Nice To See You...
Bruce Forsyth comes on, sporting some mightily impressive 1972 sideburns, which are nearly as prodigious in length as Noddy Holder's. Uniquely, he's offering you – yes, you – the viewers – the chance to send in some game ideas. Apparently, these are to tide over the game-making team's ideas while they jet off for two weeks holiday in the Bahamas.
Viewers of a certain age will also remember the immortal Wood Lane address (which is where the ideas would end up) that used to pop up at the end of many programmes of the 1970s and 1980s. London W12 7RJ!
Poor old Anthea Redfern is getting a raw deal however. In this early edition of the Generation Game, Anthea (apparently giving Agnetha from ABBA some sartorial inspiration for the future) is only there to whisk contestants on and off the stage, and provide occasional answers given by contestants in the quiz challenges. But she doesn't get to give the scores on the doors at this point. Plus, to add insult to injury, Bruce accuses her of putting on weight, and furthermore, she's bottom of the credits list for the performers!
At this point, all “eight who are going to generate” can also include contestants of the same sex, whereas the norm in future partnerships is male and female. So, here for example, we have father and son, uncle and nephew, and mother and daughter.
First up are the chaps who are...
Brian and Tony (father and son)
Brian: Hospital administrator. Likes a bit of am-dram and performing mystery religious dramas in cathedrals.
Tony: Student of chemistry at Oxford University. But no Jeremy Kyle 1972 telly equivalent for Tony, since in his spare time, he's done voluntary service overseas work in Africa and went travelling in America (while washing dishes and working in supermarkets to pay his way).
Dick and Simon (uncle and nephew)
Dick: Ex-army major, now works in the food manufacturing business. Likes squash (prompting great “Orange or lemon” quip from Brucie) and housework.
Simon: Sells advertising space in The Journal, but would like to be a writer. Likes theatre and cinema, and has a twin brother.
This edition was transmitted the day before Guy Fawkes Night! So in a very topical move, six then-famous faces come on in disguise as Guy in a gloomy House of Commons set. The contestants have to write down who these celebrities are who are singing about this “dastardly plot” (in a just-as dastardly take on the old 'One Man Went To Mow A Meadow' ditty).
Unless you're of a certain age, you'll probably find playing along with this one a tad difficult, since not many of these 1972 big names are easily recognisable to all you kids today. I'm an old fart, and I only managed to get two! Well, three if you include the extra presence of good old Basil Brush, who doesn't get to make any Boom Boom-related jokes about Bonfire Night.
So, after a quick glance at good old IMDB, I can help fill in some of the gaps as to who's who. Both sets of contestants recognise actors Lance Percival and Charlie Drake, and DJ Alan 'Fluff'/'Alright? Not 'alf!' Freeman. While one of the teams recognises fellow actor Ronald Fraser (Doctor Who fans will recognise him from The Happiness Patrol), the other only just works out that it's Ronald a little too late. As Bruce says, if you don't write it down, you don't get the points!
Poor old Lonnie Donegan is about as recognisable as a dustman tonight, having been mistaken for Jimmy Hill and Kenny Ball (who will crop up in a future Guess Who episode of the Generation Game) to the sound of guffawing laughter. A further chap (David Dixon) is mistaken for Laurence Olivier, which goes down well.
All of the celebrities are rewarded with no-expense spared gifts of matches, and presumably a quick pint down the BBC Club.
The two sets of male contestants curiously don't get the chance to take part in the traditional kind of Generation Game games (potters wheel, cake making, etc), having to rely on brainpower to stand a chance of making it through to the next round.
In the next game, they are presented with seven then-famous faces and seven symbols. To get the points, they must pair the relevant symbol with each of the lucky seven faces.
So... For then-lord chancellor Quentin Hogg, it's the scales of justice. A young-looking Michael Heseltine (even going to town on the Brylcreem back then) should have an aeroplane sign as he was minister of aerospace. Poet John Betjeman should be flourished with a quill. Sir Alf Ramsey naturally gets a football as team manager. In the days before the rage-inducing B-word, common market commissioner Christopher Soames is put on the map – or above the map icon, anyroad. Chairman of British Rail (ah, the days before privatisation), Richard Marsh gets a train. And finally, Mrs Maj's music man, Arthur Bliss should be identified with a baton (Or “baaattoooon” as Anthea says in a cod-French accent).
After those two rounds, it's Brian and Tony through, with Dick and Simon bidding adieu.
Saliva... sorry, Sylvia and Esther (mother and daughter)
Sylvia: Misread as Saliva on the fact cards read out by Bruce! Ah, the days of as-live telly (epsiodes would normally be recorded a couple of days before transmission on a very tight schedule)!
Housewife, married to an antiques dealer. A keep fit fan and a mean piano player, as well as a keen wholemeal bread maker.
Esther: Temporary secretary (I now have the Paul McCartney ditty ricochetting round my bonce now, thanks). Painter, drawer, swimmer, and is also in a band with her mum and dad, singing and playing the penny whistle.
Barbara and Carol (mother and daughter)
Barbara: Runs a village grocery shop, and has pre-empted Tom Baker's Doctor Who by bringing Brucie a bag of jelly babies. Trained in mime and tap dancing, until the Second World War put paid to these plans.
Carol: PA to an advertising agency marketer. Bit of a traveller (having visited Switzerland where she finished finishing school) and India, and also a keen show-jumper by all accounts.
