Friday 10th December 1982
Praia Dourada (Gold Beach), Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal
European Transmissions (Local Timings):
BRT (B): (not transmitted)
BBC1 (GB): Thursday 30th December 1982, 6.00-6.50pm
RTP (P): Saturday 1st January 1983, 5.30-7.00pm (as Jogos de Natal)
NCRV (NL): Saturday 1st January 1983, 8.18-9.20pm
Dana, singer (GB)
Hans Kazàn, magician (NL)
Paulo Caetano, bullfighter (P)
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.