Ultra Quiz



Series 1: Michael Aspel

Series 2: David Frost and Willie Rushton

Series 3: Stu Francis and Sara Hollamby


Outdoor reporters, series 1: Sally James and Jonathan King

Prediction experts, series 1: Russell Grant and David Manuel

Commentator: John Benson


TVS in association with 20th Century Fox Television, Nippon Television Network and Action Time for ITV, 9 July 1983 to 17 August 1985 (24 episodes in 3 series)


We believe that only one Japanese game show has the distinction of being featured on Nationwide; Ultra Quiz was it. Clips showing the full variety of the show's antics predated Clive James' presentation of the same by many years. Watch as losing contestants are thrown off a ship, thrown into jail or are given forfeits such as eating a whole chicken!

Sadly, nothing quite as serious translated into the British version of the same name, though it did have a particularly cruel streak all the same. A large number of people gathered on a beach or in a car park and answered questions by standing in giant circles according to their preference between multiple-choice answers, being eliminated for wrong answers.

Ever-decreasing numbers of successful contestants would be led upon a tour of the world, which would end abruptly upon poor performance within one of the inherent trivia tests within. A single prize for the single winner - a then unheard-of £10,000.

In series 1, 2000 contestants lined up on Brighton Beach as they were whittled down to just 200 by means of a number of either/or questions. The lucky few then were hurded onto a cross-channel Ferry to France, and given a quiz to do. Everyone on board was given a number to wear - little did they know that these represented their scores. So you could see other people's score but not your own. The top 50 then went on to a long elimination process over the weeks, whilst the others were sent straight back on the ferry home. In the studio, TV's bubbliest Aquarius Russell Grant and computer boffin David Manuel (sporting a very spangly Epson QX10) kept predicting who they thought would win the game. When it got down to the final two, they both predicted the wrong person. The final took place in the TVS Studios, Southampton.

In series 2, all the costs of the studio were dumped and instead David Frost, a cheaper version of Alan Whicker if you will, travelled the world with the contestants. The semi-final took place in Hawaii and the final at Arundel Castle.

Series 3 was dubbed Ultra Quiz '85, lest anyone forget the year. This series went a bit more down the pier in its humour, and the final was held in - where else? - Bournemouth.

Key moments

In the series 1 final, the contestants' scores were displayed in terms of the number of questions answered wrongly - so the audience were tricked into thinking that the wrong contestant won! Ho ho!

As a final last surprise, the prize in series 1 of the UK show was supposedly paid entirely in £1 coins (which were a new concept to the British public at the time). The winner Clive Scott tells us that, in reality, he was paid by cheque.

From Gyles Brandreth's diary, 13 March 1985:

At 10.00 a.m. I went on to TVS for the first of twelve days working on this year's Ultraquiz. I'm devising the games. It comes to £1,000 a day so I have to do it, but the enterprise is such rubbish that I really feel I am wasting my life in the process. Last year our hosts were David Frost and Willie Rushton. This year: Stu Francis and Sarah Hollamby. (Indeed: who?)


Based on an original Japanese format, which is in the Guinness Book of Records for the quiz with the most contestants (5,000). At the end of the series, the two remaining contestants played for prizes which included a racehorse, a helicopter, and a plot of land in Nevada.

Host of the original Japanese programme

The UK version was devised by Jeremy Fox.

Theme music

John Hawkins


1983 Clive Scott
1984 Lynda Kent


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