|Bud Collyer (1950–1961)|
Jack Narz (1969–1972)
Gene Wood (1972–1974)
Monty Hall (1979–1980)
Gary Kroeger (2002–2003)
Ricki Lake (Gameshow Marathon, 2006)
Paul Costabile (2018)
|Bill Hart (Summer 1951)|
John Reed King (Summer 1952)
Frank Wayne (Summer 1953)
Bob Kennedy (Summer 1954)
Win Elliot (Summer 1955)
|Roxanne Arlen (1950–1955)|
Beverly Bentley (1955–1956)
Gail Sheldon (1969–1974)
Cindee Appleton, Autumn Hargis & Lisa Parkes (1979–1980)
Tina Willie (2002 pilot)
Julielinh Parker (2002–2003)
|Bern Bennett (1950–1958)|
Dirk Fredericks (1958–1961)
Gene Wood (1969–1972)
Nick Hollinrake (1972–1974)
Jack Narz (1979–1980)
Hal Simms (sub)
Rich Fields (Gameshow Marathon, 2006)
John Cramer (2018)
CBS Daytime: 9/16/1957 – 9/12/1958
ABC Daytime: 10/13/1958 – 1/27/1961
CBS Daytime: 9/17/1979 – 2/1/1980Gameshow Marathon): 5/7/2006
|Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions (1950–1980)|
FremantleMedia North America (2002–2003, 2006, 2018–2019)
Tick Tock Productions (2002–2003)
|20th Century Fox Television (1969–1972)|
Firestone Syndication (1972–1974)
Beat the Clock is television's first and longest-running stunt show produced & created by Frank Wayne, Mark Goodson & Bill Todman. Where couples play wacky & unusual stunts within certain time limits to win big cash & prizes.
Contestants were required to perform tasks (called "problems") within a certain time limit which was counted down on a large 60-second clock. If they succeeded, they were said to have "beaten the Clock"; otherwise, "the Clock beat them". The show had several sponsors over its run, with the most longstanding being the electronics company, Sylvania.
The host of the show was Bud Collyer. Substitute hosts included Bill Hart (1951), John Reed King (1952), stunt creator Frank Wayne (1953), Bob Kennedy (1954), Win Elliott (1955), and Sonny Fox (who from 1957 to 1960 became Mr. Collyer's permanent substitute host). While Collyer was referred to in the introductions as "America's number one clockwatcher", the fill-in hosts were named "America's number two clockwatcher(s)".
Collyer had female assistants that helped the on-air production of the show. The original hostess was Roxanne (née Delores Evelyn Rosedale), who only used her first name as her professional name. Roxanne was replaced by Beverly Bentley in August 1955. Bentley's departure in 1956 coincided with Hazel Bishop's sponsorship and a period of having no main assistant (see production changes below). She reappeared as one of the models on the original version of The Price is Right for its entire run.
The announcer for the show was Bernard ("Bern") Bennett until 1958. In October 1957, Beat the Clock ran a contest inviting viewers to submit drawings of what Bennett (who was never shown on camera) might look like. Over 20,000 viewers participated, and the winner (Edward Darnell of Columbus, Indiana) was flown in to appear on the show (along with Bennett) on December 2, 1957. When the show moved to ABC, Dirk Fredericks became the announcer. Substitute announcers included Lee Vines, Bob Shepard, Hal Simms, and Dick Noel.
Contestants were chosen from the studio audience and were usually married couples, or occasionally engaged, dating, or other family relationship. Collyer would ask them general questions (usually including where they were from and how long they'd been married); he'd usually ask if they had children and if they did, their ages and genders. (Sometimes the couple would bring some or all of their children with them on the show.) Collyer would usually take some time out to talk to the children and ask them questions like what they wanted to be when they grew up, or if the kids were not at the show to have their parents wave to them at home. The husbands on the show usually wore a business suit. Collyer would often ask the husband to take off his coat for stunts to make it less cumbersome (there were a few hooks on the contestants' podium for this purpose, or Collyer would just hold the coat).
Occasionally, if there was going to be a messy stunt, the husband would come out dressed in a plastic jumpsuit to keep his own clothes clean. Similarly, wives would sometimes play in their "street clothes", but sometimes the women would appear in a jumpsuit issued to them by the show due to the fact that their own clothing might be too cumbersome or perhaps fragile. The women's jumpsuits, unlike the men's, which were rather plain, were patterned to look like a pair of overalls with a collared blouse underneath. The women would also often be issued running shoes instead of their own high heels.
One couple competed against the Clock to win a prize in stunts that could require one or both members of the couple. The stunt was described and the time limit was set on a giant wall clock. The time limit was always a multiple of 5 seconds, usually at least 30 seconds; at one point Collyer said that a 55-second time limit was the maximum, but later on, stunts occasionally got 60-second limits. On the primetime version, the first stunt was called the "$100 Clock". If the couple beat the $100 Clock, they moved on to the "$200 Clock" and the same rules applied. If they failed to beat the $100 Clock, they received a consolation prize worth less than $100. If they failed to beat the $200 Clock, they got a prize worth more than $100. On the daytime versions, a couple continued playing as long as they kept beating the clock, winning prizes for each success.
If the couple beat the $200 Clock, the wife would play the "Jackpot Clock" in which the words of a famous saying or quote were scrambled up on a magnetic board and that phrase had to be unscrambled in 20 seconds or less. If successful, then the couple won the Jackpot Prize. If not, they got a prize worth more than $200. Occasionally, when the wife of the couple did not speak English very well, the husband was allowed to perform the Jackpot Clock.
The Jackpot Clock and the Bonus Stunt (see below) would provide the templates for the traditional quiz-show bonus round, which would become a TV staple, starting in 1950 with the bonus question round on You Bet Your Life.
In the show's earliest set design in available episodes, there was a round display near the contestants mirroring the Clock. This display had three rings of light like a target. The outer ring would light during the $100 Clock, the middle ring for the $200 Clock, and the center circle would light during the Jackpot Clock. This feature was removed in later set designs.
Some time during every episode (between normal stunts), a bell would sound. The couple playing at the time would attempt the Bonus Stunt for the Bonus Prize that started at $100 in cash. If the stunt was not beaten, it would be attempted the next week with $100 added to the prize. When it was beaten, it was retired from the show and a new Bonus Stunt began the next week at $100. The bonus (as the name suggests) did not affect the regular game - and win or lose the couple continued the regular Clocks wherever they left off. Beginning in August 1954, the starting amount for each Bonus Stunt was raised to $500, still increasing $100 each week.
Bonus Stunts were harder than the usual $100 and $200 Clocks and sometimes reached $2,000 and even $3,000 on rare occasions. The first time the Bonus reached $1,000 was on February 28, 1953, when it was won for that amount. In 1956, the Bonus Stunt was replaced by the Super Bonus (see below).
