Chris Howland


Granada for ITV, 3 July to 23 December 1958 (26 episodes)


Game loosely based on the game of pontoon. Contestants were given a category and asked for questions ranging from 1 (easy) to 11 (hard).

The player who reached exactly 21, or was closest to it when the game ended, won the money. A "returning champion" system enabled good players to rack up serious money.

Chris Howland (centre) with contestants

Key moments

Hit the headlines when Bernard Davies, a bit part actor, won a record £5,580. This is worth about £88,300 in today's money. Davies went on to be a leading Sherlock Holmes scholar and founded the Dracula Society. His death at the age of 86 was reported in September 2010.


Over the series, 42 contestants appeared. Besides Mr Davies, the other big money winner was Leonora Millington, who took away £5,450. Another four contestants won £1,280 between them, and a total of £650 in premium bonds was awarded to the other 36.

Twenty One was the quiz show that caused the US television scandal of the decade, when Charles van Doren was found to have been rehearsed in the answers in advance. (This is is documented in the Robert Redford-directed film Quiz Show.) In addition, Twenty One was dropped by Granada when a contestant, Stanley Armstrong, claimed he had been given "definite leads" to the answers.


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