On the Domestic front in the lead-in to the International competitions, the second series of It’s A Knockout dispensed with the Lancashire-Yorkshire format of the 1966 series and went national, with each weekly winner progressing to the international Jeux Sans Frontières competitions in Europe. This Domestic series also featured the first appearance of future main presenter, David Vine, who was introduced to It’s A Knockout audiences as Master of Ceremonies. Meanwhile, West Germany transmitted its first Domestic series of Spiel Ohne Grenzen, which saw two teams go head-to-head each week with the winner progressing through to the International series.

Interneige continued into 1967, entering its third year of competition. The Winter International Series was again contested by teams from Switzerland and France and was transmitted live on five consecutive Sunday afternoons commencing 29th January, building up to the Winter Final on 26th February 1967.

The 1967 series of Jeux Sans Frontières can be seen as a watershed in the history of the programme. Whereas previously only four nations had contested the competitions and the events had been two-headers with only two nations competing against each other at once, this was all changed for the new series. Two new nations joined the fray, namely Switzerland, who had previously competed in the winter Interneige programmes since 1965 and had formed neutral juries for the summer competitions, and Great Britain, who had commenced their Domestic It’s A Knockout competitions in 1966. In addition, the aspect of the Jeux Sans Frontières competitions that had involved the participation of ‘intellectuals’ was dropped, presumably due to the number of nations competing - the ‘Game of Questions’ was slow-paced with two nations competing, so with six it would likely have been soporiphic!

This year saw the introduction of the ‘Jeu Handicap’ (The Handicap Game) to the International series, which was always played as the final game. The team that was standing at the foot of the rankings before the game would start a distance ahead of the 5th placed team, who would start ahead of the 4th placed team and so on. The idea was to give a head start to the lower placed teams. The game was repackaged and used again during the 1996 series. There was also a sporadic appearance of the ‘Jeu Divisée’ (The Divided Game) which was interspersed between two or three games before the result of the game was announced. This was a forerunner to the ‘Jeu Intermédiaire’ (The Intermediary Game) which in turn became the ‘Fil Rouge’.

Viewers of Jeux Sans Frontières would notice that after a two-year period of a mainly male-dominated competition, females participated in the games in their own right for the first time, and to this end the games became unisex-friendly.

Jokers were also introduced this year. They could be played on any game and would ‘double’ the score the team achieved on that game. Over the years, the Joker element of Jeux Sans Frontières would become synonymous with the series, and even today it is one of the first things people recall about it.

Unusually, due to two abandoned games in the International Heats, programme executives had to resort to a rarely used rule and alter the qualifying criteria for the 1967 International Final. As a result, teams’ eligibility for the final - if national rivals were tied on finishing positions - was determined based upon their average points score (points scored divided by number of games played), rather than the default criteria of highest number of points amassed.

There is no doubt at all that British teams under-performed in the debut series of Jeux Sans Frontières. This was noted in a letter written by E. Wakefield of Durham City published in the BBC listings magazine Radio Times on October 19th 1967. Wakefield complained that, “Britain was the only team which didn’t train, and this is why almost every British team was disgraced. I look forward to the next series, which I hope will contain more competitive British teams.”

While it is true that none of the competitions ended in British victories, three British teams - Lytham St. Annes, Worthing and Cheltenham Spa - acquitted themselves respectably and recorded 3rd place finishes. Cheltenham Spa repeated this feat in the International Final, tying for 3rd place with Italian team Montecatini Terme, and thus secured the Bronze Trophy. The other three British entrants recorded a 5th place (Llandudno) and two last place finishes (Bridlington and Hawick). Hawick’s performance was particularly poor and their score of 15pts remains the worst ever score in Jeux Sans Frontières by a British team. In all, a mixed set of results - and British fans would have to wait until 1969 to witness the first International victory by a British team.

Meanwhile, it was a different story for West Germany, having ended the year with none of their teams finishing outside the top three places. In fact, the country had only been placed in two different positions throughout the series. If they did not win the competition (which they did on four out of seven occasions), then they ultimately finished in third place! They also set the record of most games won in a series with a tally of 25 games won out of a possible 69 played!

West Germany would also become the first country to win the Jeux Sans Frontières Golden Trophy in successive years, an achievement they would repeat in 1968, 1969 and 1977. In fact, it would not be emulated by another country until 1989 (when Portugal won for a second successive year) and 1995 by the Czech Republic.

JSFnetGB Series Guide pages researched by
Neil Storer and Alan Hayes
with Ischa Bijl, Julien Dessy, Sébastien Dias, David Hamilton, Denis Kirsanov, Paul Leaver, Philippe Minet,
Christos Moustakas, David Laich Ruiz, Marko Voštan and JSFnet Websites