Australian Game Show

Sale of the Century is the most successful game show ever produced and shown on Australian television. The series began on the Nine Network early in 1980 and apart from the short four week summer break each year, has been transmitted in the same prime-time access slot of 7:00 P.M. five nights a week ever since. Apart from the historical ratings dominance of the Nine Network in the Australian television market place, the reasons for the success of Sale have much to do with the format of the program, its pace and its prizes. The game of the program consists of three rounds in which three contestants compete for the right to buy luxury prizes at low prices. The first to sound a buzzer gains the opportunity to answer a general knowledge question. Each contestant begins with a bankroll of $25, receiving $5 for a correct answer and losing $5 for an incorrect.

At the end of each round, the contestant with the highest score is offered the opportunity to buy a luxury item such as a colour TV set with some of the points. At the end of the program, the overall winner goes to a panel where he or she tries to guess the location of a particular prize behind a set of panels. Whether lucky or not, the contestant returns to the next episode of Sale. From time to time the producers have varied the format as Celebrity Sale of the Century using television personalities and other celebrities as contestants, playing either for home viewers or charity.

The program succeeds because it is a successful blend of general knowledge, luck and handsome prizes. The question-and-answer format combined with the time factor draws in the home viewer while guesses at the panels and whether to buy items offered by the compere involve luck and risk. This combination gives Sale of the Century a pace and interest that makes it a bright attractive game show.


Sale of the Century
Photo courtesy of Grundy Television

Sale of the Century originally ran on NBC, the American television network, from 1969 to 1973. The Australian-based Grundy Organisation had since 1961 been a very frequent licensee/producer of American game show formats but it had decided in the early 1970s to develop or buy-in formats of its own. Grundy bought the format for Sale of the Century in 1979 and later the same year sold the program to the Australian Nine Network. By this time, the Grundy Organisation was the biggest program packager in Australian television and had decided that the only way to continue to expand was to internationalise its operation. However because of differing licensing arrangements, Grundy was aware that many of the American game show format licence rights were not available to the company in other territories--hence the decision to buy format copyrights on programs such as Sale. The outstanding rating success of Sale in the Australian television market made it easier to sell the format elsewhere. Thus since 1982 the company has re-versioned Sale of the Century in five other territories: Hong Kong (RTV, 1982); United States (NBC, 1982/1988); United Kingdom (Sky, 1989/1991); New Zealand (TVNZ, 1989/1993); and Germany (Telos/DSP, 1990/1993).

Some of the program's hosts in different countries have included Tony Barber (Australia), Joe Garagiola (U.S.), Jack Kelly (U.S.), Steve Parr (New Zealand), Nicholas Parsons (U.K.), Jim Perry (U.S.), and Glen Ridge (Australia).

-Albert Moran


Nine Network
3,460 Episodes
July 1980-                                     Weeknights 7:00-7:30


See also Australian Production Companies; Australian Programming; Quiz and Game Shows