Beat the Clock
GenreGame show
Presented byBud Collyer
Jack Narz
Gene Wood
Monty Hall
Gary Kroeger
Paul Costabile
Narrated byBern Bennett
Dirk Fredericks
Gene Wood
Nick Hollinrake
Jack Narz
John Cramer
Country of originUnited States
No. of seasons5 (1969–1974)
Running time22–26 minutes
Production companiesMark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions (1950–1961, 1969–1974, 1979–1980)
Clock Productions (1969–1974)
The Clock Company (1979–1980)
Fremantle (2002–2003, 2018–2019)
Paxson Entertainment
Tick Tock Productions, Ltd. (2002–2003)
Original release
NetworkCBS (1950–1958, 1979–1980)
ABC (1958–1961)
Syndication (1969–1970)
CTV (1970–1974)
PAX TV (2002–2003)
Universal Kids (2018–2019)
ReleaseMarch 23, 1950 (1950-03-23) –
July 8, 2019 (2019-07-08)

Beat the Clock is an American television game show that involves people trying to complete challenges to win prizes while faced with a time limit. The show was a creation of Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions.

The show began on radio as Time's A-Wastin' in 1948, hosted by Bud Collyer, and changed its name to Beat the Time on January 5, 1949. The show moved to television on the CBS nighttime schedule starting on March 23, 1950. On September 16, 1957, CBS premiered an afternoon version of the show as well, which ran for a year. The nighttime show was cancelled on February 16, 1958, and the afternoon program followed on September 12, 1958.[1]

Soon, the show moved to ABC's daytime schedule, and ran from October 13, 1958 to January 27, 1961. A brief revival aired on CBS from September 17, 1979 to February 1, 1980.[1]

In 2006, the show made up the third segment of Game$how Marathon, a seven-part summer series that aired on CBS, with Ricki Lake as host and Rich Fields as announcer.

The most recent revival aired on Universal Kids from February 6, 2018 to July 8, 2019.


The first edition of Beat the Clock was a production of CBS and aired there until 1958. The show then moved to American Broadcasting Company where it stayed until 1961. Bud Collyer emceed the original series.

Contestants were required to perform tasks (called "problems" by Collyer) 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.

On-air personalities

Substitute hosts on the original version included Bill Hart (1951), John Reed King (1952), stunt creator Frank Wayne (1953), Bob Kennedy (1954), Win Elliot (1955), and Sonny Fox, who became Collyer's permanent substitute from 1957 to 1960. Collyer was referred to in the introductions as "America's number one clockwatcher", and the fill-in hosts were each named "America's number two clockwatcher".

Bud Collyer as the show's host, 1958.

The show had several female on-air assistants. The original hostess was Roxanne (née Delores Evelyn Rosedale). 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's run on CBS 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 winner Edward Darnell, of Columbus, Indiana, was flown in to appear with Bennett on the December 2, 1957, show. When Beat the Clock moved to ABC, Dirk Fredericks became the announcer. Substitute announcers included Lee Vines, Bob Sheppard, Hal Simms, and Dick Noel.


Contestants were chosen from the studio audience and usually were married couples. Other pairs were engaged, dating, or were a familial relationship. Collyer would ask them general questions (usually including where they were from and how long they'd been married) and usually asked if they had children, their ages and genders. Sometimes the couple would bring children on the show. Collyer usually would talk to the children, asking them 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 on TV. 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 hooks on the contestants' podium) or Collyer would hold the coat.

Occasionally, if there was going to be a messy stunt, the husband would come out dressed in a plastic jumpsuit. Similarly, wives would sometimes play in their "street clothes", but sometimes the women would appear in a jumpsuit because 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.

Game format

Main Game

One couple competed against the clock to win a prize in stunts that required one or both members of the couple. The stunt was described and the time limit was set on a giant onstage 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 had 60-second limits. On the primetime edition, 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, couples continued playing as long as they kept beating the clock, with various prizes awarded for each victory.

Jackpot Clock

On the primetime version, 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 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.

Bonus Stunt

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.

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 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, 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.

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 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 bonus reverted to the original Bonus Stunt format (attempted once per episode by whatever couple heard the "bonus 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 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, setting a record for daytime TV winnings in the post-scandal era.


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. Each stunt had to be thoroughly tested before it could be used on the show.

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 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.

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.

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 boys. In the mid-50s, each child was given a camera kit.

If contestants were involved in a messy stunt, Roxanne (later Beverly) would come out and take a picture. 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 and dryer pairs, and refrigerators, Hardwick ranges, Whirlpool freezers, and Easy "Combomatic" combination washer-dryers.

