Bamber Boozler


Bambette Boozler, Buster and Bonnie Boozler, Brian Boozler


Teletext on 4, 1 January 1993 - 15 December 2009 (approx. 5900 editions)


Teletext was originally designed to use some of the spare lines at the top of the television picture to convey news, sport, share prices, and weather details to specially-adapted television sets. By the early 1980s, the medium had attracted advertising, and the teletext service of ITV was sold off in 1993 to a new teletext company, Teletext. Their inability to show news, predict the weather, or even display subtitles quickly became a national joke. Well, a national joke amongst the very small teletext fanclub, everyone else was sniggering at the equally-useless GMTV.

One of the very few things Teletext did get right was their quiz, nominally hosted by a collection of coloured blocks named "Bamber Boozler". Viewers used coloured buttons on their television remote controls to select which answer was correct. A right answer moved on to the next question; an error brought up a "wrong answer" message, and sent the player back to the start. There were safe levels after a handful of questions, beyond which the player wouldn't fall. The objective was to encourage viewers to spend more time with Teletext's teletext service, and see the advertising messages at the bottom of each screen.

A sample question - answer later

It was a very simple game, easy to play, and entirely addictive - it's quite possibly the most compelling interactive application ever seen on teletext, or on Teletext. It wasn't all that original: similar quizzes had been offered on the teletext-over-a-telephone service PRESTEL in the mid-1980s.

Originally a weekly entertainment, with 25 questions, Bamboozle! became a daily event by the end of 1993, with 15 questions, reduced to 12 in the early 2000s. Other members of the Boozler family appeared: Mrs. Bambette Boozler, their children Buster and Bonnie (the latter "born" a few years after the quiz began). A sports quiz, "Ten to One" was hosted by Brian Boozler, and there were even a few Knightmare adventures played through teletext while the Boozlers were on a Christmas holiday.

Bamboozle! inspired other experiments in interactive television during the 1990s, and helped to guide developers when they came to write games for digital television in the late 1990s: the motto was "keep it simple". It's arguable that Bamboozle! was influential in one other way. Fifteen questions, each with four possible answers, and a potential top prize of, er, nothing. The comparisons with Who Wants to be a Millionaire? are almost entirely coincidental.

The Boozler family say goodbye as Teletext closes.


Julian Edwards, a features editor for Teletext.


The graphic for Bamber Boozler was based on Brian Potter, the organiser of a pub quiz league in Nottingham. (And OK, maybe a bit on Magnus Magnusson.)

Julian Edwards oversaw the quiz from 1993 to 2005, since when questions have been written by Teletext journalists including Charlie Ghagan and Roger Wilkinson. Their aim was to gently educate with a dash of showbiz.

By the end of the series, 56,940 questions had been asked.

The very last question asked was "Which was Charles Hawtrey's last Carry On film?". The answer: ...Abroad.

In the last few days, Buster and Bamber dropped heavy hints that the quiz may return on the internet. It did, in the form of an application for the I-phone, though this is no longer available.

The answer to the question earlier: The Spy Who Loved Me.

See also

Bamboozle (Channel 4, 2005), in which people tried to fool the press.


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