Beat The Teacher (CBBC, 1984-1988)
Beat The Teacher was a CBBC game show where pupils played against teachers to discover who would come out on top. The show had three different hosts. Firstly there was Howard Stableford who went on to host Tomorrow’s World, secondly there was Paul Jones of 1960s pop group Manfred Mann fame, and finally there was Bruno Brookes of Radio 1 and Top Of The Pops fame.
Beat The Teacher was based around the game of noughts and crosses, with the pupil playing as O, and the teacher as X. They would be asked logic questions and had to buzz in to gain the moves that were on offer. For example, if the question was “how far can a dog run into the woods?”, the answer would be halfway, because then the dog would be running out again. There were also quirky true or false questions and puzzles such as “can you guess what the next number is in this sequence” plus various other rounds. But getting these right wasn’t how they scored points.
They used their moves to turn over the squares on the board, and if they could remember the sequence in which the squares rotated they would score ten points for every vertical, horizontal and diagonal line created, and this would be accompanied by some nice bloop-bloop-bloop sound effects. If this idea sounds a little similar to the mighty Turnabout then it’s probably not that much of a coincidence because Clive Doig was the creator of both, but whereas Beat The Teacher featured a 3×3 grid, Turnabout was played on a 4×4 grid.
It was possible to fill the whole board with noughts or crosses, and if that happened there was a big bonus on offer, and then the board was randomised and the whole process began again. However, if it seemed that the teacher was getting too far ahead, the pupil could play their joker and it meant that if they got the next question right all the squares would flip over to theirs, meaning lots of points, and a lot of cheers from their classmates. Also, there would be a time limit to when the teacher would play their joker, and if the pupil timed it well the clock would run out before they had the chance to play it and it would often cost them the game! Beat The Teacher usually only ran in a 15-minute slot but it packed in a lot of gameplay and it was always enjoyable seeing what way the contest would go, with some talented contestants going on a long winning streak and they would win things including vouchers for various equipment for their school. In 1988 a quizbook was released which featured lots of challenging questions similar to the ones featured on the show meaning that you could play the game at home which was marvellous fun. Unfortunately there isn’t that much about the show online but it was always popular with CBBC viewers in the 80s.