Episode status

Like many other shows of its day, the show was recorded using kinescope. There are even some mentions of this on the show, such as an incident when a contestant challenged a loss on the second Super Bonus Stunt, and the kinescope was used to confirm the result.

Like most kinescope recordings that have been put into current use, the films have been transferred to video tape. Some kinescopes or video tapes are lost or in too poor quality to broadcast so there are sometimes gaps in the available catalog of episodes.

Most of the first three years of the show (March 1950-July 1952) are presumed to be unavailable. GSN's catalog of episodes begins with the August 2, 1952 show, guest hosted by John Reed King. There are two episodes not part of GSN's catalog that predate that one:

It is not publicly known whether the daytime episodes (both CBS and ABC) are lost or damaged, but they are rarely seen. However, circulating amongst collectors is the daytime episode from September 23, 1960 with the $20,100 win in the Bonus Stunt. Also notable in this episode is that the Bonus Stunt hadn't been won for 51 weeks, and the couple who won it, Mr. and Mrs. Bill Hunt of Tolleson, Arizona, did so on their third attempt.

GSN had previously aired 1952–1958 episodes of the nighttime version, but they have not been seen on the channel since August 2006. Buzzr aired these episodes for a brief period before removing this version from its lineup.


On September 15, 1969, Beat the Clock returned to television in five-day-a-week syndication. This series continued to air until September 20, 1974. For the first season (1969–1970), the show was taped at The Little Theatre on Broadway in New York City, sharing the stage with The Merv Griffin Show and The David Frost Show.[4] After that, taping moved to Montreal, Quebec as a cost-saving measure. This was the only time Goodson-Todman taped a series in Canada that was not for a Canadian-specific audience. The show was broadcast by CTV in Canada.

Jack Narz hosted the first three seasons of the series before leaving and his announcer, Gene Wood, replaced him for the remainder of the run.

The music for this version of Beat the Clock was played live on the organ by 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, which was later 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.

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 was completed in the time remaining.

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 won $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 curious aspect of this version of the show was that Narz's suit jackets sported an embroidered patch of the show's Beat The Clock logo sewn onto the left breast. This practice was similar to hosts Jim Lange and Bob Eubanks' wearing logo patches from The Dating Game and The Newlywed Game respectively, and also the scrambled "mystery logo" seen on Hugh Downs' (and later Bob Clayton's) blazer when they hosted Concentration.

Gene Wood (1972–1974)

Jack Narz left the show in 1972. At the time, he made no announcement and gave no reason for his departure. In a 2007 Internet radio interview, Narz finally explained that the show's budget did not include his personal travel expenses. Narz had to pay for his travel, and the cost of airline fare between his Los Angeles home and Montreal became prohibitive. His travel costs were essentially equal to his earnings, and even a successful appeal to Mark Goodson for more money was not enough.

Announcer Gene Wood hosted the show for the next two seasons. Wood had also been hosting a similar stunt game titled Anything You Can Do, a battle of the sexes competition which was also recorded in Canada. CFCF-TV Montreal staff announcer Nick Hollinrake became the show's announcer (he had previously announced for a week during Narz's final season in which Wood was the celebrity guest). At this time, the show also changed syndicators to Firestone Syndication Services, which syndicated another Goodson-Todman show, To Tell the Truth, which had originally been hosted by Bud Collyer.

The show was now called The New Beat the Clock (although the logo still read simply "Beat the Clock"), and the set was refreshed with a new color scheme and a redesigned clock. Like his predecessor, Wood also wore suit jackets with the show's logo sewn on the pockets.

The only changes in the format were 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. 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.

Despite continued popularity on local stations in both daytime and prime time access timeslots, Goodson-Todman decided to discontinue production of Beat the Clock in 1974 when the Canadian government asked the company for half of the proceeds from advertisers awarding their wares as contestant consolation prizes. Wood returned to voice-over work, and went on to a 20-year career announcing Los Angeles-based shows for Goodson-Todman and occasionally other packagers.

Episode status

Some episodes of this series are intact and have aired on GSN. Two episodes from the 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 (with whom Wood was eventually paired on Family Feud).


In 1979, CBS elected to bring the series back as All-New Beat the Clock for its daytime schedule. Production moved to CBS Television City, taping in Studio 31 and marking the first time a Beat the Clock series originated from Los Angeles.[5] The series premiered on September 17, 1979, at 10:00 a.m., replacing reruns of All in the Family in the time period, preceding Whew!. Monty Hall, who had not hosted a game show his company did not produce since he was host of Heatter-Quigley's Video Village, was the emcee for the series while former host of the 1970s syndicated series, Jack Narz, served as his announcer and a series producer. The show faced competition from NBC's Card Sharks. (ABC did not start programming until 11:00 a.m.)

