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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.