UK quiz show broadcast on ITV between 1982 and 1994, presented by Bob Holness. It was revived on Sky One in 2000, presented by Liza Tarbuck. Contestants are chiefly students between the ages of 16 and 18, normally accompanied by a dazzling menagerie of cuddly toys as mascots.
The format is unusual in that the competition was asymmetrical: each contest involved a single contestant competing against a team of two. The two, however, are handicapped in that they have to answer a minimum of five questions to win, whereas the single contestant could win with only four correct answers. Determining whether this handicap was sufficient to create a fair contest, however, is left as an exercise for the reader.
The quiz is based around a board of hexagonal shapes, 4 high and 5 wide, each marked with a letter. Before the questions are asked, a letter is chosen by the team which correctly answered the previous question, or at random if it is the start of a round. The answer to the question always begins with the letter chosen. Contestants buzz in to answer, and if they are correct the letter is illuminated with the team's colour (blue or white). The aim of the game is to create a chain of hexagons across the length or height of the board, depending on what colour you're playing.
If a team wins a number of these rounds (it's best of three, if memory serves), he/she/they get the opportunity to compete for prizes in a Gold Run. This is essentially a solo version of the quiz, where one contestant competes against the clock to create a chain from left to right across the board. Whether or not you complete this challenge, you get to stay on as champion, and face fresh opposition. After 5 gold runs, you win a big prize and they send you home. Unsuccessful teams are awarded a dictionary.
On ITV, Blockbusters was broadcast at 5.20pm, a period in the schedule often dubbed "limbo", and inhabited almost exclusively by game shows. This placed it head to head with its more intellectual counterpart, Countdown, on Channel 4. However, while it didn't boast sexy mathematicians or bejumpered clowns, neither did it place too much strain on the thinking apparatus, so it was popular with those who couldn't be bothered figuring out what the Countdown Conundrum might be. Nonetheless, it petered out in 1994, perhaps because it was increasingly difficult for students to keep a straight face as they asked, "Can I have an E, please, Bob?". It is too early to judge the success of Sky's revival.
A little-known fact about Blockbusters is that it was originally a family game show in the USA before being imported to the UK. As the UK is a net exporter of game show formats, it is possible to imagine that the whole thing was merely an elaborate charade to preserve the balance of trade.