Television Top of the Form



Robert MacDermot and David Lloyd James (1954)

Geoffrey Wheeler (1962-75 and 2006) with David Dimbleby (1962), Paddy Feeny (1963-6)


BBC Television, 25 April 1953 and 27 February 1954 (specials, as Top of the Form)

BBC1, 1962-75

BBC Four, 2006 (one-off)


This was the TV version of Top of the Form, the popular radio quiz for secondary schools. The contest was between two teams of four, with a requirement that the team members must be of different ages. The show initially had a rather unusual setup, involving a link-up between two separate schools with two questionmasters, one for each team.


Although a regular series didn't emerge until 1962, Top of the Form was first broadcast on TV as a one-off special on 25 April 1953. An all-boys team from Marylebone Grammar School played an all-girls team from Sheffield High School. The experiment was tried again in 1954 with Lady Margaret High School for Girls, Cardiff, taking on Solihull School for Boys.

Judith Chalmers was originally lined up to co-present, but was vetoed by The Powers That Be on the grounds that a woman wouldn't have the authority required of a questionmaster.

A one-off international match was held in 1965, between teams representing England and Germany. Full international competition was held in Transworld Top Team from 1967.

Geoffrey Wheeler returned to present the 2006 one-off revival, which was between the two schools that had featured in the last-ever original show. The trophy was presented to the winners by David Dimbleby. This one-off show was very enjoyable and begs the question: why haven't they fully revived the show, more than 5 years on? Surely there are few enough really intelligent quizzes for young people nowadays and surely most schools would be as keen to compete as most universities are in University Challenge?

Theme music

"Marching Strings" by Marshall Ross, performed by Ray Martin and His Concert Orchestra.

Web links

Whirligig Snippet - partial script from a 1964 edition.

Memories of a 1972 match between Manchester and Stranraer

See also

Top of the Form

Transworld Top Team


Geoffrey Wheeler handling questions for Dumfries


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