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Play Your Cards Right

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Subject: Bruce Forsyth, Gameshow Marathon (UK game show), Card Sharks, List of years in British television, Vicki-Lee Walberg
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Play Your Cards Right

Play Your Cards Right
Created by Chester Feldman
Presented by Bruce Forsyth
Country of origin United Kingdom
Original language(s) English
No. of series 16
No. of episodes 248 (inc. 6 specials & 4 unaired)
Running time 30mins (inc. adverts)
Production company(s) LWT in association with Talbot Television and Goodson-Todman Productions (1980–7)
LWT and Talbot Television (1994–5)
LWT and Fremantle (UK) Productions (1996–8)
LWT and Grundy (1999)
Thames (2002–3)
Distributor ITV Studios
Original channel ITV
Picture format 4:3 (1980–7, 1994–9)
16:9 (2002–3)
Original run 1 February 1980 (1980-02-01) – 20 June 2003 (2003-06-20)
Related shows Card Sharks

Play Your Cards Right (or Bruce Forsyth's Play Your Cards Right) is a British television game show based on, and played similarly to, the American show known as Card Sharks.


  • Broadcast history 1
  • Format 2
    • Main game 2.1
    • The Prize/Cash Cards 2.2
    • The rules of the 2002 revival 2.3
    • The host 2.4
      • The Dolly Dealers 2.4.1
  • Catchphrases 3
  • Transmissions 4
    • Series 4.1
    • Christmas Specials 4.2
  • References 5
  • External links 6

Broadcast history

Play Your Cards Right broadcast on ITV from 1980 to 1987, produced by LWT. The host was Bruce Forsyth. LWT produced a more modern version from 1994 to 1999, initially expected to be presented by Brian Conley, who filmed a pilot show before Forsyth was lured back. In 2002, Bruce hosted another revival, with slightly modified rules. This version was produced by Thames Television. On 15 October 2005, it made a one-off return as part of Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon, celebrating 50 years of ITV. It made another one-off return in 2007 again part of Gameshow Marathon. Forsyth also presented a parody of the format, Play Your Iraqi Cards Right (originally titled Play Your Kurds Right), when he was guest host on the satirical BBC TV series Have I Got News for You. Play Your Cards Right has also been turned into a successful Interactive DVD which was released in 2007, with an updated sequel released in 2008, both produced by DVDPro.


Main game

The couples alternated who went first on each question. The questions were based on surveys of 100 people. The first couple would guess how many of the 100 gave a certain answer to the question, and the second would guess whether the actual number was higher or lower than the other couple's guess. (If the first couple guessed exactly the number of people, they would win a case of champagne, as opposed to $500 on the US versions.) If the second couple was correct then they gained control of the cards, otherwise the first team played.

Unlike the US version, the questions usually had some comedy value (for example: The question would be, "We asked 100 tattoo-artists - if somebody came in asking for a tattoo of Bruce Forsyth, would you try to talk them out of it?"). The first couple would joke around with Bruce, and then decide on a sum of, say, 64. The second couple would say "higher" (and Bruce would pretend to be offended). If the answer was, say, 26, the second couple were wrong in guessing "higher", so the first couple started with the cards.

There were five cards for each team laid out, and they had to guess if the next card was higher or lower — ace being the highest card, and two being lowest. The first card could be changed if the couple wished. If the guess was correct, the couple would continue with the next card, and so on. Correctly guessing all cards to the end won the game, but if the couple guessed wrong at any time, they would retreat back to the card where they started and the other team would have a free attempt at their own cards. (In this case, the couple could not change their first card.)

After any correct guess, a couple could "freeze", which would protect their cards. A marker would be placed by a dealer beside the frozen card, which meant that on the next question, a wrong guess on their cards would put them back no further than where they froze. This was usually done when the card shown was of a middle rank, such as a seven, eight or nine. After a couple froze their cards, play would continue to the next question. Should the couple regain control of the board, they will be allowed to change the frozen card (due to it now being the card the couple would start on.).

If the next card was the same rank as the card showing, it counted as a wrong guess; indeed, this is the only way to be wrong when an ace or deuce appeared. "You get nothing for a pair, not in this game" was Forsyth's catch phrase on such occasions.

If no team had managed to predict the last card correctly within the first three questions sudden death was played. The couple who gained control of the cards (either though their own correct prediction or the other couples incorrect) had to make a decision, either to "Play" and correctly predict the remainder of their cards to win, or "Pass" and force their opponents to achieve the feat. An incorrect prediction now caused their opposition to win the round.

