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Opportunity Knocks (ITV 1956-1978, Hughie Green)

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Opportunity Knocks ITV Hughie Green

Very long running talent show Opportunity Knocks, hosted throughout by Hughie Green (whose catchphrase was “And I mean that most sincerely folks”), began in 1956 and ran until 1978.

The format was a talent show plain and simple and was open to everyone whether they be amateurs, semi-pros or professionals. Having appeared on the show it was up to the viewing public via a postal vote to decide the weeks winner

Winners who went on to have major careers included Les Dawson, The Bachelors, Freedie Starr, Peters and Lee, Frank Carson, Lena Zavaroni, Pam Ayres, Paul Daniels, Little and Large, Cannon and Ball and Mary Hopkin to name a few.

Although the first season was in 1956 the show didn’t return to the screens until 1964 and during the 1960’s the show was never fully networked across the ITV regions.

The 1956 series, made by Associated Rediffusion, had a grand prize of £400 or a trip to New York with an American TV appearance. Green had been hosting the series on radio since 1948 and continued to do so (on Radio Luxemburg right through the 1950’s).

Opportnity Knocks ITV Another satisfied studio audience

Another satisfied studio audience enjoy the show.

When the show returned in 1964 as an ABC (later Thames) production it became a staple of ITV entertainment from then on. The show would be on generally for at least half the year, it aired on Monday nights and was recorded on the previous Friday night (this supposedly allowed sufficient time for postal votes to come in). The winners would take part in an all star winners show. Depending on the number of episodes there would sometimes be two All Star Winners Shows.

The TV Times of the week of 21 Feb 1976 had a two page feature on Hughie Green marking it’s 400th episode. By this stage Green had introduced over 2,000 acts on to the show and auditioned over 120,000. Green would regularly criss cross Britain in search of new talent. Hughie remarked that the show had stood the rest of time because he and the production team treated everyone equally – as a potential star. Even if some of the contestants were just on for fun and not a career. Green also said that the act that gave him most pleasure was musical muscle man Tony Holland who ended up being almost a regular on the series.

Opportunity Knocks ITV Guests on the last show.

The all star line of past alumni for the last ever show.

The final episode broadcast on 20 March 1978 was something of an all star show featuring previous winners Les Dawson, Peters and Lee, Tom O’Connor, Lena Zavaroni, Frank Carson, Little and Large, Mary Hopkin, Pam Ayres, Freddie Davies, Berni Flint, Millican and Nesbitt, Tony Holland and The Duanes.

In 1987 the BBC revived the show with Bob Monkhouse in charge, this was styled as Bob Says Opportunity Knocks, then in 1990 Les Dawson took the helm for one season of Les Says Opportunity Knocks. There was a change in the voting from postal to telephone (the first UK show to try phone voting) but everything else was much the same.The format is alive and well today of course in the shape of Britain’s Got Talent and it’s myriad counterparts.

On a trivia note the show was the last show to be produced out of ABC’s Didsbury studios. In the 1968 ITV franchise shuffle ABC merged with Associated-Rediffusion to form Thames.

Very few of the shows have survived, incredibly less than 20 out of the 400+ produced.

production details
UK / ITV – Associated Rediffusion (1956), ABC (1964-1968), Thames (1968-1978) / 464×40 minute episodes / Broadcast 13 June 12 September 1956 and 4 July 1964 – 20 March 1978

Associate Producers: Doris Barry, Len Marten / Musical Backing: Bob Sharples and his Orchestra

Host: Hughie Green

EPISODES
SEASON TWELVE 8 November 1971 – 1 May 1972
9. BOBBY KIMBER (3 Jan 1972)