It's A Christmas Knockout 1981

Entrants 1981: Belgium (B) • Great Britain (GB) • Italy (I) • Netherlands (NL)

Presenters:
Michel Lemaire (B)
Stuart Hall (GB)
Claudio Lippi (I)
Dick Passchier (NL)

Referees: Gennaro Olivieri and Guido Pancaldi

Scoregirls: Jan Rasmussen and Angie Green

Designer: Stuart Furber
Producer: Geoff Wilson
Director: Bill Taylor

Produced by RTBF-BRT (B), BBC North West (GB), RAI (I), NCRV (NL)

GB

It's A Christmas Knockout 1981

Christmas Special

Event Staged: Monday 7th and Tuesday 8th December 1981
Venue: The Aviemore Centre, Aviemore, Highlands, Scotland, Great Britain

European Transmissions (Local Timings):
RAI Uno (I):
Friday 24th December 1982, 10.00-11.45pm (La Vigilia di Natale)

BBC1 (GB): Saturday 2nd January 1982, 5.40-6.40pm

Theme: Festive Fun
Winners' Trophy presented by: Morris Marshall, General Manager of The Aviemore Centre

Teams: Namur (B) v. Aviemore (GB) v. Falcade (I) v. Tilburg (NL)

Team Members included:
Namur (B) - Oliver Peron;
Aviemore (GB) - Roderick Bruce, Brian Dickson, Jim Gillam, Ingrid Grant, Dougie McBain, Ewan McKenzie, Louise McKenzie;
Falcade (I) - Atillio Buzetti;
Tilburg (NL) - Annette Buren, John McDonald, Nichol Tumen.

Games: Christmas Robins, Gruffs and Hounds and Bones, Skating Butlers, Parcels Through Poles, Ski Slalom, Walking the Dogs, Drunken Husbands and Dressing Snowmen.

Game Results and Standings

Games

Team / Colour

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
Points Scored
B 3 3 3 2 1 1 4 1

GB

4 4 4 4 4 2 2 4
I 3 1 1 3 3 4 3 3
NL 3 2 2 1 2 3 1 2
Running Totals
(Leading teams shown in red)
B 3 6 9 11 12 13 17 18

GB

4 8 12 16 20 22 24 28
I 3 4 5 8 11 15 18 21
NL 3 5 7 8 10 13 14 16

Result

 Team

Points

Final Scoreboard

1st
2nd
3rd
4th

 GB • Aviemore
 I • Falcade
 B • Namur
 NL • Tilburg

28
21
18
16

The Host Town

Aviemore, Great Britain

Aviemore is a small town with a population of around 3,000 inhabitants and lies in the Cairngorms mountain range in the Scottish Highlands. It is located 40km (25 miles) south-east of Inverness, 144km (89½ miles) north of Edinburgh and 676km (420 miles) north-west of London. Although the town has existed since the 1600s, it didn't really begin to grow until the latter part of the 1800s with the arrival of the railway. In 1862, the first line was constructed and by 1892, it was an important junction with lines to Perth, Inverness and Forres. Hotels followed, and though the phrase would take a while to catch on, Aviemore started its evolution into a mountain resort.

 

The picturesque railway station in Aviemore dates back to the 1860s

 

The second major period of growth was in the early 1960s and followed the development of the ski areas of the 1245m (4084ft) high Cairn Gorm. This led to the Aviemore Centre being built in 1964, which provided a wide range of services for visitors and residents alike. Unfortunately, Scottish architecture in the 1960s tended to view concrete as the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything. As a result, what emerged in Aviemore seemed more than a little reminiscent of the sorts of structures going up in peripheral estates around Scotland's larger cities at the time. Aviemore has spent much of the intervening four decades trying to live down the reputation given it by the Aviemore Centre.

Most of today's Aviemore looks and feels much better designed and cared for than that of its past. Despite this, although housing development has continued apace on the north side of the town and to the west of the A9, there remain areas closer to the centre where development does appear to have stalled and is simply awaiting a kinder economic environment. Aviemore has all the services you'd expect of the main town serving a very large area. It also has a theatre, a swimming pool, a dry ski slope and a go-karting track. The town still has a railway station on the main Perth to Inverness line, and for enthusiasts and visitors, steam trains of the Strathspey Railway run a regular service on a restored branch line from Aviemore to Boat of Garten and beyond. Closely following the route of the restored line is the southern end of the Speyside Way. This long distance path opened in 2000 and now links Aviemore with Buckie on the north-east coast.

