Guy LuxIf anyone could be credited as the brains behind the whole Knockout/JSF phenomenon, it would have to be Guy Lux. Born Maurice Guy, in Paris on June 21st 1919, Lux was a major star of French television for over forty years. He joined the French broadcasting channel ORTF in the late 1950s and shortly afterwards was developing (with Pierre Brive) a series which would become a major international success in a later guise. This series was Intervilles, a concoction of elements of the British series, Top Town and the 1961 Italian show Campanile Sera, liberally mixed with some fresh and fun ideas of his and Brive's own. The series debuted in France on July 19th 1962, a knockabout battle of skill consisting of bizarre and extravagant outdoor party games designed by the genial, former all-in-wrestler, Jean-Louis Marest. The series was produced by Brive with Lux taking the role of regular presenter with Simone Garnier and Léon Zitrone. Intervilles was an overnight hit on French television, and before long, Lux would expand the series to feature neighbouring European nations. 

This new series commenced in 1965, replacing Intervilles, entitled Jeux Sans Frontières. And we all know what an impact this series had throughout Europe! Guy Lux compered the heats and finals which took place in France, usually with regular co-host Simone Garnier. Like most other national presenters, he would also travel with the JSF circus, recording commentary tracks for French television. During Jeux Sans Frontières' hiatus between 1983 and 1987, Lux re-introduced Intervilles to French television in 1985, practically unchanged from its original format. A year later he produced and fronted a worldwide competition, Intercontinents, again hosted with usual suspects, Simone Garnier and Léon Zitrone. This was the highest rated show on French television in 1986.

It would certainly be an injustice to suggest that Lux's success was limited to Intervilles and Jeux Sans Frontières. Over the years, he produced, designed and/or presented over forty television and radio series, including hits such as  Interneige, Schmilblick, Monsieur tout le Monde and La Classe. In 1966, he turned to his first love - music - and produced and presented a celebrated series for French TV, Palmarès de la Chanson. Guy Lux suffered a heart attack in 1991, and when he decided to retire from presenting two years later, it was with an edition of Palmarès de la Chanson that he chose to bow out. 

Guy Lux, Asterix Caricature

Guy Lux - caricatured in the hugely popular Asterix comic series

Guy Lux died on Friday 13th June 2003, at his home in Neuilly-sur-Seine, aged 83. This loss was undoubtedly a significant one for the Jeux Sans Frontières family. Guy Lux was the man started it all, the man who was able to see beyond national boundaries and prejudices, who was able to bring together young people from different nations and cultures in the name of peace, fun and camaraderie. This vision inspired countless fun-filled evenings for television audiences across Europe, and his contribution to international television - and, dare I say it, in a small way, international relations - cannot be underestimated.

by Alan Hayes
with thanks to Christian Masson
Source: AFP and Le Monde