There were two theme songs used (both composed by Score Productions). The second one was performed live in the studio by a small band led by Arthur B. Rubinstein.

Two couples, one usually a returning champion, competed against each other and the clock. The champion couple (or champion-designate if the previous episode had ended with a retiring champion couple) wore red sweaters while the opposing couple wore green.

Rounds 1 and 2

The first two rounds began with the couples competing 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 60 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.

Hall would then bring the winning couple across the stage to compete in a stunt by themselves 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.

Bonus Shuffle

After the first two rounds, both teams squared off in a modified table shuffleboard game called the "Bonus Shuffle".

The teams took turns throwing pucks down the shuffleboard table. The team leading had the advantage of throwing three pucks and going first, followed by the other team with two pucks. If there was a tie, a coin was tossed with the winners going first and there were two pucks per side. The table had eight stripes on it, and each stripe had a higher dollar amount on it. The first stripe was worth $300 and each subsequent stripe was worth $100 more, with the stripe at the very end of the table worth $1,000. There was just enough space in between the stripes where a puck could land and not score any money. Pucks had to remain on the table to count, and if a puck failed to reach the first stripe it was taken off the board and discarded. The teams were allowed to try to knock each other's pucks off the board if they so desired but did so at their own risk, as they could just as easily knock their own puck off the board or push a puck up the board and onto a higher value.

The team whose puck was furthest along on the board after all pucks had been thrown won the money attached to the space their puck was touching and became the day's champions. They then moved on to play the Bonus Stunt for ten times the amount of their Bonus Shuffle total. In the event of a tie, each team threw one puck. The first puck's landing spot was marked and the other team had to beat the mark to win.

Bonus Stunt

The Bonus Stunt round was conducted the same way as the solo stunts were. Hall would give the objective of the Bonus Stunt to the champion couple, then the clock would be set and the couple had to complete the stunt before time ran out. If they did so, as previously mentioned, they won ten times their Bonus Shuffle score for a maximum of $10,000 and a new Bonus Stunt would be played on the next show. If a Bonus Stunt was played five consecutive times without a couple managing to complete it, the stunt would be replaced with a new one.

Couples continued to appear until they were either defeated or surpassed $25,000 in total winnings. A team could win up to $13,000 in one day if they managed to win all four stunts in the main game, score $1,000 in the Bonus Shuffle, and win the Bonus Stunt.

The All-New All-Star Beat The Clock

On November 5, 1979, the show switched to an all-celebrity format. The changes that were made included:

Episode status

This series exists in its entirety. The Christmas episode with Ronnie Schell, Joyce Bulifant, Johnny Brown, and Patti Deutsch has aired on GSN in the past during Christmas-themed marathons. The series 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 final week. On November 12, 2008, it returned to the GSN lineup weeknights at 2:00 a.m., replacing Trivia Trap. It last aired January 3, 2009.

Buzzr has also carried the Hall version of Beat the Clock on a sporadic basis.


This version, the show's previous appearance other than the Gameshow Marathon special, aired daily from September 2, 2002, to September 4, 2003, on PAX TV (the first week of shows was called a "preview week"). Taped in Universal Studios Florida, three couples competed in this version with no returning champions. The couples were distinguished by color—red, blue, and gold.

Round 1

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, as well as the ability to assign the stunts to the other teams—prior to gameplay the couple was shown 3 items on a tray that represented the stunts themselves, picked one for themselves to play, and divided the other two among the remaining players.

Before the playing of each stunt, a two-part trivia question was asked. Answering it correctly gave the team 10 extra seconds to complete the stunt and both parts had to be answered correctly, one by each player, in order to get those 10 seconds. 10 points were given for completing the stunt with one additional point for each second remaining on the clock (for example, if a couple completed a stunt with three seconds remaining, they scored 13 points for the round).

Round 2

The second round consisted of two parts. The first part was another face-off stunt, i.e. trying to throw a ring around a pole the other player is wearing on their head. In a stunt like this, the first place couple's ring tosser would be closest to their partner, the second place couple would be slightly further back, and the third place couple would be the furthest back (the first place couple was always given an advantage, with the second having less of one and the third the least). Play continued until two of the couples completed the stunt, with those two teams continuing on.

