Game Show Memories – Bob Says Opportunity Knocks.

Bob Says Opportunity Knocks (BBC1, 1987-1990)

Whilst I have been looking back at various game shows that I have enjoyed watching over the years, I realised that I haven’t reviewed many yet hosted by Bob Monkhouse who was a great host and comedian and one of my favourite TV personalities, so here’s a review of a show that he hosted in the 80s, and I’ll review some other game shows that he hosted soon.

Opportunity Knocks was a talent contest show that had already been around for many years, appearing on ITV from to 1956 to 1978 when it was hosted by Hughie Green. Many acts from across the country took part to perform their turn hoping that it would start a successful career for them, and it was very popular with viewers. After a while the show was revived in 1987 on BBC1 with Bob as host and there were a few changes made to the format. bob0002

The show was now called Bob Says Opportunity Knocks, it was 50 minutes long and was shown live on Saturday evenings. The show would begin with Bob telling some of his great jokes before the six acts were introduced. Lots of different acts took part, from singers to dancers and comedians, and of course the quality of performance did vary somewhat but everyone was welcome to have a go. vlcsnap-01121

After their turn Bob would have a quick interview with them to learn more about their career and ambitions before passing on some advice which would definitely have been worth listening to. After everyone had their turn, the Clapometer would come out, supposedly a high-tech device that determined which act had gone down the best with the studio audience by gauging how much applause they wanted to give them. vlcsnap-01124

But that wasn’t how they won. What was most significant about the first series of the show was that it was the first TV programme in Britain where the winner was decided by telephone votes from the viewers at home. Although this is the norm now, it was seen as a pioneering move in those days to make sure that people watching at home could determine the winner. vlcsnap-01122

The winning act from every show then went into the final. When the big day came Bob put on his best bowtie and all the acts performed again, and then the phone lines opened to determine the overall series winner, which was always seen as an exciting occasion and a few people who appeared did go on to further success. Bob always hosted the show well especially as it was live and he had some great catchphrases too, including always ending the show by saying “when opportunity comes your way… don’t knock it!”. vlcsnap-01123

After hosting three series Bob left the show to go ITV and host some more game shows including The $64,000 Question, and he was replaced for what turned out to be the final series in 1990 by Les Dawson who had appeared as a contestant on the show himself before he was famous. Of course talent shows are still popular on TV nowadays but Bob definitely made Opportunity Knocks worth watching, always welcoming the contestants and really hoping that the show could break new talent for people who deserved it. It’s a lot better than watching some judges pretending to bicker with one another, that’s for sure.

3 thoughts on “Game Show Memories – Bob Says Opportunity Knocks.

  1. Michael says:

    Hello there, at the end of the second series of Bob Says Opportunity Knocks from 1988 which was uploaded by Neil Miles, the 1986 BBC logo appears in the copyright notice at around 44:56 to 45:02, although the slanted BBC boxes appear to be the same colours as the slanted lines.

    I bet the slanted and underlined BBC logo which was designed by Michael Peters was introduced in 1986 IIRC.

    However, some shows by the BBC continue to use the 1971 slanted and rounded BBC logo until 1989 before the then-current slanted and underlined 1986 BBC logo would start to be used at the copyright notice beginning in 1990 with the larger version of that logo added in September 1992 onwards until 1997.

    I wonder if any BBC shows might have the underlined and slanted 1986 logo in the copyright notice at the end of programmes prior to 1990?


    • Des Elmes says:

      I’m pretty sure that Bob Says Opportunity Knocks was the very first BBC TV show to feature the underlined logo in its copyright strap (plus the Futura Condensed Bold Italic font for the Roman numeral of the year).

      And to be pedantic, it wasn’t merely *some* shows that continued to use the 1971 logo in their copyright straps until the end of 1989, but the vast majority of them (EastEnders, TOTP, Only Fools and Horses, etc. etc.). The Nine O’Clock News did start using the underlined logo in its copyright strap during September 1989, but of course not everyone counts news bulletins as proper TV shows. 😉

      Lest we forget, the rollout of the underlined logo was slow not just on TV, but across the entire Corporation: the radio stations didn’t start using it until 1990, and the signage at Television Centre wasn’t changed accordingly until 1994, just three years before the Gill Sans logo came along.

      And in complete contrast, the Gill Sans logo was rolled out almost everywhere on 4 October 1997 – the only two notable exceptions being EastEnders (which persisted with the underlined logo until the end of that year) and the Television Centre signage (which was changed shortly before that year’s Children in Need). Lambie-Nairn certainly knew what they were doing.


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