Pick a Box
|Pick a Box|
|Presented by||Bob Dyer|
|Country of origin||Australia|
|No. of episodes||900 (approx.)|
|Location(s)||ATN-7 studios, Sydney|
|Running time||25 minutes|
|Original channel||Seven Network|
|Original run||2 March 1957 – 28 June 1971|
|Followed by||Ford Superquiz
(1981 – 1982)
Beginning initially as a radio program in 1948 on Sydney's 2GB, the program successfully made the move to the new medium. The show debuted at 8:00 pm on Saturday 2 March 1957, less than six months after television was launched in Australia.
The program was filmed in the studios of Sydney's ATN-7 and was broadcast ATN-7 and Melbourne's GTV-9, which were initially affiliated. This changed, however, when Frank Packer, owner of TCN-9, bought a controlling share in GTV-9 and formed the National Television Network, which later became the Nine Network. As a result, ATN-7 and HSV-7 later came together to form the Australian Television Network, now known as the Seven Network. The affiliation changes meant that Pick a Box became part of the newly formed network.
The program was initially broadcast on Saturday nights and sponsored by Colgate-Palmolive. Three years later, on 4 July 1960, the show was moved to Monday nights at 7:00 pm and was sponsored by BP.
Bob Dyer, who produced and packaged the show for the Seven Network, decided in 1969 that it was time to start thinking about ending the show. After approximately 900 episodes, Pick a Box broadcast its final episode on 28 June 1971. As they owned the program, the Dyers then reviewed most of the archived episodes - kept a few as souvenirs and discarded most of them. The couple then retired to Queensland where Bob pursued his other great love, fishing.
The format for each episode consisted of two contestants participating in a five-question trivia quiz, with the second contestant wearing sound-proof headphones while the first was being questioned. The contestant who correctly answered the most questions, was invited to choose from one of a number of boxes. Without disclosing the box's contents (which could be either valuable or a booby prize), Dyer would offer the contestant a cash payment in lieu of the prize. Here appears one of the program's catch phrases, "The money or the box?"
To increase the risk/suspense, he would sometimes offer increasing amounts of cash to contestants who chose the box. After receiving the cash or prize, contestants had the option of leaving the show undefeated, or returning to play for more prizes, at the risk of losing those already won.
This format remained largely unchanged throughout its entire run.
The first contestant to make a name for himself was Ken Eccleston who gained fame over 10 weeks in 1958 when he achieved what was then the longest win on the program. After claiming the official title of "Mr Pick a Box" during a closely fought contest with Melbourne entrant George Morris, Eccleston retired from the game with a total of AU£3873/5/-.
However, by far the program's most successful contestant was Barry Jones, who won a total of 208 episodes spanning eight years between 1960 and 1967, winning over A$58,000. Jones later became a member of the Parliament of Victoria and then of the Federal Parliament, a minister in the Hawke government and president of the Australian Labor Party. He was also chosen as an Australian Living Treasure.
Pick a Box was added to the National Film and Sound Archive's Sounds of Australia Registry in 2010. An excerpt of Episode 170, featuring Barry Jones, has been published online.
Out of the 900+ episodes made, about 60+ are stored at the National Film and Sound Archive, including the final episode, according to a search of the archive's website.
- It Pays to Be Funny, Bob Dyer's other television game show, ran from 26 February 1957 to around November of the same year
- List of Australian game shows
- List of Australian television series
- Bayley, Andrew (29 July 2006). "Aussie TV Game Shows". televisionau.com. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
- Ross-Hulands, Brooklyn. "Seven Network 1960s". AusTVHistory. Archived from the original on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
- McGinness, Mark (15 February 2005). "An elegant and affable TV sidekick". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
- Dudding, Howard (1978). "Bob Dyer, TV legend". TV Week. Archived from the original on 19 September 2006. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
- Syquer, Edy. "Pick a Box". Unofficial Australian Game Shows website. Archived from the original on 19 September 2006. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
- "One of our first quiz heroes". The Sydney Morning Herald. 20 January 1993. Archived from the original on 26 October 2009. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
- Jones, Barry (December 2007). A Thinking Reed (1 ed.). Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-74175-361-5.