When the British Royal Family participated in the other games
February 11, 2018 1:23 PM   Subscribe

It's A Knockout (1966-2001 in the UK), adapted from the French show Intervilles, was a strange hybrid of village rivalries, Eurovision and the Olympic Games. In 1987, a charity version [1] [2] [3], organised by Prince Edward and involving several Royals and many celebrities such as Sheena Easton and John Travolta, was televised. Of the presenters, some prospered while others passed away [1] [2] or were jailed. Despite large viewing figures, reviews were unkind and Edward was disappointed with journalists. Later, it transpired that Meatloaf and Prince Andrew fought by a moat over Princess Ferguson. Since then, Royals have largely shied away from reality TV, though Edward continued various media projects to this day.
posted by Wordshore (21 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
(tbh I wasn't that enthusiastic about doing this FPP. But I'd probably never again have the chance to write "Meatloaf and Prince Andrew fought by a moat over Princess Ferguson" so I kinda felt I had to.)
posted by Wordshore at 1:27 PM on February 11 [15 favorites]

There was a reasonably odd Australian version of it's a knockout, as well as an either odder revival in 2011
posted by jaymzjulian at 1:28 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

I went to a taping of It's A Knockout (Australian edition) back in 1986 as an undersized 6-year old. We sat in the Queensland stands - we were on a holiday and visiting friends in New South Wales and Victoria - and waved little yellow plastic flags given to us. The rest of it is all a faded memory, although I remember disappointment at the lack of fireworks-over-the-scoreboard at the end ; turns out that was just a bit of footage that they recycled at the end credits.
posted by sektah at 1:37 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

I was going to say this looked a lot like Jeux Sans Frontières, and, uh.. turns out it's like the Premier League to JSF's Champions League.
posted by lmfsilva at 1:40 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

There was an American version in the mid-70s, with the not-so-great title "Almost Anything Goes".
posted by oneswellfoop at 1:44 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

Me: “Oh, it’s just like Battle of the Network Stars!”
Me, after skimming some supremely underwhelming Battle of the Network Stars on YouTube: “Oh. No it isn’t.”

The actual crumminess of Battle of the Network Stars must be seen to be believed. It doesn’t just seem crummy relative to the inventive spectacle of the stuff in the FPP, either. It’s objectively crummy. Like, it seems as if the only reason they didn’t have an egg race is that the producers wouldn’t spring for spoons.
posted by Sys Rq at 1:54 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]

SysRq, I remember watching some of that at a hospital bedside in the '80s (unless it was Circus of the Stars, the same only different). Even as a kid who considered Double Dare appointment television, I felt a deep sadness at the sight of it. There was no remote control for the mounted TV either, as I recall. You had to ask a nurse to help you out of your plight, and the person in the bed was too tired to handle it.
posted by Countess Elena at 1:58 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

(tbh I wasn't that enthusiastic about doing this FPP. But I'd probably never again have the chance to write "Meatloaf and Prince Andrew fought by a moat over Princess Ferguson" so I kinda felt I had to.)

That's more than enough reason for any FPP.
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:00 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]

It is indeed, although, ahem... Meat Loaf (from M. L. Aday, which probably does not keep the doctor away) and Sarah, Duchess of York (then known as Her Royal Highness The Duchess of York).
posted by Sys Rq at 2:17 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

It's going to be tough for any royal to top Queen Arsinoe II of Egypt (and two other kingdoms before that -- her husbands had bad luck). She won 3 chariot races at the Olympics in 272 BCE, according to Posidippus.
posted by msalt at 2:18 PM on February 11 [5 favorites]

Suddenly these lyrics make more sense.

"Andre has a red flag, Chiang Ching's is blue
They all have hills to fly them on except for Lin Tai Yu
Dressing up in costumes, playing silly games
Hiding out in treetops, shouting out rude names.

Whistling tunes, we hide in the dunes by the seaside.
Whistling tunes, we piss on the goons in the jungle.

It's a knockout!"
posted by Zedcaster at 3:37 PM on February 11 [7 favorites]

Jeux Sans Frontières
posted by parki at 4:04 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]


Holy shit.

For years I've been wondering what that weird French game show I saw once (and once only) on late-night TV was called. I've been insisting for years I saw it, and that the show throws a live bull into the mix to really liven things up. Now I know what it's called and how to find it so I can prove to people I didn't imagine it.

Thank you.
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 5:38 PM on February 11 [2 favorites]

Look, any time you can get Jane Seymour have to climb off a Juliette balcony (video Part 2) in a Wipeout-esque scene... I think you can call your event a success.
posted by Nanukthedog at 5:49 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

It was obvious that Prince Edward himself felt it had gone badly. Famously, at a press conference which happened immediately after the show, he asked the assembled journalists what they had made of it. One reporter chirped up with ‘A pile of shit, Your Majesty.’ At this, Edward lost his cool completely and an unseemly fist fight broke out between him and several of the reporters. He was eventually dragged away, kicking and screaming, by the Duke of York.

In his tell-all autobiography, Steven Toast claims to have been replaced by Eddy Grant in It’s a Right Royal Knockout.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 8:09 PM on February 11 [3 favorites]

OMG we had a local version of this in NZ: L&P Top Town. I had totally forgotten it!
posted by lollusc at 10:51 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

Ah yes, the Princess Ferguson, Austin Morris’s ill-fated hybrid agricultural family car vehicle, a poorly-received joint venture back in the late seventies.
posted by Segundus at 11:01 PM on February 11 [4 favorites]

I never knew about the French origins for the show - but look at the opening credits without the sound - and it could really only be French, I think. The rather cavalier attitude to danger - most things go as long as they serve to entertain the crowd - is certainly French IMHO.

I guess I think of people being in padded costumes when I remember the game - but look at the footage in the first link where contestants have to make a flying leap off a high diving board to catch and hold onto a wooden lifesaver - which then moves along a wire until a point where they must choose when to let go so as to fall 10 feet onto a plastic island - or onto the backs of the previous contestants who have already landed there. Can you see that one getting the H&S green light these days?
posted by rongorongo at 11:07 PM on February 11 [1 favorite]

Can't wait until The Crown gets to this bit!
posted by threetwentytwo at 12:07 AM on February 12 [8 favorites]

I watched The Grand Knockout Tournament on the USA Network as a lad. It was worth it just for Meat Loaf in a giant foam vegetable costume trying to run down one of the world's fastest distance runners.
posted by delfin at 6:33 AM on February 12 [2 favorites]

I watched copious amounts of this as a child and clicking the links even for a minute has me in gales of laughter here. Do I dare to watch a whole ep? For those for whom this is their jam, you might like the it-but-on-a-bad-acid-trip Rubber Bandits helmed The Almost Impossible Game Show (TAIG).
posted by Iteki at 6:52 AM on February 12 [1 favorite]

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