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first published on oilzine.com

Today (3/5/01) is a very happy occasion for many: Ted Rogers has died. Don't get me wrong, people will not be happy because he has died. Like me, many will be happy, ecstatic, delirious, elated because his death means there will be tributes to him and his fantastic gameshow 3-2-1. It is the only way they'll ever reshow it. Hopefully, long endless reshowings of it. I wish.

Apparently, it has been / is being shown on Challenge TV (some cable channel I've not heard of), but this is no good to me, or the legions of fans (you must be out there). Who on earth gets Challenge TV? Is that the reason they chose the name? Because it is exactly that (a Challenge) to get to watch it. Who knows, who really cares. Anyway, I'm digressing.

You may be surprised by my attitude towards Ted's death, but I'm one of the few, those lucky few, who can remember the programme when it was on YTV (Yorkshire) originally (I know lots of people remember it, wait). My memory is, however, vague. This is what makes me, and others like me, feel lucky. I have a rose-tinted recollection of the incredulous credulity of it all. Was it really a serious programme? I know I have been affected by endless "I love 1980" type series, but it all seems to good to be true. That is what pleases me about today. Today I can finally see if 3-2-1 was as strange as it appeared.

For those of you who have no idea what or who I've been talking about, I'll give you a little synopsis of the programme and the two stars of the show.

A Little Synopsis:

3-2-1 was sort of a gameshow, hosted by said Ted Rogers (who performed a bizarre twiddley finger gesture) and the as yet unmentioned Dusty Bin. Some of you may not think this is strange. It doesn't sound very fantastic. Just take a look at the picture above. Dusty is the one in the middle. That's right, with all the birds round him. And he's a dustbin. No ordinary dustbin, though. We'll just skirt over the fact that he appears to be the studmuffin of the show, he was also the most active member of the show. His little motorised body wheeling on and off the set. Bringing on questions (in envelopes? Not sure). Costume changes. Many good times were spent by me and my brothers at my Grandma's, on Ashwell Rd, watching Dusty Bin appear in some "hilarious" outfit. A matador. An Italian waiter. A Pearly King. A bin in an 'ethnic' costume. It doesn't get much better than that.

The structure of the show was based on a Spanish gameshow "Uno, Dos, Tres", and was based around 3 rounds, in which the pairs of contestants would be whittled down from 3 to just one couple. The general style of the show was cabaret / variety and quiz. I think (though I could be wrong, as I said I only have a vague recollection, and internet resources on the subject are very limited. I know, I checked), anyway, I think that only the last couple got to try and answer the famous cryptic clues.
They were presented with 3 verbal clues which referred to prizes (examples of which will follow), 1 of which was the star prize - a car, holidays, etc. 1 of the others was the 'booby' prize - a model of the aforementioned star Dusty Bin. Presumably, the remaining prize was sort of OK. Again, I'm not sure. Each verbal clue was accompanied by a visual aid. Anyhow, the couple had to discard two clues and choose the one they thought referred to the star prize.

Now, the thing that made the show fabulous, and infamous, was the cryptic nature of the clues. Ted would read a clue, for example:

"To clean your own house, you'll need one of these,
To collect your rubbish, if that's what you please."
(accompanied by a dustpan and brush)

Remember, the choices for the solution are Car, Bin, (and possibly something else)

What do you think? It's the bin! Discard it! It's the bin. And they duly discarded it.
Here's an example solution Ted might give:

"Well", Ted would begin, "To clean your house, you'll need one of these.
That could be a hoover or something, and it could be Dusty Bin.
To collect your rubbish, if that's what you please....
well, you'd certainly be pleased to collect one of these...
and you'd need it to collect your rubbish if you were taking it to the dump or something...
yes, you've rejected the car !"

What?... Cue: gasps from the audience, Ted looking full of pity, Dusty wearing his usual smile (underneath a large droopy Greek moustache). And incredibly, remarkably, shocked contestants. Standing there open-mouthed. Disbelieving - "How could we have been so stupid?" How could you not? Who would get that right? If you don't believe me here's an actual clue and solution:

Clue: "The Arches Might Provide A Clue,
Not Strolling But He's Going Too",
(accompanied by some sheet music.)

Solution: "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 rejected the car!"

Just run that by me again....
(Cue: Dismay. Dejection. Those faces.)

Now do you see why I want to relive those times? The contestants' reaction to the impossible solution was only matched by 3-2-1's sadistic successor Bullseye: "Let's have a look at what you would've won."

Ha, Ha, Ha. There's nothing like it.

I must be getting old, harping on about the past. Nostalgia, it ain't what it used to be.

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