|Terry Wogan (1979-1983)|
Les Dawson (1984-1990)
Paul O'Grady as Lily Savage (1997–1999, 2001–2002)
Grundy 1999, 2001
Blankety Blank is a British comedy game show based on the 1977–79 Australian game show Blankety Blanks (which was in turn based on the American game show Match Game).
Two contestants competed. The contestants were always a man and a woman or two women; at no point did two men compete head-to-head. The object was to match the answers of as many of the six celebrity panelists as possible on fill-in-the-blank statements.
The main game was played in two rounds. The contestant was given a choice of two statements labelled either "A" or "B". The host then read the statement. When Les Dawson became the host the programme did away with the A or B choice but this was reinstated when Lily Savage became the host.
Frequently, the statements were written with comedic, double entendre answers in mind. A classic example: "Did you catch a glimpse of that girl on the corner? She has the world's biggest 'blank'."
While the contestant pondered his/her answer, the six celebrities wrote their answers on index cards. After they finished, the contestant was asked for his/her answer. Frequently, the audience responded appropriately as the host critiqued the contestant's answer (for the "world's biggest" question, the host might compliment an answer such as "boobs" or "rear end", while expressing disdain to an answer such as "fingers" or "bag").
The host then asked each celebrity – one at a time, beginning with #1 in the upper left hand corner – to give his/her response. The contestant earned one point for each celebrity who wrote down the same answer (or reasonably similar as determined by the judges) up to a maximum of six points for matching everyone.
After play was completed on the contestant's question, the host read the statement on the other card for the challenger and play was identical.
The challenger again began Round 2, with two new questions, unless he/she matched everyone in the first round. Only celebrities that a contestant didn't match could play this round.
Tiebreaker rounds: If the players had the same score at the end of "regulation", a tiebreaker was used that reversed the game play. The contestants would write their answers first on a card in secret, then the celebrities were canvassed to give their answers. The first celebrity response to match a contestant's answer gave that contestant the victory; if there were still no match (which was rare), the round was replayed with a new question.
A fill-in-the-blank phrase was given, and it was up to the contestant to choose the most common response based on a studio audience survey. After consulting with three celebrities on the panel for help the contestant had to choose an answer. The answers were revealed after that; the most popular answer in the survey was worth 150 Blanks, the second-most popular 100 Blanks, and the third most popular 50. If a contestant failed to match any of the three answers, the bonus round ended.
Another game was played with two new players, and the one who amassed the most from the Supermatch won the game (and if the two winners got the same it would go to sudden death). Here, they could win a better prize (doubling their blanks or a holiday). The player chose one of the celebrities who would write down their answer to a "word BLANK" phrase. The player would then give their answer, if they matched, they won and if not they didn't.
Prizes on British game shows of the 1980s seem very poor by modern standards. The Independent Broadcasting Authority restricted prize values on ITV shows, and BBC-programme prizes were worth even less because the Corporation felt it inappropriate to spend licence payers' money on such things. As a result, the poor-quality prizes became a running joke throughout the show's various runs, particularly during the Dawson era. Dawson drew attention to the fact that the prizes were less-than-mediocre, not pretending that the show had "fabulous prizes" as others did, but making a joke of it.
Dawson affectionately ridiculed the show with dialogue such as "And for the benefit of anyone who hasn't got an Argos Catalogue, here's some of the rubbish you might be saddled with tonight.". On one memorable occasion, the 300 Blanks star prize was a trip on Concorde. As the audience (expecting the usual cheap prizes) clapped and cheered appreciatively, Les waved them down with "Don't get excited—it goes to the end of the runway and back."
Most famously was the consolation prize—the Blankety Blank chequebook and pen, which Les would often call "The Blankety Blank chequepen and book!" The "chequebook" consisted of a cheap-looking silver trophy in the shape of a chequebook. When one contestant had won nothing, Les rolled his eyes and asked her "I bet you wish you'd've stopped at home and watched Crossroads—do you want me to lend you your bus fare home?" However, despite Les's constant jibing of the consolation prize ("Never mind love, you might have lost, but you'll never be short of something to prop your door open with now..."), the chequebook and pen are now worth a great deal, as they were never commercially available and only a limited number were made.
By the time of the 1990s revival, the IBA prize limits had been lifted, and the star prize was generally a holiday.