The Price is Right

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== Videos ==
== Videos ==
<div class="video"><object width="425" height="350"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="wmode" value="transparent"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="425" height="350"></embed></object>''Long clip from Bruce's Price is Right''</div>
<div class="video"><object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>''Three In A Row and Permutation from the Crowther era''</div>
<div class="video"><object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value=""></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>''Three In A Row and Permutation from the Crowther era''</div>

Revision as of 15:54, 22 April 2009

Image:Priceisright old logo.jpg



Joe Brown (pilot, unaired) (1984)

Leslie Crowther (1984-1988)

Bob Warman (Sky version) (1989)

Bruce Forsyth (1995-2001)

Ant & Dec (2005 special)

Joe Pasquale (2006-7)

Vernon Kay (2007 special)


Simon Prebble (1984-1988)
Bobby Bragg (1989)
Allan Sherwin (1989)
Peter Dickson (1995-2001, 2005, 2006-7)
Mike Hurley (2006-7)

Female models:
Marie Elise (1984-85)
Jacqueline Bucknell (1984-86)
Julia Roberts (1984-86)
Denise Kelly (1984-88)
Sandra Easby (1985)
Cindy Day (1986-88)
Carol Greenwood (1986-88)
Gillian de Terville (1986-88)
Elsa O'Toole (1986)
Judy Bailey (1986-88)
Suzie Marlowe (1989)
Tracie Williams (1989)
Katrina Maltby (1989)
Julie Broster (1989)
Peitra Caston (1989)
Kimberley Cowell (1995-2001)
Emma Noble (1995-97)
Emma Steadman (1995-2001)
Lea Kristensen (1998-2001)
Natalie Denning (2006-7)
Amanda Robbins (2006-7)
Natalie Pike (2006-7, Beauty and the Geek contestant)

Male models:
Brian Tattersall (1995-97)
Simon Peat (1998-2001)
Richard Kyte (2006-7)
Ray Tizzard (as Raynard)


Central for ITV, 24th March 1984 to 7th April 1988 (100 episodes)

Central/Talbot Telegame for Sky, 1989 (The New Price is Right)

Yorkshire for ITV, 4 September 1995 to 2001 (Bruce's Price is Right) (117 episodes)

TalkbackThames for ITV1, 17 September 2005 (one-off)

TalkbackThames for ITV1, 8 May 2006 to 2007

TalkbackThames for ITV1, 2007 (one-off)


It's often stated as Britain's Biggest Game Show. In what way it was the biggest is unclear. Is it the one with the biggest prizes? No. Biggest audience? No. Biggest set? No. But for sheer cheek and pluck, you'd have to argue that this American classic does have a lot of heart and a big-hearted "anyone can play" attitude.

Contestants Row

Contestants are plucked (seemingly) at random from the audience and take their places in Contestants Row, where they're each invited to guess the price of an object. The one who guesses the nearest goes on to play a pricing game - different every time, but each involves guessing the prices of various objects in some way (actually and rather curiously, there were games in the Crowther run that didn't involve having to know prices at all, such as the luck and memory game Matchmaker). Win or lose, the contestant who played goes onto the next round. Another contestant comes down from the audience to fill the gap and they guess another price, with the nearest going through again. And so on six times (in the original version) or three times (on the revived 30-minute versions). Contestants who made it to Contestants Row in the Crowther years automatically won "an Olympic-style gold medal" and later, a cuddly teddy bear named William.

Contestants Row as seen in 1995

In the original Crowther version, the final six players went to the Supermarket and had to pick items adding up to a particular total, and spin a numbered wheel in the hope of getting 100, with the two nearest going through to the final. If someone managed to get 100 exactly they'd win a bonus prize, such as £1000 in the Forsyth version (although in Warman's episodes they'd need to repeat the feat). The wheel was later removed from the Crowther episodes after the IBA complained about the lack of skill. Instead, all six took part in a quiz on how much things cost in the past (called Check the Difference), with those furthest away eliminated each time.

