Gambit (British game show)

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GenreGame show
Created byMerrill Heatter
Bob Quigley
Presented byFred Dinenage (1975-83)
Tom O'Connor (1984-5)
Gary Thompson (1995)
StarringAnn Dunsford (1975)
Michelle Lambourne (1976-85)
Joanna Park (1995)
Country of originUnited Kingdom
Original language(s)English
No. of series11
No. of episodes141
Running time30 minutes (inc. adverts)
Production company(s)Anglia
DistributorITV Studios
Original networkITV (1975-85)
Anglia (1995)
Picture format4:3
Original release3 July 1975 (1975-07-03) –
5 November 1995 (1995-11-05)
Related showsGambit

Gambit is a British game show based on the American version of the same name. It first aired on ITV from 3 July 1975[1] to 28 May 1985, hosted by Fred Dinenage from 1975 to 1983 and finally hosted by Tom O'Connor from 1984 to 1985. It was revived from 23 July to 5 November 1995 only in the Anglia region with Gary Thompson as host.


Original Version[edit]

Main Game[edit]

The object of the game was that of blackjack: come as close to 21 as possible without going over (or "busting"). As in blackjack, the cards 2 through 10 were worth their face value; face cards (Kings, Queens and Jacks) counted as 10 and an Ace could count as either 1 or 11.

The host asked a series of questions, usually multiple-choice or true-false, to two married couples. The couple who buzzed in and answered the question correctly won control of the next card from the top of a deck of over-sized (but otherwise regulation) playing cards. The first card was shown before the first question, but cards thereafter were presented face down.

Once a couple gained control of a card they had the option of adding it to their own hand or passing it to their opponents. After a couple received any card (whether by choosing to take it themselves or by having a card passed to them from their opponents) they could elect to stick if they were in the lead with at least 12 points (neither team was permitted to stick when the two were tied), preventing them from receiving any additional cards. This rule prevented their opponents from passing cards to them in order to strategically force them to bust.

Once this happened, the other couple answered up to three questions in an attempt to best their opponents.

Play continues until one of the following conditions occurred:

Conditions for winning[edit]
  • Reaching 21, which not only won the game, but the Gambit Jackpot, which started at £200 and went up £50 everytime it wasn't won, up to the maximum of £500.
  • Having their opponents exceed 21 ("bust"), even if the winners had no cards.
  • Sticking, and then having the opponents miss two questions before getting a higher score without going over 21 or simply not get enough to beat their opponents' score.
  • Having the opponents stick, and then getting a higher score without going over 21.

Each game won was worth £20. The first team to win two games won the match, a total of £40 and advanced to the bonus round.

The Gambit Board[edit]

The winning couple played the Gambit Bonus Board. They faced a large game board with 21 numbered cards. Each card concealed a prize; along with each prize the couple chose, they received a card added to their hand from the deck. They can choose any number from 1-20 (the 21st space offered a choice of star prizes).

The game ended in one of three ways:

  • The couple elected to stop before reaching 21 (especially if they feared the next card would push them over 21 or in some instances, if they won a desirable prize they wanted to keep) and keep all the prizes they've chosen to that point.
  • Going over 21, at which point they lost everything from the board.
  • Reaching 21 exactly, wherein they won a choice of star prizes behind #21 and the prizes selected.

Couples who won a star prize or played the Gambit Board twice retired undefeated.

1995 version[edit]

For this version, the rules and setup were radically different (inspired by an unsold American Gambit pilot from 1990). Two solo players competed, and were asked a question with two possible answers. The answers would appear on a video screen to the right of the host's podium and the contestant who rang in would have to determine if one, both, or neither of the two answers applied to the question. Answering a question correctly would earn them a card, which they had the option of passing or keeping. As before, contestants had the option of sticking.


Series Start date End date Episodes
1 3 July 1975 25 September 1975 13
2 2 July 1976 24 September 1976 13
3 15 July 1977 6 October 1977 13
4 15 July 1978 5 October 1978 13
5 30 March 1979 22 June 1979 13
6 28 October 1980 20 January 1981 11
7 5 April 1982 5 July 1982 13
8 25 March 1983 24 June 1983 13
9 25 May 1984 17 August 1984 13
10 26 February 1985 28 May 1985 13
11 23 July 1995 5 November 1995 13


  1. ^ "Anglia at 21 - ITV - Transdiffusion".

External links[edit]