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|Take Your Pick!|
|Created by||Michael Miles|
Des O'Connor (1992-1999)
Michael Miles (1955-1968)
|Starring||Jodie Wilson (1992)|
Gillian Blakeney and Gayle Blakeney (1994)
Sarah Matravers (1996)
Sasha Lawrence (1998-99)
|Voices of||Bob Danvers-Walker |
John Sachs (1992)
Steve Jones (1994-99)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||13 (Associated-Rediffusion)|
|No. of episodes||494 (Associated-Rediffusion)|
|Running time||30 minutes (inc. adverts)|
|Original release||23 September 1955 -|
23 December 1999
Take Your Pick! is a United Kingdom game show originally broadcast by Radio Luxembourg starting in 1952. The show was moved to television in 1955 with the launch of ITV, where it continued until 1968. It was the first game show broadcast in the UK to offer cash prizes.
The programme was later revived from 24 February 1992 to 23 December 1999. The show featured female assistants to accompany Des O' Connor. They were Jodie Wilson in the first two of the revived series, then Gillian Blakeney and Gayle Blakeney in 1994, followed by Sarah Matravers (1996) and Sasha Lawrence in 1998.
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. If successful, however, 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. A similar formula was used for Pot of Gold, another game show hosted by O'Connor.
Singer and TV presenter Des O'Connor became the host for the second version, which aired from 1992 to 1999. His future wife, Australian born Jodie Wilson, was one of the hostesses; she would later be replaced by former Neighbours twins Gayle and Gillian Blakeney, also from Australia.
A one-off revival was broadcast in 2005 as part of Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon, a celebrity game show tournament produced as part of commemorations of ITV's 50th anniversary. Another one-off revival was broadcast as part of the similar 2020 ITV series Alan Carr's Epic Gameshow. This version added a bonus round, where one of the contestants selects boxes from rows of a pyramid, and could risk their prizes for a chance at a major prize inside one of two "golden boxes" placed at the top of the pyramid.
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 next contestant would be introduced. Those completing the minute successfully were awarded a £1 prize. In the 1992-1999 version they were awarded £1 a second.
There were 10 boxes numbered from 1 to 10. Three of them would contain booby prizes, one would contain a card awarding a star prize (e.g., a small car or holiday package), and six would contain cards announcing other prizes (e.g., appliances, furniture, or a "treasure chest" of cash (£50 in the Miles series, £500 in the first O'Connor series, £1,000 for the remaining series). No-one, including the host, knew which prize was in each box. However, the audience was given a preview of the actual prizes, shown on screen, and listed by Bob Danvers-Walker, from off-screen. The list always culminated in the announcement of "tonight's star prize".
Contestants would be asked general-knowledge questions. If they answered three out of four 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.
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.
The 1970s radio programme I'm Sorry, I'll Read That Again made frequent references to Take Your Pick! with phrases such as (in this case, apropos of a vampire rabbit and its coffin): "Stake the bunny!" "Hop in the box!"
|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 7 out of the 494 episodes from the Associated-Rediffusion era survived from the archives including episodes 1-2 of series 1, episode 39 of series 10, episodes 1-2 of series 12 and episodes 18 and 44 of series 13.
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes|
|1||24 February 1992||11 May 1992||10|
|2||8 July 1992||23 September 1992||12|
|3||12 July 1994||23 November 1994||20|
|4||13 May 1996||26 August 1996||16|
|5||5 June 1998||23 December 1999||16|