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Blockbusters (game show)

Blockbusters was a television game show in which contestants answered trivia questions to complete a path across a game board of hexagons.

Broadcast history

United States

The original
US version of Blockbusters, hosted by Bill Cullen, ran from October 27, 1980, to April 23, 1982. A second version, hosted by Bill Rafferty, ran from January 5 to May 1, 1987. Both versions aired on NBC.

United Kingdom

Blockbusters had a more successful run in the UK, where it was shown from 1983 to 1993 on the ITV network with Bob Holness hosting. The show, made by Central Television, was played by sixth form students with prizes accrued for the students and their colleges. The theme music for this version was by Ed Welch.

Subsequent series have been made for adult contestants, broadcast by the BBC (presented by Michael Aspel) and Sky Television (presented by Lisa Tarbuck). These versions failed to capture the same degree of popularity as the Holness incarnation.

Main game

A solo player competed against a "family pair" that consisted of two related contestants (married couples were not allowed), thus setting out to prove if two heads really were better than one.

The game board consisted of 20 interlocking hexagons, arranged in five columns of four. Each hexagon contained a letter of the alphabet. A contestant would choose one of the letters, and would be asked a general-knowledge trivia question whose correct answer began with the chosen letter. (A typical question was something like, "What 'P' is a musical instrument with 88 keys?" The answer would be a piano.)

The game began with a toss-up question to play for control of the board, starting with a letter that was chosen at random. The first contestant to buzz in with the correct answer gained control of that hexagon and was given the chance to choose another one. If the contestant answered incorrectly, the opposing team or player was given a chance to answer it. If nobody answered it correctly, the host asked another question whose answer began with that same letter.

The object of the game for the solo player was to complete a vertical connection from the top of the board to the bottom; that required at least four correct answers. The object for the family pair was to make a horizontal connection from the left side of the board to the right; that required at least five correct answers. The first player or team to win two games won the match.

Bonus round

The winner of the match went on to play the Gold Run bonus round; if the family pair won, only one player on the team could play. The board consisted of a pattern of hexagons similar to that of the main game, but the hexagons had multiple letters inside them; those letters were the initials of the correct answer. (For instance, if a contestant chose "ARC" and the host said "Organization founded by Clara Barton", the correct answer would be "American Red Cross.") If a contestant guessed incorrectly, that hexagon became a "block" and it was up to the contestant to work around it. The object was to horizontally connect the left and right sides of the board within 60 seconds.

On the original NBC version, each win in the main game was worth $500 and a successful Gold Run was worth $5,000. Contestants could stay on the show until they won ten matches; that was later changed to 20 matches. Thus, the most anyone could win on the show was $60,000 before the rule change, and $120,000 afterwards. Previous retired champions were invited back after the rule change.

Additional Info

Blockbusters was created by Steve Ryan, who also created the rebuses for Classic Concentration. He also co-authored the Encyclopedia of TV Game Shows with David Schwartz and Fred Wostbrock.

The game appears to be influenced greatly by the game Hex.

External links