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Salesian English School (4).jpg

Game Show that originally ran on NBC from 1969 to 1973 and in syndication from 1973 to 1974. Jack Kelly was the first quizmaster, succeeded by Joe Garagiola in 1971. Three solo contestants (or, from April 1973 to September 1974, two husband-wife teams) accumulated small amounts of money by answering general-knowledge questions. At certain points in the game, the player/couple in the lead could spend part of their score on ridiculously-discounted prizes.

During the show's run in the United Kingdom (1971-83), Sale was purchased by Australian producer Reg Grundy, who made some tweaks to the format and debuted a version in his native country on July 14, 1980. [1] After this became a major success as well, he took it back to NBC with Jim Perry as host and it too became a major success. The same format also appeared in other countries. Unlike most games, Sale allowed all contestants to take home whatever money and prizes were credited to them, regardless of the outcome.

The Australian version of the show was later revived as Temptation, which was fairly faithful to the original and ran from 2005 to 2009. This Australian version in turn spun off an American version, Temptation: The New Sale of the Century; the American version was a low-budget knockoff that was canceled after its low-rated disaster of a first season.

Game Show Tropes in use:

  • Big Win Sirens: The stock "NBC sirens" were heard if a major prize or the lot was won at the end of the show. A "win music" cue was also played for significant wins, and would be reprised during the closing fees and credits of that show.
  • Bonus Round: The 1980s version had three, all allowing for potential winnings of over $100,000:
    • The first was almost identical to the original. The champion could use his or her money to possibly buy one of the progressively fancier prizes available, try for a larger prize by coming back the next day, or reach a specific score target to win the entire set of prizes plus a cash jackpot.
    • This was replaced in late 1984 by the Winner's Board, a simple matching game with 20 spaces. Most of the spaces contained matchable prizes, but two of the spaces held "WIN" cards which allowed the instant win of a prize revealed in the next pick. (Two of the prizes, a car and $10,000 cash, could only be won this way.) Once a champion cleared the board, he could risk his bonus round winnings by winning the main game one more time for $50,000.
    • In late 1987, this was changed to the Winner's Big Money Game, a speed round with a series of word puzzles played for a jackpot increasing every time it was played by a champion.
  • Bonus Space: Instant Bargain and Instant Cash could count for this, but mainly the Fame Game (some spaces added to a contestant's score, while the others contained prizes or a sizable cash award).
  • Confetti Drop: Confetti and balloons were released at the end of the show any time a contestant hit the lot or decided to leave the show with a sizable prize during the "shopping" era; used also for notably big wins at the Winner's Board or Winner's Big Money Game, and at the end of the series finale.
  • Consolation Prize: Contestants were given their final score in cash on most versions, along with anything won from Fame Games, Instant Bargains, etc.
    • During the "Winner's Board" era of the NBC/syndicated version, any contestant playing for $50,000 and lost forfeited the car and other Winners Board prizes won; however, they were able to keep anything won in the front game (accumlated cash score, Fame Game and Instant Bargains, Instant Cash winnings and any other cash bonuses). No contestant who ever went for the top prize lost, although one contestant (future game show host Mark De Carlo) won his $50,000 and preserved his endgame winnings only after an opponent answered her last question incorrectly.
    • The Australian version famously gave all contestants the show's pin and board game:

 Pete Smith: [The runners-up] both receive the push-button $ale of the Century game from Crown and Andrews plus our champagne-colored diamond-set stickpin from Bruce and Walsh Jewelers and $ale of the Century.

