Opportunity Knocks (British TV series)

Opportunity Knocks is a British television and radio talent show originally hosted by Hughie Green, with a late-1980s revival hosted by Bob Monkhouse, and later by previous winner Les Dawson.

Opportunity Knocks
Also known asBob Says Opportunity Knocks (1987–89)
GenreTalent show
Presented byHughie Green (1949–78)
Bob Monkhouse (1987–89)
Les Dawson (1990)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series1 (BBC Light Programme)
18 (ITV)
4 (BBC1)
No. of episodes33 (BBC Light Programme)
472 (ITV)
48 (BBC1)
Running time50 minutes (BBC1)
Production company(s)Associated-Rediffusion (1956)
ABC (1964–8)
Thames (1968–78)
Original networkBBC Light Programme (1949)
Radio Luxembourg (1950s)
ITV (1956–78)
BBC One (1987–90)
Picture format4:3
Original release18 February 1949 (1949-02-18) 
2 June 1990 (1990-06-02)
Related showsNew Faces

The original radio version started on the BBC Light Programme, where it ran from 18 February to 29 September 1949, but moved to Radio Luxembourg in the 1950s.[1] It was shown on ITV from 20 June 1956 to 29 August 1956, produced by Associated Rediffusion. A second run commenced on 11 July 1964 and lasted until 20 March 1978, produced first by ABC and then by Thames. Green presented a single episode of Opportunity Knocks for RTÉ in 1979. It was revived by the BBC from 21 March 1987 to 2 June 1990, hosted initially by Monkhouse from 1987 to 1989 (under the title Bob Says Opportunity Knocks!) and subsequently by Dawson in 1990.

Voting system

Unlike its rival New Faces, the winning acts on Opportunity Knocks were decided not by a panel of experts but by the viewing public. In the ITV version this took the form of a postal vote, the winner of which was announced the following week. The BBC revival was notable for being the first TV show to decide its winner using the now-standard method of a telephone vote. In both versions the studio audience reaction to each act was measured by a clap-o-meter, but this did not count towards the final result.

The programme was recorded the Friday before transmission, so votes had to be in by Thursday. They also, according to host Hughie Green, largely to ensure fairness, had to be in "your own handwriting".

Although Opportunity Knocks did produce a number of talented acts, the method of putting the contest to a public vote did sometimes result in victories for novelty acts, in particular those involving children or animals. On one notorious occasion, the young Su Pollard was beaten into second place by a singing dog.

For the Monkhouse-fronted revival, the voting system was radically changed, making it the first British TV show to use telephone voting in order to get a more immediate result (although an updated electronic "clap-o-meter-style" on-screen indicator, using stars, was used during the show). The telephone voting system is now common on British TV.

Famous alumni

Entertainers who appeared included Freddie Starr and the Delmonts, Su Pollard, Paul Daniels, Darren Day, Pete the Plate Spinning Dog, Los Caracas, later to become Middle of the Road, Mary Hopkin, Bonnie Langford, Les Dawson, Maureen Myers, Barry Cummings, Royston Vasey (later to find fame as Roy 'Chubby' Brown), Little and Large, Bobby Crush, Berni Flint, Tony Holland (The Muscle Man), Millican & Nesbitt, Neil Reid, Peters and Lee, Lena Zavaroni, Frank Carson, Max Boyce, Pam Ayres, Juniper Green, Gerry Monroe, Debra Stephenson, Tammy Jones, Paper Lace, Barry and Paul Elliott and Tony Monopoly. Several winners of Opportunity Knocks (notably Tammy Jones, Champagne, Tony Monopoly) later attempted to represent the UK at the Eurovision Song Contest, taking part in the A Song for Europe competition. Lee Evans appeared in 1986 but was rejected and did not make it past the initial audition. Kaz Hawkins appeared in the 1980s' revival as a child.


Today, most of the elements of this show are visible on the ITV talent search Britain's Got Talent, which was created by record company executive Simon Cowell. The method of deciding a winner by telephone is used on that show and many other similar programmes around the world. Britain's Got Talent can be said to be an evolution of the original Opportunity Knocks.

A reference to the show can be heard on the Beatles' first live performance of "Yesterday" at Blackpool Night Out. George Harrison introduces the song, saying "For Paul McCartney of Liverpool, opportunity knocks!". This version appears on Anthology 2.


BBC Light Programme

SeriesStart dateFinal dateEpisodes
118 February 194929 September 194933


SeriesStart dateFinal dateEpisodes
120 June 195629 August 195611
211 July 19643 October 196413
33 July 196525 December 196526
42 July 196624 December 196626
529 April 196723 December 196735
616 March 196827 July 196820
721 August 19686 November 196812
825 December 196823 June 196927
98 September 19692 March 197026
1015 June 19707 December 197026
1115 March 19716 September 197126
128 November 19711 May 197226
137 August 197230 April 197339
146 August 197329 April 197439
155 August 197428 April 197539
1629 September 197522 March 197626
1727 September 19764 April 197728
1819 September 197720 March 197827

18 of the ITV episodes survived, which were Episode 5 of Series 3, Episode 19 of Series 6, Episodes 7-8, 22 & 25 of Series 12, Episodes 13 & 23 of Series 13, Episode 22 of Series 15, Episodes 13-14 of Series 16, Episodes 1, 7 & 15 of Series 17 and Episodes 16 and 25-27 of Series 18.[2]


SeriesStart dateFinal dateEpisodes
121 March 198720 June 198713
25 March 19884 June 198813
34 March 19893 June 198913
431 March 19902 June 19909

All 48 BBC1 episodes survived.[3]


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