Dr Guy Secretan (Stephen Mangan) wearing his "international-standard" topmiler.

Guyball (/ˈɡbɔːl/ GHEE-bawl) is a fictional game featured in the British sitcom Green Wing. The rules of Guyball are never fully explained, and are designed to be as confusing and as difficult to understand as possible. However, Green Wing fans have attempted to create their own rules and Guyball societies. The first such society was created at King's College London.[1]

The most renowned player is the fictional half-Swiss anaesthetist Dr Guy Secretan. Due to the similarity between his name and that of Guyball, and the fact that Guyball's specialist terminology has a heavy Swiss influence, it seems likely that Guy invented it. He first played Guyball at Whiteleaf (/ˈwɪtlɪf/ "whitliff"), a public school he attended for twelve years (1977–90).[2] Guyball is first mentioned in the seventh episode of series one of Green Wing, "Tangled Webs", as Guy prepares for a world championship semi-final, having won his second-round match in five straight clappers. Other noted players include Markus Geissler, "The Big Austrian", who Guy walked over in the first round because he had shin splints.[3]

The idea for Guyball was inspired by real-life obscure sports played solely at particular real English public schools – such as the Eton Wall Game and Winchester College Football. The awkward pronunciation of the sport's name is based on a quirk of various upper class institutions such as Magdalen College (pronounced (/ˈmɔːdlᵻn/ mawd-lin). It was created by Green Wing writer Richard Preddy, and it was later developed by the other writers.[4]

Fictional History

Basic rules

The object of the game, according to Guy, is simply "to put the ball into the basket". The basket in question is part of the toppmeiler, a special helmet worn by one or more of the players. This consists of a wicker basket (fastened to the player's head by a leather strap) with an attached pair of flying goggles to protect the eyes. Whether or not a given player wears a toppmeiler, hurls balls at their opponents, or has balls hurled at them, seems to vary depending on circumstance.[3]

Before starting a match, one is encouraged to splice the Matterhorn by insulting one's opponents – though this might very well be a means, invented by Guy on the spur of the moment, for getting away with shouting abuse at a group of children.[5] It starts when the official shouts Commence.[3]

Advanced rules

The detailed rules of Guyball appear to depend on the variation being played. A "classic three-person variation of the game", in which two people chase the wearer of the toppmeiler, is described by Guy to his colleague Dr Martin Dear (as Martin wears an improvised toppmeiler made of a wicker bin sellotaped to his head) as follows:

Don't leave the parish, all right? If you reach the maison, put your left arm in the air and shout 'Maison!'. [...] There are no burrow tactics and there are no hedgehogs, OK? [...] I won the toss so stickles are random [...] and it's a two-bounce ubique. Right. Go! Move!

One might also play with orthodox or alternate stickles and a four-bounce ubique /ˈbɪkw/, though this tends to be in matches in which the two sides have an equal number of players, all of whom wear toppmeilers.[5] Positions in which Guyball players may find themselves include:

It is unknown who the reigning world Guyball champion is as of 2006, though Guy is still an active player and taught Guyball to some local children as part of his community service.[5] He has claimed that if he had twelve children himself he would teach Guyball to all of them.[6] According to The Complete First Series Scripts, a player can also be sent off for "Illegal use of the hefty fondue." This happened between Guy Secretan and Markus Geissler, during a match at the Secretanstadt, Lausanne. Guy won 12:3.[7]

Whilst no guide to the rules has been officially published, there is a guide called The Guyball Rule Book that can be seen being read by Green Wing's writers on the Green Wing Special DVD.[1][8]

Possible Olympic sport

In the first season, Guy receives a letter from the International Olympic Committee concerning the induction of Guyball as an Olympic sport.[7] The results reached by the committee were:

However, in the "Green Wing Unmasked: Exclusive Collectors Booklet", the letter was instead sent to the "European Team Sports Federation".[9]


Green Wing fans playing a game of Guyball in real life at the Wingin' It convention.

Despite the fact that Guyball is a fictional game, many fans have tried to play the game in real life, making their own rules and creating Guyball societies.

King's College London Guyball Society

Currently the only organised society to play Guyball in the UK is based in King's College London. It was founded by Jane Macallan and Anna Jones, who claim that it has been approved by Stephen Mangan, the actor who plays Guy, and Green Wing's writers. According to an audio commentary on series 2, episode 4 of Green Wing, Tamsin Greig says that the students were given money to research the rules, and if none existed, to invent them.[10] The only copy of the rules is on the society's MySpace page.[11]

Recorded games

Only two games of Guyball have been recorded in real life. The first was at a barbecue for TalkbackThames, Green Wing's production company, at North Hampshire Hospital, Basingstoke, where Green Wing is partly filmed. It was played by the actors, writers and crew of the show, including Mangan, Julian Rhind-Tutt and Pippa Haywood.[1][12]

The second was at the first Green Wing convention, Wingin' It. The match was played at Brook Green, umpired by Stephen Mangan, and was organised by Green Wing's production assistant Patrick Schulenburg. The six-on-six match was played using the Geneva variation, with free fuddes and geometric sticles. Players were asked to "watch your coccyxes" before the match commenced. The players spliced the matterhorn, insulting Mangan. The first goal scored was an own goal, as the team ran into their own parish. It was reported that some of the players were injured during the match. A DVD of the convention is to be released. So far, the convention has raised in the order of £5,000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital.[12][13]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 "About Guyball". British Sitcom Guide. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
  2. Green Wing - The Complete First Series Scripts page 118.
  3. 1 2 3 4 "Tangled Webs". Green Wing. Season 1. 2004-10-15.
  4. "Green Wing BFI Event". British Sitcom Guide. Retrieved 2007-10-10.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Series 2, Episode 4". Green Wing. Season 2. Episode 4. 2006-04-21.
  6. "Series 2, Episode 8". Green Wing. Season 2. Episode 8. 2006-05-19.
  7. 1 2 Green Wing - The Complete First Series Scripts page 217.
  8. Green Wing Special (DVD). TalkbackThames. 2007-01-08.
  9. Green Wing Unmasked Exclusive Collectors Booklet. 2007-10-15.
  10. Green Wing Series 2, Episode 4, audio commentary (version 2). Featuring Tamsin Greig and Lucinda Raikes.
  11. "Guyball, the rules". Kings College London Guyball Society Myspace Blog. 2006-09-10. Retrieved 2007-11-24.
  12. 1 2 Green Wing: The Definitive Collect - The Phenomenon (DVD). TalkbackThames. 2007-10-15.
  13. "Green Wing Newsletter: Issue 18". British Sitcom Guide. 2007-10-03. Retrieved 2007-10-10.

External links

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