There was usually a special technique for performing the stunt that had to be figured out, but even then, the stunt was usually difficult enough to require some skill or luck once the technique was realized. Viewers would usually try to figure it out and after a few weeks on the air viewers would often get it (sometimes Collyer would remark that viewers had been writing in and he would give certain dimensions of the props used so viewers could try to figure it out at home).
Usually either contestants themselves would start appearing on the show with the technique in mind, or audience members would shout it out to try to help them. A stunt would usually take a few weeks before the audience realized the technique, and then a few more weeks before someone was able to properly employ it.
Super Bonus Stunt
In response to the big-money prizes which began to appear on other networks' game shows, CBS talked Mark Goodson into increasing the stakes on Beat The Clock. (Ultimately the plan was unsuccessful as the ratings never did improve much, perhaps leading to the end of the Super Bonus.) Starting on February 25, 1956, after the last regular Bonus Stunt had been won, it was replaced by the "Super Bonus" which started at $10,000 and went up by $1,000 every time a couple failed to beat the Clock. Unlike with the regular Bonus Stunt and the "Big Cash Bonus Stunt" that followed it (see below), the Super Bonus was attempted by every couple who qualified by beating the $200 Clock. Originally the stunt was played at the end of the show by each couple that qualified, and "because of the high prize value" a special timing machine made by the Longines company was used, which was touted as the most accurate portable timer available. Probably realizing that seeing the same stunt a few times in a row was a bit boring, they moved the Super Bonus right after the $200 Clock and before the Jackpot Clock on March 17, dropping the Longines timer.
The Super Bonus was won only twice in its existence. The first Super Bonus Stunt involved the husband picking up four small paper cups from a table one at a time and stacking them atop a large helium-filled balloon using only one hand. The first seven contestants had trouble even getting the second cup stacked, but the eighth contestant to try the stunt on March 25, 1956 (the show's sixth "birthday" show) kept the balloon very close to the ground and at points held it on the ground (although Collyer warned him several times not to do so) and bounced the balloon as he grabbed the next cup. He was able to stack the four cups quickly and won $18,000, and subsequently also won the Jackpot Prize (a television). The contestants who qualified later in that program were brought back the following week to try the new Super Bonus.
The second Super Bonus Stunt again involved the husband who wore a football helmet with wooden salad bowl attached face-down on the forehead. The husband had to balance a wooden cylinder (about the size of a paper towel roll) on its end on the bowl. The cylinder was tied at its midpoint to a fishing line on a shortened fishing pole. It was designed by Frank Wayne who demonstrated the completing of the stunt before the studio audience prior to at least some of the tapings. This stunt proved very difficult, and most contestants who attempted it showed no indication of a technique for getting the rod to the bowl. Only one person even had the pole sitting flat for a brief instant until September 6, where both the first contestant (a holdover who had practiced at home) and the second contestant (for $62,000 and $63,000 respectively) managed to have the dowel sitting on the bowl for a few moments, but lost its balance when the string was slacked.
On September 15, 1956, Collyer announced that the next show would gain a new sponsor, and if the Super Bonus was not won Fresh and Sylvania would donate the Super Bonus Pot to charity. However, the first contestant, Gabriel J. Fontana, a holdover from the previous show of near-misses who had practiced at home, won the Jackpot of $64,000; he and his wife then won the Jackpot Prize, a washer and dryer. Each of the final three contestants employed a technique of raising the dowel very slowly so it did not swing around. Unlike the original bonus, however, the audience never seemed to catch on to a particular technique for the two Super Bonus Stunts, and advice was not usually shouted out.
Partway through the run of the second Super Bonus, a rolling desk/table with dollar value of the bonus printed on it was used to roll out the props for the stunt. This was carried over to the Big Cash Bonus Stunt. It is notable that in the earliest surviving episodes from 1952 that air, the original bonus had a similar desk with the value of the bonus on it. The desk was done away with for several years until the idea was reused in 1956.
Big Cash Bonus Stunt
Starting on September 22, 1956 (the same day the show's new sponsor became Hazel Bishop) the bonus reverted back to the original Bonus Stunt format (attempted once per episode by whatever couple heard the bell ringing). The Jackpot started at $5,000 and increased $1,000 every week it was not won. If successful, the couple left the show with the "top prize"; otherwise, they continued on with the regular game.
Bonus Cash and Prize Stunt
Featured on the daytime version. A lucky couple had a chance to win a bundle of cash and their choice of a new car or a boat. To win, they had to successfully complete their Bonus Stunt.
Like the original Bonus Stunt, the cash value started at $100, going up each time the stunt was not successfully completed. The largest cash bonus won on the daytime edition was $20,100 during its years on ABC.
The stunts performed on the show were mostly created by staff stunt writers Frank Wayne and Bob Howard. In the early days of the show, playwright Neil Simon was also a stunt writer. The stunts were usually aimed towards fun with difficulty being secondary. The stunts would usually be constructed out of common household props such as cardboard boxes, string, balloons, record players, dishes, cups, plates, cutlery, and balls of almost every type. As was the case with many other game shows during television's infancy, the budget was low.
The stunts performed varied widely, but there were some common themes. Most stunts in some way involved physical speed or dexterity. Contestants often had to balance something with some part of their body, or race back and forth on the stage (for example, releasing a balloon, running across the stage to do some task, and running back in time to catch the balloon before it floated too high). Often the challenge was some form of target practice, in terms of throwing, rolling, bowling, etc.
The setup for the stunt was often designed to look easy but then have a complication or gimmick revealed. For example, Collyer would say "All you have to do is stack four plates", check the clock to see how much time they had to do it, and then add "Oh, and one more thing…you can't use your hands". Common twists included blindfolding one or both contestants, or telling them they could not use their hands (or feet or any body part that would be obvious to use for whatever the task was).
The other common element in the stunts was to get one of the contestants messy in some way often involving whipped cream, pancake batter, and such (usually limited to the husband of the couple). While it was not a part of every stunt, and sometimes it didn't even happen in an episode, it was common enough that when a couple brought a child on, Collyer would often ask what they thought the parents might have to do and the child would often respond "get whipped cream in their face". Many times the wife would be shown a task, be blindfolded, and then her husband would be quietly brought out and unknown to her she would be covering him with some sort of mess. When the mess was not hidden from the wife, Collyer would often jokingly tell the husband (who usually had a short haircut) that they would put a bathing cap on his head "to keep your long hair out of your eyes" before revealing what form of mess he would be involved with. Occasionally Collyer himself would get caught in the mess accidentally.
