Definitions

Bamboozle!

Bamboozle

[bam-boo-zuhl]
For the music festival, see The Bamboozle. For the film, see Bamboozled.
Bamboozle is a quiz game featured on Channel 4 Teletext in the United Kingdom. It was originally part of Teletext's "Fun & Games" category, but the rest of the category has been discontinued for some years. It has had many page numbers over the years, but as of 2007 it resides on page 390 (analogue teletext signal) or page 840 (digital teletext).

Bamboozle was originally intended as a real-time game that could be played in conjunction with a broadcast TV programme using a similar multiple choice format as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?. The decision by the new broadcast teletext franchise holders (Teletext UK) in 1993 to opt for X.25 packet switching meant that it was impossible to adequately synchronise the broadcast of teletext content in the context of a TV programme. The format thus fell back to the form it had operated in largely unchanged since 1993.

The game

The game uses Fastext keys (different coloured buttons on the TV remote control) to select the desired answer from a choice of four, and is "presented" by virtual host Bamber Boozler, who derives his name from the word "bamboozle". His first name is also a nod to the former University Challenge quizmaster Bamber Gascoigne, and his appearance is reminiscent of Magnus Magnusson, host of the quiz show Mastermind from 1972 to 1997. It has also been commented that Bamber resembles the actor Tom Bosley who appeared in the popular American sitcom Happy Days. Bamber Boozler's appearance was constrained by the limitations of the Level 1 World System Teletext alpha mosaic display format. In fact his appearance is largely based on Johnnie Walker - the organizer of a pub quiz league in Nottingham in which the developer of the original Bamboozle format played.

A new set of questions was originally given each week, but this soon became more regular, eventually becoming daily. Each game originally had 25 questions, later reduced to 20, then 15 and currently 12. The player must answer all questions correctly in order to complete the quiz, but is allowed multiple attempts to do so. Initially, if a question was answered incorrectly, the player would have to start again from Question 1, However this was later amended so that a maximum of three questions would need to be answered again. After completing the quiz, there is a score table with themed responses, for example:

12 Super star
10-11 Martian master
8-9 Clever comet
6-7 Middling meteor
3-5 Plodding Pluto
0-2 Total eclipse

according to how many questions you got right at the first attempt.

Themes

On particular dates the quiz is themed, for example Halloween featured related questions and images of skeletons and spiders, whilst Guy Fawkes Night featured firework based questions, as well as numerous Christmas based versions. There have also been special "name the picture / person" graphical editions.

Other Boozler family members were introduced over the game's first few years - Bamber's wife, Bambette, who normally appears when a question is answered incorrectly; and Saturday's quizzes are presented by Bamber's son, Buster, and are generally easier than the weekday editions. Bamber also has a daughter, Bonnie, who fills Bambette's role when Buster presents the quiz. At one point in the quiz's history the red, yellow and green keys were sensible answers and the blue was mostly reserved for a stupid response although this was sometimes the correct one. This has now generally stopped and all the keys now usually have sensible answers.

The quiz started off at 20 questions, then it went down to 15 and then 12. On very few special occasions it was 30, however one question wrong and contestants had to start from the very beginning.

The "Bad Luck" pages appear when questions are answered incorrectly, they used to feature little trivial messages at first and then mainly birthday announcements. This was scrapped to introduce "Bambette's Bonus" (or Bonnie's Bonus in Junior Bamboozle) where contestants can score again with a question from her. This is not a multiple choice question and contestants can get the answer by pressing the reveal button.

Weekly competition

The makers of Bamboozle have recently introduced a weekly competition whereby a viewer may contribute the questions to Bamboozle. As well as having their questions used, names mentioned and their image appear on screen (the viewer must supply a photograph), the winning contributors also receive a £20 WHSmith gift voucher. Even before this, viewer-submitted questions have been used in various forms ever since the early days of the quiz.

Cheats

Through the years and the various versions of the game, there have been ways for the player to cheat. When a player has been presented with the "wrong answer" page, it has often been possible (on many but not all teletext controllers) to press the down button to return to a different question. On one early version, it was even possible to press the down button from the "wrong" page to go directly to the final page. It has not been possible to cheat in this way in recent years.

Very few television sets have a "previous page" button, which means that if a question is answered wrongly, this button will take contestants back to the question they got wrong instead of being sent back to where the quiz wanted to send them.

Another method was to press each of the answer buttons in quick succession, which would change a symbol in the top-left corner of the screen, revealing the 'strength' of each answer. In later years an 'odd one out' system became prevalent, when the quiz began using reserved page numbers (e.g. 15C, as displayed on screen) outside of those available from the normal numeric pad and accessible only by pressing the fasttext buttons; one page would go to the next question (say, 15B) and another to the "bad luck" page (e.g. 15F). Therefore, with enough dexterity, one could discover the correct answer by noting which colour displayed a unique target page number (therefore linking to the next question), and enter it before the wrong-answer page had chance to load. Most fasttext TVs are now quite quick, though, that this may not be possible.

On some TV Sets, on early questions where the last digit was a reserved page (say 14C) it was possible to enter the first two numbers of the pages using the remote (say, 15) then exit Teletext. Going back into teletext would load the last character digit from the reserved page (in our example it would load 15C), If used correctly, this would allow almost all the questions to be skipped.

Some page numbers will "drop you in" to stages in the game; for instance going to page 652 might land you at question 5.

On Sky it is possible to press "Back up" after an incorrect answer to return to the last question, instead of an earlier one.

Spin offs

Back in the early days of Bamboozle, on a number of occasions the quiz would be put on hold and in its place was an adventure game (a different one each time), based on the popular children's fantasy programme "Knightmare". Viewers had to use the fastext keys to navigate their way through the quest.

"Ten to One", was a sports version of Bamboozle with the host Brian Boozler. It was never stated if he was meant to be any relation to Bamber Boozler. The quiz was so called because it presented ten sports questions and players had to get from the ten down to one. It is a double meaning as Ten to One also releates to bookies popular odds on betting in many sports.

This quiz ran concurrently with Bamboozle for sometime until late 1998 where Brian said "I'm putting down the mic for a bit, I'm back in 1999...", however it never returned.

Junior Bamboozle is a version run on Saturdays for children. Hosted by Buster Boozler and the bad luck pages are hosted by Bonnie Boozler.

Trivia

  • Bamber has occasionally made reference to the different people that have written the quiz over the years, referring to "the different people that have played me".
  • Bamber proved to be so popular with Bamboozle that he was also used for a brief period to host a few of the other games on the "Fun and Games" menu before they were all discontinued.
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