Starting on BBC radio in the late forties, then moving to Radio Luxembourg in the early fifties this weekly talent show transferred to TV in 1956.
Associated Rediffusion 1956
Opportunity Knocks was brought into the TV era, albeit briefly, as a half hour show,
ABC 1964 -
Hughie Green was probably the only ITV veteran at the time as he had been hosting Associated Rediffuion's Double Your Money since the first week of broadcasting in September 1955 and had handled the previous attempt at the show back in 1956.
The word got around the showbiz world that a big chance to make it on TV was coming and as a result 20,000 applications were made for the first series, whittled down to 4,000 actual auditions. One of those was Gerry Dorsey, former Oh Boy occasional who auditioned for the show three years' running and despite passing the auditions never made the programme due to regional balance issues (they couldn't have too many acts from London for example). The forth year he became Engelbert Humperdinck and didn't feel the need to audition anymore.
The show ran for forty five minutes which would be the the way it stayed right until the end of the Thames era, and was broadcast on Saturday evenings from ABC's Didsbury, Manchester studios. Pop acts however, were in short supply and as a result the ABC version of the show would really only bring us Mary Hopkin.
Thames 1968 -
After the ABC/Rediffusion merger into Thames the show moved down to ABC's old Teddington Lock, Middlesex studio in summer 1968, taking Green with it. However they had decided not to continue with Rediffusion's Double Your Money, which he also hosted.
A report in The Stage at the time claimed 13,000 acts were auditioned for the 1974/5 series, with 250 of them given a chance to appear. Sponsors would have to write in for an application form while the act could be amateur, semi professional or fully professional. They would have to describe their act, suggest one or two songs if they are singers and which audition venue they would likely attend. An audition would then be approved and they would be given three minutes to perform to three or four judges. Successful artists invited to appear on the show would be paid according to their professional status. By the mid seventies the amateur to professional split was about 50/50.
For the season beginning September 1976 10,000 auditions would lead to 140 acts making
the programme. Rehearsals would be on Friday, with Hughie Green joining the show
on Saturday to interview the sponsors and given a run down of the acts, with the
show broadcast on Monday at 6.45 to 7.30 pm. The shows' audience would have the applause
volume measured via a 'clapometer' so the show would have a winner on the night,
however the deciding public vote would be on postcards sent to to Thames and the
winner of that vote would be invited back to compete again the following week. On
one week, the producers received 71,000 postcard votes which would need sorting by
one team and calculated by another, usually old age pensioners, chosen for their
integrity. Anomalies like postcards in the same handwriting or an over-
The Thames years were the most productive as far as pop is concerned, giving us Peters
and Lee, Millican and Nesbitt (later sent up as Mulligan and O'Hare by Vic and Bob),
Paper Lace who would have number one singles in Britain and America, singer / songwriter
Bernie Flint, folk trio New World, Liverpool legends The Real Thing, Lena Zavaroni
who would later support Frank Sinatra in America and sign to Stax Records, and another
hit making child singer Neil Reid. Eighties hit-
Green himself could barely contain his disappointment at what he considered “his” discoveries not giving him the credit. Talking to the Daily Mirror in August 1971 he claimed "My discoveries almost never keep in touch with me, but why should they? I'm just glad they get on. Real glad. But sometimes I do get a little hurt when I read some artist I gave a chance to on 'Opportunity Knocks' say something like, 'It all just happened for me'. Like hell it did! It costs around £500 and a lot of other people's talent to stage an artist well. I wonder what they think musicians and producers and people are doing there."
By 1974 Green was having trouble with his other weekly show, The Sky's The Limit for Yorkshire TV. He found that his established producer was to be replaced. He told the Daily Mirror, "... a year ago Jess Yates took over as producer. I was delighted until he wanted to put sex into my show. I protested, but he got rid of my hostesses, Monica Rose and Audrey Graham, saying they weren't sexy enough." Green and Yates' paths had already crossed before this incident and the result would be revealed by the press in the early 2000s.
However, by the mid to late seventies Hughie Green's behaviour had been giving cause
for concern. His anti-
It was "make your mind up time" for Thames who decided to end the show after its 1977/78 run. The final run brought with it another allegation of fraud concerning a singer who had multiple postcards sent in from the pupils of a famous stage school. Its competitor New Faces finished the following month, suggesting that the public and then in turn broadcasters had enough of talent shows.
BBC 1987 -
Ending as it began with the BBC. This version would be hosted by Bob Monkhouse, giving the show it's new title 'Bob Says Opportunity Knocks'. Livid at not being even considered for the hosts' job Hughie Green threatened to sue if he wasn't given a credit, and/or payment. To placate him he was given a token producer's credit. The show finished with a new host Les Dawson who had first appeared on the show back in 1967.