Back in my childhood days, if you happened to give the impression of knowing more than anyone else then a slur on your character and a bid to bring you down to size was unleashed with those two words. At first I conformed to the importance of appearing not to know that much. It worked for a while. Then came Bob.
My dear father was not an intellectual, he didn’t have anything more than a basic education. He did his bit to improve himself in his reading and his one regular television allowance was watching Mastermind. We would rush home from church on a Sunday night to be in time to watch Magnus Magnusson asking contestants questions on specialist subjects beyond me and general knowledge that made the specialist subjects look easy. I watched it with my Dad in the hope of getting at least one question right. Failing that, as I often did, I’d look to see if the mug passed on any questions and how many were passed. So it worked for me Dad, and it was a quiz show for clever clogs – so obviously I never mentioned it to anyone. Then came Bob.
Back in the 1990’s Central Television came up with an idea for a student’s quiz show and they called it Blockbusters. Looking at it now, there’s no reason why. It wasn’t as though blocks were being busted. Anyway I wasn’t in the ‘student’ age range at the time, but it wouldn’t be long and here at last was a show for clever clogs that I could be proud of. The format was a bit odd in having two contestants on the blue hexagons playing one contestant on the white hectagon. It seemed a bit unfair until the game started and it wasn’t unusual for the whites to beat the blues. Plus at least you didn’t have to share. Can’t be bad.
Few quiz shows got me into general knowledge like Blockbusters. Fewer still got me interested in the dictionary and being a clever clogs with words than Blockbusters. And then there’s Bob.
Quiz show can have a good format but if the host isn’t up to it the show can be a flop. Alternatively if the show format doesn’t excite that much then a great host can turn it around. Blockbusters had a good format but especially had the ideal host in Bob. I loved Bob. Here was a show for students and the host was like your favourite old teacher at school. Genial and kind, but focussed and controlled. He was so important that he was not known as Mr. Holness or sir, he was Bob. When you needed a letter, you asked for the letter, then said please, then said ‘Bob’. Awesome.
The Gold run was a fun part of the show and seeing if the reigning champs could get to that ultimate three in a row, was part of the thrill. The usual quiz show shenanigans would take place. Contestants buzzing in ahead of the end of the question to get it wrong. The tactical movement of their letter placements to stymie their opponents. The teaser of seeing if one would win only for Bob to tell us we would have to find out the next time. When on the hot-spot would they make it across the board in time. You would be jumping excitedly to scream the right answer and see if they would get it.
Now all these years later the circle is complete. My firstborn daughter at the innocent age of 6 has been initiated in the ways of Bob. She, just like her father, at the start of each game shouts ‘Let’s play Blockbusters!’ likewise when one has won the game she will shout out with Bob, ‘That’s it, that’s Blockbusters!’ Even the last born, barely a year old, knows to clap enthusiastically with her big sister and father at the appropriate time. Little gives me more joy than seeing Blockbuster joy spread round the Dryden Family.
I loved me some Blockbusters and I particularly loved me some Bob Holness, he made being a clever clogs cool.