Teams of university boffins would create weird and frequently Heath-Robinson gadgets out of shockingly scant apparatus in order to crack problems like building bridges to support someone's weight, burglar alarm detectors that people couldn't avoid triggering, or indeed the weekly challenge of transporting an egg over some great distance without breaking it.
The programme went through a number of different formats. Originally it was studio based and featured teams trying to race home-made machines as fast as possible without cracking their egg-like cargo.
Meanwhile, Professor Heinz Wolff would set three other teams challenges to solve. Over the years, the egg racing was dropped and it became a purely challenge-based programme. Later series broke out of the studio, with challenges varying from building a wave machine to taking a photograph of an oil rig using a kite.
This is the first episode of the series devoted to finding a machine that can transport a single egg the furthest possible distance, using only a rubber band as a power source. Also in the programme, three teams compete to solve a precision weighing problem and their efforts are judged by Professors Heinz Wolff and Michael French. In this episode, Professor Heinz Wolff made his debut as one of the judges. Prior to his broadcasting career, he studied physiology, working for the Radcliffe Infirmary, the Pneumoconiosis Research Unit and the Medical Research Council. During this time, he invented and designed medical machinery, including a dust sampling device that worked like an artificial lung. Wolff was born in Berlin in 1928 and fled Germany with his family in 1939, just before the outbreak of World War II.
Teams vie to keep their eggs whole as they are transported in eggmobiles and hurled across the studio by throwing machines. Brian Cant and Heinz Wolff are among those involved in the 'egg-centric' show. Brian Cant presented the first series of 'The Great Egg Race' in 1979, but is probably better known for his time fronting 'Play School' and 'Play Away'. He was also the narrator on 'Trumpton' and 'Camberwick Green'. Heinz Wolff was a judge, rather than a presenter, on 'The Great Egg Race' from 1979 until 1982. Johnny Ball and Hilary Henson presented the series in 1980, Henson did the job alone in 1981 and Charlotte Allen took over in 1982. In 1983, Wolff became the main presenter until the final series in 1986.