3-2-1 ranks among the all-time great gameshows, packing in everything from a bizarre mascot and cheesy gags to a smooth-talking host with a winning trademark. Many have attempted host Ted Rogers’ three-finger shuffle salute over the years, but none have come close to the man’s digit dexterity.
This was a garish, prime-time Saturday night gameshow in which three pairs of couples battled it out for the star prize of a car. Contestants would answer questions, most usually presented in various cryptic sketches with each episode of the show set around a particular theme. Losers walked away with the booby prize, a metal dustbin, which represented show mascot Dusty Bin (who became the real star of the series). Dusty was a dustbin embellished with a cheeky face, a massive red nose and mounted on huge, clumpy white shoes. It was the first and only time a bin has made it big in TV.
The idea was borrowed from Spanish game show Un, Dos, Tres and ITV wanted something to challenge the BBC’s The Generation Game which was riding high at the time. 3-2-1 was initially a big hit becoming Britain’s most popular TV programme during its first year, 1978, drawing in a huge 16.5m viewers. But the Generation Game overall won the war – one show lured in 23.9m viewers.
Host was Ted Rogers with lots of well known faces popping up in the sketches most notably the likes of Duggie Brown, Chris Emmett, Debbie Arnold, Caroline Munro and Chris Emmett.
Wise-cracking joker Ted Rogers first made his name as a stand-up comedian, but it was his 3-2-1 fame that made him a national celebrity, putting him on a par with light entertainment favourites Bruce Forsyth and Des O’ Connor.
Ted was once much in demand – he did cabaret and panto shows, after-dinner speaking and successfully toured the US as a stand-up. But when the recession hit in the late ’80s most of his work dried up.
Like thousands of others during the recession, Ted was hit hard. Trappings of wealth including a luxury home, a Mercedes car and four polo ponies slipped through his agile fingers. They were repossessed.
But the resilient family man, who rose through the ranks supporting many great legends such as Bing Crosby and Perry Como, refused to throw in the towel. Instead embarking on stage tours and even a series of ads for McDonald’s. His big passion though was Danny Kaye and he mounted a successful tribute show to the star called Danny and Me.
And what of Dusty Bin? He eventually found love with a pedal bin, and the smitten couple set up home outside a bungalow in Eastbourne.
UK / ITV – Yorkshire / 180x60m-e / Broadcast 29 July 1978 – 24 December 1988
Producers: Derek Burrell-Davies, Mike Goddard, Ian Bolt, Graham Wetherall, Terry Heneberry