Amoebas to Zebras



Paul Ross (non-broadcast pilot)

Nigel Rees


Nicky Ezer ("scoregirl")


TSW (regional), 5 March 1986 to 19 February 1987 (12 episodes in 2 series)


Natural history quiz. Graffiti-recordist Nigel Rees posed animal questions - two teams of two in the first series, three individuals in the second.

Nigel Rees at the host's desk.

Questions covered all sorts of animals, with rounds including "identify this animal call", "what is this animal with a strange name", and "what is this and what is it not?" Each show had some guest animals come into the studio, Nigel asked questions about them.

The most memorable feature was a tree-like game board where each team would evolve from the primeval soup into more complex beings further up the tree for each right answer. The apex of the tree was man, but "Amoebas to Humans" didn't work as a title.

For the second series, contenders included professional botanists, interested members of the public, and celebrity animal-lovers - one episode featured newt fan and resting politician Ken Livingstone.

"I have to work with this slimy creature."

Key moments

No show has ever had such a bonkers scoring system. "Ken is out of the swamp and is now an amoeba, Mike is an insect, and Ralph is in the lead as an echinoderm."

Seriously. This was an actual thing on television.


Devised by Crispin Sadler and Nick Fischer


Taglined as A Natural History Quiz (according to the titles).

It's pronounced "Ameebas to Zeebras", a rhyme.

Made by Television South West, primarily as a local show. Some regions - including Thames - picked up the series later in the year.

On the podcast Fingers on Buzzers, Paul Ross revealed that he did a pilot of this show. Strangely, he seemed to be unaware that a full series ever made it to air.


An episode from 1987.


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