Game show hosts and contestants in a TV studio standing behind a big spinning wheel.

Aussie Game Shows: 12 Fun Facts

Australian TV Game Show Trivia

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 Mel Bondfield

From Pick a Box to Perfect Match to The Price is Right, we present 12 fascinating facts about TV game shows.

Since television began in Australia in 1956, over 200 game shows have come and gone from our screens.

They range from the downright wacky to serious tests of knowledge. They are known for their lively theme songs, memorable catch phrases, charismatic hosts, glamorous models and glimmering sets. Some contestants are in pursuit of big bucks and expensive prizes and others are just in it for the laughs. 

To remind us of why Australians love a TV game show, no matter what's at stake, we've compiled 12 fascinating facts about game shows to complement our new online curated collection


1. Repeat success: Graham Kennedy’s Blankety Blanks (1977–78) only ran for 2 seasons because Kennedy did not want to renew his contract even though it was a top rating program. It is the only game show to be a ratings winner not only on its initial run, but in re-runs throughout the 1980s:

Excerpt from episode 14/2 of Blankety Blanks (Grundy Organisation, 1977). Courtesy Fremantle. NFSA title: 6009

2. Sur-prizes: In 1957, a game show titled Give it a Go gave away boxes of their sponsor’s product, Persil Laundry Powder. Another early show, Raising a Husband (1957–58), gave away a box of chocolates to the wives and a carton of cigarettes to the husbands!

3. Let's go shopping: Jumping forward to 1980, Sale of the Century’s top prize was a Mercedes Benz. The total amount given away in cash and prizes over 22 years of Sale of the Century was over $60.5 million dollars.

4. Sale of the decadesSale of the Century, hosted by Tony Barber (1980–1991) and then Glenn Ridge (1991–2001), is the game show with the longest unbroken run on Australian television, from 1980 to 2001. The Grundy Organisation's hit show also spawned versions in the UK, USA and New Zealand and Tony Barber once hosted a Sale of the Century World Championship Series.

5. It's a knock-off: The 1980s family favourite It’s a Knockout (1985–87) was a reboot of a 1970s Australian game show called Almost Anything Goes, which in turn was a copy of the 1960s UK series It’s a Knockout which was in turn inspired by the French comedy game show Intervilles (1962)! An American version of Almost Anything Goes also aired in the mid 1970s. Here's It's a Knockout:

Excerpt from It's a Knockout Celebrity Special 4 (1987). Courtesy Ten Network. NFSA title: 538279.

6. Just add pictures: Many Australian TV game shows had their origins in radio, including Bob Dyer’s Pick A Box, which ran for 14 years from 1957 to 1971. Others, like The Pressure Pak Show (1957–58), did not find lasting success in the newer medium.

7. The most hostsThe Price is Right has had more hosts than any other Australian game show: Bruce Beeby (1957), Geoff Manion (1958), Keith Walshe (1959), Horrie Dargie (1963), Garry Meadows (1973–1974), Ian Turpie (1981–1985, 1989) and Larry Emdur (1993–1998, 2003–2005, 2012).

8. Straight to the pool room: The classic Australian film The Castle (1997) featured a fictionalised scene from The Price is Right in which Tracey (Sophie Lee) competes for the ‘showcase’.

9. Reg Grundy's productions: Legendary TV producer Reg Grundy produced more than 40 TV game shows, starting with Reg Grundy’s Wheel of Fortune in 1959.

10. Spun out: The wheel on Reg Grundy’s Wheel of Fortune (1959–62) was actually a chocolate wheel of the style that would have traditionally been used for fundraisers. Grundy designed a new version after a few episodes had aired because he felt it didn't have enough razzle dazzle:

Excerpt from unknown episode of Reg Grundy's Wheel of Fortune (Grundy Organisation, 1959). Courtesy Fremantle. NFSA title: 791655.

11. What's the craic?Perfect Match host Greg Evans parodied himself in the comedy film The Craic (1999) when he appeared as the host of a show called Perfect Date.

12. Love and AgroPerfect Match made a very brief comeback in 2002 with Shelley Craft as the host and Agro filling the role of Dexter the robot.

To see more classic moments from some of Australia's favourite game shows, visit our curated collection Australian TV Game Shows from the 1950s to Now.