First Letter First



Don Maclean


BBC1, 5 January to 23 March 1993 (32 episodes in 1 series)


The man with the teeth is back! Or was back for a month of afternoons. This shows main 'thing' was that you didn't have a big button which was your buzzer. Oh no, you had a keyboard and the correct answer is the first letter of the correct answer if you get what we mean.

There were three contestants per show over three rounds, each one eliminating one player. Round one was a standard definition of a word, and you pressed the first letter of it on your keyboard (laid out A to Z, lest the contestants not be typists). If you get the letter and answer correct, you win that letter. Once you have four letters or more, you try to create a word from them. The score was counted in words and letters, so someone with 1 word and 4 letters would beat someone with 0 words and 6 letters. The lowest scorer at the end of five minutes was eliminated.

Host Don MacLean

Second round was like a hidden crossword grid, with the name of a person hidden in it. As you guessed first letters of words (like Round 1), a few more squares were revealed, and a clue to the famous person was given. The person also eventually appeared in the grid somewhere which gave you two chances of discovering them. This was played as a best-of-three.

The winner went on to play a final round which was a pyramid of words (e.g. all letters that ended with -END) with increasing numbers of letters in them, and you had to find them all in the quickest time possible. You got up to two clues for each word, and the first letter of each answer formed a seven-letter word at the bottom of the screen; knowing this could help you fill in gaps in the words you've missed. This end game also had a 'sticky keyboard' apparently but we can't be bothered to make any dodgy Internet jokes here. Only joshing - if you made a mistake you'd be locked out for a few seconds before making another guess. The fastest 12 people in this round over the series came back for the finals week.


Colin Johnson

Theme music

Mark Newby-Robson


The whole show was run using BBC Micros hidden underneath the contestants desk. The quiz technology was hosted by an Acorn RISC machine, which also generated the video. Software lashed together by the Special Projects team within the BBC.


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