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Thread: Play Your Cards Right

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2017
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    Default Play Your Cards Right

    A rather basic synopsis of what I regarded to be the start of the autumn weekend as a child... (Almost like an extension to the Don Amott advert thread if you like...)

    Home from school for the weekend - it's Friday and so no school tomorrow which was great. A complete ITV (Central region) diet of TV programmes; the afternoon repeat of Rainbow (first seen at 12.10 pm) ; Emu's World (or was it called the Pink Windmill Show?); Diff'rent Strokes, Happy Days or Blockbusters at 5.15 pm; the News at 5:45 (at 5.45 pm, natch), and an hour long Bob Warman edition of Central News from Birmingham, i.e. no Crossroads. Then it's this...

    The LWT logo makes its first network appearance of the weekend (the grey background LWT ident made its very first network appearance on PYCR in the 1986). The magical A-K-Q-J-10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2 on top of the card suits, and a kaleidoscope playing card opening sequence plays to what was the best "start the weekend" show that a Thatcher-era child could experience - Play Your Cards Right. Cue the late Bruce Forsyth (just after he got that excess hair) appear from the left of the screen (just like the good characters appear on stage). "You have cheered me up" or "what a lovely, lovely audience - you're so much better than last week's" said Forsyth, depending on: A) which week it actually was, and: B) whether or not "this week's" audience was indeed the same as "last week's", aka the same audience used to record the previous episode early on that day. Brucie gives honorary mentions to elderly audience members such as pensioner Kitty on the front row who was apparently "full of gin", and also does some tired joke starting: "I was just standing at the back there waiting to come on... ", and ending: "...so I walked away and left him - lying there". And only then did he do his "nice to see you" bit.

    After the "I'm the leader of the pack, which makes me such a lucky jack..." rhyming couplets, and then he brings on what was the three or four Dolly Dealers who were not really household names apart from in modelling circles - (just like Countdown and the like, they had several women doing the same job), although for the 1990s revival, it went down to two. In the 1990s version (Sophie Allistone and Vicky Brattle in colour-coordinated short dresses), the two Dolly Dealers used to be stooges to Forsyth and play a small part in his act. Then the contestants (married, or at least engaged) come on.

    Forsyth tries to find something ironic about their names and where they come from: "you're John and Mary Walker - oh, I love your crisps". or "you're from Worcestershire - oh, I love your sauce". And "fetch me one of my pills - the pink ones". As well as the standard "tell me about how you two met" and "tell us about the honeymoon". If the husband is a police officer, Brucie insists doing the "warm night" thing. Forsyth goes a bit "Jim Davidson" when it come to members of the armed forces in their military uniform comes on the show. And of course the "I'll make a note of that... - geriatric" catchphrase, bringing a silver pen and card from the inner-lining of his jacket pocket.

    Bruce moves to the other couple, saying: "sorry to keep your waiting" and interviewed the other couple with similar questions. Depending on whether they will be a tie-breaker and it being "sudden death" depends on how much of the interview can be aired. And then, after we are asked whether we saw the couple cut the cards, we get to the meat in the sandwich: "we want you to predict whether each of the cards is higher or lower than the preceding one - the first couple to turn the last card correctly will win the game and a Brucie Bonus!" The audience go "ooh!". "But you cannot win a game or a Brucie Bonus until you have won a question, and all of our questions are based on a poll of a 100 people, etc." I believe that one person actually represents 1% of the people asked.

    We are under way - Brucie reads a question from what seems to be the same size as an ordinary-sized playing card: "we asked 100 single men in their 30s - if a woman wolf-whistled you when you walked down the street, would you be embarrassed?" The red couple guesses 32, which means that the blue couple would go "higher". The blue couple win so they kick off - the first card is an 8 so that they can change it, but they get a 9 half way along so they decide to freeze. Repeat until one couple wins a Brucie Bonus or until "it's sudden death". If it's another 5 after the previous 5, then you don't say "snap" but it would be "you don't get anything for a pair..." "...not in this game", the over 50s audience reply in unison (other trade unions are available).

    By the time the commercial break comes along, one couple have won two straight games, or it's a "tie breaker", so "don't touch the pack, we'll be right back!" A couple of minutes later, we come back, and have the third and final game if both games had been won by both couples - otherwise, the losing couple leave with a hamper (brought on in the 1980s by male model and actor John Maloney), and flowers and all that for the woman of the couple. "We'll come and have a drink upstairs" vouched Brucie afterwards.