Starting with the 90's version, the winner of each of the two games in the first half would get a "Brucie Bonus". The overall winner was the first couple to win two games. If a third game was required, three cards were played by each couple instead of five, with a tie break occurring on the third question instead of fourth.

The Prize/Cash Cards

The winning couple got 200 points to begin with. Bruce would then ask a question, if they got it right, they'd win an extra 50, if they got it wrong, they lost 50. There were two rows of three cards dealt out (going from left to right, and upward), and one final card at the top. At the start of each row, they could change their card. At the start of the second row, they got an extra 200 points. The rules are the same as in the previous game, but they had to bet on their answer (minimum of 50.). When they got to the final card, if they had 4,000 or more, they could play for the car (which was a separate game on the US version.). They were asked a simple question (usually to name 5 of something - no-one ever got this wrong), and then predicted higher or lower for the final card. If they were right, they would win the car. If not, they won a prize based on their score.

In the 90's version, points became pounds, but the rules remained the same. Also, on the final card, if they have £4,000 or more, and they were wrong, they would just have the money. What was emphasized was that their money was safe.

If the couple got to the final card with under £4,000, they could choose to take the money, or gamble all of it on the last card - with Bruce emphasising thus: "The rules are strict here - it is all or nothing". The maximum amount of money that could be won was £17,600, which was never achieved. (The highest win was £9,500)

The rules of the 2002 revival

The rules of the 2002 revival were partly based on the changes made in the 2001 revival of Card Sharks in the United States. All 13 cards from the suit of hearts from the 'Two' to the 'Ace' were put out face down. Four couples would then come on, and the two couples with the two highest cards would go through to the main game (the couple who picked the highest card was red team.). This was just an opening game. After this, Bruce's gag was to say "Well done you winners, and so sorry losers, we really are sorry to lose you so early in the show...tough." - followed by audience laughter. The rules of the main game were exactly the same as in the original version, except the "Brucie Bonus" was £1,000. If one couple won both the games, the losing couple would be sent home with a case of champagne before the break, otherwise, the losing couple would get to keep the £1,000 for winning their one game (there was no money awarded for the tie-breaker).

In the Cash Cards, Bruce would first ask the winning couple a ridiculously hard, trivial or stupid question. They often pondered for a few seconds over this, then Bruce said "Aren't you glad you don't have to answer a question like that?", to which the audience would laugh - except that on at least two occasions, the contestants correctly answered the question, shocking Bruce, who accused the contestants - though in a humorous manner - of "ruining the show", prompting much more laughter from the audience. In the Cash Cards, this time, the couple were given £1,000 to start with and their minimum bet had to be £100, but they could bet the whole lot if they wanted to. If the couple survived the first three cards, another £500 would be added to the total. On the final card, the couple had to bet at least half the amount they had at that point (as was the case on all runs of the American version.).

If a couple bet on the whole lot the wrong way during the first three cards, that card would be put on the row above and the additional £500 would be added on. If there was a pair revealed in the Cash Cards, the couple didn't lose any money, they moved on to the next card. If the last two cards on a row were a pair, the second card would be used as the base card for the row above.

The theoretical maximum in the Cash Cards is £136,000.

The host

Among Forsyth's other quips, he would, at the beginning of some shows, say, "What a lovely audience! You're so much better than last week." The joke was that the same audience was used for more than one show, therefore it was the same one. Bruce started each show with his trademark "It's nice to see you, to see you nice" (whereby the audience join in on the last "nice".). When a pair was revealed, he'd say "You don't get anything for a pair, not in this game.", and the audience would join in with the "not in this game" part. On the 2002 series in particular, he would often start the show with a made-up quote.

When Card Sharks was slated for a revival in 1986, Forsyth himself was considered as possible host by creator/producer Mark Goodson (Forsyth, at the time, was in the United States filming the short-lived Bruce Forsyth's Hot Streak). The job ultimately went to Bob Eubanks and Bill Rafferty.

The Dolly Dealers

The so-named Dolly Dealers for the 2002 revival were Annalise Braakensiek and Vicki-Lee Walberg.

