TV Cream

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HAND JIVER extraordinaire TED ROGERS flipped his wrists throughout this hour-long Spanish-derived mystery quiz rambling epic of an extravaganza, seemingly involving the whole Yorkshire Television studio complex every Saturday night and relying upon the most convoluted set of rules imaginable. Three dopey couples tried to outwit each other on the quest for a forrin oliday or a fitted kitchen (Moben, Schreiber etc.) while avoiding radio-controlled, red-nosed booby prize Dusty Bin. Fiendishly impossible rhymes, given by “guests” after they’d done their turn, were never guessed correctly. Many a bin won in this rather tight game show, mostly recalled for the way the Yorkshire logo would take off in flight at the very start of the opening titles. How would you have fared?:

Sample Clue: “The Arches Might Provide A Clue, Not Strolling But He’s Going Too”, accompanied by some sheet music.

Ted’s Baffling Explanation: “Well the first three letters of arches might have been clue enough, but we also said not strolling but he’s going too. Well if you take away HES from arches, all you have left is ARC. If you rearrange that with the sheet music, you’re left with ‘Music Maestro Please’. So what do think that means? Maestro! The British Leyland Maestro! You’ve won the car!” We didn’t make that up.



  1. richard t

    June 13, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Ah…. memories of 321,
    compelling yet annoying.
    “you picked the handbag!”
    “Well the hand bag made of leather, and leather rhymes with feather. feathers are located on the wings of birds, wings are on planes and so are people, people with luggage. luggage containing items of clothing, cloth, tablecloths are as you know on top of tables with silver service sets, sets in tennis, sports equipment and tennis balls, balls, round like wheels. wheels are found on cars, yes, yes thats right! you have won the bin!!!”

    Total crap.

  2. Glenn Aylett

    June 13, 2009 at 3:21 pm

    Quite a cleverly put together quiz show that was better than the critics thought and had a nine year run. The cryptic clues were always good and Ted Rogers hand jive was much imitated at the time.

  3. David Pascoe

    June 18, 2009 at 6:45 pm

    Impenetrable and dull way to spend Saturday nights throughout the mid-80s. Rather nifitily pulled to pieces in Channel 4’s 100 moments from TV Hell. Made the top 10, I believe.

  4. Dave Nightingale

    June 18, 2009 at 9:33 pm

    The clues were that cryptic,that even with an Enigma machine and Alan Bloody Turing in the room,you’d have been knackered!

  5. Applemask

    September 10, 2009 at 11:53 am

    There’s a difference between “cryptic” and “arbitrary”.

  6. B B Beyer

    September 12, 2009 at 11:27 am

    “Fiendishly impossible rhymes…were never guessed correctly.”

    Ah, but they were occassionally (I’m sure sometimes the star prize was won) – the point being, though, they were only ever “guessed”. No-one EVER worked them out.

    I could never do them, but in hindsight they didn’t seem any more difficult than cryptic crossword clues, and plenty of people can do those – I wonder why none of them ever seemed to apply (or be selected?) for the show?

  7. goodpudding

    September 12, 2009 at 12:03 pm

    And of course imported from Spain, much like sherry… Though a quart of sherry, would have made far more sense!

  8. Lee James Turnock

    May 18, 2012 at 1:50 pm

    On the bright side, it did at least provide partial inspiration for a brilliant Derek and Clive sketch. (‘Records’ on 1978’s ‘Ad Nauseum’.)

  9. Mark

    January 5, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    Yeah, if visiting my nan wasn’t bad enough on a Saturday night as a 10 year old, we had this mind bending bollox to try to avoid/absorb…
    pure migraine…
    Hated that f#cking bin

  10. Damon Rose

    March 2, 2016 at 8:14 pm

    What a messed up programme. The beginning was a quiz with three or more couples. I liked that bit. And every time they got a wrong answer we were thrown over to comedian Chris Emit in what I think they called the boiler room. I think the quiz helped to distill down the number of contestants who would then go on to play the mystery ‘guess what this little rhyme means’ part of the game which was interspersed with variety acts. So many of them. You had to get thru so many little sketches before you got to the main thrust of the show … the prizes. To that extent it was as tedius as Eurovision before the scoreboard payoff. Why were there two tennis rackets behind Ted Rogers when he stood and gave his intro at the beginning of the show amongst the audience? Tennis? I remember that in series two or three Ted explained that they had shortened the rhymes to make the game easier.

  11. IanW

    August 15, 2016 at 12:27 pm

    Didn’t one of the early rounds involve playing some shitty early computer game like breakout or something?

  12. Droogie

    August 16, 2016 at 3:59 pm

    I don’t remember that on 321 IanW, but I do remember a daytime afternoon game show from the early 80’s presented by bog brush-haired cockney rocker Joe Brown called Square One. It was like a poor man’s Generation Game, but one of the rounds each week was playing an early computer game each week (possibly Atari)on a giant television set, which seemed very exciting and hi-tech to a kid back then

  13. Glenn Aylett

    March 16, 2019 at 3:11 pm

    Surreal and not something you’d associate with ITV on Saturday nights. Yet it was one of their few big Saturday hits in the BBC 1 dominated late seventies, clocking up 14 million viewers on occasions, and 3-2-1 was still doing OK when it was cancelled in 1987. Also you had to feel sorry for Ted Rogers afterwards, he made some terrible business decisions, lost most of his money in the recession in 1991 and ended up scraping a living as an after dinner speaker.

