indecipherable Rugby commentator Eddie Waring it was possible to get through whole shows without a single complete sentence being uttered. Seminal stuff.

The highlight for any fan of the show would come with the European version. Invariably dressed in fur coat and moon boots, the presenter treated the proceedings with the reverence they deserved. That is, none at all. If anything, he found the efforts of the other nations even funnier than the domestic version and no doubt set back European relations by a good twenty years!

It's A Knockout BBC was one of many programmes made at BBC Manchester, which is preparing to move into its new home at MediaCity.

The hit TV game show of the 1970s and 80s featured contestants attempting to complete absurd tasks, often in large foam rubber suits.

October 2020

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