The two remaining couples were then shown the stunt they would have to attempt. After the stunt was described, another trivia question was asked. In this case, the female half of the couple was given the option to answer it, have her partner answer it, or pass it to the other team to make them answer. If the couple answered correctly they would be given control, but if they did not the opponents did. The two couples then bid down from a base time of two minutes to see who could complete the stunt in the fastest amount of time, and bidding continued until one team challenged the other to beat the clock. The stunt was then played, and if the challenged couple completed it they won the game and advanced to the bonus game. If they were not successful, the challenging couple won the game.

Bonus Round ("The Swirling Whirlwind of Cash and Prizes")

The winning couple played the "Swirling Whirlwind of Cash and Prizes", which took place inside a machine similar to a vertical wind tunnel. $25,000 in cash was inside the machine, as well as several "prize vouchers" (coloured slips of paper with the names of prizes written on them). Several more vouchers would be tossed into the machine prior to the start of the round.

Once inside the machine, both players tried to grab as much money and prize vouchers as they could within a 1-minute time limit. For protection, the couple was equipped with goggles and gloves that they wore while in the machine. There were three rules that had to be followed at all times. One, only items that were in the air could be grabbed and neither teammate could bend over and pick anything up from the ground; however, if any vouchers or cash had somehow gotten stuck in a pile they were permitted to kick the pile to get it loose. Two, each item that they grabbed had to be placed in a bag which the male partner wore around his waist in order to be counted. Three, once the clock stopped the couple both had to stop whatever they were doing and raise their hands in the air. 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 bonus round of The Diamond Head Game, a show hosted by Bob Eubanks in 1975.


On October 12, 2017, Universal Kids announced that it had ordered a revival of Beat the Clock from FremantleMedia North America, which premiered on February 6, 2018. The new version (taped in Los Angeles, making it the second version taped there) features children and adults competing as teams and was hosted by Paul Costabile.[6][7]

Game Format

Two teams of two kids or one kid and their adult relative, one dressed in purple and the other dressed in green, compete in a race against time filled with stunts & challenges. There are three rounds of stunts.

The first round is worth $100/stunt and the second round is worth $150/stunt. 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 to try and Beat The Big Clock for over $2,000. In the event of a tie, whoever completes the task first, or does the most tasks within the time limit in the head-to-head wins. If neither teams complete the challenge and are still tied, whoever has the most money wins.

The Big Clock

The winning team has 60 seconds to complete one final four-part stunt. Each part completed is worth $250, and completing all four parts wins the team $2,000, along with a $1,000 donation to a children's charity of the team's choice.

International versions

Country Local Name Host Channel Year Aired
 Australia Free for All Ugly Dave Gray Nine Network 1973
 Canada Beat the Clock1 Jack Narz (1969–1972)
Gene Wood (1972–1974)
CTV 1969–1974
 Germany Nur Nicht Nervös Werden Joachim Fuchsberger ARD 1960–1961
 New Zealand Beat the Clock Rodney Bryant TV2 1975–1976
 United Kingdom Beat the Clock
Segment on Sunday Night at the London Palladium
Tommy Trinder (1955–1958)
Bruce Forsyth (1958–1960, 1961–1962)
Don Arrol (1960–1961)
Norman Vaughan (1962–1965)
Jimmy Tarbuck (1965–1967)
ITV 1955–1967
Beat the Clock Jim Dale 1973–1974
Beat the Clock
Segment on Seaside Special '87
Mike Smith BBC1 1987
Beat the Clock Bruce Forsyth ITV 2000

1Aired in both U.S. and Canada for both markets

See also


  1. ^ a b Hyatt, Wesley (1997). The Encyclopedia of Daytime Television. Watson-Guptill Publications. pp. 54-55. ISBN 978-0-8230-8315-2. Retrieved March 22, 2020.
  2. ^ "The October 13, 1951 episode of "Beat the Clock", possibly the oldest surviving episode in existence". Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  3. ^ "The Paley Center for Media's listing of the January 5, 1952 episode of "Beat the Clock", believed to be the second-oldest surviving episode in existence". Retrieved October 6, 2021.
  4. ^ "The Little Theater: 240 West 44th Street in Midtown Manhattan". Eyes Of A Generation…Television's Living History. Archived from the original on April 26, 2018. Retrieved March 8, 2018.
  5. ^ "Shows–CBS Television City". Archived from the original on July 13, 2011. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  6. ^ "FremantleMedia N.A. Sells Two Game Shows to Universal Kids". Broadcasting & Cable. October 12, 2017. Archived from the original on October 17, 2017. Retrieved October 17, 2017.
  7. ^ "Universal Kids adds two FremantleMedia game shows". Kidscreen. Archived from the original on October 17, 2017. Retrieved October 17, 2017.