Take Your Pick!

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Take Your Pick!
Genre Game show
Created by Michael Miles
Presented by Michael Miles (1955–1968)
Des O'Connor (1992–1998)
Voices of Bob Danvers-Walker (1955–1968)
John Sachs (1992)
Steve Jones (1994–1998)
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 13 (Associated-Rediffusion)
5 (Thames)
No. of episodes 494 (Associated-Rediffusion)
72 (Thames)
Production
Running time 30 minutes (incl. adverts)
Production company(s) Associated-Rediffusion (1955–1968)
Thames Television (1992–1998)
Distributor FremantleMedia
Release
Original network ITV
Picture format 4:3
Original release 23 September 1955 (1955-09-23) – 28 August 1998 (1998-08-28)

Take Your Pick! was a United Kingdom game show originally broadcast by Radio Luxembourg in the early 1950s.[1] The show was moved to television in 1955 with the launch of ITV, where it continued until 1968. As it was the first game show broadcast on commercial television in the UK (and the BBC), monetary prizes were not offered to its participants. It was also, by default, the first British game show to offer cash prizes.[contradictory] The programme was later revived from 24 February 1992 to 28 August 1998.

History[edit]

Take Your Pick! host Michael Miles

The first version of the television show was produced by Associated-Rediffusion (later Rediffusion London), while the revival was made by Thames Television, whose arrival as the new London weekday ITV company had led to the demise of the original show.

During the gameplay, contestants would answer a series of questions without using the words yes or no in what was known as the "Yes-No Interlude". If they failed to answer all the questions, they would subsequently be gonged off the stage. However, if successful, contestants would answer more questions to win modest monetary prizes. At the climax of the show, contestants would be offered the choice of whether to "take the money" (take all money they had earned so far) or "open the box", which could contain good prizes such as a holiday or a washing machine. It could also contain booby prizes such as a mousetrap or a bag of sweets.

The first version was hosted by Michael Miles. After its demise, Miles hosted a similar show for Southern Television called Wheel of Fortune, not to be confused with the later Wheel of Fortune of the same title. Bob Danvers-Walker, who was the voice of Pathé News from 1940 until its demise in 1970, was the show's announcer. Alec Dane was on hand to bang the gong. Harold Smart was at the electronic organ.

Des O'Connor became the host for the second version in the 1990s. His future wife, Jodie Wilson, was one of the hostesses; she would later be replaced by Neighbours twins Gayle and Gillian Blakeney.

The show was again revived for one night as part of Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon in 2005. This was a series of the Geordie duo, who presented classic ITV gameshows as part of the channel's 50th anniversary in their own style.

A similar formula was used for Pot of Gold, another game show hosted by O'Connor.

The game was played during the ninth series of Britain's Got More Talent.

Gameplay[edit]

Yes-No interlude[edit]

In this opening game, the host asked the contestant a series of questions in a 60-second span. The contestant could not say "yes" or "no", nor could they nod or shake their heads. If they did, the co-host would bang the gong and the contestant would be eliminated (unless other contestants did the same).

Box numbers and the prizes[edit]

There were 10 boxes numbered from 1 to 10. Three of them would contain booby prizes, one would contain a star prize (e.g., a small car or vacation package), and six would contain other prizes (e.g., appliances, furniture, or a "treasure chest" of cash).

Contestants would be asked general-knowledge questions. If they answered three questions correctly, they picked a key from a set of ten, corresponding to one of the first ten boxes. The host would then try to buy back the key with increasing amounts of cash, up to about £50 (or, in the revival, a number of hundreds of pounds). One box also included a key to Box 13, which would trigger another round of bidding while the contestant had to choose between their first prize, cash, or Box 13 which could have an expensive household item or a booby prize.

Cultural references[edit]

A sketch in Monty Python's Flying Circus (called "Spot the Brain Cell" in a later audio version) has John Cleese playing an "evil" game show host, hitting contestants over the head with a giant hammer, which is clearly a wildly exaggerated version of Michael Miles (the game he is hosting is a parody of the "Yes-No Interlude"). An early version of this sketch appeared in At Last the 1948 Show. For a time after Miles' death the sketch was not shown by the BBC, but it has since been reinstated.

Also, in the Dirty Hungarian Phrasebook sketch in Monty Python's Flying Circus, a prosecutor (played by Eric Idle) plays the game with Alexander Yalt (played by Michael Palin). The prosecutor manages to gong Yalt "out" for answering a question with "yes" (although Yalt was probably unaware of playing the game in the first place).

A sketch in the BBC Radio comedy series The Burkiss Way featured a "Dinosaur-Cheese Interlude", in which contestants were required to answer questions without mentioning any species of dinosaur or any variety of cheese (besides Edam, which was "made" backwards). Naturally, all the contestants did accidentally mention them.

A fifth-season episode of the radio show Hancock's Half Hour (broadcast May 1958) had Tony Hancock appear on the (unnamed) show and win £4,000.

The British progressive rock band Hatfield and the North named one of their songs "The Yes No Interlude". It is included in their second LP, The Rotters' Club.

The 1970s radio programme I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again made frequent references to Take Your Pick! with phrases such as "Stake the bunny!" "Open the box!"

Transmissions[edit]

Associated-Rediffusion[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 23 September 1955 1 June 1956 36
2 21 September 1956 14 June 1957 39
3 20 September 1957 13 June 1958 39
4 19 September 1958 26 June 1959 41
5 18 September 1959 10 June 1960 39
6 16 September 1960 23 June 1961 41
7 15 September 1961 8 June 1962 39
8 14 September 1962 7 June 1963 39
9 13 September 1963 5 June 1964 39
10 18 September 1964 11 June 1965 39
11 24 September 1965 18 March 1966 26
12 30 September 1966 12 May 1967 33
13 29 September 1967 26 July 1968 44

Only 6 out of the 494 episodes from the Associated-Rediffusion era survived from the archives including episode 2 of series 1, episode 39 of series 10, episodes 1–2 of series 12 and episodes 18 and 44 of series 13.[2]

Thames[edit]

Series Start date End date Episodes
1 24 February 1992 11 May 1992 12
2 8 July 1992 23 September 1992 12
3 12 July 1994 22 November 1994 20
4 13 May 1996 26 August 1996 16
5 5 June 1998 28 August 1998 12

References[edit]

External links[edit]