First run:

  • 1980: Jo Thomas, Yvonne Younger, Zena Clifton
  • 1980–83: Natalie Shaw, Denise "Denni" Kemp
  • 1981: Lesley Anderson, Gillian Elvins
  • 1981–83: John Melainey
  • 1982–83: Camilla Blair, Gillian Duxbury
  • 1983–84: Alison Bell, Carol Dean, Brenda Haldane, Wendy Marler, Robin Martyne
  • 1985–87: Denni Kemp, Natalie van de Braam, Alison Bell, Carol Dean, John Melainey

Second run:

  • 1994–96: Vicki Brattle, Sophie Allisstone
  • 1997: Carly Carter, Debbie Flett
  • 1998: Sharon Amos, Sheryl Deane
  • 1999: Charlie Maloney, Maxine Restall

Third run:

  • 2002–03: Annelise Braakensiek, Vicki-Lee Walberg


  • "Oh, You have cheered me up." - Bruce Forsyth
  • "What a lovely audience! You're so much better than last week's." (See "The host" section above for an explanation of the joke in this quote.) - Bruce Forsyth
  • "It's nice to see you, to see you, nice!" - Bruce Forsyth/audience
  • "I'm the joker in the pack, which makes me such a lucky jack, but here's 4 people that are so appealing, ok dollies, do your dealing." - Bruce Forsyth
  • "I'm the joker in the place, with 4 little aces who set the pace, and that is why I say with feeling, OK dollies, do your dealing." - Bruce Forsyth
  • "I'm the leader of the pack, which makes me such a lucky Jack, for openers, here's a pair of cuties, here's my darling dealing beauties." - Bruce Forsyth
  • "I'm the leader of the pack, which makes me such a lucky Jack, but if you like things that come in pairs, here are my 2 little croupiers." - Bruce Forsyth
  • "I'm the leader of the pack, which makes me such a lucky Jack, but here they are, they're so appealing, come on dollies, do your dealing." - Bruce Forsyth
  • "I'm the joker full of jest, I play my cards close to my chest, but here's a pair worth revealing, OK dollies, do your dealing." - Bruce Forsyth
  • "By the turn of this card, if you have 4000 points or more you have a chance to go for the car!" - Bruce Forsyth (to which the audience would always respond with "wow!")
  • "We have our cards, all we need now are our players." - Bruce Forsyth
  • "Higher/Lower." - Contestant
  • "Freeze!" - Contestant
  • "You're going to freeze? OK - protect your cards!" - Bruce Forsyth
  • "Higher than a value of card, you say..." - Bruce Forsyth
  • "Lower than a value of card you say..." - Bruce Forsyth
  • "Giving you a free go." - Bruce Forsyth
  • "You can shuffle my deck any day!" - Bruce Forsyth
  • "All of our questions are based on a poll of 100 people." - Bruce Forsyth
  • "You can change the card, if you want to." - Bruce Forsyth
  • "You don't get anything for a pair - not in this game." - Bruce Forsyth/audience
  • "The cards have been cruel tonight!" - Bruce Forsyth
  • "It could still be a good night if you play your cards right." - Bruce Forsyth
  • "The best things in life all come in pairs - just look at my two croupiers!" - Bruce Forsyth
  • "Wow!/Woweee!" - Bruce Forsyth/audience
  • "Did you see them cut the cards?" - Bruce Forsyth
  • "It's a Brucie bonus!" - Bruce Forsyth
  • "Don't touch the pack, we'll be right back!" - Bruce Forsyth
  • "What do points make?, Prizes!" - Bruce Forsyth/audience
  • "What do pounds make?, Rich people!" - Bruce Forsyth/audience
  • "Hang loose - we'll be back in a deuce!" - Bruce Forsyth
  • "Don't touch the Dec(k), back in a sec!" - Ant & Dec
  • "I'm sorry to those who didn't make it to the main game, (mutters) tough luck." - Bruce Forsyth



Series Start date End date Episodes
1 1 February 1980 9 July 1980 18
2 5 September 1980 19 December 1980 16
3 2 October 1981 22 January 1982 15
4 17 September 1982 3 April 1983 16
5 11 September 1983 1 January 1984 15
6 31 August 1984 14 December 1984 15
7 30 August 1985 15 December 1985 16
8 29 August 1986 12 December 1986 16
9 4 September 1987 22 November 1987 12
10 18 March 1994[1] 8 July 1994[1] 16[1]
11 10 February 1995[1] 26 May 1995[1] 16[1]
12 2 February 1996[1] 17 May 1996[1] 16[1]
13 5 January 1997[1] 11 May 1997[1] 17[1]
14 16 January 1998[1] 1 May 1998[1] 16[1]
15 22 January 1999[1] 4 June 1999[1] 16[1]
16 7 September 2002[1] 20 June 2003[1] 12[1]

Christmas Specials

27 December 1981
25 December 1982
25 December 1983
21 December 1984
20 December 1985
19 December 1986


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u "Fremantle Archive Sales - BRUCE FORSYTH'S PLAY YOUR CARDS RIGHT". Retrieved 25 June 2013. 

External links

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