Teletext Art

Teletext’s Bamboozle: 12 things you (probably) didn’t know

Prepare to be Bamboozled, dear reader! Yes, it’s one of those clickbait lists we love like a wayward child who eats buttons off the TV remote.

But don’t worry, we won’t include anything like ‘you used the coloured buttons to play it’ or ‘Bamber Boozler ate Lego bricks for tea’ because you already know that stuff. Delving deep into the teletext archives, we’ll be excavating some lesser-discussed pages to reveal Bamber’s deepest, darkest secrets.

This is the part of Bamboozle you forgot all about, so PRESS RED to start!

1. Bamber had a ‘starter for ten’

You probably remember Bambette’s bonus question on the ‘Bamboozled’ page, where you would press reveal for the answer. But in the quiz’s early days, Bamber offered a similar question on his intro page. Dubbed his ‘starter for ten’, it paid homage to Boozler’s real life counterpart Bamber Gascoigne.

2. Sad Bamber was frightening

No coloured keys on your remote? Bamber didn’t like that because it meant you couldn’t play his fastext game. We have it on good authority (from Bambette) that this is the only time anyone has ever witnessed him frown:

Bonus fact: Bamboozle was initially pitched as a real-time game to be synchronised with television programmes. Due to technological limitations, however, the idea was dropped.

But that fact is on Wikipedia so it doesn’t really count. On with the obscurity.

3. Bamboozle paid tribute to the ZX Spectrum…

With this teletext rainbow of graphical delights. Note the absence of orange, which teletext did not support.

4. Bamboozle had several guest hosts

In addition to the extended Boozler family, many guests have temporarily taken Bamber’s place as quizmaster. Here are some of those people/creatures/entities that we could find in our archive.

Bamber introduced the 9th January 1995 edition of his quiz saying: “Hi! Where have all those characters gone then? Bambette, Bazza, Frank N. Open. Something tells me they might be back soon.”

5. Teletext offered Bamboozle merchandise

For a time, you could send a cheque or postal order to get your own Bamboozle t-shirt and baseball cap. Here’s a ‘dapper’ Bamber modelling said items with a characteristic grin on his face.

Does anyone out there own any official Bamboozle merch?

6. Questions were occasionally outsourced

Viewers would send their own questions to be used in special editions of the quiz. In this (surprisingly) rare example from our archives, Rachel McCoy’s teasers are relayed by Junior Bamboozle host Buster Boozler.

7. There was a lot of Bamber Boozler-related clickbait

Here are some delightfully nonsensical headlines probably written by Paul Rose and used elsewhere on Teletext (usually Digitiser) to promote Bamboozle. Were they parodies of obtuse Clubcall headlines designed to make you call their £2-per-minute hotline?

  • Bamber bites scorpion
  • Bamber: “Please weigh me, Pops”
  • Look: Bamber’s bust his face!
  • Bamber: “I’m scared of hay”
  • Bamber whines about wine
  • Bamber recites foul poem
  • Bamber reads doggy mag on TV
  • Bamber: “I like pins”
  • Bamber devours entire map
  • Bamber: “I don’t need oxygen”
  • Bamber’s paper lung for sale.
  • Bamber invents “Scottish wasp”
  • Bamber in fur-ball nightmare
  • Bamber: “I must destroy this”
  • Bamber chews moth
  • Bamber vibrates on national television
  • Bamber: “I adore Tootsie”
  • Bamber climbs giant mag on TV
  • Bamber and the big brown whistle
  • Bamber develops womens’ hair
  • Bamber develops “slow pain”
  • Bamber: “I like pink!”
  • Bamber: “I lie. I loathe pink!”

8. The Bamboozle clock was sentient

Plot twist: Bamber’s office clock was alive! Or perhaps that’s the ghost of teletext quizmasters past hovering above his right shoulder?

9. Bamber guested in at least one edition of Turner the Worm

In the 1993 Christmas edition of Turner the Worm, Bamber made a surprise (almost) full body appearance to express his love for corn cobs! Due to his red Christmas jumper, Turner initially mistook him for Santa Claus.

We do so love a Christmas corn cob.

10. Bamber was Santa Claus!

It’s no wonder Turner thought Bamber was little St Nick, because Teletext’s premier quizmaster had a penchant for donning his Santa costume during festive quizzes. Some of the following recoveries from December 1993 aren’t so flattering, but I’m sure Bamber won’t mind us posting them here…

11. Bamboozle‘s working title was ‘On the Button’

Though Julian Edwards is best known as the real life Bamber, he was superseded in 2005 by Charlie Ghagan and later Roger Wilkinson. The latter wrote a farewell message in the final days of Teletext. Here are some excerpts from My life in the fast (text) lane by Roger Wilkinson, published 14 December 2009.

Julian, who hired me to host Bamboozle! said I’d be on telly. Mum was over the moon. But he warned me not to assume…

This is Teletext, he said, not University Challenge, so no taxis on account and no-one will recognise you,  given your pixellated persona. He said make it a family show, so I got Bambette on board, and the kids – it kept them off the Atari. Even Uncle Brian got called off the (park) bench.

What a roller-coaster it’s been. In 17 years, I reckon I’ve asked not far short of 60,000 fastext questions. And despite Bambette and Bonnie’s grand total of 20,000 wrong-answer questions, they can’t say where I left my glasses.

From the off, I wanted players to go away from playing an edition with a smile and the glow that comes from learning a fact sprinkled with a little stardust.

I mean, would Gone With The Wind have been such a global blockbuster book and film if it had been issued under its working title, The Weary Load? For that matter, would Bamboozle! have been as good if called On The Button?

12. Bamboozle evolved into a mobile app

In 2005, Bamber appeared in the competition section to promote Bamboozle‘s new home: a mobile telephone app. Here was an extra incentive – you could win £50! Competitions were weekly and winners were chosen based on how quickly they could answer all six questions.

I’m not sure what happened to Bamber’s hair here (glitches?), but he sports his usual ‘do on the Bamboozle tablet app, which is still in operation as of 2019.


Captures in this post courtesy Superwonderstar (Ant), Alistair Buxton and Jason Robertson.

Dan Farrimond

Teletext artist and head mad scientist at the UK Teletext Art Research Lab (TARL). | hello [at] teletextart (dot) co *dot* uk | danfarrimond.co.uk

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