Pick a Box

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Pick a Box
Also known asBP Pick a Box
GenreGame show
Presented byBob Dyer
Country of originAustralia
Original language(s)English
No. of episodes900 (approx.)[1]
Production location(s)ATN-7 studios, Sydney
Running time25 minutes
Original networkMacquarie Broadcasting Service, Seven Network
First shown in1948-1957
Original release2 March 1957 –
28 June 1971
Followed byFord Superquiz
(1981 – 1982)

Pick a Box was one of the first game shows to be broadcast on Australian television. Hosted by the husband and wife team Bob and Dolly Dyer, the program aired on radio from 1948 until the early 1960s and on television from 1957 to 1971.


Beginning initially as a radio program in 1948, it was heard Australia-wide on the Macquarie Broadcasting Service. It was originally produced in the studios of Sydney's 2GB. The program successfully made the move to television, debuting at 8:00 pm on Saturday 2 March 1957, less than six months after the new medium had been launched in Australia. Nevertheless the program continued to be heard on radio for some years.

The TV version in addition to the radio version was filmed in the studios of Sydney's ATN-7 and was broadcast on 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.[2] The affiliation changes meant that Pick a Box became part of the newly formed Seven 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.[3]

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.[4] 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.[1]

In 1971 the show was still the seventh most popular in the country.[5]


The format for each episode consisted of two contestants participating in a multi-question trivia quiz, with the second contestant wearing sound-proof headphones while the first was being questioned. The contestant who correctly answered a set number of 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.[6]

This format remained largely unchanged throughout its entire run.

Famous contestants[edit]

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/- ($121,477.99 in 2018 Currency)[7]

Two other famous contestants were Frank Partridge, the last Australian to be awarded the Victoria Cross in World War II, and George Black, who went on to become a question writer for the show.[8]

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.

Episode status[edit]

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.[citation needed]


  • Ford Superquiz was a remake of the show hosted by Bert Newton and his wife Patti Newton and produced by the Reg Grundy organisation for the Nine Network. It began in 1981 and ran for two seasons with the boxes replaced by prisms. It was sponsored by the Ford Motor Company of Australia.
  • Superquiz was a remake of the show in 1989 hosted by Mike Walsh and Deborah Hutton on the Network Ten.
  • Super Quiz is a series of games and books as well as a syndicated quiz column and online quiz game created by Ken Fisher{[dn|date=May 2019}}.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Bayley, Andrew (29 July 2006). "Aussie TV Game Shows". televisionau.com. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
  2. ^ Ross-Hulands, Brooklyn. "Seven Network 1960s". AusTVHistory. Archived from the original on 21 November 2008. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
  3. ^ McGinness, Mark (15 February 2005). "An elegant and affable TV sidekick". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
  4. ^ Dudding, Howard (1978). "Bob Dyer, TV legend". TV Week. Archived from the original on 19 September 2006. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
  5. ^ "TELEVISION RATINGS". The Canberra Times. 45, (12, 803). Australian Capital Territory, Australia. 6 May 1971. p. 8. Retrieved 20 September 2017 – via National Library of Australia.
  6. ^ Syquer, Edy. "Pick a Box". Unofficial Australian Game Shows website. Archived from the original on 19 September 2006. Retrieved 19 February 2008.
  7. ^ "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.
  8. ^ Jones, Barry (December 2007). A Thinking Reed (1 ed.). Crows Nest, New South Wales, Australia: Allen & Unwin. ISBN 978-1-74175-361-5.

External links[edit]