    And then there is the final part - contestants go to the opposite side of the stage where they were in the first half of the show where Forsyth gives the couple 200 points (or pounds in the 1990s) - he will ask them a multiple choice question with three possible answers, although it is as easy as pie of course. He can add 50 to the 200 if they get it right, or he will have to take 50 away if they don't. The 50 was like a deposit, and it helped the contestant to save themselves that 50 on a good card while using that 50 on a not-so-good card. No problem - they get it right. "Points make prizes" is the name of the game. LWT's answer to Alan Dedicoat - Robin Houston announces lovely prizes that the couple can win such as a mahogany wall unit; a home computer (internet not included); a hi-fi (probably no CD player); his and hers sheepskin coats; a colour TV; a holiday to Las Vegas, and to top it all, the start prize is a car - probably a Metro or a Mini! But they need 4,000 points (or pounds) to get there!

    Bruce offers a base card, but they can change it if they want to - they bid just 50 on the 6 to 9s, but all except 50 on the 2s, 3s, Kings and Aces. "We will give you another 200" as soon as the card journey reaches the next row up. A card trips them up, and so it's "double or bust", otherwise they go all the way there and win the car, which was "parked" right of the stage layout from the viewers perspective, and let's assume they do. Forsyth goes around the set to take them to their new car "registration number: PYCR 1 - (that's Papa, Yankee, Charlie, Romeo - One)" just before the show ends.

    And as it ends, we see Brucie saying "it could be a good night if you Play Your Cards Right - good night!" waving at the audience, walks back to where he came from at the start of the show 26 minutes before, waves one last time, turns right (to our left) and disappears behind the square pattern walls, going full circle with the start of the show, and leaving behind an empty stage with the lights dimming as the credits scroll up the screen (Sound: "Roger Knight" or "Jon Matthews" depending on which series) etc, as if we were already mourning his absence. It still gives lovely shivers down the spine when I see the closing sequence of the show on YouTube - it was so magical seeing Forsyth take his exit at the end. I had always assumed that Bruce would be on his way back to his dressing room to change into another outfit in preparation for hosting the next recorded episode nearly an hour later.

    It did ruin it a bit when some series were on Sunday nights (after Highway) which meant the opposite of the "no school tomorrow" approach as Friday nights had indicated. Going on YouTube and seeing an 1984 episode of the show (still called Play Your Cards Right over there) they had some Manchester, UK -born Pommie called "Ugly" Dave Gray hosting it who I believe did a bit of acting Down Under as well - Cue Gray on screen wafting a lit cigar all over the place which doesn't look very politically correct or Health and Safety conscious to do over the past the decades. The New Zealand host back then seems a fascinating chap as well.

    Not only is it a travesty that Forsyth is no longer alive, but the Emmerdale-ism of ITV evening scheduling since 2000 means that we will never get any more ITV game shows again, not for a number of years into the future I assume. I think that the show worked well with a slightly aging host, and it certainly wouldn't work with some young person such as Stephen Mulhern or Rylan Clark-Neal. They were going to think of doing a revival with a Keith Lemon-alike host, but probably for all the obvious reasons, it didn't get too far. It was for the best of course.

    The Dolly Dealers have also intrigued me over the years as well - hardly any of them have gone onto greater fame after working on the show. I saw Sophie Allistone appear in a Head and Shoulders advert in around 1997 but that was about it - most of them are either in the theatre or had some modelling contract somewhere.

    Was Play Your Cards Right the start to your weekend as soon as you went home from school on Friday evenings, or were you a Blankety Blank or even a Wogan person on Friday evenings?
    I am now in my 40s (just in case anyone asks).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
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    Default Re: Play Your Cards Right

    Loved me some Brucey and Play Your Cards Right, always remember the "i'm the leader of the pack, which makes me such a lucky chap, here they are they're so appealing, okay dollies do your dealing!" opener.

    Back then, this, Bullseye, 321, Telly Addicts and Strike it Lucky were the best game shows on TV for me.

  3. #3
    Join Date
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    Default Re: Play Your Cards Right

    Always thought the cards were rigged, it was amazing how many times the sequence of cards would go 2,queen,3, king, 2, ace. I've never worked out the odds but i imagine they would be pretty slim ....Best part? Dolly dealers
    ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN IN THE NEXT HALF HOUR.

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