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.
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.
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.
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.
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!”.
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.