  • Game Show Winnings Cap: Averted by the 1980s version, as it had the possibility to give out jackpots in excess of $100,000.
  • Golden Snitch: Early in the '80s run, the last Fame Game of the day was followed by only three more questions. This gave the last Fame Game the potential to put the game out of reach if the someone who trailed by less than $10 got the Fame Game right and found the $25 money card.
  • Personnel:
    • The Announcer: Bill Wendell announced the 1969-74 version. Jay Stewart announced from 1983 until he was fired from the show in 1988 due to his heavy drinking. He was replaced by Don Morrow for the remainder of that run. In Australia, the announcer was primarily Pete Smith, who joined the show at the start of its third week, and remained on for the rest of the run.
    • Game Show Host: Jack Kelly from 1969 to 1971, followed by Joe Garagiola. Jim Perry of Card Sharks fame hosted in the 1980s. On the Australian version, the hosts were Tony Barber (1980-1991), Glenn Ridge (1991-2001), and Ed Phillips (Temptation 2005-2009).
    • Lovely Assistant: Barbara Lyon from 1969 to 1971, then Kit Dougherty. Perry's era had three — Sally Julian, Lee Menning, and Summer Bartholomew; Lou Mulford and announcer Jay Stewart filled-in on occasion. In Australia, the assistants were Victoria Nichols (1980-1982), Delvene Delaney (1982-1985), Alyce Platt (1986-1991), Jo Bailey (1991-1993), Nicky Buckley (1994-1999), Karina Brown (2000-2001), and Livinia Nixon (Temptation 2005-2009).
      • Subverted, in that half the models showcasing the Instant Bargains were male.
      • The Australian Temptation was also true to its predecessor, with Livinia Nixon as the Vanna, but about half the Gift Shop prizes were modeled by Scott McGregor.
  • Progressive Jackpot: Seen on the NBC/syndicated series:
    • From 1983 to December 1984 on the NBC version, and again during the first 10 months of the syndicated version, the top prize in the Shopping portion of the show was an accruing jackpot, which began at $50,000 and increased by $1,000 per show until claimed. The jackpot (which could be won separately or together with the other big-ticket prizes) often topped $75,000, and the top jackpot amount was $109,000.
    • Starting in January 1986 on both the NBC/synidcated version and continuing to the end of the run, the third Instant Bargain was replaced with Instant Cash, which allowed the contestant in the lead a 1-in-3 shot at a mini-cash jackpot of $1,000 plus $1,000 for each show not won; the catch was that the contestant had to spend the entire amount of his lead to guess which box held the cash. If the contestant played and guessed wrongly (the other two boxes/wallets had $100 as a consolation), he was shown the correct box. (The game was seldom played because contestants having any lead of more than a few dollars was more interested in winning the game; Instant Cash topped $20,000 at least twice.)
    • From 1982 until the end of its run, the Aussie version's jackpot started at $50,000 and increased by $2,000 per show until claimed. The jackpot (which was a part of the Lot) often topped the six-figure mark, with the highest being $508,000.
  • Speed Round: Whoever was in the lead after 60 seconds at $5 per question won the game. (This was instituted in 1984, replacing an often anti-climatic final series of three questions at $5 per correct answer.)
  • Undesirable Prize:
    • During the 1980s NBC/syndicated run, several prominent contestants were known to refuse even the most desirable Instant Bargains, particularly when a large end-game prize was at stake. One of the most well-known examples was Alice Conkwright, who during her seven-day championship run, refused every instant bargain; during the third Instant Bargain on her final show (where she was playing for a cash and prize package worth more than $120,000), host Jim Perry unsuccessfully swayed her to buy by offering her a $2,000 bonus.
      • Later in the NBC/syndicated run, the show offered Instant Cash, whereby a contestant could purchase a 1-in-3 shot at an escalating mini-cash jackpot by giving up his entire lead over the second-place contestant. Unless the lead was very small (or in some cases, when two contestants were tied for the lead, in which case Perry would conduct a Dutch auction), the contestants invariably would decline to take the gamble.
    • Everything on the UK version, mainly because the broadcasting rules of the time placed a strict limit on prize value. The Benny Hill Show[2] parodied this at least twice, one of which felt eerily like the American Temptation.
    • In Australia, the "Cash Card" game from 1989 to 1992 featured a "Joker" as one of the hidden items, which was a booby prize.
  • Unexpectedly Obscure Answer: Happened on occasion.
Tropes used in Sale of the Century include:
  • Cut Short: The last NBC episode in 1973 had the day's winning couple electing to come back the following Monday; during the credits, announcer Bill Wendell stated that this was in fact the last episode and the producers gave the couple the prize they were working for (a trip to Acapulco, according to one recollection) anyway.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: Instant Bargain and Instant Cash.
  • Lucky Charms Title: Everywhere except the United Kingdom, the title was spelled with a dollar sign.
  • No Budget: Some critics of the latter 1980s formats also claimed the conversion to the Winner's Board and later Big Money Winner's Game formats have claimed that the switch was done as a cost-cutting move. Indeed, many of the cars went from full-size Cadillacs, Mercedes-Benz sedans and top-end sports cars to less-expensive cars. Although never reaching subcompact or econocar range, mainstream cars such as the Ford Taurus, entry-level luxury cars such as the Mercedes-Benz 190 or BMW 528i, or compact convertibles including the Chevrolet Cavalier were more common. The big-ticket items, such as $13,000 European tours and $21,000 cabin cruisers, were gone, however, replaced with more common game-show fare in the $1,500-$5,000 range.
  • Recursive Import: United States to Australia, and back to United States.
  • Shout-Out: The dollar amounts on the Fame Game board during the 1980s were called "Money Cards" by Perry.
  • Spiritual Successor: Temptation in Australia.
  • Trope 2000: Subverted by the Australian version. In 2000, it briefly renamed itself "Sale of the New Century"
  • Viewers Are Geniuses: Used in mixture with common knowledge and the like in pretty much every version.
  • Viewers are Morons: Subverted hard pretty much everywhere, regardless of country.
  1. (Grundy had already produced a similar show called Temptation in Australia from 1970-76. Its host, Tony Barber, returned to helm Grundy's Sale until 1991.)
  2. on which UK Sale host Nicholas Parsons was the sometime resident straight man