Sale Of The Century (Challenge, 1997)
A while ago I wrote about Sale Of The Century, a popular game show that launched on ITV in 1971 and ran for over a decade. It has since been revived twice, firstly in 1989 in the early days of Sky One when it was hosted by Peter Marshall, who was also an announcer on Thames at the time. But this piece will concentrate on the second revival in the late-90s, the ultimate in TV shopping.
When Challenge made some original programming it was hardly ratings-topping stuff, but they did try out a few ideas, one of them being a revival of Sale Of The Century, which was hosted by Keith Chegwin, who around this time was turning up a lot on game shows on various satellite channels, either as the host or as a panellist. So how does this compare to the original?
Well, it’s fairly faithful, beginning with a remix of the original theme music (although there’s no organist here). Also, the announcer was Robin Houston, who was also hosting Channel 5’s game show 100% out-of-vision around the same time. Three contestants (including a defending champion) took part and they had the opportunity to bag some bargains. As always Keith was very enthusiastic and encouraged them all the way through, and he also kept his clothes on.
The contestants begin with £15, and in the first round every correct answer on the buzzer (which made the same noise as the ones on Going For Gold) was worth £1 (or £1 deducted for a wrong answer). Then there is the first Instant Sale, where a prize is shown (breathlessly described by Robin) and if a contestant wants it, they can buzz in and it’s theirs. In the next two rounds, the correct answers are worth £3, with a couple more Instant Sales.
After the break, in the next two rounds it’s £5 for a correct answer, along with two more Instant Sales, although contestants seem to be a little more reluctant to buzz in for them at this point. The last round features 60 seconds of questions, with again £5 on offer as one more chance to bump up those scores. When time is up, the contestant with the most money goes into the final to play for the big prizes.
They have the choice of various prizes, the top ones being a holiday (usually reduced to around £400) or a car (around £500). They have to decide if they will come back on the next edition as the defending champion to try and earn some more money, or buy one of the prizes on offer. Buying the car should take about five or six wins. At this point Keith will start jumping around with over-excitement, whether they take a prize or not.
It seems that this version of Sale Of The Century was shown five days a week on Challenge for a while. The prizes on offer weren’t too bad considering this obviously wasn’t a big budget show and they were at about the same level as the original version, and it was good seeing a host who clearly wanted the contestants to do well and make the most of their time inside the magic rectangle. If only Challenge encouraged more ideas like this now.