Blockbusters was a television game show in which contestants answered trivia questions to complete a path across a game board of hexagons. In 1997, Stephen Merchant was a contestant on a revised version of Blockbusters, with Michael Aspel as the host. Blockbusters was the original basis for Karl Pilkington's radio game show Rockbusters.
A solo player competed against a "family pair" that consisted of two related contestants (married couples were not allowed), thus setting out to prove if two heads really were better than one.
The game board consisted of 20 interlocking hexagons, arranged in five columns of four. Each hexagon contained a letter of the alphabet. A contestant would choose one of the letters, and would be asked a general-knowledge trivia question whose correct answer began with the chosen letter.
The object of the game for the solo player was to complete a vertical connection from the top of the board to the bottom, requiring at least four correct answers. The family pair was to make a horizontal connection from the left side of the board to the right, requiring at least five correct answers. The first player or team to win two games won the match.
The winner of the match went on to play the Gold Run bonus round; if the family pair won, only one player on the team could play. The object was to horizontally connect the left and right sides of the board within 60 seconds (or before blocking off all possible horizontal connections).
The winner of Gold Run won a special prize for completing the run. For every unsuccessful attempt, money was awarded for each correct answer. Defending champions could keep going three to five matches undefeated, in order to win an even bigger prize.
Steve on Blockbusters
In 1997, Stephen Merchant was a contestant on Blockbusters, where he was the single contestant against two females. In addition to losing the show, a young and demure Steve was made to stand back-to-back with host Michael Aspel to demonstrate his shocking height. The prize Steve took home was a whopping £15. Steve discussed his appearance on Blockbusters on his 13 January 2007 guest appearance on Russell Brand's Radio 2 show, and his own 30 September 2007 6Music show.
Blockbusters on The Office
Blockbusters was referenced on The Office because the character of the temp Ricky Howard had been a contestant on the show where he won two gold runs. David Brent was threatened by this while they prepped for Quiz Night. One of Steve Merchant's general questions was repeated on The Office when Ricky tests David's musical knowledge.