Two contestants participated in a five-question trivia quiz, with the second contestant wearing soundproof headphones while the first was being questioned. The contestant who had more correct answers was invited to choose from one out of thirty boxes. Without disclosing the box’s content (which could either be a valuable prize or a booby prize), Bob would offer the contestant a cash payment in lieu of the prize. Here appeared one of the program’s catch phrases (“The money or the box?”); to increase the risk/suspense, he sometimes offered increasing amounts of cash to contestants who had chosen 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.
The programme began in 1949 as a radio series, also with Bob Dyer as host.
The format was revived as Ford Superquiz in 1981-82 and as Superquiz in 1989.Two contestants participated in a five-question trivia quiz, with the second contestant wearing soundproof headphones while the first was being questioned. The contestant who had more correct answers was invited to choose from one out of thirty boxes. Without disclosing the box’s content (which…
Take Your Pick
Organist: Harold Smart
Original “gonger”: Alec Dane
Jodie Wilson (1992)
Gillian and Gail Blakeney [twins from Neighbours] (1994)
Sarah Matravers (1996)
Sasha Lawrence (1998)
Arlington Television & Radio Ltd and Associated-Rediffusion for ITV, 23 September 1955 to 26 July 1968 (494 episodes in 13 series)
Thames for ITV, 24 February 1992 to 28 August 1998 (70 episodes in 5 series + 4 unaired)
Co-produced by Central, 1994-8
Granada and Thames for ITV1, 24 September 2005 (Gameshow Marathon one-off)
Talkback for ITV, 13 June 2020 (Epic Gameshow one-off)
Viewers of the latterday Des O’Connor version of this show will have found it very similar to the original show hosted by Michael Miles – the “quiz inquizitor” – in 1955.
First, there was the infamous “Yes-No Interlude” – a qualification game lasting up to 60 seconds where the contestants had to respond to the questionmaster’s interview questions without saying those two little words, or nodding or shaking the head. Often there’d be at least one contestant on each show who would be eliminated like this:
(Contestant enters with hostess)
Hostess: “This is Maureen from Darlington.”
Presenter: “Maureen, nice to meet you. Are you well?”
Successful contestants were then brought on one-at-a-time and were asked three simple general knowledge questions. If they get them right, they get to pick a key from ten available, each key opening a corresponding box.
However, the host would try to buy back the key using increasing amounts of money until either the contestant gave in or the host refused to offer any more money. The boxes contained three booby prizes, one key to a treasure chest, and the rest were good prizes including a star prize.
There was also Box 13. If the contestant picked one of the boxes, the host tried to buy two keys off them – the key they picked and the key for Box 13. If the contestant decided to refuse the money and keep the keys, they had to pick which key to go with as they only got to keep one prize. The object in Box 13 would be a clue to what the mystery prize was. The host knew what the prize in Box 13 was, but he didn’t know what was in the other boxes. The contents of Box 13 could be a booby prize, but by and large (in the 90s version, anyway) it was nearly always a holiday.
Along with Hughie Green’s Double Your Money, TYP was one of the most successful quiz shows of the era, and like DYM, it only came to an end in 1968 because Associated-Rediffusion lost their franchise. It was also the first British TV game show to give away a cash prize.
In the earlier series of Michael Miles original version, the show had a first round – “forfeits”. Each contestant had to complete one of these before going on to the Yes/No Interlude.
A round was played in ITV’s Gameshow Marathon in 2005. All the prizes were ranked and whoever had the prize worth the most money (or took the most cash) won through to the next round.
Take Your Pick was also revived for Alan Carr’s Epic Gameshow in 2020. Six contestants won through the Yes-No Interlude, and in addition to their main game prize, each picked a coloured key. One of the colours went through to the end game, where the player picked a box from each row of a triangle, then chose whether to take their prizes or risk them for a new car.
Des O’Connor trying to help an elderly contestant what something is useless, it could be dead as a dodo.
“There’s the keys, take your pick”
“Take the money/Open the box”
Devised by Michael Miles, developed from his Radio Luxembourg show.
1990s version: Des O’Connor himself, arranged by Ray Monk.
In the original 1955 show, a successful contestant in the Yes-No game earned a prize of five shillings (25 pence in modern money).
TYP was the first Friday night game show on ITV. In the London area, it drew a 78% audience share, and one 1959 episode became the second highest rated programme of the 1950s, drawing in 13.15 million viewers (only beaten by a episode of ‘Wagon Train’ in the same year, which had 13.62 million). Although the BFI seems to have only drawn figures from the last three months of 1959 in compiling its “most watched” list, so there might have been other shows earlier in the decade that rated higher. Nevertheless, it goes to show what a huge hit TYP was – in game show terms, its only serious rival was A-R stablemate Double Your Money.
The “head gonger” who gonged people out in the Yes-No game was Alec Dane, a singer and actor who became an institution in the 1960s.
A lady named Emily Ayerst failed to win a Trip Of A Lifetime to see her son in Australia – but hundreds of viewers were so touched by her story that they sent in donations and she got to go after all. Eee, ’twere a different world in them days.
Contary to widespread belief, Take Your Pick was only showing in some ITV regions when ITN interrupted the programme for a Newsflash came through about President Kennedy’s assassination – although they did not say he had died at that time, just shot. Granada, who were not showing TYP, were the first to break the news whilst Scene at 6:30 (the regional news programme at the time) was on air.
TV Brain tells us that nearly all of the Associated-Rediffusion episodes have been wiped from the archives with only 7 of them surviving. These are the episodes that survived:
Series 1: Episodes 1-2
Series 10: Episode 39
Series 12: Episodes 1-2
Series 13: Episodes 18 & 44