Technicality in the rules was not a major issue on the show. The goal was usually to make sure the contestants had fun. Collyer would often stop the clock in the middle of a stunt if the contestant(s) was struggling so he advised them on a better way to do the stunt. Often if a condition of the stunt was "don't use your hands," Collyer would ignore the first use of hands and just warn the contestant. If the time limit was nearly up on a task, he would often give them a few moments extra, or tell them if they started before the clock ran out and succeeded in that attempt, he would count it. Sometimes if a contestant had come close enough (for example, if they had to stack cups and saucers without the pile falling over, and the contestant knocked the pile over while putting the last cup on top), he would give them the stunt if they did not have time to do it again. If there was a problem with a prop breaking or running out of a supply, such as balloons, Collyer would simply give the stunt to the couple, citing it as the show's fault. Similarly, on the messy stunts, since the goal was just to mess up the husband, the time limit was often unimportant and the clock would be stopped when Bud felt the husband was messy enough.
Prizes varied depending on the era of the show and the sponsor at the time. During Sylvania's tenure as sponsor (which began in March 1951), consolation prizes for losing the $100 Clock were usually a Sylvania radio which was brought out.
- $100 Clock prizes included Michael C. Fina silverware sets, a collection of four Knapp-Monarch small kitchen appliances, or a Hoover upright, among others.
- $200 Clock prizes included International-Harvester refrigerators, air conditioning units (usually in the summer), a Tappan range/oven, a James dishwasher, Speed Queen washers and dryers (for some reason, they were only offered separately) and small Sylvania TVs. All of these prizes, except the Sylvania radio, were shown on "art cards" and not actually brought out on the show.
- The Jackpot Prize during Sylvania's tenure was always a Sylvania television set. Sometimes a hi-fi stereo/phonograph (with "famous surround sound") was included with the television, and it was noted that the Jackpot Prize was "worth more than $500". A notable (and often pointed out) feature of Sylvania's TVs at the time was the "halo light", which was an illuminated "frame" around the image which was supposed to have made watching the image easier on the eyes, similar to Philips' "AmbiLight" feature on television sets today.
The sets, as was the style at the time, were freestanding pieces of furniture that sat on legs on the floor with a speaker mounted below the screen. Various models were given away over the years – sometimes the same model several times in one episode, sometimes a different model each time the Jackpot was won in an episode. Roxanne (later Beverly) would pose with the TV which was revealed from behind a curtain in a small faux living room. The earliest win of a TV in the episodes whose records still air was a Jefferson 20" cabinet. Shortly after, on September 6, 1952, the new 1953 21" Montclair cabinet (model 177M) was unveiled. In December 1952 the 1953 21" Huntington and the 21" Kensington corner cabinet debuted on the show, though the Montclair remained the most common prize. On April 4, 1953 a different 21" Kensington cabinet with "French provincial stylings" debuted.
Some of the other models over the years included the 24" Penhurst console, the 21" Windermere console (with French provincial stylings), and later the "Cabinet of Light" (as the line was called) models, the 21" Belvedere, and the 24" Kimberly (circa 1956).
There were also various gifts given to the contestants just for appearing on the show. There was a Sylvania Beat the Clock home game produced which was given to contestants starting in the mid-50s. When it was novel, Collyer would open the box and explain that it would be fun for not just children but adults at parties, and he would point out the working Clock and the instructions for stunts and all the props. Later in the run it would be brought out, shown and whisked away just as quickly. The boxes were reworked a few times, and there was a new edition released later in the run. Both versions were manufactured by Lowell Toy Mfg. Co. of New York, who produced a number of television-based home games at the time.
When children were brought on the show, there were special gifts. Starting on September 6, 1952, Girls brought on the show were given a Roxanne doll that was produced at the time. On October 11, 1952, the Buck Rogers Space Ranger Kit was debuted for the male children. In the mid-50s, each child was given a camera kit (the brand of the camera varied often but it always included a supply of Sylvania "Blue Dot for sure shot" flashbulbs).
If contestants were involved in a messy stunt, Roxanne (later Beverly) would come out and take a picture of the husband/couple. Initially it wasn't made clear how the couple would get the photo (perhaps mailed to them), but later in the run, the camera would be given to the couple in addition to any their children might already have been given. Collyer would explain that when they developed the film, the first photo would be that of the husband/couple.
From 1956 and for the rest of the show's run on CBS, the Jackpot Prizes usually consisted of a Magnavox Color TV; Fedders air conditioners (usually awarded as a pair); Westinghouse washer & dryer pairs, and refrigerators; Hardwick ranges; and Easy "Combomatic" combination washer-dryers.
The show had several long-running catchphrases. The most notable, which continued into the later revivals of the show, was the announcer's call after the opening theme: "Now here's America's number-one clock-watcher, Bud Collyer!" (and for the revivals, the appropriate host's name in place of Collyer's). A running joke was that announcer Bern Bennett's voice would often crack while reading Collyer's name in this introduction. Collyer would sometimes jokingly mock Bennett afterwards. On occasions when Collyer was absent for vacation or other reasons, Bennett would revise the call with the substitute host's name, "filling in for the vacationing Bud Collyer, here's America's number-two clock-watcher…"
After his introduction in early episodes, Collyer would open the show saying "Welcome, once again, to Beat the Clock, the show where you can have the time of your life playing against time for big time prizes."
When explaining a stunt, Collyer would sometimes refer to a given stunt as a "problem" ("here is your problem…"); almost always assuring the contestants if they were successful, "…we'll stop the Clock, and you'll (have) beat(en) the Clock…". However, when contestants failed a stunt, Collyer would tell them "You didn't beat the Clock; the Clock beat you."
When setting the clock, Collyer would say, "let's take a look at the clock, and see how many seconds you have…" usually interjecting the sponsor's name ("the Sylvania(/Fresh/Hazel Bishop) clock says you have __ seconds…")
When the Bonus Bell rang (in the original Sylvania format, and later when it returned to a bell format for the Hazel Bishop era) Collyer would, in (perhaps mock) surprise, call out "The bonus! You get to try the bonus!"
At the end of an episode where a couple hadn't finished their Jackpot Clock, Collyer would always ask, "Can you come back next week?" and if affirmative, "Then, you'll be our first contestants." (Collyer once referred to it as "the time-honored question").
At the end of every episode in the Sylvania era (and later with the Sylvania bit omitted), Collyer would close with: "Right now, this is Bud Collyer speaking (for Sylvania), hoping that next time may be your time to beat the clock! Good night, everybody!"
The lyrics to the show's first Sylvania theme song, Lights of Broadway read:
- It's time to Beat the Clock!
- Lights of Broadway, sights of Broadway
- Sounds of Broadway all around
- And there above shines the name "Sylvania"
- Pioneering light, sight and sound
- Finer products, better products
- Best at quality
- Made for you by Sylvania
- Pioneer for half a century
- Beat the Clock, brought by Sylvania
- Beat the Clock, to entertain ya
- It's time to play Beat the Clock
The lyrics to the show's second, more commonly known Sylvania theme song read:
- Tick tock, tick tock
- Hickory dickory dock
- It's time to Beat the Clock
- Time for fun has now begun
- Let's all play Beat the Clock
This new introduction debuted on December 20, 1952. Initially, between the theme and the description of Sylvania's products ("Incandescent bulbs, fluorescent tubes and fixtures, photo lamps, radio and television sets, radio and television tubes, and electronic devices suitable for homes, offices, schools and factories"), there was an eerie montage of different people laughing, ostensibly enjoying the show, but the clips were somewhat maniacal in appearance (possibly due to the stark black background behind the people).
