NZ On Screen’s Nicky Harrop celebrates the upcoming return of Mastermind with a look back at some of our vintage TV quiz shows

Classic television quiz show Mastermind is returning to primetime on TVNZ, with funding from NZ On Air. Originally launching in 1976, the show ran for nearly 15 years. It was in good company back then - the 70s and 80s were something of a heyday for local TV quiz shows.

It's in the Bag

First hosted by Selwyn Toogood, It's in the Bag started life as a radio show before transitioning to TV in the early 70s. The show travelled throughout New Zealand, choosing competitors from the audience who had to answer three questions before selecting a bag and bargaining for its contents. Along the way, Toogood's catchphrases, including "by hokey!" and, "what'll it be customers, the money or the bag?," became firmly cemented in the Kiwi vernacular. This 1974 episode, telecast from Dunedin's Mayfair Theatre, sees one not-so-lucky winner take home a vegetable peeler as a booby prize.

The W Three Show

The W Three Show

(aka 'W3') was a quiz show for intermediate school students that took its name from the first letter of the questions asked: What, Which, Who, Where or When. The show's first host was future politician, Lockwood Smith. This 1980 national final sees Smith quiz contestants on subjects including geometry, Shakespeare, anatomy, historic England and, appropriately enough, cabinet ministers.


It's Academic

Smith also hosted W3's older sibling, high school quiz show, It's Academic. Here teams from Onslow, Wellington and Newlands colleges compete in the 1983 Wellington regional final. At stake are bragging rights, digital watches, and a giant Encylopedia Britannica set.

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It's Academic - 1983 Regional Final

University Challenge

Formerly a music show host, Peter Sinclair made the move to quizmaster in University Challenge. Based on the BBC series, it pitted four-member teams from the country's universities against each other across a range of topics. The show ran for 13 years, and was revived in 2104 after a 25-year hiatus. This episode is firmly date-stamped in the 80s, with a question on Billy Joel lyrics and an early Apple Mac up for grabs.



contestants faced two minute rounds on general knowledge and an array of mind-boggling specialist subjects, in a quest to claim the coveted


chair. Also hosted by Sinclair, this 1990 final sees him grill competitors on the life and works of AA Milne and David Bowie, TV show

Fawlty Towers and battleships



Sale of the Century

As the 90s dawned, quiz shows drifted towards a slightly more glitzy model. The Kiwi version of Sale of the Century is perhaps best remembered for Steve Parr's opening slide to the podium, and for launching the TV career of Jude Dobson. "New Zealand's biggest bargain sale" dangled the possibility of new cars, overseas travel, or, in the case of this 1993 show, a hand-knotted rug. This episode marked the end of Sale's first local incarnation, after 1000 plus episodes on air. A short rebirth followed on TV3.

You can see a more comprehensive selection of TV quiz and game shows here