Mike Reid (1975-6)

Leslie Crowther (1977)

Stan Boardman (1977-8)

Mike Reid (again, 1978-81)

Metal Mickey (one-off special)

Gary Crowley (Poparound)

Johnny Vegas (Sport Relief one-off)


On-screen adjudicators:
Jude Hackett
Bill Gamon (197?-9, also announcer)
Tim Edmunds (1980-1)
Garry Rice (Poparound, also question-setter)

James Montgomery
Eve Thomas (1980-1)


Southern for ITV, 2 September 1975 to 7 September 1981 (103 episodes in 12 series + 3 specials)

as Poparound: Central for ITV, 19 June 1985 to 4 June 1986 (12 episodes in 2 series)


Runaround was a very fast moving quiz with eye-searingly bright set.

At the start of the show, we were introduced to the ten children in the game, with the usual kiddie's mini-CV of name, age, where from, hobbies and interests, complete with a cheesy "thumbs up" to the camera usually. Five of the children came from one school, the other five from another. Roughly half the audience came from each school, ensuring there was a loud rivalry throughout the game.

Would you buy a used car from this man? It's Mike Reid

The host would read out a general knowledge question, to which there were three answers offered on panels at the back of the studio, written in a glorious curvy 1970s font. He would then say "G-g-g-g-go!!", which meant that the kids could run from their little semi-circular home base across to one of three big circles on the floor.

1, 2 or 3 - come on, bet bet bet!

Very straightforward so far, but here's the clever bit. Having made their choice, they would have a couple of seconds (at the most) to "Runaround" by leaping into one of the adjacent circles should they wish to do so. Hence, you could "give your opponents the runaround", in case you think someone is just trying to follow what you did. During this bit, the lights would dim right down, and the correct answer was then revealed by the appropriate arrow lighting up. There was also an almighty computer-ish sound effect which said the correct answer, which sounded like a sound engineer had accidentally left all the echo and reverb knobs on full blast ("One-ne-ne, one-ne-ne")

Three's a charm

Right answers gained you one point (indicated by a yellow ball), unless you were the only person in the correct circle (in which case you got a red, two-point ball).

A wrong answer meant you had to go into the dungeon and stay there until only one child was left. The balls were placed in clear tubes beside each contestant's semi-circular pod.

The set of Runaround

Apart from the usual Q&A stuff, guests were brought into the studio to either do a little performance (e.g. a Chinese Dragon troupe) or show off a whizzy bit of kit (sports cars etc.) Further questions would be based around what you'd just seen.

At the end of the game, the balls would be counted up, and the child with the most was given first choice at the prize stand (usually the star prize of a bike or some such).

Key moments

One Christmas Special was set on the New Ice rink in Torquay, with the contestants on ice skates. It came complete with a penguin, reindeer, Madness and - of course - Big Daddy. Incidentally, the credits list also mispelt the name of the co-devisor, Merril(l) Heatter.



"Runaround... now!"


The Runaround format was devised by Merrill Heatter and Bob Quigley.

Theme music

Jugg Music

Opening titles


Questions verified by Encyclopedia Britannica.

According to Mike Reid in the 2004 book The Dream Factory, Southern brought the American format, recorded and broadcast the first episode within just eight weeks.

Recording on the first show began at 4pm and ended five and a half hours later owing to many problems, particularly with the animal guests (namely a horse and fifty sheep). It was after this first show that Reid and director Colin Nutley decided the programme should be shot in one continuous take. Thus, many Runaround recordings took just half an hour to complete.

At one point, the production team recorded up to 21 programmes per week.

Gary Crowley (yes, the bloke who presented The Beat) hosted a spin-off called Poparound based on music questions, and using gold and silver disks as the scoring tokens.

One of the directors was J. Nigel Pickard, later a supremo at Children's BBC and later grown-up telly on ITV.

At one point, Runaround claimed a 74% share of the viewing audience; its typical opposition was an Open University programme on BBC2, and a badly-dubbed European drama on BBC1.

By the time Runaround had its second anniversary on air, it was already into its fifth series.

Host Mike Reid was criticised for being nasty to children who shouted out the answers. He said in 2006, "I had to keep them quiet, otherwise we wouldn't have a show. I was aggressive. I was not nice to the kids, but that was just part of me being Mike Reid the comedian, because when I was growing up, there was all the skinheads about and everything, and as a compere I had to shut-up everyone in the audience before we could put the show on." tells us that out of the 106 episodes made during its six-year run, 35 survive:

Series 5: Episode 9
Series 7: Episode 3
Series 8: Episode 4
Series 9: Episodes 4, 6 & 10
The 1979 Christmas Special
Series 10: Episodes 1, 3-5, 7-8 & 10-13
Series 11: Episodes 1-7, 9 & 11-14
Series 12: All 6 episodes

Assuming that they're accurately catalogued, some of the missing episodes have been put on, often in poor quality:

Part 1 of a missing episode (Episode 4) from Series 5 (1977)

There's also episode 2 from series 10 in 1980, a horror special from series 11 in 1981 (episode 10), and four minutes from series 11 episode 8, also from 1981.


Runaround annuals and quiz books were published.

Web links

Watched It!

Wikipedia entry


A Runaround contestant (with scoring tube in background).
Contestants about to give their opponents the runaround
The correct contestants pick up a yellow ball.
The pile of prizes
The kid chooses the expensive telly. No surprise there.


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