Unlike the first theme, this one did not mention Sylvania; but after the laughing clips, there would be a mention of Sylvania and its products. On February 14, 1953 the laughter clips were removed from the opening.
1950: The Beginning
Beat the Clock made its debut on Thursday nights on CBS on March 23, 1950, running without commercials. Even the show's introduction was austere; no theme song, just a shot of the Clock ticking off the seconds as announcer Bern Bennett would say "It's time for America's favorite party game, "BEAT THE CLOCK…" and then introduce Bud Collyer.
Initially the show ran for 45 minutes, then expanded to an hour (it is unclear if this was still on Thursday) before moving to Saturdays. The show did not have a sponsor until the Saturday night shows, and this is believed to have happened in September 1950 Collyer mentions on October 4, 1952 that they've just celebrated two years of sponsorship.
Those prior episodes are believed to not be in the available library of episodes hence some of the reason for the unclarity. The show was telecast from the Maxine Elliott Theater (Studio 51).
1950-1956: The Sylvania Era
The most recognizable era of the show was from 1950, when it moved to a more standard half-hour on Saturday nights at 7:30 PM Eastern. This is when the show was sponsored by the Sylvania company. Notable on the show were their flashbulbs, radios and television sets. The show was CBS' lead-in to Saturday night programming. One program on their schedule in 1952 was Jackie Gleason's variety show on which he once performed a Honeymooners sketch on the Beat the Clock set with himself and Art Carney as contestants this sketch, titled "Teamwork: Beat the Clock", was considered one of the "lost" Honeymooners episodes but has since been available on home video.
The first year or two of this period are also presumed unavailable. There were very few production changes during this period the show; The first theme song from this period was Lights of Broadway. This later changed to the more familiar Hickory Dickory Dock (lyrics quoted above). The theme from the original unsponsored show is unknown.
In late 1955/early 1956 there were a few production changes to go along with the gameplay changes that began later in 1956. The first notable change was the absence of assistant Roxanne in August 1956. There was never any explanation for her departure. One rumor persists that Collyer was jealous of her popularity, but other sources cite that she left to get married. Since Roxanne did give birth to her daughter Anne shortly after her departure from the show, this gives more credibility to the latter.
Sylvania began a contest in 1955 where viewers could visit a local Sylvania dealer and get an entry form to mail in for the contest. The entries were placed in a big rotating drum on the show and one of the contestant couples/families would draw the top three winners for the week with additional winners being drawn after the show.
While not a significant change to the show itself, the contest may have been the impetus for a longer-lasting production change. Shortly before the contest drawings began, the Jackpot Board, which had been behind the contestants' podium, was moved to the first curtain to the (viewers') left of the podium. This might have been preparation for the contest, as the drum was placed behind the curtain which had previously contained the Jackpot Board.
The final notable production change in this period involved the show's opening. The show previously opened with the theme and an animated clip. Added before this was an opening teaser, which affected the show in a number of ways. In the teaser, Collyer would stand with the first couple on the show and explain the stunt they would have to perform; however, he would leave out that crucial detail that would make it difficult. The detail was not usually something easy to guess like blindfolding or whipped cream, but was usually something that would surprise everyone such as changing a factor of the stunt to make it more difficult (for example, Collyer would demonstrate throwing a baseball into a barrel but then replace the baseballs with basketballs that would barely fit into the barrel, or moving the contestant much further away from the barrel, etc.).
There were a few side effects of this change. The Clock's buzzer would sound, telling Collyer time had run out. Originally this buzzer often came while Collyer was explaining a stunt or during the performance of a stunt. The same stunt would start again the next week in a form of suspense, perhaps, to bring the audience back. Collyer would often suggest that they practice the stunt at home sometimes jokingly, if the stunt involved props that would be very unlikely to be found in the home. Collyer would then ask the contestants if they could come back, which they usually could.
After the opening teaser was added, contestants who had only the Jackpot Clock left and said they could come back were suddenly absent the next week, with Collyer explaining that after the show it seemed inconvenient to come back for just the Jackpot Clock, and that the couple had played the Jackpot Clock after the show went off the air. This generally avoided the next week starting with a Jackpot Clock (which would not work with the teaser).
After the change Collyer would often rush contestants to perform the Jackpot quickly if they had just barely enough time in order to not have the Jackpot Clock at the beginning of the next episode. Additionally, when a contestant ended the show in the middle of a stunt or after the stunt was explained, it was not repeated the next week. The teaser started with a brand-new stunt. Collyer began telling contestants "You'll start next week with this stunt or another, we're not sure which yet." which he said every time it happened for months, but rarely was the same stunt held over after the change until late in the Fresh sponsorship - see below - when they started sometimes holding stunts over to the next week again.
Around the time the Super Bonus Stunt moved from the end of the show to after the $200 Clock, the opening teaser was changed from the preview of a stunt to a preview of the Super Bonus Stunt, telling the audience what the prize was up to that week. The effects of the teaser change (the Jackpot never starting a show, couples who were in the middle of a stunt getting a new one the next week) continued, however.
These changes seemed aimed at streamlining the show and making each show run faster and less informally. After the changes, children began not being brought out with the couple (kids gradually started reappearing after several months in the middle of 1956 with less frequency than they originally had been), even when the couple said the children were backstage or in the audience. The stunts started getting a little harder and Collyer was a bit less helpful. Stunts tended to be more often aimed towards skill and difficulty than the slapstick and embarrassment that had been at the forefront in the past. Before this, it was commonplace for every couple to win the Jackpot in an episode.
This in some ways "modernized" the show — one might note that the conversation between Collyer and children of contestants was very much definitive/reminiscent of early game shows of the 1950s. Similarly, the addition of the teaser and the Super Bonus in some ways took the feel of the show away from a very informal free-flowing game that happened to have cameras rolling to a more smooth-running, pressure-filled atmosphere with a more "produced" feeling and more gimmicks than ever before.
1956: Fresh Deodorants
In late Spring 1956, just weeks after Collyer's announcement of a new Sylvania contest (see the 1955 contest) above, Beat the Clock got a new sponsor — Fresh Deodorants. Along with this came a number of production changes. First, the show's Hickory Dickory Dock theme song was replaced by a jazzy electric guitar piece without lyrics to the tune of the song Bicycle Built For Two, over footage of a field of flowers, the flowers apparently being a theme of the new sponsor - "Fresh as a daisy". After a few episodes, a lyric was added that was an alteration of the lyric of the original song possibly a slogan of the company at the time. The walls (previously in a type of bubble/marble pattern) and podium were changed to have daisies decorating them, and the famous Clock was redressed into a Fresh motif. The contestants even wore small daisy lapel pins. More jazzy guitar music was added to the opening teaser of the Super Bonus, and while the contestants attempted the bonus in a sort of Flight of the Bumblebee pace of panic. Collyer also took every opportunity to toss "Fresh" or "daisy" into his dialogue during the show.
