one number is up

Your Number's Up

Your Number's Up was a game show that aired on NBC from September 23, 1985 to December 20, 1985. The show was hosted by Nipsey Russell with Lee Menning as Russell's co-star. Announcing duties were handled by Gene Wood (first month), Johnny Haymer (fill-in), Johnny Gilbert (fill-in), and John Harlan (rest of the run).

The series was the first series produced by Sande Stewart, son of game show producer Bob Stewart. Your Number's Up was put up against the elder Stewart's The $25,000 Pyramid on CBS at 10:00 a.m. Eastern, 9:00 a.m. elsewhere. Most of the staff from Bob Stewart Productions also worked in the production of this series.


Three on-stage contestants, one a returning champion, were each given one point at the outset of the game (the points were indicated by diamonds). In front of the contestants' podiums was an electronic wheel with numbers 0-9, blank spaces, and a "car" symbol. The symbols on the wheel were spaced so that each spin would have two contestants with numbers or the car symbol and a third with a blank space. Players spun the wheel by pulling a lever. After each spin, the blank player would be shown the first halves of two riddle-type phrases, each with an acronym to be filled in. An example of these would be as follows:

"When T.O. speaks..."
"As predicted, the I.O.M...."

The "blank" player selected one of the two first halves and the host read the rest of the selected phrase (example: "...all of the House listens", answer: Tip O'Neill). The first player to buzz-in and fill in the acronym correctly scored one point, incorrect guesses subtracted one point. If neither opponent guessed correctly, the player who selected the riddle won $50. The first to score 6 points won the game and played the bonus round.

If the "car" symbol appeared under a contestant's pointer, (s)he would attempt to guess which number was hidden under a question mark on the car's license plate (the first two weeks of the series had a separate plate used for each attempt; later, previously incorrect numbers would be automatically eliminated on each subsequent attempt). Guessing correctly won the player the car (for most tapings a 1986 Chevrolet Celebrity) regardless of the game's outcome (and because of the format, a win at the car game was guaranteed on at least every 9th try). A memorable moment with this game occurred in the last episode when, after five attempts, the car was not won.

Audience Game

Each correct answer of a riddle puts the number which was under that player's pointer on a board. At any point during the game, if any studio audience member whose last four digits of their phone number matched any numbers on the board (in any order) could come up on stage to predict which contestant would win the game. Correctly guessing would win that player a trip (usually to Hawaii or Puerto Vallarta). If the same number appeared more than once in an audience member's phone number, they had to wait until the number appearing more than once appeared twice, three times, or four times, depending on how often it appeared in their phone number. This meant that an audience member whose number had four different digits had a huge advantage over those who number had repeating digit(s). (This is the principle behind most four-digit lottery games, as there are 24 ways to "box" a four-digit number with all different digits, while a number with the same digit in all four positions cannot be boxed, as it can come out "straight" (one way) only).

Bonus Round

The winner would draw a postcard sent in by a home viewer (for the first weeks of tapings, post cards were obtained via an ad in TV Guide). The player then had one minute to reveal the last four digits of that home viewer's phone number. The contestant selected a digit 0-9 from a board which resembled a touch-tone phone keypad. An acronym was shown and a clue was read. If the contestant was correct and that digit was in the phone number, that digit was revealed as many times it appeared in the home viewer's phone number. Each correct answer won $100 to the studio winner, and revealing all 4 digits within 60 seconds won the contestant $5,000 and the at-home viewer $1,000, except on Fridays, on which the home viewer would win $5,000 as well.

Similarities to other series

The format of the main game is similar to that of the 1982 Bob Stewart pilot Twisters, hosted by Jim Perry, whereas one player picks one of two first-part questions, then the host reads the second half of the question.

Foreign inspiration

While the show was a short lived failure, the general idea of home viewers using their phone numbers to win along with in-studio contestants found its way into two more successful shows, both originating from the United Kingdom. Talking Telephone Numbers and Winning Lines (which had a brief existence in the US as well) both use this gimmick to entice home viewers to watch.

Episode status

All episodes of the series are known to exist and are reportedly in GSN's possession. However, the heavy involvement of the home audience would make any rerunning of the series to be unfeasible.

External links

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