Ted Rogers
Anthony Schaeffer (1984-1985)
John Benson (1986-1987)
3-2-1 1978-1983
3-2-1 1983-1985
3-2-1 1985-1986
3-2-1 1986-1987
3-2-1 1987-1988
ITV: 29 July 1978–24 December 1988
Yorkshire Television
ITV Studios

3-2-1 is a British programme that is part quiz show, part game show, part stunt show and part variety show and all entertaining.

The formatEdit

The overall objective of the game was to survive elimination through to part three of the show, and try to unravel a series of cryptic clues in order to win the star prize. One of the clues, however, referred to Dusty Bin who was the show's booby prize. If the contestants ended up with Dusty at the end of the show, all they got was a brand new dustbin. Each show had a theme, such as "Seacruise" or the "Swinging Sixties". All of the variety acts, quiz questions, stage sets and clues subsequently followed this theme. In later series, Dusty would appear in a costume relating to that week's theme. The changing themes were dropped for the final series where a more generic stage set was re-used each week.

Part 1: The 1000 to 1 quizEdit

In Part 1 of the show, three couples would have the chance to win up to £1,000 in the "1,000 to 1 quiz". The first round consisted of a maximum of 10 questions (in 30 seconds), each correct answer being worth £10 (or in the first series £1, but with three rounds available). Passes were permitted but there was no opportunity to return to the question. Each member of the couple answered in turn with the lady answering first and, because an incorrect answer, or if they run out of time would end the round, the first answer was given to them to avoid a zero score. This was important as each correct answer in the second round of questions was worth the total amount scored in round one and eliminated the possibility of couples leaving the show with absolutely nothing.

The questions were usually of the same 'word association' format. Ted Rogers would say, for example, an island and the contestants would have to name the country to which it belonged (e.g. Ted: "Gozo", Contestant: "Malta"). Another example would be people and their titles (e.g. Ted: "Elizabeth II", Contestant: "Queen").

In the first series, the winners of the quiz would return the following week to compete again, while the other two couples would progress to part two, but from the second series this changed to the worst performing couple being eliminated, taking home the money they won in the quiz and a ceramic model of Dusty Bin.

Dusty Bin was conceived as the booby prize by the show's producer Derek Burrell-Davis and created as a cartoon character by the designer and animator John Sunderland, who also designed the opening and end titles and the themed 'costumes' for the Bin. Sunderland went on to design some of the most successful 'new-wave' populist museums in Britain, starting notably with the Jorvik Viking Centre in York, which like his Dustbin became an overnight hit with the British public.

In the final series (1987–1988), the 1000 to 1 quiz was replaced by a general-knowledge, fingers-on-buzzers quiz. As before, three couples participated, but in just two rounds of questions. Each couple began with £10 and could earn another £10 for each correct answer in the first round. The first round required ten correct answers (in other words, the round would not end if ten questions had been read out and not all answered correctly). As soon as Ted started to ask the question, the couple who hit the buzzer first, after Ted had said their name, had three seconds to answer the question, and if they failed to answer the question in three seconds, or answered the question wrong, Ted would say "On Offer" and the other two couples would have a chance to answer the question. Again, the couple who hit the buzzer first, after Ted had said their name, had three seconds to answer, and if they failed to answer the question in three seconds, or answer the question wrong, that question would go into the bin. Following the first round, Ted would give the couples a break, while, he introduced a "newcomer" to 3–2–1 (another addition to the final series). This was a chance for an act to perform, much like the later rounds as normal, though, the "newcomer" had never appeared on 3–2–1 before. Following the newcomer act, round two of the quiz would be played, with only fifteen questions been asked. As with previous series, whatever money the couples had after the first round would be the value of the question to them, and it was the same format for answering the questions. The maximum a couple could win in this round was £1650 (as in the starting £10, ten first-round questions answered correctly plus all fifteen in the second round), this however, was never achieved. At the end of the two rounds of questions, the couple with the least money would leave with the money they'd won and their ceramic Dusty Bin, then they would go to the commercial break.