There were two other changes of note to the actual implementation of the show; first, the magnetic word puzzle moved back to its original location behind the contestants' podium. Secondly were the prizes; naturally the new sponsor brought new prizes. First the gift given to contestants still included the home game now "courtesy of Fresh" with Fresh graphics on the box, though seemingly still including a photo of Roxanne but the camera kits with Sylvania flashbulbs were replaced by a gift box of Fresh products (and of course, photos of messy stunts were no longer taken). The Jackpot Prize was no longer a TV set, but various rotating prizes.
On the first episode of Fresh's sponsorship, Jackpot Prizes included a Westinghouse Deluxe Laundromat washer and matching dryer, and a pair of York snorkel air conditioners. Betty or Eileen posed with the prizes instead of Beverly. The last Sylvania prize ever awarded on the show was a Windermere console with a hi-fi.
1956: Hazel Bishop
On September 22, 1956 the Hazel Bishop cosmetics company became the show's new sponsor and were the final sponsor of the show on CBS. This coincided with the above-mentioned new Big Cash Bonus which was likely a response to the failure of the Super Bonus to improve ratings. In perhaps another response, the show also moved to a new time - 7:00–7:30 PM Eastern time. This made it the first program ever to open a Saturday night lineup at 7:00. However, some affiliates had other programming commitments and the show lost about 20 stations.
A new theme song was introduced called Subway Polka, and the opening teaser introduced months earlier was eliminated. The set was redressed very similar to the way it had originally appeared, and even the Clock itself went back to its original appearance except for the Hazel Bishop name rather than Sylvania's on the face. Another change that coincided with the new sponsor and timeslot was that Beverly Bentley was no longer with the show. She had been reassigned to appear with June Ferguson as the models on The Price is Right. Contestants were introduced by the announcer, and prizes and gifts were presented by the other assistants. The gifts included a gift box of Hazel Bishop cosmetics and a yet-again-rebranded home game.
In January 1957, the home game was replaced with a new home version of the magnetic Jackpot Board. The prizes remained, for the most part, the same or similar prizes as under Fresh's sponsorship. A few weeks into the new Big Cash Bonus, the lighting was dimmed or at least some camera effect was used to darken the studio and highlight the contestants and the lights on the Clock.
1957: New Timeslot
The ratings continued to decline and on February 8, 1957 the show moved to Fridays at 7:30 PM Eastern. Corresponding with this change was a redesign of the show's set it is suggested that this might be the point where the show moved to the Ritz Theater in New York City, but other sources date that as 1958 and likely refer to the point where the show moved to ABC.
Unlike previous set changes, this was not simply a redress of the walls and surfaces. The contestants were now introduced by opening a curtain to the area behind the newly redesigned podium. The Jackpot Board was moved to the wall to the left viewers' left of the podium/curtain. The curtained wall (with the show's title above it) between the Clock and the podium was removed to reveal a wall further back. There was a small semi-circular curtained area to the viewers' left of the Jackpot Board which rotated more into view when needed and contained the Jackpot Prizes.
A few weeks later, the show's title was put on the back wall again, and a curtain that was sometimes left open was re-added to the center stage area.
Artistically, the set had a diamond motif. The contestants were once again given the home game instead of the magnetic board. Other gifts were also given to children, such as a radio kit for young boys or a doll for girls. A few weeks into the new night, they began playing recorded playful music while the contestants attempted their stunts reminiscent of how music played during the Super Bonus in the Fresh era of the show; one of the musical pieces was Rimsky-Korsikov's "Sabre Dance".
On June 21, 1957 the show aired unsponsored; Hazel Bishop began sponsoring only every other week. The show did not change much except for the obvious stoppage of any mention of Hazel Bishop. The Clock was rebranded with the title of the show and the podium was bare. The contestants still received the home game (a new edition that had been introduced several months earlier), but obviously not the Hazel Bishop gifts. Other recent gifts that were still given included a crystal radio kit for boys brought on the show, and a "Beat The Clock, Rags to Riches" doll whose clothes changed her into a princess for girls.
On September 16, 1957 CBS began airing the show at 2:00 PM daily in addition to the Friday night show, which made Beat the Clock only the second nighttime show ever to have a daytime version. The nighttime show continued to lose viewers and shortly afterward moved to Sunday nights at 6:00 PM without a sponsor. On February 16, 1958 the nighttime show ended after eight years.
Because records after this period are not currently distributed - see below - dates are difficult to confirm.
There was one amendment to the format of this version: As long as contestants kept beating the Clock, they continued to play; after two "wins" they'd receive various prizes, sometimes consisting of an entire room of furniture; major appliances; for expectant or newlywed mothers a nursery; a prize package that could consist of "kid oriented" items like clothes, toys and games, bicycles, etc. These victories also increased opportunities for the contestants to try to win the Bonus Stunt more than once. The Bonus Stunt would revert to the nighttime version's original initial payoff of $100, increasing by that amount each time it wasn't won; Unlike the nighttime version, a new car was also at stake. Eventually, the contestants would have their choice of either the new car or a boat if they won the Bonus Stunt.
Another new wrinkle was "Ladies' Day". Usually once a week, only women would appear as contestants. Sometimes, when entire families appeared on the show, there would be a stunt that would at least include, if not totally engage, the children of the family.
The daytime show was not a failure but it did not meet CBS' expectations, either. It was announced that Beat the Clock would be replaced by The Jimmy Dean Show in September. The daytime show aired on CBS for just under a year until September 12, 1958. However, at the time ABC was in the process of developing a daytime lineup which it previously lacked - so they began picking up various low-budget shows. CBS permitted Collyer to move to ABC with the agreement that ABC would not do a nighttime version.
Following a month-long hiatus, ABC began airing the show on October 13, 1958 at 3:00 PM and ran until January 27, 1961 with one last timeslot change to 12:30 PM.
Like many shows of its day, the show was recorded using kinescope recording; i.e., the show was saved on film. There are even some mentions of this on the show, such as when people once called and wrote in contesting a loss on the second Super Bonus Stunt; Collyer mentioned that they checked the kinescope of the episode and confirmed that the contestant never had the string slack.
Like most kinescope recordings that have been put into current use, the films have been transferred to videotape and in some cases, the videos into digital form. Some kinescopes or videotapes are lost or in too poor quality to broadcast so there are sometimes gaps in the available catalog of episodes. There is one "public domain" episode - not part of GSN's catalog - that dates to October 1951, possibly making it the oldest surviving episode in existence.