So you thought that Sam Smith was a crybaby wailer of a singer, huh? Well think again buster, since there's a Sam Smith in the studio tonight, and not once does he break into song.
Instead, the Sam Smith of the 1972 Generation Game is a builder, and he's here to demonstrate to the girls how to build a mini-wall. He makes it look as easy as building a house made from Lego, but in practice, it's a lot tougher than it looks.
Protected by obligatory BBC aprons, the ladies must build a corner bit of wall to the jaunty sounds of Ronnie Hazelhurst and the Seven Dwarves.
Barbara and Carol don't fare so well, with Bruce snarking that they could have built the corner wall better with their feet. Sam's in generous mood though, awarding them 6 out of 10. Esther and Sylvia have done better, to the point where Sam offers them a bit of work if they should ever feel inclined. Mind you, with such praise, they only get one mark more. Did Sam feel the need to damn with faint praise or did he have low-standarditis on his building site with workers who were only capable of 7/10 work?
Nope, that's not some crude innuendo, but the name of the game – as Brucie drops a series of objects onto the floor. The girls are given blindfolds, but following cement on their nice new clothes, the ladies now have to endure tight blindfolds around the eyes – to the point where I swear that one of them gets mascara gloop.
If Barbara and Carol weren't natural builders, they are very good mind readers, getting each of their four dropped objects right. Either that, or Barbara's cut holes in her blindfold when Bruce wasn't looking. They recognise the sounds of a piece of wood (Carol takes Bruce's joke of width and length requirements a little too seriously!), wellies, a bowler hat (how do they know what kind of hat it is? Amazing!) and playing cards.
Sylvia and Esther do manage to score points with the sounds of pencils, a brick (good job Bruce didn't drop it on his foot by accident), and a bit of dough. But damn that chamber pot – it's mistaken for a tin can. Meaning that Barbara and Carol have managed to secure themselves a place in the semi final!
Now I know what you're thinking. There's no way that the namby pamby new version would allow contestants to wrestle. You can't even enjoy a healthy game of plate spinning without having to wear safety goggles.
But then, despite me thinking that as soon as two wrestlers came swaggering into the studio that the semi-finalists would have to wrestle... actually they don't. Brian and Tony and Barbara and Carol merely have to act out the roles of referee and MC while Mick McManus and Robby Baron put up their dukes.
It's not quite the boorish knees-up of those old wrestling ITV programmes of Saturday lunchtimes, but both sets of contestants do their best. Tony forgets the wrestlers' names at one point, but rallies with a spirited turn as referee (complete with some good improvisation). However, Barbara probably seems more at home with her role of referee – maybe she did some wrestling refereeing in her spare time.
While Peter Cockburn helps out Brian and Carol with MC duties, loudmouth referee chap Frankie Blake gets to do the judging. Er... except he doesn't really, booming that because both sets of contestants gave it a good old go, it should be a tiebreaker! “Isn't he a nice, quiet fella?” snarks Bruce, as Frankie toddles off with Peter, Robby and Mick.
Normally, it's just the final two who have to answer some very tricky questions. But because it's a tie-breaker, there's an extra one thrown in between the two teams. Not that Tony quite gets the idea. “Are these the questions you're asking now?” he pipes up, to which Brucie retorts: “Why? Do you wanna go down the pub?” Mind you, they probably didn't have Generation Game on telly around the world, so cut Tony some slack.
Simple question of who plays the Godfather? But less simple is to work out just who answers the question right first. Everyone's kind of speaking over each other, but by a pinch, Barbara has just clinched a place in the final. “Sorry to be so abrupt,” says Bruce as Brian and Tony are whisked away with consolation prizes. They could have been contenders...
Ah – sorry, wrong movie.
So Carol and Barbara must now answer a best of three-quiz, and blimey, some of these questions are tougher than Mick McManus and Robby Baron put together. In 2018, the average brain-test of a quiz question is to ask someone to spell Cat. Here, however, Carol and Barbara must work out conundrums involving gods, Sherlock Holmes, and kings at the time of Guy Fawkes' terrible machinations. Barbara proves her quizmania mettle again, meaning that she gets to look on as a stack-load of goodies pass her by on the conveyor belt.
On The Conveyor Belt Tonight...
To a jaunty, flute-led tune and the sombre tones of the prize announcer, it's Barbara who gets to remember as many prizes as she can in 45 seconds. “Relax dear!” barks Bruce at a nervous-looking Babs. “Be better if you relax!” Not sure if it's just me, but when anybody orders me to relax, it does the complete opposite.
Anyhoo, on the Conveyor Belt tonight, we have... a step stool... an electric shampoo polisher... an electric frying pan... a cuddly bull... a cassette tape recorder... an executive briefcase... three cushions... an electric kettle... a set of steak knives... an electric toaster... four goblets... a fondue set... a jug and glasses... an electric clock... a table lamp... and a basket!
Didn't They Do Well?
Not bad at all, considering that in the early days, the contestants have to remember things while standing up. It's not until the 1975 show that a comfy chair and dimmed lights are provided for the finalist to gather their thoughts.
Barbara gets a respectable 12 out of 16, missing out on the pan, cushions, kettle and clock. Narrow miss with the cuddly toy, as she thinks it's a cow rather than a bull. But as Brucie hollers at the end, “Didn't she do well?”
Bruce Forsyth And The Generation Game – Guide to the 4th November 1972 edition