3-2-1 (ITV, 1978-1988)
The long-running and somewhat bizarre game show that was based on a Spanish format. The show’s title came from the fact that it was supposedly three different styles of show all in one, a quiz show, a game show, and a variety show, and all of these elements were mixed together to create a memorable combination. The show was hosted by Ted Rogers who liked to wear some odd-coloured suits would always start by running down the sparkly stairs and shaking random studio audience member’s hands, before he would do that rather odd hand signal and then he would be joined by his old mate Dusty Bin. The rules are somewhat complicated.
Each week 3-2-1 would have a different theme which would loosely link together all the clues, and three couples would take part. How the first round was played over the years varied slightly but it usually involved the couples playing a word association game, with £10 for every correct answer in the first part of the game, which would then be multiplied by how many they got right in the second part. The lowest-scoring team were eliminated at this point, although they did take away the money that they had won.
After this Ted would introduce an celebrity act to perform their turn, this could be various things, such as an old-school comedian, or musical group, or magician, or anything else like that. Some were better than others. After they were done they would then join Ted and the contestants with an item and read out a cryptic clue which was a link to one of the prizes on offer, the idea being that the teams had to decipher them to hopefully pick one of the big prizes and avoid the booby prize of a bin by rejecting that clue, however this was made much more difficult by the clues being virtually unfathomable.
After this Ted would then read out a quiz question for the two teams on the buzzer and the ones who got it right made it through to the final. After a lot more guessing, their prize would finally be determined, had they won the star prize of the car or the holiday? Well more often than not they did, but on a few occasions a couple did end up winning the bin which must have left them embarrassed.
3-2-1 isn’t a show that I remember watching much first time round, my first real exposure to it was when I saw a repeat run of the final two series on Challenge, and although they were very interesting to watch, the style of variety and game show hybrid was somewhat outmoded even then, and even though the ratings were still rather good, the show came to an end after a decade in 1988 and unfortunately Ted wasn’t seen too much on TV after that.
It wasn’t the end just yet for 3-2-1 though as there was also a board game released, and in more recent years there was also an interactive DVD version released during the short craze for those which was hosted by Dusty. 3-2-1 is a show that does still seem to be remembered by viewers, but mostly nowadays in a “what was that all about?”-style, and it was never going to win any fancy awards, but it was clearly Saturday night primetime fun for lots of people.