It is unclear whether the daytime episodes on both CBS and ABC are lost or damaged, but they are rarely seen. However, among the collectors/traders circuit there is one surviving daytime episode from September 1960 which features a Bonus Stunt win of $20,100 plus the choice of a car or a boat, which set a record for daytime TV winnings in the post-scandal era.
GSN currently holds rights to air the show and has episodes from the original nighttime series with a few exceptions due to the aforementioned issues. Their episodes seem to range from the episode believed to have aired August 2, 1952 (when John Reed King was guest-hosting) until the final episode before the CBS daytime version began, even though the nighttime series continued normally the next week.
GSN, at one time dominated by black-and-white game shows, now airs almost none. Their latest run of Beat the Clock at 3:00 with What's My Line? at 3:30 ended the morning of April 1, 2006. It was replaced by the original run of I've Got A Secret, which was shortly thereafter replaced by an AM rerun of the then-new revival version of that series. Starting the morning of July 4, 2006 Beat the Clock returned to its former timeslot, lasting only until August when the entire 3:00-4:00 hour was replaced by The Amazing Race.
GSN does occasionally air single episodes of classic game shows during tributes or specials, or clips of them during clip shows. Other than such occurrences, Beat the Clock is currently not airing on American television.
This version ran from September 15, 1969 to September 20, 1974 in five-a-week syndication. For the first season (1969-1970), the show was taped at The Little Theatre on Broadway in New York City.
Prior to the start of tapings for the second season, Clock relocated to Montreal, Canada as a cost-saving experiment, making it the only Goodson-Todman game to be produced in Canada (not counting French-Canadian versions of their shows). CTV aired the series for Canadian audiences during its four-year stay in Montreal.
The music for this version of Clock was played on the organ by the renowned keyboardist and arranger Dick Hyman.
Jack Narz (1969–1972)
In early episodes, couples, now aided by a weekly celebrity guest, played for points simply by completing stunts. The first couple to reach 100 points won a prize package. This was subsequently changed to the couples receiving a prize every time they won; Eventually, prizes were replaced by the winning couple facing a "cash board" with "BEAT THE CLOCK" spelled out on three levels, each letter concealing a money amount: either $25 (4), $50 (5), $100 (2), or $200. The couple would agree on a letter, select it, and the winnings would be revealed.
If a couple beat the clock in half the time, they would attempt the same feat again for another $50 or as many times as time permitted for $5, $10, or $20 each time.
At some point during the show, the celebrity would perform a "Solo Stunt" which seemed to have supplanted the Bonus Stunt on the original show. The couples could win $50 if they guessed correctly whether the star could beat the Clock or vice versa. Towards the end of Narz's tenure as host, stunts would be replaced in the second half of the show with the celebrity playing a game of intuition with the couples, who would play for a cash prize that was divided among them.
During this time, the show was syndicated through 20th Century Fox Television. One unusual aspect of these shows was that Narz's suit jackets had a "Beat The Clock" logo sewn onto their pockets.
During the first season in Canada with the cash board, a couple picked the "L" in "CLOCK" as their first choice. Because the undersides of the letter tiles were completely blank it caused an inadvertent blooper, as the board then read "BEAT THE C_OCK" (an inadvertent profanity referring to male genitalia and Sadomasochism); thereafter, the undersides of each tile contained a duplicate of the corresponding letter to prevent such an incident from happening again.
Gene Wood (1972-1974)
Jack Narz left the show in 1972. At the time, he made no apparent announcement prior to, or gave a reason for, his departure; obviously it did not stem from conflicts with Goodson-Todman since he took the helm of their new syndicated Concentration in 1973. In a 2007 internet radio interview, Narz finally explained his reason for leaving:
Because of the show's prohibitive budget, he had to pay his own way to commute from his home in Los Angeles to Montreal. Despite buying plane tickets in Canada (which, due to lower currency value, ordinarily benefited American tourists), he still suffered significant expenses. Even a successful appeal to Mark Goodson for more money was not enough, as the costs mounted to the point of basically erasing much of his earnings from the show.
As a result, former announcer Gene Wood (who had, as a moonlighting job, been hosting a similar stunt game titled Anything You Can Do, a battle-of-the-sexes competition also recorded in Canada) came out from behind the sound booth to become host for what turned out to be the show's final two seasons; local staff announcer Nick Hollinrake notably the announcer on CTV's The Mad Dash assumed the voice-over duties from Wood (Hollinrake had announced for a week during Narz's final season in which Wood was the celebrity guest). The show also changed syndicators to Firestone Syndication Services which at the time also syndicated another Goodson-Todman show, To Tell the Truth - whose original network host was Bud Collyer.
Now referred to as The New Beat the Clock although the show's logo still read simply "Beat the Clock", the set was refreshed with a new color scheme, and the Clock got a redesign as well. As was the case with Jack Narz, Gene Wood's suit jackets also had a "Beat The Clock" logo sewn onto their pockets.
The only changes in the format were possibly as a throwback to the Collyer era that couples were introduced separately and played two stunts, win or lose (a win still getting a trip to the Cash Board); and both couples competed simultaneously in a final stunt, with the winning couple receiving a prize, most of those stunts had to be completed within the time limit, though sometimes, the clock was used as a fail-safe should they both run out of time. Celebrity guests were retained in the new format, once again aiding the contestants, and performing the Solo Stunt as well as "co-judge" with Wood in the final stunt of the day. Another throwback to the Collyer era (when the show was seen in the daytime) was the revival of "Ladies' Day", where women only (not counting the celebrity for that week) would play the game.
In addition, if a couple completed a stunt in less than half the time, the remaining time would be used for awarding a cash bonus - anywhere from $10 to $50 would be awarded for each time the stunt could be completed in the time remaining. During the final season, the cash board featured five letters worth $25 and four $50 letters along with the two $100 letters and the $200 letter
Despite continued popularity on local stations in both daytime and prime-time access timeslots, Goodson-Todman decided to discontinue production of Clock in 1974 when CTV asked the company for half of the proceeds from advertisers awarding their wares as contestant consolation prizes. Wood, returning to voice-over work, went on to a 20-year career announcing Los Angeles-based shows for G-T and occasionally other packagers; he did not host another television show ever again.
Some, if not all, of this series is intact and has aired on GSN in the past. Two episodes from the Jack Narz era were aired in late 2005 to pay tribute to Bob Denver and Louis Nye, both of whom had recently died. An episode featuring Tom Kennedy (Narz's brother) aired on June 11, 2007.
In January 2007, a Gene Wood episode aired which featured William Shatner. Another episode aired on October 22, 2007 featuring Dick Clark. At least three episodes were also aired featuring Richard Dawson. One of them being a "Ladies Week" episode.
This version (called The All-New Beat The Clock) aired from September 17, 1979 to February 1, 1980 on CBS.
