Blank Check (game show)

Blank Check (game show)

Infobox Television
show_name = Blank Check

caption =
format = Game Show
runtime = 30 minutes (per episode)
creator = Jack Barry
starring = Art James as the host; Johnny Jacobs as the announcer
country = USA
network = NBC
first_aired = January 6, 1975
last_aired = July 4, 1975
num_episodes = undetermined

Blank Check was an American television game show that aired on NBC from January 6 to July 4, 1975. It was promoted as "television's first ESP game." Art James was the host and Johnny Jacobs was the announcer.

Created by Jack Barry, this short-lived game show was the first produced by Barry on NBC since the quiz show scandals of the 1950s, and the first of three game shows Barry produced at NBC (the other two were the syndicated "Bullseye" and the 1984 NBC series "Hot Potato", both under the Barry & Enright Productions brand).


Six players competed for an entire week of shows, trying to fill in a four-digit check.

One contestant played as the "check writer," and stood behind a podium on the right side of the stage. That contestant hit a plunger that stopped five spinning numbers, which could be used to write the check from (e.g., 4-7-6-3-1). If the contestant spun a straight (e.g., 2-3-4-5-6), he/she won a bonus prize. Host James asked the other five contestants, seated in a gallery on the left side, a question requiring a response containing a common relation between two things. Whoever rang in with the correct answer got a chance to guess what the check writer chose as his/her ones digit in his/her check (from a five-digit readout in the front of the podium). Guessing correctly meant he/she switched places with the check writer and started a new check for himself/herself. (The check writer won the amount the check had been completed for up to that point). If not, the check writer chose another digit and play continued.

If he/she completed three digits in his/her check (hundreds, tens, and ones places), the check writer played a game against a studio audience member. The audience member would be shown four prizes and their values, and asked to pick one. The check writer had to guess the prize the audience member selected. If incorrect, the audience member won that prize, and the process repeated with the remaining prizes. If the check writer guessed correctly at any point, the game ended with the audience member winning all prizes accumulated to that point and the check writer earned the chance to place a fourth digit in their check. If the check writer incorrectly guessed three times, the check writer lost his/her position and the audience member won all four prizes.

If the check writer was able to guess a prize correctly, James asked one last question to the gallery contestants; the correct respondent tried to guess the check writer's thousands digit. If successful, he/she took over the position; if not, the check writer won that amount in cash. Once a check writer completed a four-digit check (or if he/she lost the audience game), another question is asked to the remaining five contestants. The person with the correct answer then exchanged places with the former check writer.

The contestant who wrote the biggest check during the week also won a car.


"Blank Check" ran at 12:30 p.m. Eastern/11:30 a.m. Central, opposite CBS' venerable serial "Search for Tomorrow" and ABC's "Split Second;" it replaced, through a scheduling shuffle with "Celebrity Sweepstakes," the Dennis James-hosted "Name That Tune." Despite "Split Second's" ratings problems, "Blank Check" did not take advantage to gain a leg up on "Search." James would go on to host "The Magnificent Marble Machine" immediately after "Blank Check's" cancellation, with "MMM" taking over at Noon/11 and the displaced "Jackpot!" taking refuge at 12:30/11:30.

The program had to end five minutes before the half hour in order to accommodate an NBC News newscast anchored by Edwin Newman. "Blank Check" was the eleventh program to air in the 12:30/11:30 slot since that newscast began in October 1960; "The Who, What, or Where Game" (coincidentally hosted also by James) ran the longest, from 1969 to 1974. NBC discontinued that bulletin, its last daytime newscast, on New Year's Eve 1976.


The 1974 pilot had slightly different rules. The contestant played the audience game after he/she completed their check, instead of after the hundreds digit. In the pilot format, the contestant had to correctly predict what prize from two cards the audience member had chosen. Doing so won the contestant the prize, while not doing so won the audience member the prize. Four sets of prizes were shown, and if the checkwriter managed to guess three prizes correctly, he/she also won a car.

The pilot also featured Quincy Jones' composition "Chump Change" as its theme music, but since it was also being used as the theme for "Now You See It", a new musical theme was commissioned from composers Alan Thicke and Stan Worth.

Lawsuit against Mark Goodson Productions

Long after "Blank Check" left the air, "The Price Is Right" introduced a pricing game also called "Blank Check". Producers of Price is Right changed the name to later changed to "Check Game" in 1986, purportedly because Dan Enright threatened legal action against Mark Goodson Productions and Bob Barker, claiming that the name "Blank Check" was copyrighted as a Barry & Enright Production. Although technically Barry was the only packager of "Blank Check," Enright apparently obtained the rights to the program after his longtime partner died in 1984.

Episode Status

As with most games from that era, NBC mostly destroyed the tapes of "Blank Check" for reuse on that show and other daytime programs. The only two episodes known to exist are the pilot and the third episode.

External links

* [ Blank Check @ Game Shows '75]
* [ The Blank Check Pilot Page]

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