1 9 6 9 – 1 9 7 3 (USA)
1 9 8 2 – 1 9 8 8 (USA)
1 9 8 0 – 2 0 0 1 (Australia)
1 9 8 2 (Hong Kong)
1 9 8 9 – 1 9 9 1 (UK)
1 9 8 9 – 1 9 9 3 (New Zealand)
1 9 9 0 – 1 9 9 3 (Germany)
Sale of the Century originally ran on NBC in the US from 1969 to 1973 and in syndication from 1973–1974.
Three players competed and each received a bankroll of bidding money. A general knowledge question was read. The first player who correctly answered it received additional money which was added to their score; an incorrect answer deducted money.
After several questions, an “Instant Bargain” (for example, “For only 27.95 you can buy a mink coat”) appeared. The first player to sound a buzzer received the merchandise and the amount of money was deducted from their score.
Rounds two and three followed the same format with money added or deducted, increasing in value per question. The highest cash scorer was the winner and received the opportunity to purchase expensive items from what cash they had accumulated.
In the UK, 1971 was the year that viewer’s first heard the words; “From Norwich, it’s the quiz of the week . . . The Sale of The Century!”.
The nattily dressed, ever-smiling host was Nicholas Parsons (pictured below left), a former film actor and straight man to Eric Barker and Arthur Haynes.
The Australian-based Grundy Organisation had been a very frequent licensee/producer of American game show formats since the 1960s but had decided in the early 1970s to develop or buy in formats of its own. From 1969 to 1974, Grundy produced a home-grown quiz show called Great Temptation which was based on Sale of the Century.
Grundy bought the format for Sale of the Century in 1979 and later the same year sold the programme to the Australian Nine Network.
It became 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 slot of 7:00 PM, five nights a week until 2001. It was revived in Australia again in 2005.
The outstanding rating success of Sale in the Australian television market made it easier to sell the format elsewhere. Thus the company 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).
The reasons for the continued success of Sale have much to do with the format of the programme, its pace and its prizes.
From time to time the format of the show changed, and occasional specials such as Celebrity Sale of the Century used television personalities and other celebrities as contestants, playing either for home viewers or charity.
Some of the programme’s hosts in different countries have included Tony Barber (pictured below with hostess Alyce Platt) (Australia), Joe Garagiola (USA), Jack Kelly (USA), Steve Parr (New Zealand), Nicholas Parsons (UK), Jim Perry (USA), and Glenn Ridge (Australia).