George Melly


Team captains: Maggi Hambling (artist) & Frank Whitford (Royal College of Art tutor)


HTV West for Channel 4, 15 October 1984 to 23 June 1990 (40 episodes in 4 series)


High brow art quiz presented by the queen of the jazz scene George Melly. Two team captains (one of whom may have been a woman wearing a moustache, according to one correspondent) were joined by two celebs each. Points were gained for naming the painting and other straightforward questions. The paintings were viewed on a screen and taken from works that can be seen in British museums and galleries, presumably in the vain hope that the Channel 4 audience would get out there and see the works for themselves. If only they could get out of their bath chairs, eh?


Daniel Farson


Produced by HTV West although some series were recorded at HTV Wales' studios in Culverhouse Cross, Cardiff. The first series was filmed with a studio audience but this was scrapped for the remaining series.

Gallery was one of the few shows where each series aired bi-yearly throughout its run. The first series aired in 1984 on a Monday evenings of 6.30pm, series two aired in 1986 on Wednesday nights at 8pm, 1988's third series went out at 4.40pm on Sunday teatimes and the fourth series from 1990 aired in the competitive Saturday night slot at 6.30pm.

So just why was Maggi Hambling wearing a moustache? In a 2009 interview with Suffolk and Essex Online she said:

I was sitting there wearing this moustache, George was trying to keep order and he had this director, a man of no imagination whatsoever, yelling into his earpiece telling him to get me to take the moustache off. He was saying that I was undermining the serious, educational content of the show. Fortunately I was saved by Naomi Sargent from Channel Four who happened to be visiting the set that day. She said: 'She is doing exactly the right thing. Maggi shouldn't be the only woman on this show. She is making a feminist point.' I wasn't at all. I always wondered what I would look like in a moustache. It was just a little visual anarchy because if I said anything risqué it inevitably would be cut out. But you couldn't cut out the moustache - it was visual. And the cigarette was always there in those days and there was vodka in my glass not water.

Channel 4 commissioned the show from HTV after turning down a similar art quiz made by Granada with Bamber Gascoigne hosting. Hambling was a team captain in the unsuccessful pilot and recalled:

It was all pretty fast, like starter for ten and press the buzzer, which was all pretty frightful. [When HTV phoned] I thought they were pulling my leg. I told them about the other pilot I had done the week before and they said, 'We know about the other one, but come to Bristol it will be better - you can smoke, you can drink and George Melly is going to be in the chair. I went off to Bristol, it was huge fun with George and fortunately Channel Four decided to use the George Melly/Harlech version of the programme rather than the staid Bamber Gascoigne programme.

Gascoigne would finally get an arts quiz on the airwaves four years later, with Connoisseur.


An episode from the first series


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