The two surviving contestants each got the Showcase - basically, Big Stack O'Prizes - which they had to calculate the value of, and the one who was nearest won it all. In the nineties version, the wheel was back and only one contestant went through, where they would have to estimate the value of the showcase, and if they got within a specified range they'd win it. In the modern Brucie version, the player got to randomly pick a value between £1000 to £5000 by pressing a button to stop a flashing light on the Range Finder. If they could get their guess to be within that amount of the actual amount, without going over, then they won the whole showcase which was usually between £15-25,000. In these cash-strapped times, Pasquale's version has ranges from £500 to £4000 and the prizes are a step down from the primetime Bruce era.

Spinning the wheel

Prize time

So, what of the prizes? There were Innovations-style gadgets or horrible carriage clocks given away in the first round to whoever got the price right (those who bid about fifty quid in this round clearly didn't want to win them), then in each of the games there'd be loads of household appliances and sometimes even cars and holidays - in some you won a selection of them, in some you won everything on display. Then the showcase at the end would have loads more prizes, normally either the entire contents of a room or a car, holiday and loads of audio-visual stuff. At a time when other quizzes were still giving away sets of luggage, this was a massive deal.

Of course, contestants were simply plucked out of the audience and invited to Come on Down, so you sometimes got a right dozy selection of people there. The producers would bus in whole factories, offices, universities or social clubs en masse, the idea being that the contestants would all have hundreds of supporters behind them, hollering the answers at the top of their voices. In the original version, the contestants got a Price Is Right medal to wear throughout the show, just to congratulate them on successfully negotiating the stairs. The fact the contestants never knew they were going to be on meant that occasionally you'd get people who were completely shocked and hardly said a word throughout the programme. At least it meant the interviews weren't very long.


"Oooh, it's all American isn't it?" With these words, my parents welcomed The Price is Right to Britain. It may seem tame now, but when the show started, nobody had seen anything like it before, such was its brashness and razzle-dazzle. Indeed, they even had to tone it down halfway through the run because it was so incredibly vulgar and over-the-top. Most of this is undoubtedly thanks to original producer William G Stewart, who used to bound through the audience at the start of a show, wearing a pink jumpsuit and playing Land Of Hope And Glory at full blast, just to get the audience wound up. The fact he gave them all party hats and, best of all, Central flags to wave throughout meant that they were excited, even if the viewers weren't. There was also a truly mental vaudeville-esque theme tune which ratcheted up the excitement another notch.

From around 2000, Brucie with hostesses Lea Kristensen, Kimberley Cowell and Emma Steadman.

The other bit you watched The Price Is Right for was the games, of which there were a massive amount. If some of them were a bit dull - "do you want to swap these prices over or not?" was a low point - others were fantastic. The game that scared us most when we were younger was Cliffhanger, where for every pound the contestant was out in their guess, a little man would climb a mountain, yodelling all the way, until falling to his death off the top after 25 steps - one step for each £1 you were out on three different pricing items.

The most fun ones were the ones that involved a little bit more than just pricing, such as Hole in One where to win the big prize the player had to putt a golf ball into the hole but for every item he/she priced correctly the player could putt from closer. Every week this came up there was always a bet with one of the scantily dressed assistants that ol' Brucie wouldn't be able to putt it in, which he never usually did. Also hilariously, the giant cardboard sign had a handle that changed to 'Hole in Two' so that if the player lost they could have another shot.

Switcheroo in progress

And then there was Plinko where players dropped discs into holes in the hope that they'd fall into a cash pocket, with more discs going to people who'd guessed prices correctly. There is a gamble at the end where you can choose to risk your prize money (sadly, typically only a few hundred quid) for a 50/50 shot at a larger prize. It was also a piece of proverbial to join in with the games at home, and indeed in our attic there are still toys with price labels on from when we played our own versions of Supermarket.

Hosts with the most

Both of the first two hosts worked well - Les had some cracking old-school mannerisms, and at the end of each round he'd tell the contestant to "Go and have a chat with Cindy/Lyndsey/Debbie/etc". Every single time. Brucie, of course, was Brucie and so was always great with the dozy contestants and handling the prop-based games like Plinko. Our favourite thing ever about the show, though, is the way Look-In announced that there would be two more hostesses in one series, to wit "Busy Les will now be assisted by six hostesses rather than four". We just love that "Busy Les". You're working him to the bone, Bill!

