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That’s the name of the game

This weekend TEN finally revives nostalgic game show with H.G. Nelson. But can the Reality live up to the memories?

On Sunday night, nostalgic fans will finally lay their eyes on the revival of TEN’s It’s a Knockout.

The show returns courtesy of Spring, the budget production arm of FremantleMedia.

H.G. Nelson (aka Greig Pickhaiver), hosts alongside Brad McEwan and Charli Robinson. There are 4 teams of around 15 players each including QLD surf lifesavers, NSW paramedics, firefighters from Victoria and an All Stars Macca’s team representing sponsor McDonalds.

First seen in 1985, the show was preceded by the similar Almost Anything Goes in 1976. Both had 2 year runs, but they live on in as memories for many television fans.

Anything Goes I think was filmed in Melbourne with Ron Barassi of all people calling it. That’s a long time ago,” Nelson says.

“I’m no expert because when the show was on before I didn’t watch it. But it’s a show that appeals to a lot of kids seeing adults do stupid things. It’s a very particular audience.”

There are 24 games played across the series, which will see teams accrue points on their way to the semi final and grand final. Expect colour, mayhem and loads of sliding.

“They have enormous costumes from ostriches to big mums, blow-up balls and that sort of stuff,” Nelson says.

“If you ask a lot of lay people they’ll say, ‘We don’t cook, we don’t dance, we can’t learn the Tipsy Tap or the Pride of Erin and we don’t have a skill like juggling plates.’

“Anything where people perform, whether it’s cooking, dancing or juggling plates with three people at the end of it judging –I get an idea of what’s going to happen.

“In a simple way, and this is being big-headed about it, It’s a Knockout anarchically breaks that mould and therefore has a bit of a chance of looking  a bit different.”

Since the show’s demise the genre was revived in similar formats, such as Wipeout and even Big Brother‘s Friday Night Games.

“As I understand it one of the producers of Big Brother had worked on It’s A Knockout so that’s where all those games came from,” says Nelson.

Filming in Malaysia was a challenge in its own right, with 8 episodes filmed across 4 days and shoots running from 5pm to 5am.

“We arrived and there were no numbers on the cameras so when the Director says ‘Look at camera five’ you’re thinking ‘Which is camera five?’” Nelson explains.

“So we left something behind, the concept of numbering cameras. I think that’s going to take off in Malaysian television.

“And if you’ve got your main language in the production side being French and English it’s always wise to have your crane operator understand a few words of either English or French. Words like ‘Action! Cut!’ and things like that.

“If the chap on the crane is guessing, even though he may be a very good guesser, he still gets it wrong.”

There were call-outs for expats to sit in the audience of the show and Nelson concedes the footage tries to feature the Australian audience members from local Malays.

“The audience is cunningly shot, I would say. Strategically shot. But the one good thing is they look as though they are enjoying it, which is what you want and it looks as though it would be great fun if you were there,” he says.

And what about the presence of a fast food chain as sponsor? As well as a McDonald’s team, there are logos dotted around the arena. How comfortable is he with the commercial branding within the show itself?

“My worry would be that they tread a very fine line. People are fairly attuned to product placement these days and there are shows that have suffered because of it.

“(For me) It’s more to do with the relationship between McDonald’s and me because I can’t have any influence over the set. Where I can escape is to do with the direct endorsement of a product which I studiously avoid doing no matter what it was,” he says.

“But characters who are familiar to people who eat McDonalds appear in the audience, so I think they are fairly close to it.”

TEN screens the series across summer at the prime family-friendly Sunday 7:30 slot. Spring even commissioned composer Rick Turk to revive his famous theme song for the show, and Nelson says the graphics are first class.

But can it live up to expectations? Since the show has been off air, the sentiment may feasibly outweigh the quality of the original.

“Like all television there was a time in their lives where things were simpler or they had more time to watch, let’s face it, fairly inconsequential television. But the one thing I keep coming back to is kids do enjoy watching adults do stupid things,” he says.

“What you hope is that the element of competition is sort of like the People’s Olympics.”

It’s a Knockout airs 7:30pm Sunday on TEN.

25 Responses

  1. i was hoping someone may have a copy of the first series with the Panton Hill football club. My sister was part of the show and passed away with cancer and i would like a copy of the show for her girls.

  2. I forgot it was on. & the lack of publicity suggests I didn’t miss anything. But yes @CD, I definitely agree with you… if they bring the vintage originals onto HD or any late nite tv, it’d be readymade Aussie content with virtually no price tag & greater viewer satisfaction! Maybe Foxtel’s 111 Hits could pick it up as a delicious lead-in to Prisoner… ? Or Eleven could use it to replace the wonderful but too oft-repeated Family Ties…? Right now is the perfectly appropriate & probably absolute last time for television to embrace the golden 70s/80s era of light entertainment, which was pre-internet, pre-9/11, pre-political correctness etc & contained a lovable innocence that can never be replaced (or rehashed). Before too long, it will all be gone. And while I’m on it, will we ever see Good Times or The Facts of Life again? Or the original counterpart to It’s A Knockout at the time, “Charles in Charge”…?? hmmm… *Iwon’tholdmybreath-unlesswhatI’mwatchingstinks*

  3. I had a look at Its a Knock out last night first time since years this show came back on air.. I have to first say with my first expression that i quite didn’t like the entry theme.. it just doesnt sound as good and as natural as it was in the 80’s Notice that this event game was only in a giant indoor arena… which reminds me the arena of big brother previews games such as big brother friday night games.