This incarnation was the only one of the four Beat the Clock editions to originate from Los Angeles except for the Gameshow Marathon episode.
Monty Hall was named to host this version of Beat the Clock with former host Jack Narz on board as announcer and associate producer. Score Productions composed the theme song, which was performed live in the studio by a little band led by Arthur B. Rubinstein.
While the models wore dresses and/or sweaters & skirts in the other two versions, the girls in this version wore polo shirts and short shorts furnished by Ruth Robbins Sportswear.
In this format, two couples competed against each other and the Clock again; one couple (the champions) was dressed in red and the other (the challengers) was dressed in green.
The First Two Rounds
In the first two rounds, the couples competed against each other in a stunt worth $500 for the winner. One stunt usually featured the women of the couples, while the other featured the men; though the other partner sometimes had to help as well. The stunts were conducted for sixty seconds and were either races against the clock to perform an objective or competitions to outscore the opponent in the stunt before the clock ran out. In the former case, the clock was run as a fail safe, and if neither couple managed to complete the stunt, the team furthest along won.
The winner of each round's competitive stunt went on to play a solo stunt together for an additional $500. After Hall described the stunt and what both partners had to do, the clock was set and the couple had to complete the stunt in the allotted time. Doing so won the $500, but failure to do so did not.
After the first two rounds, both couples played the "Bonus Shuffle"; a round of shuffleboard on a special table which had stripes at the far end denoting $300-$1,000 in $100 increments, increasing towards the end of the table. The couple which was leading after two rounds shot first and had three pucks to shoot with, while the other couple had two. If the couples were tied going into this round, each couple had two pucks, and a coin toss determined which team shot first. The couples alternated shooting pucks, with each woman shooting first, then the men, and finally whichever member of the leading couple wanted to shoot.
The table had no walls around it, and any pucks which were thrown or knocked off the side or end of the table, as well as any which did not reach the first money stripe, did not count and were removed. The team whose puck that was furthest along the board at the end of play, and which was touching a money stripe (there was just enough space between stripes for a puck not to touch either) won that amount and got to play the bonus stunt for ten times the amount. Both couples kept their winnings from the first two rounds, but these winnings were not used in determining the champions. The couple who won the bonus shuffle would return as champions for the next episode.
If the neither team had a puck touching a money amount at the end of the game, or if the pucks were equidistant from the end of the board, the teams would play a playoff. The team with the advantage from the earlier rounds chose whether to throw first or second. Each team threw one puck. The first spot of the first puck was marked, and it was removed before the second team threw. The furthest puck touching a money amount was the winner like in the regular game.
First Pilot Notes
There was no money score in the first pilot as the spaces were tenfold; and only one member of the team took the shots.
The winning couple played the Bonus Stunt for ten times their winning shuffleboard score, for a top prize of $10,000. A stunt would remain as the Bonus Stunt until a couple completed it or it was played five times. Theoretically, the most money a team could win in a single day was $13,000. Teams stayed on until they won $25,000 or more, or were defeated.
The All-New All-Star Beat The Clock
Beginning on November 5, the show switched to an all-celebrity format. Changes made included:
- All the money the stars won went to their rooting section (a la TattleTales). (Also, someone in "the winning rooting section" won a set of prizes, which were the "consolation prizes" in the non-celebrity part of the run.)
- Both rooting sections could be seen on-camera.
- All stunts were now worth half price or $250.
- If the winning team completed the bonus stunt, $1,000 went to their rooting section while the remaining money went to their favorite charity.
- Both star teams remained on the show for a week.
- The teams switch color teams everyday.
- In case of a tie going into the Bonus Shuffle, a coin toss determined who went first.
- In the last two weeks of the run, after each head-to-head stunt, both teams got to perform the next stunt, with the losing team from the previous stunt going first. If both teams performed this stunt within the time limit, whoever did it faster got the $250.
- Theoretically, the most money a celebrity team can win for their rooting section in a single day was $3,000 and a possible $9,000 to their charity.
The rest of the format remained the same.
This series is intact. The Christmas episode with Ronnie Schell, Joyce Bulifant, Johnny Brown, and Patti Deutsch has been aired on GSN in the past during Christmas-themed marathons. The show aired on GSN between September 10, 2007 and September 2008 in a late Saturday and Sunday night slot but was pulled from the schedule after beginning the series' final week. On November 12, 2008, The All-New Beat the Clock returned to the GSN lineup weeknights at 2:00 a.m., replacing Trivia Trap.
This version, the final "genuine" one, aired daily from September 2, 2002 to September 4, 2003 on PAX TV (formerly later "I"/"Independent Television", now ION Television) the first week of shows was called a "preview week". Taped at Nickelodeon Studios in Universal Studios Florida (despite the fact that Beat the Clock wasn't a Nickelodeon show), three couples colored red, gold, and blue competed in this version.
To start the game, all three couples faced-off in a stunt. The first couple to complete the stunt got 10 points and the advantage of having to play a 30-Second Solo Stunt first. The winners of the Opening Stunt were shown three items on a tray brought out by hostess Julielinh Parker; the items on that tray represented the stunts themselves, and the first team got to assign the stunts to the opposing couples and themselves.
Each couple in turn (starting with the couple who won the Opening Stunt) played the assigned 30-Second Stunts. But before that, they first had to answer a two-part question; after the question was asked, the female player got to answer and, if she was correct, the male partner got to answer (sometimes they could both answer). If both correct answers were given, 10 seconds was added to the time for a total of 40 seconds. Either way they would then play the stunt; now if the stunt was completed the couple won 10 points plus 1 for every second left on the Clock (Ex: 10 + 3 sec. = 13 points).
Again all three couples played a Face-Off Stunt. The couples were positioned according to their score, with the couple in first place getting the advantage, the second place couple in the middle, and third at a disadvantage. This was an Elimination Stunt in which first two couples to complete the stunt advanced to round three, while the couple coming in last got eliminated but went home with parting gifts.
In this round, only one stunt was played. Two minutes was the starting time for the stunt, and the two remaining couples bid against each other to see who played the stunt with a lower time limit. Control of who started the bidding was determined by a question in which the woman of the team that won the Elimination Stunt decided to either answer it herself, have the partner answer, or have the opponents answer. A correct answer meant that team would start the bidding, an incorrect answer meant the opponents would start the bidding. The bidding round was played until one team told the other to "Beat the Clock," at which point the opposing team played the stunt in the adjusted time limit. If the couple could perform the stunt within that time limit, they won the game, otherwise, the other team won. The winning couple went on to the Bonus Round.
Bonus Round: "The Swirling Whirlwind of Cash and Prizes"
The winning couple went into a play area called "The Swirling Whirlwind of Cash and Prizes" - inside of which was over $25,000 in cash and prizes. The winning couple had 60 seconds to grab as many dollar bills and prize vouchers as they could. They could only grab what was in the air, nothing on the ground, although they could kick up what was on the ground. Each time they grabbed the cash and prizes, the female partner had to stick them in the male partner's little bag strapped around his waist. When time ran out, the team had to put their hands in the air, letting go of any money in their hands, and come out. Everything that was in the bag was theirs to keep. The host usually throws some extra money and vouchers in at the beginning.