Images from the original Crowther version

Sometimes, if you weren't in the mood for it, The Price Is Right could come across as, well, irritating. This certainly wasn't a show to watch if you had a headache, such was the constant shouting and screaming. It also wasn't the most cerebral of quizzes, with some contestants walking away with stacks of prizes purely through sheer luck. At the time, critics complained about the air of money-grabbing about the show, with losing contestants just slinking off or being forced to stand there like lemons, and the public coming a very poor second to the games and the prizes.

All that really mattered was that they did the games and there were some prizes, and tough tit if the prizes were hugely inappropriate. You sort of felt that if there was only one contestant playing all the games, they wouldn't really notice. Conversely, though, when they dropped Supermarket, the replacement game - "A Mini Mayfair costs £4000, how much did it cost in 1966?" - was actually pretty dull and sedate. Note also the hopeless attempts at making the set look glitzy in the Les version - ie, bunging a few palm trees around the place. The Brucie version was a bit disappointing because you always felt Brucie could do better than shepherding this sort of thing.

For some reason, the members of the audience were always convinced they knew exactly what the price of everything was, so they'd be shouting and making hand signals throughout - even when the options were something like £2501 and £2502, they'd still be hollering at the contestants and groaning when they chose the 'wrong' one. You sort of felt that if they weren't careful, some of the audience would storm the stage and do the games themselves as they didn't think the contestants could be trusted. Sometimes they were right to think that, though - note all the instances in Contestants Row where one wouldn't be listening and so would bid a quid below what someone else had (you can't go over, of course, so they had no chance) or bid insultingly low - where Brucie would always go "Fifty quid!?!" in response. On the Les incarnation, one curious bit was that they'd take the value of the prizes won by the most successful contestant before the final, and then give that amount in cash to 'our nominated charity' - clearly a William G idea to stop people complaining it was soulless.

Watch out for the odd Matchmaker game at the end

Channel hopping

The series began on Saturday nights in 1984 and, much to the critics' chagrin, was an enormous hit, instantly making it to number one in the charts with some sixteen million viewers a week. It stayed on Saturday nights for a number of years, and viewing figures were steady throughout, as was the criticism levelled at it, with everyone pointing out that this was the most vulgar, most inane show ever produced and the obvious step towards mass dumbing down. This was never the case, of course, and after a move to Fridays for a bit (the "Busy Les" period), ITV decided to axe it in 1988, presumably figuring that the public could only watch it for so long before becoming thoroughly sick of the whole thing. That said, Les later said that he only knew it had been axed when he read it in the paper, as ITV had neglected to tell him.

Central carried on producing the show, for the embryonic Sky One, only this was hardly noticed as a) it was on Sky One, and b) it was, inevitably, produced on a smaller budget, with Central News' Bob Warman not really a very inspiring figure as host. Brucie convinced Yorkshire to pick up the rights in 1995, and it was back on ITV, though originally opposite EastEnders and, if anything, even more vulgar and gaudy than the original version (unsurprisingly, it had the same producers as Supermarket Sweep). It did well enough for ITV for the next few years, but often it would turn up in all sorts of weird slots, with odd ones showing up months, or even years, after the series they were actually part of. Eventually endless Emmerdale meant there was no room for quizzes on the channel anymore, so they bunged it out on Saturday teatimes in the middle of summer, much to Brucie's disappointment. They kept it going for a bit, but Brucie's falling out with ITV meant it abruptly finished.

Veteran game show contestant the Reverend David Smith gives Bruce his showcase price

By turns, the Joe Pasquale version is both refreshingly different and slightly annoying. Joe himself is a master at interacting with the contestants, and his grip of the games is better than the cue card-assisted Brucie in the first series. However, he garbles a little too much over the rules for our liking. For every positive there is a negative. For each new game (of which there are many), the sound effects just don't sound right. For each new bit of comedy business with stooges, the new models wave their hands around the prizes just a bit too much. For each new clever game set, there's direction problems with late shots and the vision mixer's love of Joe's back rather than his face. Yes, it's The Price is Right but many of the minor details are a bit rough and ready.

Pasquale's Price is Right

The Pasquale version was axed in January 2007 due to ratings averaging 800,000 viewers.

