Blankety Blanks

Blankety Blanks
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An excerpt from an episode of Blankety Blanks (May 1977) with host Graham Kennedy and his regular celebrity panel: Noel Ferrier, Noeline Brown, 'Ugly' Dave Gray, Peita (now Peta) Toppano, Stuart Wagstaff and Marty Rhone.

Graham asks the panel: 'Noeline Brown said, "I remember the first man who proposed to me. I would have accepted, except he was [blank]."' He then asks the contestant and panel for answers.

Based on the American game show Match Game, Reg Grundy launched his latest production on the 0-10 Network in February 1977 with Graham Kennedy his prized signing as host. Though he had appeared as an occasional guest panellist on the previous year's Grundys show Celebrity Squares, Blankety Blanks marked Graham's first hosting foray in the format. The success of the show was no sure thing, since it was up against flagship current affairs programs A Current Affair (Nine) and Willesee at Seven (Seven). The show's mixture of comedy, camaraderie and competition quickly proved to be an irresistible ratings triumph, Kennedy winning his fifth TV Week Gold Logie in 1978. 'I'd like to thank me, for having faith in the Reg Grundy organisation', he cheekily announced upon accepting the award.

Much of the success of Blankety Blanks lay with Graham and his canny decision to transfer the focus of the program from the contestants to the panellists, the latter of whom he had handpicked. Among the most popular elements of the show were recurring characters Peter the Phantom Puller and Tony the Moustache Twirler, and the double entendre-laden routines of Dick and Cyril, often featuring byplay with regulars Noeline Brown and 'Ugly' Dave Gray. In this clip, Graham's mention of 'the management and his wife' referred to Reg Grundy and his wife, actress Joy Chambers, the latter an occasional panellist on the show.

Two years and 440 episodes later, the program's enormously successful run ended while it was still on top. Graham sensed the format's limited life span and had sated his desire to host a game show. Blankety Blanks was revived in later years with different hosts (Daryl Somers, Shane Bourne), without ever replicating the appeal or influence of the original. 

Notes by Simon Smith