Black Coun­try bor­ough won It’s a Knockout

Black Country Bugle - - FRONT PAGE - By DAN SHAW

DO you re­mem­ber the TV show It’s a Knockout? The main se­ries ran from 1966 to 1982 and there were sev­eral spe­cial edi­tions as well. In 1978 a team from the Black Coun­try put the re­gion on the map by win­ning the Bri­tish com­pe­ti­tion and mak­ing their way to the Euro­pean grand fi­nal.

The 13th sea­son of the show was broad­cast in 1978 and a team from Sandwell en­tered. The bor­ough was then only four years old, hav­ing been cre­ated in 1974 by an amal­ga­ma­tion of West Bromwich and War­ley and it was hoped the com­pe­ti­tion would bring recog­ni­tion to the new metropoli­tan bor­ough.

Sandwell took part in heat 4 of the se­ries and the team was made up of Ge­off Bennett (cap­tain), Rosie Bishop (ladies’ cap­tain), Paul But­ler, John Collins, Janet Dale, Sandy Dal­las, Colin Dewis, Trevor Drew, Karen Dumple­ton, Tony Gale, David Gil­lard, Ju­dith Gowan, Mervyn Green, Ian Ham­blett, Roger Hill, Hazell Humm, Pa­tri­cia Jones, Ann Keigh­ley, Paul Kelsey, Jim Lavin, Brian Lewis, Paul Lip­pi­att, Mick Lockwood, Steve Mil­lard, Ray­mond Mor­ris, Stan Os­borne, Yvonne Paint­ing, Les­ley Pal­lett, Gary Payne, Peter Reynolds, Gill Shin­ton, Ann Smith, Amanda Thornton and Ge­off Tib­betts.


It was some­thing of a Black Coun­try derby as they faced Wolver­hamp­ton as well as a team from Red­ditch. The Alder­s­ley Sta­dium in Wolver­hamp­ton was the venue.

Sandwell were the win­ners, with the scores Sandwell 30, Red­ditch 25 and Wolver­hamp­ton 19. That meant the team had qual­i­fied for the Bri­tish fi­nal and for the Euro­pean heats.

The Bri­tish fi­nal was held in June and trans­mit­ted on BBC1 on Septem­ber 13, 1978. Sandwell were up against Bath, Cleethor­pes, Crewe and Nantwich, East Kil­bride, Lon­don­derry, and Steve­nage.

At the end of the com­pe­ti­tion, Sandwell and Steve­nage were tied on 38 points. There was only one way to de­cide the re­sult – a sack race tie-breaker! Sandwell were vic­to­ri­ous and co­me­dian Ken Dodd pre­sented to the tro­phy to team cap­tain Ge­off Bennett.


The Euro­pean ver­sion of the show was called Jeux Sans Fron­tières and in their heat Sandwell rep­re­sented Great Bri­tain against teams from Silly (Bel­gium), Alt­dorf (Switzer­land), Lahn­stein (West Ger­many), Fon­tainebleau (France), Tolfa (Italy), and Ze­mun (Yu­goslavia).

It was filmed in July and broad­cast on Oc­to­ber 11. The venue was a spe­cially con­structed sta­dium on the banks of the Danube in the sub­urbs of Bel­grade, Yu­goslavia. The 3,200 seat sta­dium was barely fin­ished in time, with 100 Yu­goslav builders work­ing round the clock to meet the dead­line.

Dur­ing re­hearsals Sandwell’s Mick Lockwood broke his leg when he fell 25 feet af­ter the scaf­fold­ing rig he was stand­ing on gave way.

Sandwell were not de­terred by this set back and won with 48 points, the high­est to­tal of any Bri­tish team.

The grand fi­nal was held on Septem­ber 6, 1978 at the Parco Terme in Mon­te­ca­tini Terme, Italy, and the show was broad­cast on BBC1 on Novem­ber 8.

The teams were Wille­broek (Bel­gium), Arosa (Switzer­land), Bad Sobern­heim (West Ger­many), Fon­tainebleau (France), Sandwell (Great Bri­tain), Abano Terme (Italy), and Kragu­je­vac (Yu­goslavia).


The Sandwell team al­most did not make it to the fi­nals as the Ital­ian au­thor­i­ties in­sisted that they all have small­pox jabs be­fore they were al­lowed to en­ter the coun­try. The Ital­ians were even­tu­ally per­suaded that it would not be safe for the com­peti­tors to have the in­jec­tions be­fore tak­ing part in a tough, phys­i­cal com­pe­ti­tion.

For the fi­nal Sandwell wore red and were in con­fi­dent mood, hav­ing fin­ished run­ners-up in the full dress re­hearsal. They re­peated that per­for­mance in the fi­nal, end­ing up in sec­ond place be­hind Abano Terme, 43 points to 41.

•Are there any mem­bers of the Sandwell team among our read­ers? Please get in touch and tell us more about It’s a Knockout. Email [email protected] black­coun­try­bu­ or con­tact the Bu­gle at the Dud­ley Ar­chives Cen­tre, Tip­ton Road, Dud­ley, DY1 4SQ, 01384 889000.

Sandwell cap­tain Ge­off Bennett re­ceives a kiss from Sandwell May­oress Linda King, as his team be­came cham­pi­ons of Great Bri­tain

Sandwell in the grand fi­nal of Jeux Sans Fron­tières at Mon­te­ca­tini Terme, Italy

Sandwell do a lap of hon­our af­ter win­ning their heat of Jeux Sans Fron­tières in Yu­goslavia

Sandwell’s It’s a Knockout team

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