Summing up

Sometimes, you want to switch your brain off and enjoy a bit of inanity, and that's when The Price Is Right really came into its own. Yeah, so it was vulgar, and noisy, and soulless, but on a Saturday night you couldn't really ask for more. They'd clearly pumped loads of money into it, and at a time when many other game shows were giving away rubbish, here was a series that gave away decent prizes, and loads of them. It only really worked in small doses, though, and five years was probably about right first time round. It's certainly not our favourite of Brucie's shows, if only because the presenter couldn't really put a lot of their personality into it, and the prizes and audience tended to overshadow anything that actually happened on the show. It wasn't, as some suggested, the end of television, but neither was The Price Is Right a particular high point in the medium's history.

Theme music

Opening titles of the 1980s Price is Right


"Come on down!"

(Brucie): "We have a space in Contestants' Row - who's it going to be, Peter?"

"Take a look... at this..."

"The actual retail price is..."

"Go and have a chat with [Cindy]"

"It's Saturday Night! So come on down! The Price is Right"

"And here he is - Leslie Crowther!"

"The Time is Right. The Place is Right. So come on down. The Price is Right!"

"Here we go. It's Britain's biggest game show! Bruce's Price is Right!"

Brucie, just before the break: "We'll see you later on for the Showcase Showdown - and (to the viewers) that goes for you too!"

"Flash the cash!"

"Remember, no matter what happens, Bruce's price is always right - good night!"

Audience: "Plin-ko! Plin-ko! Plin-ko!"

"There'd be no show without Joe... Joe Pasquale!"


Based on the classic US format of the same name.


The original producer was William G. Stewart, now best known as the presenter of Fifteen-to-One. Apparently, he used to get the crowd excited by marching in to the tune of Land of Hope and Glory at full volume, and leapt around the audience wearing his trademark lurid pink tracksuit. We've seen the footage of this, and it's scary.

Producer William G. Stewart (left) and presenter Leslie Crowther (second from right) with contestants

Michael Crawford and Matthew Kelly were considered as hosts. Central TV wanted a fresher face such as Joe Brown, who Stewart agreed to make a pilot with on the condition that he could also make one with Leslie Crowther.

On the very first TPiR, a woman called Mary Brown was invited to "come on down" but she refused. Producer William G. Stewart wanted to start the new series with a rhyme "Mary Brown, Come on Down!" but clearly it didn't go to plan!

Following Leslie Crowther's death in 1996, William G. Stewart revealed that Crowther had initially been reluctant to shout 'Come on down!' on the show and had said that he'd need to speak to his wife, Jean, first, in case she didn't approve. Somewhat nonplussed, William G said, "But I'm your producer - she's only your wife", to which Crowther immediately responded, "No - she's my wife - you're only my producer!" Fortunately, Jean did eventually approve and Crowther soon made the catchphrase his own.

Image:Priceisright_crowther_armsfolded_hostesses.jpgAll the ladies loved Les

When Crowther died in 1996, the next Bruce's Price is Right broadcast was preceded with an announcer saying "Bruce Forsyth would like tonight's programme to be dedicated to the memory of Leslie Crowther".

In the first series, the IBA would not allow the Giant Wheel eliminator because it was considered a pure gamble with no skill involved. After much head scratching, the producers came up with a game where they had to name the price of an expensive item. The contestant with the answer furthest away from the correct price was eliminated, until two were left for the final. In rehearsals, however, one of the extras pointed out that the final contestant in the row only has to name a price between two he's already heard and he'll always make the final. Therefore, they changed it so that the contestants wrote down the figures first.

Bruce once confided to one of the prize researchers that he hadn't heard of one of the Supermarket Game ingredients - creme fraiche - and worried whether the contestants would have done either.

In terms of studios, the show moved around quite a bit. After a year or two, the Crowther version moved over from Central's Birmingham HQ to their Nottingham complex. It was moved back to Brum for the Warman era. Naturally, Brucie's YTV version came to you from Leeds but the Pasquale revival was recorded at Granada's Manchester site, also known as 3SixtyMedia.

As a rather sad coda to the Pasquale era, studio director Phil Chilvers died mid-way through the production of the series. He was found dead in his hotel room, and the crew and audience of 400 waiting in the studio were sent home.

Web links

Official site

Wikipedia entry

Golden-Road.Net - fan site for the original US version.

Bruce's Price is Right fansite

A Salute to Pricing Games


A board game of the Leslie Crowther version was made.

A Bruce's Price is Right board game was made.


Three In A Row and Permutation from the Crowther era


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