Beat the Teacher

Beat the Teacher

infobox television
show_name = Beat the Teacher

caption =
format = Game show
runtime =
creator = Clive Doig
presenter = Bruno Brookes, Howard Stableford, Paul Jones
country = UK
network = BBC Television
num_series =
num_episodes =
first_aired = 1983
last_aired = 1990 |

"Beat the Teacher" was a 1980s British game show devised by Clive Doig, made by BBC Television and shown as part of Children's BBC on weekdays at teatimes. It ran four days a week from 1983 until 1990, taking over from Screen Test as the BBC's premier quiz show for children after Screen Test was axed in 1984.

how format

Each edition featured two contestants; one a school student and the other a teacher. Both were tested on general knowledge questions and logic puzzles.

Correct answers won the contestant moves on a giant Noughts and Crosses board made from rotating cubes. Questions awarded one, two or three moves of the board, based upon their difficulty. After answering the question correctly, the contestant was given the choice of which blocks on the board to turn over.

For example, if a square displayed a "nought", one rotation would see the square turn blank; two would see it replaced with a "cross", three with another blank and on the fourth turn it would revert back to a "nought".

Tactical play would lead to the contestant building up lines of noughts or crosses, for which points were awarded (10 points per horizontal, vertical or diagonal line).

A special "joker card" could be played once in each game by either contestant, reversing each square on the board so that all crosses became noughts and vice versa. A bonus was awarded for a full board of noughts or crosses, after which each square on the board would be randomised.

Question styles included puzzles, "true or false," or "identify the picture". Later series also featured the introduction of a special "wrong answer round" in which the contestants gained moves by giving as many "incorrect" answers as they could within 60 seconds. This round was usually the turning point in the later series because the children were better at giving wrong answers to questions, and the round gave younger contestants who were a long way behind a chance to get back in the game without having to use their 'joker'. The round produced some memorable answers, including a young girl answering the question "Who is Neil Kinnock married to?" with "Me!", which provoked laughter in the audience, and a look of consternation from then-host Bruno BrookesFact|date=December 2007.

For the final round, the board was cleared, and the winning contestant had to try to fill all nine squares up by answering nine questions correctly within 60 seconds. If they accomplished this, they would win a prize. Whether they won or not they were invited to come back again the next episode.

Two "Champion of Champions" special episodes were staged, in 1986 and in 1990, featuring contestants and schools from previous series.


"Beat the Teacher" had three different hosts over its airtime, Howard Stableford (1984-5), Paul Jones (1986-7) and BBC Radio 1 DJ Bruno Brookes, who took over in 1988 until the series finished in 1990.

The theme tune was written by Mike Batt, although this was replaced in the 1988 series by a new theme by Martin Cook.


The surprisingly high popularity of what was, to all effects, a very simplistic series, was largely due not to the questions or the board tactics, but rather because many children were in fact tuning in because they enjoyed watching a young contestant get the better of an adultFact|date=December 2007. Overall, the kids actually did come out on top more often than not, although when a teacher won an episode, it was normally by a much wider marginFact|date=December 2007.

The series was rather unexpectedly cancelled in 1990 even though the 1989 series had the highest viewing figures in the series' history. The BBC never offered any explanation for this, the most likely reason was probably a shortage of potential future contestantsFact|date=December 2007.

External links

* [ UK Gameshows Page: Beat The Teacher]
* [ TV Cream entry for Beat The Teacher and theme download]

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