Take Your Pick (ITV, 1992-1998)
Take Your Pick was one of the first game shows to appear on ITV and it has also gone down in TV history as being the first in the UK to offer cash prizes, and it became one of the most popular game shows of the 50s and 60s, but this piece will be based on the 90s revival. In 1992 which was Thames’s final year on air, as part of their last hurrah Take Your Pick was revived and it was hosted by Stepney’s very own Des O’Connor.
The show would work in two parts. First of all, about six or seven people were taken from the studio audience to play the Yes/No game. This was where Des would ask them questions for up to one minute and they couldn’t respond by saying “yes” or “no” which was much more difficult than it seemed. If they did, Des’s co-host, who was usually his wife or that woman who used to be in Neighbours would bang a gong to indicate that their time would be up, although there was a bonus on offer for anyone who could last the whole minute.
In the second part of the game, the four contestants who lasted the longest in the first part returned to play for some prizes. They would be asked three general knowledge questions by Des and if they got them right they could then play for what was in the boxes. They would be asked to take their pick of ten keys, each one hiding a prize inside it, and Des would try to buy the key off them by offering some money.
This is where the show’s famous phrase would come into use, “open the money or take the box?”. Contestants would often decide to open the box, despite Des’s best efforts, and there were some funny moments when Des would try to tempt them by showing them some money and saying “look Doris, it’s £500!”. The risk of opening the box was that although about six or seven boxes contained good prizes, about three or four contained booby prizes that were usually nothing more than an old sock.
They would then open the box to discover what they had won. But there was a further twist. One box would also give access to the key that would open Box 13, which potentially would be hiding the biggest prize of the night. So then there would be another section where they would have to decide if they want to open their box or to gamble for what’s inside Box 13. On most occasions it seemed that there was a booby prize in that box but usually it was a clue to the star prize which was often a luxury holiday.
The revival of Take Your Pick didn’t last as long as the original version, but it still seemed to be popular with viewers the second time around, and with people like me who were seeing the show for the first time, and the 90s version was also often repeated on Challenge.