Published by World Distributors (Manchester) Limited in the Autumn of 1976, the It's A Knockout Annual 1977 is one of the few books published about the series. World Distributors were a big name in the publishing of annuals, particularly of those linked to television series. No self-respecting cult TV collector will find their shelves entirely free of World Distributors' fare. Among countless others, they issued annuals for Doctor Who, Dad's Army, The Goodies, Catweazle, The Saint, Tom and Jerry and even James Bond.
In many ways, It's A Knockout was a strange choice for an annual, as these publications normally contained stories, both in prose and comic strip forms. Not something that It's A Knockout naturally lends itself to. This meant that the content was largely factual, although World Distributors did manage to squeeze in one comic strip story!
Normally, annuals are not really that useful to the collector or fan. They have stories that are written by hack writers who often are completely unfamiliar with the series the annual is about. The illustrations are usually laughable. And this is where the It's A Knockout Annual 1977 differs from the vast majority of World Distributors' output in that it actually tells you one hell of a lot about the series it is based upon. In fact, it's invaluable. It introduces the reader to the important people behind IAK, including Barney Colehan, Stuart Hall, Eddie Waring, Arthur Ellis and Cecil Korer. It focuses on individual competitors, goes briefly behind the scenes and has a feature on the scoregirls in the series. It's packed with anecdotes, useful information and photographs (albeit not always very well reproduced, it has to be said) and is a treasured part of an IAK fan's collection - even if it does fall occasionally into the traditional World Distributors traps by featuring articles that are linked to the series by the slenderest of threads. For instance, there is an article which tests the family's abilities to get out of desperate situations - being caught in a landslide, being in a lorry that stalls on a railway crossing, being stuck in a car that has careered into an icy river. Fortunately, this content is kept to a minimum, though of course there is the familiar annual fare - crosswords, games and the like. But all this is easy to overlook, as the major part of the content is fascinating.