Trio - A Knockout Special 1982

Entrants 1982: Belgium (B) • Great Britain (GB) • Netherlands (NL) • Portugal (P)

Unknown (BRT - B) - withdrew
Vince Hill (BBC - GB)
Dick Passchier (NCRV - NL)
Yvonne Ferreira and Eládio Clímaco (RTP - P)

Referees: Gennaro Olivieri and Guido Pancaldi

Designer: Stuart Furber
Geoff Wilson
Director: Bill Taylor

Produced by BRT (B), RTP (P), BBC North West (GB), NCRV (NL)


Trio - A Knockout Special 1982

Christmas Special

Event Staged: Friday 10th December 1982
Venue: Praia Dourada (Gold Beach), Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal

European Transmissions (Local Timings):
BRT (B):
(not transmitted)
Scheduled - BBC1 (GB):
Thursday 30th December 1982, 6.00-6.50pm (not transmitted)
RTP (P): Saturday 1st January 1983, 5.30-7.00pm (as Jogos de Natal)
NCRV (NL): Saturday 1st January 1983, 8.18-9.20pm (as Zeskamp-Speciaal)

Special Guests:
Unknown (B)
Dana, singer (GB)
Hans Kazàn, magician (NL)
Paulo Caetano, bullfighter (P)

Theme: Sports and Festive Games

Teams: Plymouth Royal Navy Medics (GB) v.
Hilversum TV Personnel (NL) v. Algarve Hotel Waiters (P)
and Blankenberge (B) - withdrew from final recording, see Additional Information

Team Members included:
Hilversum TV Personnel (NL) -
Lisette Hordijk, Catherine Keyl, Leontine Ceulemans, Fred Benavente, Sipke van der Land and Henk Mouwe.

Games: Plucking the Chickens (Portugal), Building the Cannon (Great Britain), Building Television Sets (Netherlands), Serving the Dinners (Portugal), Collecting the Magazines (Netherlands), Tying the Knots (Great Britain), Lighting Christmas Trees (Netherlands), Bottles, Glasses and Trays (Portugal) and Lighting 1983 (Great Britain).

Game Results and Standings





 GB • Plymouth Royal Navy Medics
 NL • Hilversum TV Personnel
 P • Algarve Hotel Waiters
 B • Blankenberge


Additional Information

This programme was designed to round off what was then thought to be Jeux Sans Frontières' final year, and hopefully augur in a new format which would allow for the continuation of the series at a time when the likes of the Dutch, French, Germans, Swiss and Yugoslavians had decided to participate no longer. On Saturday 22nd May 1982, the British newspaper Daily Mirror, ran a story entitled Knocked Out!, which revealed the 1982 series of Jeux Sans Frontières would be the last. It went on to suggest that British producer Geoff Wilson was "looking for a new formula for international fun and games" and that "a try-out programme [would] be filmed on a beach in the Algarve [which would] be ready for Christmas viewing."

Unfortunately, this pilot show, ostensibly a Christmas special, was a disastrous affair. It started off as Quartet - Games at Christmas with four nations taking part - Belgium, Great Britain, Netherlands and Portugal - but ended with just three, with the Belgians leaving the programme for wholly understandable reasons. The build quality of the games for this event was of a standard greatly inferior to those in other Jeux Sans Frontières competitions, cheaply made and fragile, and this led to an unusually high number of equipment and prop failures. Additionally, very little thought had been put into the possible outcomes of the games and many of the games produced ties. In fact, two of the nine games played ended with all three teams getting three points each.

After several games had been played, the Belgian team from Blankenberge were in a strong 1st position, but the continued problems with the games caused the production team to announce that they intended to restart the entire competition. The Belgian team considered this decision to be grossly unfair to them and protested, suggesting that the results thus far should be allowed to stand. When the producers refused to agree to this, instead resetting the scores to zero, the Belgian teams and the BRT personnel announced, in a show of solidarity, that they would take no further part in the recording. Whether this was a gambit designed to force the production team to back down that ultimately backfired on the Belgians, we shall probably never know. The producers would not budge and the new recording went ahead with just three teams and absolutely no sign of any Belgian involvement. This information is all sourced from articles in the Dutch press.

One innovation, not particularly welcome to JSF purists, was that teams participating in this competition would be drawn from particular professions in each town, rather than from the sports fields of those places. Consequently, this competition saw British Royal Navy medics take on Dutch television professionals and Portuguese waiters (it is unclear which profession represented the Belgian team). This was a format choice that was returned to in 1984 for Anything Goes, with no great success, it must be said.

As with the International Final, the games were designed by the competing countries. Portugal designed games about Food and Drink, Netherlands designed games with a Television theme (except one concerning the lighting of Christmas trees) and Great Britain designed games about Naval Shipping. It is highly likely that a proportion of these games were actually designed by Belgian television, but it is difficult to fathom which. Additionally, one wonders whether there were any games that had to be revised due to the lack of one team.

While at first glance, the Dutch game 'Lighting Christmas Trees' might be thought to be off their theme of Television, there is the distinct possibility that it was influenced by the Gerbrandy Tower, a partially guyed television mast in IJsselstein. Every year at Christmas, lamps on the guys are lit and the mast is transformed into the world's largest artificial Christmas tree!

Even with the second recording, the problems continued and the BBC, in particular, were concerned that the programme was not of a broadcastable standard. By time they came to post-produce their version back in Manchester, they had decided to rename it Trio - quite possibly an in-joke on their part following the debacle in Portugal involving the Belgians. The BBC listings magazine Radio Times were advised of the programme title and content for their Christmas double-issue and the BBC1 transmission was scheduled for 6.00-6.50pm on Thursday 30th December 1982. The Christmas issue of the magazine had a lead time of nearly a month back in the 1980s, and in this period, BBC management came to the decision that Trio was not of sufficient quality to be broadcast. Trio was replaced with a hastily compiled retrospective, Best of Knockout, hosted by Stuart Hall. You can read more about this in Knockout TV. The BBC did not retain a copy of Trio in their television archives and the result was never publicised - it is published here for the first time anywhere.

The programme does however appear to have been transmitted in both the Netherlands and Portugal. Newspaper archives give transmission dates and times for the Christmas special, with the Dutch listing (titled Zeskamp-Speciaal like all JSF Christmas specials on the NCRV) revealing sufficient detail to be sure that the transmission was the Portuguese special. Since newspapers would have been printed little more than a day ahead of the transmissions, it is 99% certain that these broadcasts did in fact go ahead. This is in contradiction to what BBC producer Geoff Wilson had heard, but we feel the evidence points to the transmissions in these two countries as being as good as confirmed. Of course, there is an element of doubt, not least because some British newspapers still had Trio listed on the day of broadcast - and the British transmission did not happen.

Regardless, Trio must count as a sorry end for the first era of Jeux Sans Frontières.


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