Sale of the Century
first went to air on the Nine Network on 14 July 1980, and ran
for 21 years until 2001. Originally hosted by Tony Barber and Victoria Nicholls, the
program was based on the popular American format of game show.
The game consisted of three contestants who answered general knowledge question to earn
money. As the program progressed, contestants were given the opportunity to buy prizes,
or to but their way into smaller contests. At the end of an episode, the player with the
highest amount of money remaining could "go shopping".
From 1980 until the end of 1988, the winner's prize was determined by the score that he
or she achieved. Usually, first-night winners would have only been able to afford the
'level one' prize. Tony would offer this prize to the contestant, and if he or she chose
to accept it, he or she would have left the show with it. Contestants were also given
the chance to return on the following show, to increase his or her score total, and
thereby qualify for a higher level of prize (each level of prize also included the
prizes from the lower levels). This continued until the contestant had amassed a
winning total which would afford him or her the highest level of prize (a car), he or
she chose to accept an offer of a prize, or he or she were to be beaten.
In 1982, the cash jackpot was introduced to the program. Starting at $50,000, and increasing by
$2,000 every night until won, contestants would have been able to win this by having a
winning total of $700.
From 1989 until the show's axing in 2001, the Winner's Board format was used. It
contained 12 numbered spaces, 10 of which masked the names of prizes, one had the word
'WIN', the other had the word 'CARS' (later 'CAR' or the car manufacturer's logo).
The contestant chose numbers from the board, the prizes they masked were revealed, and
the contestant won the first prize whose name was revealed twice. If the contestant
revealled the 'WIN' card, he or she would have won whichever prize was revealed next. If
the 'WIN' card was revealed, followed by the 'CARS' card, the contestant won the cars.
First-night winners had 12 spaces from which to choose, second- and subsequent-night
winners had two fewer spaces per night. As the winning contestant received a prize every
night, regardless of his or her score, seven consecutive wins guaranteed that he or she
would win the cash jackpot.
In 1993, the above rule was changed to eight wins, when contestants required a score of
$100 or more to play for the car on the board. Because of that change, first-night
winners who achieve the $100 score, one prize was omitted from the board to accommodate
the 'WIN' and 'CAR' spaces. For second- and subsequent-night winners, an extra two
spaces were made available.
The game also featured a selection of smaller contests, which the player with the most
money could buy their way into. These included the popular "Fame Game" where the
contestant would select the face of a celebrity from a board, and behind the chosen
celebrity would be either a prize (which they would win) or a cash amount (which would
be added to their money for the game).
The show lasted successfully in the 7pm slot on Nine for 21 years, and in 2000, it was
re-named Sale of the New Century
before reverting back to the original title the
following year. In those 4610 episodes, $60,692,993 worth of cash and prizes was given
away. The program was rested in 2001, only to be reborn in 2005 under the new name
Tony Barber (1980-April 1991), Glenn Ridge (April 1991-2001), Ed Phillips (2005-).
Victoria Nicholls (1980-October 1982), Delvene Delaney (October 1982-1985), Alyce Platt (1986-April 1991), Jo Bailey (April 1991-1993), Nicky Buckley (1994-1999), Karina Brown (2000-2001), Livinia Nixon (2005-).
Ron Neate (1980, first ten episodes), Peter Smith (1980-2001).