3–2–1 was a British game show that was made by Yorkshire Television for ITV. It ran for ten years, between 29 July 1978 and 24 December 1988, with Ted Rogers as the host.
It was based on a Spanish gameshow called Un, dos, tres… responda otra vez and was a trio of three shows in one: a quiz, variety and a game show. The show was a huge success, consistently pulling in large ratings. The first series, though intended as a summer filler, attracted up to 16.5 million viewers and subsequent years never failed to peak below 12 million. The show occupied a Saturday early evening slot for most of its run.
The final Christmas special, broadcast on 24 December 1988, attracted 12.5 million viewers, but an eleventh series was not commissioned. Ted Rogers claimed in an April 1996 interview that “The Oxbridge lot got control of TV and they didn’t really want it. It was too downmarket for them. We were still getting 12 million viewers when they took it off after ten years. These days if a show gets nine million everyone does a lap of honour.”
The overall objective of the game was to survive elimination through to part three of the show, and try to unravel a series of cryptic clues in order to win the star prize. One of the clues, however, referred to Dusty Bin who was the show’s booby prize. If the contestants ended up with Dusty at the end of the show, all they got was a brand new dustbin. Each show had a theme, such as “Seacruise” or the “Swinging Sixties”. All of the variety acts, quiz questions, stage sets and clues subsequently followed this theme. In later series, Dusty would appear at the start of the show dressed in a costume relating to that week’s theme.
The changing themes were dropped for the final series where a more generic stage set was re-used each week.