First Class (BBC1, 1986-1988)
In the mid-80s, various shows were tried out in the slot between the end of Children’s BBC and The Six O’Clock News, before the decision was made to put the repeat of Neighbours there which led to enormous ratings, and this was one of them. First Class was a game show for children that was hosted by Debbie Greenwood (still no relation, honest) and always introduced as “the video quiz”.
Two teams of three took part, representing schools from across the country, and they had to answer questions about film, TV, music, and so on. Another major factor in the show was the computer that provided the questions called Eugene (personified computers seemed to be popular in TV game shows around this time). Once Eugene was ready it was time to play.
First Class used the latest technology and there were rounds based around playing a computer game. These included Paperboy (a game from this era that I have enjoyed a lot and reviewed a while back as part of my Gaming Memories series, I also remember when there was a feature about Paperboy in Retro Gamer magazine they did mention that it featured on this show). There would also be a wrist-busting Track And Field-style game played, with points on offer for who performed the best.
There would also be rounds that involved looking at things such as a clip from a film, a report about something in the news, or a music video, and then being asked questions about it. In one edition the video was for a single by Swing Out Sister, and any game show where it could all be won or lost based on answering questions about Swing Out Sister is fine by me.
There was also a round where Eugene was concealing a word and the teams had to guess what it was by picking letters in a Hangman style (accompanied by lots of nice sound effects), the sooner they guessed it, the more points they scored. Eugene was also used for the round where there was a picture of a celebrity in a circle that was revealed gradually and again the teams had to answer it as quickly as possible.
One round that was played twice featured general knowledge questions that were asked on the buzzer, with two points for a correct answer. When time was up, Eugene would reveal who the winning team was, and they would progress to the next round. The show featured a knockout tournament, and several rounds were played to determine the overall series winner, who won the star prize of a computer for their school.
First Class ran for three series (it had to moved to Saturday evenings by the end), and there were also a couple of special editions were the series champions played against celebrity teams, such as EastEnders cast members or Blue Peter presenters. A quizbook was also released. This isn’t a show that I remember watching that regularly at the time, but looking back at it now it was rather enjoyable.