Sunday, 4 April 2010

Bamboozle - Channel 4 / Teletext

Restricted to analogue receivers of television in the British Isles, Bamboozle is a quiz game transmitted over the nations Channel 4 Teletext service. Sandwiched in-between the vertical blanking signal of image frames the technology makes ingenious use of precious bandwidth. A precursor in many ways to the World Wide Web and originally developed by the BBC, similar systems were soon adopted by France (Antiope), Canada (Telidon) and the United States and their popularity spread steadily onwards to countries and channels across the globe. This revolutionary system mostly offered weather reports, newsflashes, stocks and other rather juiceless services but now and again some aspiring teletext artist attempted to make comic books, interactive stories or quizzes to provide light hearted trivial pursuits and unique gaming experiences.

All the excitement of an IMAX!

 The legendary Fun and Games page: perfect for absorbing the tedium of ad-brakes.

You just know you've had it when a Cricket or James Bond question rears its ugly head.

and I promised I wouldn't cry...

The game in question is hosted by one appropriately named Bamber Boozler (perhaps an allusion to the British game show host Bamber Gascoigne, one-time presenter of University Challenge) who presents the player with a selection of twelve (or 15 in days gone by) questions (often following a particular theme) which must be answered correctly in sequence lest you be boozled. If you answer incorrectly you have a chance to redeem yourself with a question from his wife Bambette Boozler and can resume quizzing. Bambette is not the only member of his extended family that has an interest in quizzing: his son Buster Boozler often hosts a special children's edition on Sundays, with backup from loving daughter Bonnie Boozler. Other cameos have been made by sports mad Brian Boozler, a ghost, Santa and I seem to remember one Brendel Boozler fronting a special classically themed event. I have never seen either of his parents present a quiz or indeed be alluded to and fear they may be dead.

Excellent Teletext History, Fansite and Archive
Wikipedia Article on Teletext Technology
Wikipedia Article on Bamboozle 
Article at UK Gameshows 

Even sadder is the fact that with analogue signals being replaced the length and breadth of the country the last ever bamboozle duly aired on the 14th of December 2009. This and similar divertissements helped to enrich the televisual experience: offering much needed respite from commercial brakes, news bulletins or god forbid the EastEnders omnibus: I can only hope that there is room for software of similar charm in the new gleaming digital television services of the future. As an aside...I wonder what ascii gaming treasures hailing from foreign climes, transmitted via this arcane method have and will be lost to the ongoing revolution as it brutally plunders the Earth of teletext...

Bamber Gascoigne...the enigma...

1 comment: