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All our Yesterdays

By Martin Kelner on May 24, 2002 - 2:35:00 PM

All Our Yesterdays
Article dated: Friday 24 May 2002

It was like a barometer of the changing mores amongst Britain's schoolchildren. When the programme was first launched, contestants used to say, "Can I have a 'p' please, Bob?" and snigger behind their hands, but as it moved into the nineties, the way to get a conspiratorial titter from the audience was to say, "I'd like an 'e' please, Bob." How we laughed. The joke was made even better by the fact that the host was the apparently straight-laced sports-jacketed Bob Holness, for whom the word avuncular might have been invented.

Holness achieved cult status through the quiz, and interesting stories about him pinged around the nation's playgrounds; that he was the first James Bond (true, in a radio series in his native South Africa), and that he performed the sax solo on Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street (false). He even had the audience accompanying Uncle Bob on a hand jive to the catchy theme music.

Blockbusters was a tonic for parents who despaired of the state of modern youth. The 16-18 year olds who competed for modest cash prizes and kudos and computer equipment for their schools were invariably bright as a button and well turned out, and are probably running television stations of their own now.

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