Criss Cross Quiz

1957 | United Kingdom

Popular quiz show based on the simple game of noughts and crosses. The format was devised for American television where it was known as Tic Tac Dough. Played on a grid of nine squares, each of two contestants had to answer a question correctly to put a nought or a cross in a square. They then had to get three noughts or three crosses in a row either horizontaly, vertically or diagonally to win the game. A wrong answer, if you were playing noughts for example, put your opponents cross in the square. However, a wrong answer would not cost a player the game because to complete three in a row he or she had to answer their own question correctly. 

Questions were asked from almost 100 different categories as diverse as films, quotations, nicknames, Africa, the 1920's, currency or pot luck, etc. Every correct answer would win a tenner (except for the middle square which was 20 pounds) and if a game was drawn the prize money was doubled for the next game. 

Winners stayed on show after show until they were beaten and some of the better players were able to build up a nice pot of money. However, a strict rule about how much a contestant could win was introduced after one lucky player walked away with £2,360. 

Produced by Granada Television, Criss Cross Quiz began in 1957 and was presented by Jeremy Hawk a character actor with a long career in music halls and on London's West End stage. He also appeared on television as straight man to Benny Hill, Arthur Askey and Norman Wisdom. When he left in 1962 he was replaced by Barbara Kelly a Canadian-born actress, best-known as a panelist on the British version of What's My Line? (She was also the wife of Bernard Braden). Contestants were chosen by Granada Television's Contestants Department which sorted through thousands of applications for a number of quiz shows such as Spot the Tune, Make Up Your Mind and Concentration

Criss, Cross, Quiz was shown three times a week and the show was networked across the ITV regions. One 1963 broadcast was interupted when news broke of Prime Minister Harold Macmillan's resignation. 

A children's version of the show called Junior Criss Cross Quiz was produced the same year the adult version started although the children played for prizes instead of money. Presenters on the children's version were: Jeremy Hawk, Chris Kelly, Bob Holness, Mike Sarne, Chris Howland, Gordon Luck, Peter Wheeler, Bill Grundy, Danny Blanchflower and Barbara Kelly. Variations of the basic format have re-appeared many times on television down the years on shows such as Celebrity Squares.

Published on December 5th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.

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