Aviemore also offers plenty of shopping opportunities, many in recently face-lifted and refreshed shops. If you are looking for a supermarket you will find one. If you want outdoor or skiing clothing or equipment, you will find plenty to choose from. And you will also find no shortage of shops appealing to passing tourists.

The Venue

The Aviemore Centre

The games for this festive edition were played in the ice rink at the Aviemore Centre which was Scotland’s premier ski resort at the time. Until the mid 1960s, Aviemore had been a sleepy and unremarkable village about an hour's travel south-east of Inverness, on the A9 and the Inverness-Perth railway line. The Aviemore Hotel had been destroyed by fire in 1950, and its site and that of its golf course lay in ruins for over a decade. In 1964, the developers moved in and transformed the place with the wasteland being used for the construction of the Aviemore Centre. The slopes of Cairngorm were developed for skiing and Aviemore itself was virtually doubled in size as a new holiday centre took shape behind the village. The Aviemore Centre consisted of hotels, shops, chalets, indoor sports facilities, a dry ski slope, a cinema, bars and restaurants and a craft centre. It was opened by Lady Fraser of Allander, wife of Sir Hugh Fraser 2nd Baronet - House of Fraser, in 1966. ’The Centre’, as it became affectionately known, quickly developed into a major Scottish tourist destination and, in its heyday, British royalty were regular visitors, including H.R.H. Prince Charles and Princess Anne who attended Royal Hunt Balls at the Centre.
 

The central piazza and entrance to the sports hall and ice rink
at The Aviemore Centre in 1978

 

Despite its profile, the Aviemore Centre generated a lot of flak. Not only did it more or less eclipse the original village, it pitched itself downmarket and, some would say, appeared to regard itself as the Blackpool of the Scottish Highlands. Its critics were less kind and denounced the concrete blocky appearance of certain parts of the development. There were tales of scams, corruption and sharp employment practices. A new shopping parade in the village itself added to the gloom, being very much from the cinder-block school of architecture. Parts of it were imaginative and tastefully landscaped but there was a definite atmosphere of shabbiness about the place and its visitors.

By the mid 1990s, the glory days appeared to be over and the place was looking distinctly tatty and badly in need of refurbishment. By 1998, many of the original buildings had been demolished as part of a promised £50 million overhaul. Although the visitor buildings were replaced, many of the other leisure facilities were not. A sad end to a once beautiful multi-purpose all-year round establishment.

Presenters, Officials and Production Team

When Dutch commentator Dick Passchier presented his two games (each commentator had two each), he referred to Belgian team Namur as Namen (the Dutch equivalent for the city)!

Looks Familiar?

Many of the costumes and game ideas in this heat were the same as those used at the British International earlier in the year at Washington, but this time performed on ice!

Additional Information

The first night of recording saw the first two games played outside the Aviemore Centre Gift Shop. With temperatures reaching as low as -10° Centigrade (14° Fahrenheit), the small crowd of about 150 people along with contestants and commentators could be seen bellowing clouds of hot air even when breathing! The second day of recording saw the games move into the centre’s ‘warmer’ ice rink, where the final six games were played.

British team Aviemore proved more than a match for the other three teams in this Christmas event. After winning the first five games, the team was unstoppable. After the result of the sixth game, Aviemore could not lose the contest, even if they came last in the remaining two games. However not to be outdone the team still managed to win the final game, to make it six games out of eight overall in the heat!

The winning trophy was a 5-litre bottle of Bell’s Scotch Whisky!

Although this programme was broadcast in the three other countries on Thursday 31st December 1981, the BBC elected to show it early in the New Year of 1982. In a slip of the tongue, Stuart Hall referred to it as "this festive Christmas edition" and then quickly changed it to "this festive and New Year edition".

Made in Colour • This programme exists in the BBC Archives

 

JSFnetGB Series Guide pages researched by
Alan Hayes, David Hamilton, Neil Storer, Christos Moustakas, Philippe Minet,
Sébastien Dias, Ischa Bijl, Paul Leaver and JSFnet Websites