Tuesday, 27 September 2011

And now from Norwich, it's the quiz of the week. Remembering Sale Of The Century

Sale of the Century was a game show based on a US game show of the same name. It was first shown on ITV from 1972 to 1983, hosted by Nicholas Parsons. The first series was aired in the Anglia region only, but it rolled out to other regions from early 1972 and achieved full national coverage by the end of 1975, at which point it was one of the most popular shows on the network - spawning the often-mocked catchphrase "and now, from Norwich, it's the quiz of the week."

It has twice been revived: first, on Sky One from 1989 to 1990 hosted by Peter Marshall; second, on Challenge TV from 1997 to 1998 hosted by Keith Chegwin.

The ITV and Challenge versions followed the rules of the original American version. Three contestants start off with £15. Questions are worth different values starting with £1, later increasing to £3, and finally £5. The question is asked and players can buzz in at any time. Correct answers add the money to their score and incorrect answers subtract the money from their score with only one player allowed to buzz in on each question.

At six points during gameplay, all contestants would be offered the opportunity to purchase merchandise at a bargain price. The first player to buzz in after the prize was revealed purchased that prize. (In so doing, a "losing" contestant might not advance to go shopping at the end of the show, but could leave the show with a considerable haul for one day's play.) In the early days, the prices of all prizes offered were expressed much as one would hear in a department store, and would increase as the show progressed (e.g., £7.95, £11.95, £14.95, £21.95). All prize values were rounded up to the nearest pound before being subtracted from the score of the player who purchased the prize (later on, prizes were in full pounds, like £8, £12, £15, £22). Each instant bargain was hidden behind a curtain; the announcer would mention the price, and then the curtain would open as the prize was revealed. If a contestant buzzed in before the curtain opened, it was declared "No Sale", the contestant would have the price deducted from his/her score (but not win the prize), and the other contestants could then buzz in.
Also, an "Open Sale" was offered just before the commercial break, in which a number of smaller gifts were offered for less than £5 each. In this situation, more than one player could buy a given gift, and a player could buy any or all of the prizes on offer. They could even buy two or more of some items.

The Challenge version kept the rules of the ITV version, except there was no "Open Sale", and players were spotted £15 to start. There were five rounds with questions being worth £1 in round one, £3 in rounds two and three, and £5 in rounds four and five. Finally, the game ended with 60 seconds of £5 questions. The player in the lead at the end of this round was declared the champion.

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