Part 2: The eliminationEdit

The elimination mechanism for reducing the remaining couples down to one changed over the course of the show. In the first two series, it was a physical game to fit in with the show's theme. This changed in 1981 to the contestants competing head to head in a computer game (such as Breakout), and was finally amended in 1982 to an elimination question which the last two couples would answer after seeing the first three variety acts in part two of the show. The commercial break followed the question, and in 1986 and 1987, a viewers' question was posed to win a colour television, with three runners up getting a ceramic Dusty Bin. The entry form for that was in that week's edition of the TV Times.

Part 3: The acts and prize cluesEdit

In the early years, the third round was referred to as Take it or Leave it?. The final version of the show's format was amended in 1982 so that from the beginning of part two of the show, the two remaining couples from the quiz watched the first three variety acts together. At the end of each act, one of the performers would come over to the table and give Ted a clue object (or MacGuffin as Ted sometimes called them) and read a corresponding rhyme to provide clues for that particular prize.

After three acts, the couples would decide on which object they would like to discard in the hope that it was Dusty Bin and then take part in the final elimination question. The losers would leave with the money they had won in part one, their ceramic Dusty Bin and a consolation prize (such as a twelve piece dinner service) and the winners would go through to part three of the show.

At the beginning of part three of the show, Ted would decode the clue and reveal the prize which the final couple rejected before the end of part two. Another act would then perform and leave another clue, leaving three on the table. Ted would then re-read one of the earlier two clues, before the couple chose their second item to reject before that prize was then revealed to them. The final variety act would perform and leave a last clue. Ted would then re-read one of the previous clues and the couple would reject their third item, and another prize was then revealed. Ted would then re-read the remaining two clues and the couple would be faced with their final decision leaving them with the prize they have chosen and ultimately won, after seeing what the other prize they had rejected was, and also with the prize they had won, they had the money they won in part one of the show. Unlike the eliminated couples, the winning couple did not receive a ceramic Dusty Bin, unless they had Dusty at the end of the show, all they got was a brand new dustbin, the money they won in part one and a ceramic Dusty Bin. As well as Dusty Bin, which was always one of the five prizes, the other four prizes normally included a car and/or a holiday. Later series sometimes featured two cars as prizes.

The clues became notorious for being almost impossibly difficult and obscure, having only a remote connection to the prizes, which contestants sometimes did not appear to grasp even after Ted had revealed it to them. It has often been suggested that the clues had more than one possible explanation, allowing the producers to control which prize the contestants received. Indeed, in one episode, Ted jokingly said to confused contestants, attempting to make a decision: "well, the rhymes could mean anything, as you know.".

For example, a wishbone brought on by Sonny Hayes came with the clue "Take one that never changes, add a pub and a precious stone, bring them all up-to-date, and now, you're on your own.", which the contestants rejected hoping it referred to Dusty Bin. Rogers' explanation of the clue was: "'Take one that never changes', well, that could be Dusty Bin which of course is where you might throw a wishbone. 'Add a pub and a precious stone', well, that doesn't point to Dusty. 'Bring them all up-to-date, and now you're on your own.'. Well, what about the wishbone? Sonny said 'a large wishbone', so what might a large wishbone come from? Something larger than a chicken. Turkey, maybe? Now, 'one that never changes.' is a constant, a pub can also be an inn, there's a lot of precious stones but how many go with 'constant inn'? How about opal? Yes, Constantinople, up to date, the pride of Turkey, you've rejected a 3–2–1 holiday!".



Series Start date End date Episodes
1 29 July 1978 20 October 1978 13
2 19 October 1979 5 April 1980 14
3 25 December 1980 4 April 1981 15
4 30 January 1982 1 May 1982 14
5 29 January 1983 14 May 1983 15
6 3 December 1983 17 March 1984 16
7 1 September 1984 22 December 1984 17
8 31 August 1985 21 December 1985 17
9 30 August 1986 15 November 1986 12
10 5 September 1987 21 November 1987 12


Date Entitle
25 December 1978 Christmas Special
25 December 1979 Christmas Special
2 January 1982 New Year Special
25 December 1982 Christmas Special
21 December 1986 Christmas Special
19 December 1987 Christmas Special
3 September 1988 Olympic Special
24 December 1988 Christmas Special


Based on a Spanish game show called Un, dos, tres... responda otra vez

YouTube LinkEdit

Episodes of 3-2-1