Game Show Memories – 3-2-1 Christmas Special.

3-2-1 Christmas Special (ITV, 1979)

I wanted to review one more Christmas special, so I thought that I’d take a look at another game show. 3-2-1 is a show that I have found interesting over the years, and for me the famously nonsensical clues are arguably not the strangest thing about it. There were several Christmas specials and I planned to review the one from 1988 but I couldn’t find it online.

By this point, 3-2-1 had been running for a decade, and this was the final edition, partly because its old-school variety and game mishmash had become rather outmoded by this point. Unsurprisingly, host Ted Rogers was very disappointed that the show came to an end, and he wasn’t seen on TV much after this, but put it this way, there is no way that this show could’ve continued into the mid-90s. vlcsnap-00935

This is because, as I have said before, this genre became extinct on TV by the early-90s which I do find fascinating, where now for all those jugglers, acrobats, and crooners? So instead, I thought that I would go a little further back in time and review the 1979 special which was repeated on Challenge a rather long time ago. This is before I came along and it’s only about a year into the show’s run, but let’s see if any sense can be made of it. vlcsnap-00930

The special is celebrity-packed and has something of a Dickensian feel. Ted comes on to a very pleased party hat-wearing studio audience who have all had their turkey, and we are promised that there’s going to be an hour of family fun. The real star of the show though of course is Dusty Bin. The three couples are ready to play, I hope they’ve realised what they’ve let themselves in for. vlcsnap-00939

In the first round, they’ve got to earn some money. If they give a wrong answer though, there’s a terrible joke from the resident comedian Mike Newman! Angie and Eugene take the lead, just ahead of Paul and Wendy. Veronica and Richard end up eliminated, but they do have £200 (and a Dusty Bin!), and now it’s time to go into part two, that begins with a elimination game involving Christmas puddings against the clock, what exciting stuff. The eliminated couple get their money, a Dusty Bin, and a photo frame (which if they’re lucky will even contain a photo). vlcsnap-00941

Angie and Eugene make the final. Then it’s time for the first Dickens-themed sketch, with Terry Scott. All the clues are inside a cracker that has to be pulled open. They’ve no idea what it could mean, there’s a surprise. Then after a song, there’s another clue. Now it’s time for them to reject a clue, even though they’re none the wiser. But it’s a nice one featuring nine different prizes, and Ted can’t believe it. vlcsnap-00936

Then there’s another terrific Dickens sketch, with Bill Maynard. It’s time to reject another clue, and now the cutlery’s gone. They got married nine weeks ago, they could’ve done with that. Oh dear. There could still be a car on offer though. Then we have one final Dickens sketch, with Wilfrid Brambell. They’ve now rejected a Christmas hamper, that was another nice one. All that remains is possibly a car and the bin, now is the big decision. And well… they reject what did turn out to be the car and are crestfallen, meaning they’ve won the bin for Christmas. What an unexpected downer to end this special on. And that’s why 3-2-1 was such an odd show. vlcsnap-00942

Merry Christmas!

Game Show Memories – 3-2-1.

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. vlcsnap-01548

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. vlcsnap-01551

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. vlcsnap-01552

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. vlcsnap-01553

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.