Sale Of The Century (Sky Channel, 1989, Sky One, 1989-1991)
You might remember a while ago when I looked back at some programming and adverts from satellite TV in the 80s, including the earliest days of what would eventually evolve into Sky One. Among the launch schedule of the imports and repeats were a couple of game shows that were both revivals of ones that had been popular earlier in the decade. One of these was The New Price Is Right that I’ve already reviewed, now here’s a look at the other one.
Sale Of The Century was a format that became a success around the world, it ran on ITV for 12 years, and it came to Sky in 1989. This was the first revival, there would be another one in the 90s on Challenge with Keith Chegwin (and I have already reviewed that one). Now the first thing that stood out to me in this version was that it was hosted by Peter Marshall, who was also a continuity announcer for several ITV regions including Thames, so it would be interesting to see him as a game show host for a change.
The rules were slightly different to the ITV version. Three contestants took part, including the defending champion. They all begin with £20, and they are asked general knowledge questions on the buzzer worth £5 each (or £5 deducted for a wrong answer). At various stages there is a visit to the gift shop (originally known as the instant sale), where only the contestant in the lead has the opportunity to buy the item that is at a bargain price, accompanied by the usual enthusiastic voiceover.
Another variation was The Fame Game, which happened three times in every edition. A Going For Gold-style “what am I?” question was asked. Whoever buzzed in and got it right could choose from a board of nine squares that all had prizes hiding behind them that were revealed by Peter’s co-host, including some cash values of up to £25 that could come to prove very useful.
The final round has more questions on the buzzer, only this time there was a time limit of one minute. The contestant with the most money at the end goes into the final, with the losers taking away the consolation prize of an atlas along with what else they’ve already won. The star prize on offer was a car that was usually valued at around £600, but it would take about five wins in a row to be able to afford it, so most contestants decided to return the next day as defending champion to try and win some more money.
This meant that there was the rather unfortunate situation where most editions ended without a really big prize being given away, although it would always be an exciting moment if someone did eventually win the car. Sale Of The Century was shown five days a week, and over 450 editions were made. I can only imagine that the small amount of people who had satellite dishes in the UK at the time were suitably entertained.