  14. Anthony

    March 16, 2019 at 4:23 pm

    ITV Saturday Nights in the 70’s 80’s and 90’s before the age of the tacky talent show and equally irritating era of the ‘watching paint dry’ reality show were far better. 321 consistently raked in the viewers and did rather well for itself although I did feel sorry at the end of it all when Ted Rogers television work dried up and lost quite a bit of his money thru the recession. YTV could have contined making 321 for a satellite and cable channel beamed via Astra to Europe and Great Britain such as Sky Channel, added stereo sound to the programme and theme tune (Sky utilized Wegener PANDA 1 stereo on 7.02 / 7.20 Mhz as did many UK English language channels on Astra), and carried on the success that it was. A missed opportunity.

  15. richardpd

    March 17, 2019 at 12:20 am

    As ITV seemed to see satellite TV as a threat, Yorkshire Television wouldn’t want to risk selling it to a potential rival.

    ITV in the late 1980s made an effort to move upmarket & the “university boys” (as Ted Rogers called them) decided anything to old fashioned and / or working class had to go. Wrestling was one of the first casualties of this policy.

    I’m not sure if that was prompted by the potential threat from Sky, or because a new round of franchise bids were due, or BBC1 was making gains in the ratings, or possibly a combination of the 3.

    A few years later Granada broke ranks by selling programmes to the BBC, though What The Papers Say & University Challenge too way too highbrow for “council house televison” Sky & even Channel 4 (which had shown What The Papers Say for a few years) were trying to move on from the Issacs Era by then.

  16. Droogie

    July 19, 2020 at 8:13 pm

    I spent years thinking Ted Rogers was Australian or possibly South African due to his strange mid-Atlantic accent, so was shocked to discover he was from Kennington in South London.

  17. George White

    July 19, 2020 at 8:25 pm

    It was a kind of Sarf Lahndahn voice that kind of was sped up and showbized up.

  18. richardpd

    July 19, 2020 at 11:21 pm

    Kent Walton had a similar accent, which he picked up during his time in the RAF being posted to a squadron of Canadians.

  19. Droogie

    July 20, 2020 at 9:01 am

    I always had the suspicion that the clues were rigged in favour of the show so that they could make sure the prize was whatever they could afford to give away that week, and that there may have been more than one solution on each answer card for Ted Rogers to read out to ensure nobody was winning the car on every show.

  20. Droogie

    July 20, 2020 at 9:10 am

    I always had the suspicion that the clues were rigged in favour of the show so that they could make sure the prize was whatever they could afford to give away that week, and that there may have been more than one solution on each answer card for Ted Rogers to read out to ensure nobody was winning the car on every show.

  21. Tom Ronson

    September 30, 2020 at 8:01 pm

    One of the oddest quiz programmes in history, if only because the separate components were promising, but when they were all pieced together, it was far less than the sum of its parts. If I remember correctly, Ted Rogers’ unique selling point in his stand-up comedy days was his cutting-edge topicality, which usually amounted to singing a pop hit of the day in a silly voice or taking a pop at the trade unions. Sometimes 3-2-1 had some interesting guests, such as Absolutely’s John Sparkes in his Frank Hovis guise or a young Phil Cornwell, but they were crowbarred into this stifling end-of-the-pier format where everything was grist to the mill of some poor sod failing to win a terrible British car and being sent home with a ceramic bin instead. For better or worse, we shall never see its like again.

  22. JakeyD

    September 28, 2021 at 10:41 pm

    Alan Turing would have struggled to work out the rhymes which were ridiculously hard. That said it was strangely watchable.

  23. Richardpd

    June 18, 2023 at 3:27 pm

    The original show Un Dos Tres was an odd mix of variety show & quiz, with characters to either encourage or put off the contestants, & a loose theme each week for the questions. It ran on & off for decades, normally being revived when TVE needed a ratings winner.

  24. Glenn Aylett

    June 18, 2023 at 4:38 pm

    @ Richardpd, I always wondered what the Spanish version was like. I was in Spain 40 years ago and they only had TVE, which was like a cut price BBC. Quite interesting to watch in a way, as they had a dubbed version of David Copperfield( the 1939 version) as a highlight one afternoon, a show called Plaza Del Toros like a Match of the Day for bullfighting fans with highlights of the weekend’s bull fights, and a man with a sad face playing folk songs on an acoustic guitar.

  25. Richardpd

    June 18, 2023 at 10:26 pm

    Spain was quite late getting commercial television so TVE had a monopoly for many years. There are some clips of Un Dos Tres on You Tube, the first series was in Black & White as Spain hadn’t fully converted to colour at the time it was made.

    I’ve found watching TV abroad interesting, last year in Turkey I mostly watched a music channel which had an odd mixture of modern pop & more traditional folk music, including some oldies. One group was their entry for the 1984 Eurovision Song Contents.

    This year in Rhodes I didn’t get to see so much TV, but there was usually something interesting to watch, though my wife preferred a German music channel where most of the songs were in English, being an odd selection from the last 20 odd years.

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