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Take Your Pick

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  • Take Your Pick

    The only programme that was on ITV in both 1956 and 1996, and thus pre-dates Coronation Street with regards to its first transmission date, although with a huge gap of around 25 years off-air.

    The original version of the game show starred Michael Miles (who died a few years after its first stint ended), and was made for London weekday company Associated-Rediffusion between 1955 and 1968 (not Victor Lewis-Smith's company of course), shortened to Rediffusion in 1964, and left our screens when Thames Television was formed, merging with Midlands and North weekend company ABC (Associated British Corporation). The Gong person was someone called Alec Dane (so says the UK Game Shows website).

    Fast forward to 1992, and Des O'Connor is now the host, ironically made by Thames Television on its final year as an ITV company before it became an independent. Des was responsible for the theme music, and his first Gong person happened to be his future wife Jodie Brooke-Wilson. Opening credits involved animated cars driven across the TV screen; cameras flashing away and a big champagne cork popping, with an excited voiceover telling us that we could win stable game show prizes such as Sun Pearl-alike (think of early 1980s spring and summer Argos catalogues for that one) garden furniture; fitted kitchens (no MFI in sight); TV and videos; that sort of thing, a holiday in the Canneries, a brand new Vauxhall Cavalier, and of course 2,000 pounds in cash (as a way of both taking the money and opening the box at the same time). Or you could win a paper plate of wobbly jelly, a used Odour Eater, or a burst balloon, etc. Now it was time to meet the host, i.e. the man with the cash and the keys...

    Des O'Connor does his opening gambit and then brings on the Gong Girl (yes, girl, and not man like in the Miles version). The future Mrs O'Connor banged the Gong in 1992 for the two series, while the twin sisters Gayle and Gillian (pronounced with a hard G as in "Ghost", and not "Germany"), in a pre-Head and Shoulders advert role later on. In 1996, Sarah Matravers (later of Footballers' Wives and the ntl community channel circa 2002 if you remember that) has a go, often wearing outrageous outfits such as short Wimbledon tennis dresses while doing so, and in 1998, Sasha Lawrence does the job as well. No series in 1993 or 1995 for O'Connor was doing the Op-Knox of the 1990s, Pot of Gold, a show tied in with the Daily Mirror newspaper - remember that?

    So, the first round - the Yes / No game - 60 seconds without saying "yes", "no", nodding or shaking the head. Des is more lenient on elderly contestants, asking questions that one wouldn't usually say yes or no to. Most of them, are asked where they come from, as if they would yes or no to that! Most slip up around 37 seconds, while Des says "you won't nod your head, will you". "I won't" is usually the reply. Occasionally, he gets one or two of them, on nodding or shaking which almost feels unfair but there you go. The gong goes around four or five times during the show, and it's a female doing the Gonging [sic], there can be some sexiness with regards to banging the aforementioned implement. After six or seven of them, we go to an early commercial break, around six minutes in, while the people on the show decide on who lasted the longest.

    Part two and we come back to the contestant who lasted the longest, usually a pensioner. Des then has a chat with the "yes and no" ban lifted, and then we get to the game. Four questions are asked and the contestant has to answer three of them correctly, and a lot of them are so easy that anyone would have got them, although one or two of them didn't and went offstage without winning anything. After three questions are asked (or four if one of the first three happens to be incorrect), the contestant is invited to choose a number of a box, and Des tells everyone at home which box is linked to Box 13. So, a box is chosen and Des offers 100 pounds for it, contestant wants to open the box. Des offers more, probably up to 500 pounds, but contestant still wants to open the box. So Des gives in and hands contestant the key, puts it in the lock, turns the key, opens the box and takes the foldable card out for Des to read. Around seven boxes have good prizes and the remaining three have booby prizes in them, and so the probability looks rather good unless most of the good prizes are gone. The boyband lookalike contestant wins gym equipment or something - not a bad prize.

    This is repeated until the end of the programme. "We are running late", Des used to say, making me think that the show could be live even it it wasn't. The next contestant probably took the 450 pounds and turned down the Fiat Uno, while the one after that turned down the 350 pounds and won a plate of custard. And there was the one who got the Box 13 number, and the chances are he turned down the cash and the original box - Des opened Box 13 while the contestant opened the original box. A cryptic message is on the Box 13 card, and a prop such as a Fez. Was it a book of Tommy Cooper's jokes? No, it was a holiday to Egypt, and he was a real winner! After around four of the six or seven contestants get seen in the second half, the time is up and we have reached the end of the show. Rolling credits at the end of the show reveal that Des himself was responsible for the theme music, and that the producer was Brian Penders who also produced O'Connor's chat show Des O'Connor Tonight for many years and also produces the Two Ronnies on the BBC in the late 1970s. And after the break was Coronation Street, in the days before 7.00 pm was Emmerdale-ised.

    They say that you can't teach an old dog new tricks especially with game shows, but that wasn't really true in the 1990s - however, when it came to the Gameshow Marathon revivals in the mid 2000s as well as other attempts to do ironic Rylan or Alan Carr-alike versions. It's probably best left alone in that respect. Mind you, I always try and watch out for it sometimes on the Sky EPG listings, especially the 1996 "Matravers" series.
    Last edited by George 1978; 12-05-2021, 05:07.
    I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
    There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
    I'm having so much fun
    My lucky number's one
    Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

  • #2
    I suppose that it's difficult to answer without saying "yes" or "no"...
    I've everything I need to keep me satisfied
    There's nothing you can do to make me change my mind
    I'm having so much fun
    My lucky number's one
    Ah! Oh! Ah! Oh!

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    • #3
      I cannot remember much about this show or opening a box from 1 to 13 with a chance of getting the booby prize

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