THANK goodness it's over - for now anyway. I find it distressing to witness how obsessed the nation has become over so-called reality TV shows like I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here, Survivor, Big Brother and the like.

Am I alone in thinking they are as interesting as a Channel Five movie with Victoria Principal playing the female lead?

Yet the nation laps them up. They go wild over the games, which to me are lacklustre in the extreme. Viewers nowadays seem to settle for anything that passes for entertainment. Or is it just that they don't know any better?

If it's games people want on TV, you can't get any better than It's A Knockout which ran for more than a decade until the early 1980s.

How I miss those British heats, usually played out on boating lakes alongside shabby sports centres in weather that would test the stamina of Ernest Shackleton. Walsall, Basingstoke, Kings Lynn, Redcar - towns that seldom feature on prime-time TV were thrust into the spotlight.

Dressed in coloured T-shirts and shorts, teams of firemen, hairdressers, bank clerks and builders would wobble across plastic stepping stones, slide down greasy poles and dodge jets of water from strategically-placed hoses. It was big budget stuff in the props department.

The scoreboard was a no-expense-spared affair, manually operated by a dolly bird whose blonde hair was buffeted across her face by the force nine gales and whose legs, clad in shorts, started off brown but quickly turned a disturbing shade of blue.

And, of course, there was the added appeal of commentators Eddie Waring and Stuart Hall. You struggled to understand Eddie - brilliantly mimicked by impressionist Mike Yarwood - who would suddenly lapse into an indecipherable drawl.

And Stuart would shriek like a hyena.

It was always a highlight of the game when one of the three teams played their "joker" which gave double points if they won.

There was even more excitement in store when It's A Knockout moved to Europe, with the Jeux Sans Frontieres (games without borders) version.

The sets were more lavish and, because of the warmer climates, contests took place at night. I remember sitting on Friday evenings, riveted as contestants from rival countries, all in fancy dress, dangled from castle ramparts, jumped onto huge inflatable swans and slithered down giant slides.

Eddie and Stuart were funnier than ever, making constant cracks about the Belgians, the Swiss and the French. The pair knock spots off Ant and Dec.

In fact, the programme beats watching "Fash", "Tuffers" or "Cat" (who?) stick their hands into jars full of insects (It's A Knockout didn't use live creatures for entertainment) hands down.

In the mid-1970s the programme attracted 19 million viewers. I bet if they brought it back that number would be surpassed. What about it, BBC?

But please, no celebrities.

Updated: 10:29 Monday, May 19, 2003