Pat Kenny


Action Time for Galaxy, 1990


What do you mean you've never heard of this? Actually, we never saw it on air at the time and neither did hardly anyone else because they'd needed to have a Squarial satellite dish at the time, which probably explains why BSB failed (or rather, "merged" to become BSkyB).

This was intended to fill the gap left by the demise of Granada's University Challenge, and was played between two teams of university students. Titles showed a stream of images and slogans (Cogito Ergo Sum, the Mona Lisa, Michelangelo's David, for example), ending in a pyramid with an eye at the top to symbolise "Intellect" in the mind of the graphic designer. The set had lots of columns, to suggest classical Greek, with added neon.

Presenter was Pat Kenny, well-known on Irish TV, who hoped to break into British TV with this show. He was in fact very good, and pleasantly smooth and authoritative. In each show, two teams of three from various colleges or universities competed, though for the semi-finals and final, the six contestants were each the best survivors from their teams, and competed as individuals.

Round One was curiously a report on the results of a half-hour "exam paper" which they had sat beforehand (45 minutes in the later stages), involving intelligence tests, code-breaking, and so on. A sample question: Look at these four words, and say which four letters come next in the sequence: THAT CALL HEAT HOME. The answer was WILS, because they were the first four letters of names of Prime Ministers, counting backwards from Mrs Thatcher (then in power), Callaghan, Heath, Home and finally Wilson. Nobody solved that one. Questions could be fiendishly difficult! With varying degrees of triumph, contestants told us the answers they'd "handed in", and the audience yawned.

Round Two involved "Shields" above the presenter's head, each carrying the name of a specialist subject, such as Sport, Science, History and Literature. The leading team or contestant had first pick, and could keep answering until the four questions on each topic were answered - getting all four meant a bonus as well. Once the Shield had been chosen, Pat revealed what the precise topic was - so Sport could actually mean "Football World Cups", Science was "Space Travel" and so on.

An "Interval Question" followed, a poser for teams and audience over the ad break, such as "How many British rivers have names sounding like letters of the alphabet?" (Dee, Exe, Wye, and, at a pinch, Tees.)

Round Three involved quick individual tests and some questions (Can you make A TARGET into a race meeting for boats? REGATTA) - get yours wrong and you were out, with your spotlight extinguished, whilst the others went on to answer the remaining questions.

Round Four was where teams nominated one representative (in the semis, the two top-scoring individuals went on) to go "head to head" in sound-proof boxes, answering on the buzzer. First to press scored plus or minus 5 points, the other scored plus or minus 3 for an answer, or minus 3 if failing to answer at all. Good idea, but it took ages to explain.

Questions were shown on a screen to the contestants. Examples included:

[1] Look at the words of the first group, and say which of the words from the second group belongs with them:



Answer: ASSIST, which begins with the name of an animal, ASS. The first group start with RAM STAG PIG and COW)

[2] Which old person is NEAR ANCIENT?


[3] WOBABESOD - Which pantomime does this suggest?

Answer: Babes in the Wood

This was an extremely tough quiz for competitors, and almost as tough for viewers to endure. Winners had to be real egg-heads! It ran for one series of 39 shows.


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