as Great Britain and France had their own Domestic Series (It's A Knockout and Intervilles,
respectively), West Germany had their own series called Spiel Ohne Grenzen which was made by Westdeutscher Rundfunk (more commonly
referred to as WDR) and broadcast on their ARD channel (in common with Jeux
Sans Frontières). Like its British and French counterparts, Spiel Ohne
was more than just a joust between towns, as the winning teams would qualify
for Jeux Sans Frontières.
series would undoubtedly look familiar to viewers of It's A Knockout
and Jeux Sans Frontières, as its format was similar and games
often involved outsized and humorous costumes. The first Domestic Spiel Ohne
Grenzen was transmitted on Saturday 29th April 1967, leading in to the
third year of their participation in Jeux Sans Frontières. West German teams
met with considerable successful in the early JSF
competitions, and this can no doubt be attributed to the opportunities for
competitive practice that their Domestic Series afforded.
Bizarrely, there is now more interest for
Spiel Ohne Grenzen outside of Germany,
from places as far afield as Argentina and Latin America, India, the Middle
East, Nigeria and Sri Lanka, where the programmes have been repackaged by
Transtel Cologne under the
title Telematch and are still occasionally
repeated. Apparently, the showings in India still rate well in audience terms.
These overseas showings were all the result of Transtel's canny decision to
dub the shows into Arabic, English, French, Hindi and Spanish.
format of the show changed for the last three years that Spiel Ohne Grenzen was
in production. Previously a weekly competition where teams from two West
German towns would compete against each other for the honour of representing
their country in Jeux Sans Frontières, from 1978-1980, there were only
two events staged annually, with each featuring five teams. The top three
teams in each of these competitions would go through to the JSF events,
along with the highest scoring fourth-placed team in the two heats.