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Play Your Hunch was an American game show first hosted by Merv Griffin from 1958 to 1962, and was then hosted by Robert Q. Lewis until 1963. The announcers for the show were, respectively, Johnny Olson, Wayne Howell and Roger Tuttle. In 2001, Play Your Hunch was ranked #43 on TV Guide's "50 Greatest Game Shows of All Time".

Play Your Hunch
Play Your Hunch (title card).jpg
Play Your Hunch title logo.
Created byMark Goodson and Bill Todman
Presented byMerv Griffin
Gene Rayburn
Robert Q. Lewis
Narrated byJohnny Olson
Wayne Howell (substitute)
Roger Tuttle (substitute)
Country of originUnited States
No. of episodes1370
Running time30 Minutes
Original networkCBS (1958–1959)
ABC (1959)
NBC (1959–1963)
Original releaseJune 30, 1958 –
September 27, 1963

Play Your Hunch was a Mark Goodson-Bill Todman production. It has been considered to be something of a "spin-off" of another more successful Goodson-Todman game, To Tell the Truth.

It featured one of Robert Redford's first professional acting roles, with Ted Koppel also making an early career appearance.[1]

Broadcast historyEdit

The show first aired on CBS from 1958–1959. ABC picked it up in the same year, and then NBC aired it for the rest of its run, concluding in 1963. During the NBC run, two different prime time versions aired - one in 1960, and one in 1962.

Hosts and announcersEdit

The series was originally hosted by Merv Griffin. After he left on September 28, 1962 to begin his talk show. Gene Rayburn briefly took over from October 15 to November 16, 1962 before being reassigned to The Match Game. Robert Q. Lewis then took over for the rest of the run.[2]

Announcer Johnny Olson substituted for Griffin on December 29, 1961 and March 6, 1962. This was Olson's first regular announcing job with longtime employer Mark Goodson. Later, Olson became well known as the first announcer on the Bob Barker version of The Price Is Right and as announcer for every version of Match Game through 1982.

Game playEdit

Merv Griffin and Liz Gardner in 1960.

Two couples (or occasionally pairs with other relationships) competed. The game revolved around "problems" which involved a choice between three visible possibilities (often three people) which were always labeled X, Y, and Z. Some questions would have an element of observation; for example, one couple was asked which of three labeled musicians amongst the show's band was not playing his instrument and was merely pretending. Other problems depended mainly on luck in guessing correctly.

The teams were alternatively presented with problems and had the choice to play or pass after the choices were unveiled but before the problem was described. The couple who played the problem discussed the answer amongst themselves until a chime rang and the couple had to answer. If the couple was wrong, the opponents had the choice between the remaining two answers. If either couple got the right answer, they earned a point, with three points winning the game. In addition, each team earned $50 a point ($100 a point on NBC's primetime edition). At least once every show, the couples would also have to solve a "come-closer" problem, which involved coming up with a numerical answer to a problem by writing their answer on a slate (example: how many coffee beans in a displayed container); the teams would then reveal their slates, and the team who guessed closer to the actual answer would score a point.

Couples remained on the show as champions until they were defeated, with the first question of each game going to the challengers.

On the CBS version, the winning couple played an endgame known as "The Last Straw" for a car. The couple would be shown 7 straws, without knowing which 5 were long and which 2 were short. If the couple picked all 5 long straws, they won a car. If they picked a short straw, they earned $100 for each long straw they picked up to that point. A later bonus round would be played for a prize, like a trip, an appliance, a car, etc. Either the show's assistant Liz Gardner, or announcer Johnny Olson himself would hide behind one of three "doors" onstage; the couple would simply have to guess which "door" either of them was hiding behind. No bonus games were played on the NBC run.

Foreign versionsEdit

A British version of the show was produced by the BBC in the early 1960s, hosted at one stage by Alan Freeman. An Australian version aired on QTQ Channel 9 in Brisbane from 1968 to 1973 hosted by Don Secombe. A different Australian version aired 1962-1964 on TCN-9 in Sydney, hosted by George Foster.

Episode statusEdit

At least some episodes exist. GSN has aired a handful of episodes with Griffin as host in the past, most recently the nighttime premiere on August 20, 2007 (which had aired on GSN at least once prior). One public domain episode of the Griffin version is available on classic game show DVD collections. The year is unknown.

On September 15, 2017, the network BUZZR played an episode of the show for their "Lost and Found" series of shows. No editions of the UK series are listed on the BBC Programme Catalogue[citation needed], suggesting that no editions of the series survive in the archives.

External linksEdit


  1. ^ Merv Griffin; David Bender (30 October 2007). Merv: Making the Good Life Last. Simon and Schuster. pp. 67–. ISBN 978-0-7434-5696-8.
  2. ^ David Baber (15 October 2007). Television Game Show Hosts: Biographies of 32 Stars. McFarland. pp. 236–. ISBN 978-1-4766-0480-0.