Michael Miles High Club


I miss “Take Your Pick” not being on on a Friday evening. I would sit with my nan in her Balham flat urging everyone to fail at every opportunity.

The first hurdle for the contestants was the yes/no interlude, when questions would be asked where the obvious Pavlovian response would have been yes or no. “Is the Pope Catholic?” being one of Michael Miles’ trickier questions.  If, after the longest minute of their life to date, the contestant had successfully avoided saying neither yes nor no, they’d be given five bob (25p in new money).  Five bob was double my pocket money in the sixties when Take Your Pick was aired and I believed that five bob could probably have bought the universe – certainly could have bought Rediffusion, the programme’s producers.

If the contestant failed, their ignominy was doubled by having former Pathé News newsreader, Bob Danvers-Walker, banging a gong next to them to make their ears bleed.

I especially enjoyed the climax of the show when the contestants could potentially win a booby prize. The use of the word booby on TV before 9.00 pm amused me.  I was only 11, I hasten to add.

During the show the contestants would have accumulated money and were faced with the ultimate choice of betting against their current winnings (take your pick – geddit?) – on offer by selecting “Box 13” – this could have been a holiday in Totnes, or something equally exotic or an aforementioned booby prize, like a mousetrap. It was when the word stress was first invented.

My nan and I would hope people would select “Box 13”; very few people did; no bad thing as some weeks inside was a three-headed dog who guarded the gates of Hell. Marginally worse than going to Totnes.


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