After some 26 years of searching, I finally not only stumbled upon an example of a show I remember from my childhood, but it turned out to be the single episode that I most specifically remember. Back in the mid 80s, there was a series of occasional shows (I don’t begin to remember if they aired on any regular schedule, but I recall them being on approximately once or twice per year). These shows were game shows where people would have to do various races and stunts while wearing silly costumes, much like more recent shows such as Takeshi’s Castle/MXC. I have been trying for many years to find out what this show was without any luck, but I recently saw a blog post about some other related show which led me at long last to this one. The show is “It’s A Knockout” (UK)/”Almost Anything Goes” (US), a localized version of a french show “Jeux Sans Frontières” (“Games Without Frontiers”). This series had a regular series and a series of special events, I believe it is the series of specials which I had seen as a kid.
The one that I remembered most clearly (which is also the one I finally stumbled onto) was “The Grand Knockout Tournament”. A charity even from 1987, featuring several members of the British royal family, and many celebrities from both sides of the Atlantic, including Christopher Reeve, Meatloaf, Sheena Easton, John Travolta, and many others. It was setup as a spoof of a medieval tournament, with “Lord Knock” presiding over the competition. Contestants would have to do things like swing a wrecking ball at some knights while blindfolded, chase each other while wearing big rubber costumes and huge floppy shoes, wrestle giant vegetable costumes off each other and throw them into a massive cooking pot, etc. It’s a lot of silly fun. This special is 90 minutes long. Youtube has both the version broadcast in the US (on the USA Network no less) and the BBC version. Aside from station breaks the footage seems to be identical.
Even if you don’t care for the show itself, this video should give you plenty of nostalgia from all the ’80s celebrities.