Later in the run, several gold certificates were added to the machine and if the couple picked one up, the cash they had grabbed would be doubled. (If the couple somehow picked up more than one, only one was counted.)
The "swirling whirlwind" was previously used in the final round of The Diamond Head Game, a show hosted by Bob Eubanks in 1975.
The pilot is mostly the same as the series but with several differences:
- There was a different hostess named Tina Willie.
- Teams played for time throughout the game instead of points in the first round. 30 seconds was the base time for all three couples. The time earned in the game was the time used in the bonus game.
- There were no questions.
- 10 seconds was given to the couple who completed the opening stunt.
- Completing the Round 1 stunts earned 20 seconds plus whatever time was left.
This round presented a special guest. It revived the special guest solo stunt from the 1969-1974 version. The couples still got to decide whether the guest would beat the clock or the clock would beat the guest, only this time they had to bet how much of their current time they were willing to wager. A correct decision added the wagered time to their scores, but an incorrect decision subtracted the wagered time from their scores. The two couples with the highest times moved on to round three.
Round 3 was the same except that the starting time was three minutes and the winners not only won the game but also received a 30 second bonus.
Bonus Round: "The Swirling Whirlwind of Money"
Using the time earned from the game, the winning couple entered "The Swirling Whirlwind of Money". Inside was a grand total of $50,000 in cash divided up like this:
|Bill||# of them||Total|
The rules were the same as "The Swirling Whirlwind of Cash and Prizes" (the series bonus) except both players on the winning team went in with one of them in a harness. All cash picked up and placed into the money bag was theirs to keep. As usual, when the clock stops, they stop as well.
Unlike the series, there were eight teams to begin with.
The first stunt was an elimination stunt, and the two teams who finished last were eliminated with the six remaining teams moving on to the next round.
The remaining six teams were then suited up by color similar to the show, so that two teams of the same color played against each other. For each color, the team who finished last was eliminated while the other team would move on to the next round.
This round played similar to the series' Opening Stunt.
This round played to each team's Individual Stunt, but the starting time was 40 seconds instead of 30, and if a team nailed a question, they would have 50 seconds to complete their stunt.
Played like a normal episode.
Also played like a normal episode; however, bidding started at three minutes instead of two.
Bonus Round: "The Swirling Whirlwind of Cash and Prizes"
$100,000 in cash and prizes was up for grabs, and the gold certificates also carried over, but instead of doubling the cash for each one grabbed, each added $500 in cash to the team's total. Just for making it that far, the team would receive two prizes that they would normally have to earn in the whirlwind.
There were no returning champions on this version.
Gameshow Marathon 2006
On May 7, 2006 Beat the Clock was the third of seven classic gameshows to be features on CBS' month-long tournament series Gameshow Marathon hosted by Ricki Lake and was announced by Rich Fields as the set was based on the original 1950-61 Collyer era. Two celebrities played a stunt as a team with a time limit of 60 seconds, then the other two celebrities played the same stunt, trying to beat the first team's title. The two celebrities on the same winning team faced off in another stunt. The winner of the second stunt played one final stunt played one final stunt alone and if it was completed successfully within the 60 second time limit, a home viewers wins a car in addition to the other prizes earned by the winning celebrity.
In 2015 until 2016, a YouTube channel called Buzzrhad a brief online revival of Beat the Clock where it mainly featured various popular internet celebrities as contestants. The host for it was Elliott Morgan.
This version had only three rounds in total, In Round 1; the game started with a "Captain's Challenge", this was where the team captains face off in a 50 second stunt. The captain who finished first or was ahead when time was up scored five points. In Round 2; it used a similar format as in the 2002-03 PAX version. The winner of the "Captain's Challenge" were shown two items where each represented a stunt. The first team chose which stunt to play leaving the other stunt for the other team. Each completed stunt was worth 10 points. In Round 3 (called "Head to Head Challenge") the final round saw both teams playing the same stunt. The winners of the stunt scored 10 points plus 1 for each and every part completed.
A new version of Beat the Clock premiered on February 6, 2018 to July 8, 2019 on the new Universal Kids Network which replaced Sprout in the fall of 2017. The host for the new show was Paul Costabile of WNBC’s New York Live, iHeartRadio. This time instead of couples, teams of two person families (sometimes one kid along with his/her adult relative) would be competing against each other and the clock. The winners of each match would go on to face what's called "The Big Clock" to play a bonus stunt. Also in this version, the team would make a $1,000 donation to their favorite charities. At the time, this version was also paired up with another Fremantle produced, kids-themed stunt show called The Noise hosted by Faruq Tauheed, the ring announcer of the 2015-16 & 2018 versions of BattleBots.
Two teams of two kids (sometimes one kid and his/her adult relative) (one dressed in purple and the other dressed in green) compete in three rounds of stunts. The first round is worth $100 and the second round is worth $150. The third and final round is a head-to-head challenge for $300 for a possible grand total of $550. Both teams get to keep the cash, but the team with the most money at the end of round three wins the game and goes on the to try and beat The Big Clock for over $2,000.
The Big Clock
The winning team has one minute (60 seconds) to compete one final four-part stunt. Each part completed is worth $250, and completing all four parts wins the team $2,000 and a $1,000 donation to their favorite charity. This makes the possible grand total for one team, $2,550.
This version can be found on Peacock TV.
In Popular Culture
Beat The Clock was spoofed on Sesame Street as "Beat The Time", a "wacky stunt" show whose host was Sesame Street's Muppet Game Show host, Guy Smiley. Several sketches were made in which the contestant had a certain number of seconds to perform such stunts as bringing back five things that contain milk, three things that rhyme with the word "rain" , two things that come from the sky, et al.
- The 1989 "Weird Al" Yankovic-driven comedy film UHF features some game shows that are parodied on the U62 TV schedule. Beat the Clock is parodied as Beat the Loanshark.
1950 - Harry Geller and His Orchestra
1969 - Dick Hyman (Live)
1979 - Score Productions
2002 - Alan Ett & Scott Liggett
2006 - Unknown
Countries that did their own versions of Beat the Clock include:
- New Zealand
- United Kingdom (only as a variety show segment)
Maxine Elliott Theatre (Studio 51), New York City, NY (1950–1958)
Ritz Theatre, New York City, NY (1958–1961)
Little Theatre, New York City, NY (1969–1970)
CFCF Studios, Montreal, QC (1970–1974)
CBS Television City, Hollywood, CA (1979 Version)
Universal Studios, Orlando FL (2002 Version)
Chandler Valley Studio, Van Nuys, CA (2018–2019)