Quiz Shows

The Early Big Money Era

These were a staple diet from day two of ITV. There was little imagination involved as they were all derived from formats already in use, some of them familiar from Radio Luxembourg, others fresh from the USA.


The initial prizes ranged from 500 to 1000 on the two Associated Rediffusion programmes Double Your Money and Take Your Pick. The programmes provided a contrast - Take Your Pick being a game which, although some verbal dexterity is required in the Yes/No game to avoid using those words, is largely a chance game, where as Double Your Money, required knowledge on one of 42 topics. For some reason both shows employed an organist.

The prize money started to heat up in 1957, with the arrival of more shows from the USA: The 64,000 Question, where the prize was 64,000 sixpences, which was in all other respects the same as Double Your Money; Criss Cross Quiz, derived from Noughts and Crosses and a renamed import of Tic Tac Dough; and Dotto, based on joining the dots on representations of famous faces. These introduced the concepts of returning champions - Glaswegian Rushworth Fogg won 2360 over seven weeks on Criss Cross Quiz.

Then there was Twenty-One, with the biggest prizes of all ...

Twenty-One was a loose adaptation of Pontoon requiring separate isolation booths for the two players, who selected questions worth between 1 and 11 to reach 21. Two contestants won over 5000, with thirty-three year old Bernard Davis winning 5580 on 24 September 1958.

However a cloud hung over the programme when Stanley Armstrong, a waiter who had won 30 on Twenty-One alleged he had been given 'definite leads' to questions before he appeared. A former Attorney General, Sir Lionel Heald QC was appointed by Granada Television to investigate, and he later reported that the allegations were 'true in substance', with his description of the briefings of contestants as 'highly imprudent'.

Twenty-One disappeared and the quiz shows popularity waned after what was dubbed 'The Great Quiz Swiz'. Only Double Your Money, Take Your Pick and Criss Cross Quiz survived, with the first two never out of the top twenty until the demise of Rediffusion. It also indirectly led to a large number of restrictions imposed by the ITA, which were only very gradually relaxed over the years, with a sample being:

Legal Disclaimer: This page does not imply or mean to imply that Granada Television or any contestants on its programme Twenty-One were guilty of any impropriety.