Jeux Sans Frontières (English translation: "Games Without Frontiers") was born
out of Guy Lux/Mistral TV's Intervilles series, which had grown into a
major success since its French television debut on July 17th 1962.
three series of inter-town shenanigans, it was realised that Intervilles
could blossom into something even bigger. Guy Lux and ORTF approached other European broadcasters and the idea of
staging an inter-country sister series to Intervilles was born. Jeux
Sans Frontières launched on May 26th 1965. In its first series, JSF
was a competition between four
European countries: France, Belgium, Italy and Germany.
Legend has it that the inspiration for moving the series beyond
its original town versus town format and out into Europe lay with the
then-President of the French Republic, General Charles de Gaulle. De Gaulle
reputedly advocated competitions to bring the youth of France and Germany
together in a common pursuit. "The day when two cities, one German and the
other French, meet in competition, we do not doubt that it will result in a
better understanding of each of our two countries," he is reported to have
said. Whether or not this statement was actually a direct influence on Guy Lux
and those behind Intervilles is open to interpretation, but regardless,
come 1965, the first pan-European competitions were played out.
Initially, Jeux Sans Frontières - at this point
subtitled Internations - followed the format of Intervilles,
with only two teams contesting each week's competition. One week the
French would play the Germans, the next the Italians would face the
Belgians, and so on for six weeks, with the highest scoring team from each
nation qualifying for the semi-final stage. The two semi-final winners -
in 1965, these were Saint-Amand-les-Eaux of France and Ciney of Italy -
qualified for the grand final (the result of which was an 11-11 draw). This format was
retained for 1966.
1967 saw some changes and you can read about them in the
The Formative Years.
Alan Hayes, with thanks to