Johnny Ball Games



Johnny Ball


BBC1, 4 January 1980 and 2 January 1981 (2 specials)


Edutainment ahoy! Proving how much of a gulf there is between junior and senior television, this was a pre-Fun and Games attempt by Johnny Ball Esq. to tax the brain and wow the eye with puzzles, songs, dancing and games - something akin to the board game Mindtrap as imagined through the medium of a Rolf Harris TV special.

Here's the host of Johnny Ball Games... it's Johnny Games!

A quartet of all-singing all-dancing singers (and dancers) introduce the show via the gift of song, and the momentum is prevented from hitting a complete stop by various blasts of inappropriate and over-loud music from the in-house band, and even a dance number incorporating JB himself.

A psychedelic dance routine of the type so sorely missing from Only Connect

Three nuclear families - labelled with circle, square or triangle name badges - are put through a series of physical games, mental brainteasers and physical puzzles, cajoled by one of the dancers lurking in the background to offer support and generally gurn like a loony.

A perfectly ordinary family of quantity surveyors

There appears to have been some kind of ongoing rebus puzzle where squares were removed whenever a right answer was given, a bit like Concentration.

"Is it Lulu?"

Amazingly, the whole charade was run again the year after, and seems to have dropped the families and brought together teams from Lewisham Leisure Centre and Birmingham Athletic Institute.

Theme music

If you've got a high IQ
If you can't add 2 and 2
Either way, this show's for you
Johnny Ball Games!
If you're 5 or 93
If you've half an hour free
Join in with the family
Johnny Ball Games!
Johnny Ball Games!
Johnny Ball Games!


The families Circle, Triangle and Square..for the purposes of this show, you understand.
It's hip to be Square. Unless you're not Huey Lewis, in which case it's just, y'know...
The little-known pilot for Everybody's Equilateral
The singers. Would it have hurt them to make a bit of an effort?
Super-intelligent kids who even as we speak are probably secretly controlling the destiny of the world. And it's all Johnny Ball's fault.
The puzzles in this show were so hard, contestants had to write them down.
A mirror puzzle...
...and another mirror puzzle.
The "Fill a Series of Sleighs with Giant Foam Balls Decorated to Vaguely Resemble the Head of Santa Claus, While Being Serenaded by a BBC Session Band" round (based on the popular 1970s board game of the same name)
Either a Rebus puzzle or proof that they didn't have much budget for the numbered squares.
Somewhere within this mess, there is a puzzle.
At last, somebody who actually knows what's going on.


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