    I quite didnt got that exciting about it.. and infact it just didn’t look as good as it originaly was in the 80s… And infact i turn the tv off within the last 10min of the show. Not because i didn’t like it.. its just that it didn’t look as good as the original game of the 80s with better outdoor park… This game was all sqaush into a small arena which didnt had enough viewers.. And the most disapointed was that it wasn’t Live and it was all edited,…. and they made the viewers to cheer and then clap when told……..

    Back in the 80s this show was live and non edited what so ever at least from all i can remember…The 80s this game was huge at a large outdoor park… almost like a stadium…. this new come back 8 show of Its a knock out just doesnt look big its all in a small arena making it look big…. its all edited and not authentic as preview times in the 80s

    So still though it may still be an 0.K but not perfect done… and if you havn’t notice there wasnt enough reds greens and yellow teams.. it all seems like it was only 5 each players… But back in the 80s it was a large each colour team… Non of this a few groups and end of story. Channel ten could of done much better then this… they wanted the show return. My theory is that i don’t see this show going on forever… though it has at least around 8 shows to cover up on a sunday time slot.. So now its 7 shows left as of sunday comming up.

    I just don’t think this show would be that popular…. Unless they can make the show big like it used to be…. this time its like an indoor kiddie pool arena.. thats how small it looked. Don’t let the todays camera fool you… cameras fakes the making things big because its widescreens making it like a 360 degree view….. But if you went there and see it with your own eyes… it is like a kiddies indoor pool arena sort of to speak. I would stillw atch the show.. because theres nothing exciting on tv now days… and australia still needs alot of variety intertainment shows.. But still i dont see this show very succesfull at all.. Unless they come up with something greater.

  4. To those SA/WA people crying over not getting a state to cheer on, get over it! We here in Tassie have the same Channel 10 you guys do, yet we don’t ever get included in anything like that. Enjoy it for what it is (a bit of light entertainment relief)!!

  5. This would be fantastic… australia television needs more (variety shows) im so sick of just miniseries and american series and just crime series…. Why not something more spectacular like this.. like reality programas.. intertainment programas of course all combine a variety program and not just stuck with news and tv series… Course thats what channel 10 has been doing since big brother left the building.

    This show would be nice.. But i have a feeling its not going to last long typical.. because if they try on channel 9 with the return of hey hey its a satursya.. the show only lasted about 8 shows or thee abouts to just 3 to 6 months of a one show per week. But the show didnt return unfortunally.. I have a feeling this Its a knockout will not last long at all… the reason so is because channel ten has upsolute no idea what they want.. they want to put a new show or bring the show back on demmand.. but suddently gues what kids? the show is over no more it was only temporary… back to the same old series and news and series and news and thats all they can offer on a channel.

    Lets hope its not like that…. i do hope this show will rock start the tv because seriously if channel ten wants intertainment as they use to be in the 1990s network ten its intertainment well lets stick to the promises…

    Watch out channel 9 has big brother returning on channel 9…. i wonder what channel ten has up thier ties during big brother on ch9… the battle of the galaxic show perhaps? now thats a interesting show…. a show made to see you in a rocket to win loads of money in a galatix inviroment show…

  6. According to the kilojoule ratings on McDonalds’ menus, one It’s A Knockout contestant will burn off a cheese burger and small chips*

    (* Varies per contestant and by exertion expended in challenges. May not be scientifically proven or valid.)

  7. Almost anything goes was recorded in the grounds of channel 0 in melbourne before it became channel ten in early 1980 It was hosted by Tim Evans, who went onto to be a comedy writter on the don lane show and judge on new faces with Bert newton
    IAK was fun to watch but had fairly ordinary production values with lots canned cheering for various states of Australia from an all Queensland/ brisbane audience so the 2011/12 version does not have a lot to live up to. Even Wipeout was funny to watch but very heavily edited But looking forward to Sunday night to some family viewing and having a laugh!!!

  8. The only hope for this show is Greg’s sharp wit. They should have forked out a bit more and got Roy and HG to be the commentators and just added them after it had been shot. Would have turned the show’s crappy vibe into an asset.

  9. Well I won’t be watching now. Victoria, NSW, QLD, oh but the rest of us states don’t matter so we’re all lumped together in All Stars. That’s complete bullsh!t. Before my time, so i’ve never watched, and I won’t start now.

  10. The promo interviews HG has given, give the impression that he’s a little embarrassed to be part of the show. Doing what he can to appear positive about it, but having already filmed it, knowing it’s a dud.

    I want it to be a good show – but can’t help feeling it looks like a budget Wipeout.

  11. lets be honest people, the only two things that made me watch IAKO in the 80’s were the term song (a classic to this day) and the penthouse models that had their tracksuit tops carefully zipped down a little bit to show their cleavage. The rest was crap.

  12. Part of the fun of the original was having a live audience there cheering them on…what did they do in Malaysia? Hire a bunch of locals or something to stand and wave flags? Imagine what they must have been thinking watching this!

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