Now You See It: Wikis


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Now You See It
Format Game show
Created by Frank Wayne for Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions
Directed by Paul Alter
Presented by Jack Narz (1974-1975)
Jack Clark (1985)
Chuck Henry (1989)
Narrated by Johnny Olson (1974-1975)
Gene Wood (1975, 1985)
Mark Driscoll (April 1989)
Don Morrow (May-July 1989)
Country of origin  United States
No. of episodes 308 (1974-1975 version)
75 (1989 version)
Location(s) CBS Television City (1974-1989)
Running time approx. 22-26 minutes
Original channel CBS
Picture format NTSC
Original run April 1, 1974 – July 14, 1989

Now You See It is an American television game show created by Frank Wayne for Mark Goodson-Bill Todman Productions. Despite several format changes over its two runs, it always relied on a format in which contestants compete to find words in a format similar to a word search puzzle.

The series ran in two incarnations from 1974-1975, and again in 1989, both on CBS. The first version was hosted by Jack Narz, while the second was emceed by Chuck Henry. Johnny Olson was the original announcer, with Gene Wood substituting on occasion. Disc jockey Mark Driscoll announced for the first month of the 1989 version before being replaced by Don Morrow.



The main game principle was based on the word search concept. The game board in all versions of Now You See It had four rows ("lines") with 14 letters ("positions") in each row. The host read general-knowledge trivia questions with single-word answers that were concealed within the jumble of letters on the board for that round. The answers on the board were always written horizontally from left to right.

Although the premise of the show remained the same, the main game was played differently on each version.


1970s Version

The original version aired from April 1, 1974[1] to June 13, 1975. Two formats were used during its run.

Format #1

Elimination Round
An elimination round in progress.

The first round of Now You See It under its original format began with four new players randomly split into two teams with one "outside" and one "inside" player each. The "outside" players turned their backs to the board as Narz read a question. The first "inside" player to buzz in would say which line the correct answer appeared on. If the correct line was given, the "outside" player for that team turned around to give the position number and the word. If the wrong line was guessed, the other team got a free guess. If the correct position and answer was given, the team earned points equal to the sum of the line and position numbers. Otherwise, nobody scored for that word. Halfway through the round, the inside and outside players switched roles. The team that was in the lead when the bell rang won the Elimination Round. Although the host would say that time had run out, the game was never played to time. Twelve questions were played, six in each configuration, with a thirteenth if needed to break a tie.


In the semi-finals, the two contestants on the winning team competed against each other. A string of 16 concealed letters was shown to the contestants, and the host read a crossword-style clue, similar to Scrabble. The 16-letter string began to reveal one letter at a time until a player buzzed in and answered correctly, or only one letter was left in the word. If a contestant buzzed in and gave an incorrect answer, the opponent was given a free guess before any more letters were revealed. If they too came up with a wrong answer, the word would continue to be revealed. If nobody guessed the word with one letter left, it was revealed. The host then read another clue, and began revealing letters; the next answer could use letters from the end of the previous answer in the string. The first player to guess four words correctly won the round and a prize package. During the first two weeks, no prize package was given to the winner. Also, during the third week, it took five points to win the round; this would become permanent when the second format was introduced.


The winner of the Semi-Finals round competed against the show's returning champion in the Finals. This round was played like the elimination round, except that there were no partners. Contestants gave both the line and position numbers of correct answers in order to score.

The contestant who had more points when time ran out won the game and played the "Solo Game" for a chance at a cash jackpot. If the champion won the jackpot, the person he/she beat in the Finals became the designated champion on the next show; if the challenger won the jackpot, the person he/she beat in the Semi-Finals returned.

Bonus Words

Beginning with the 101st episode and continuing until the adoption of the second main game format, contestants were asked to scan the board and write down one word from the board each on an index card at the beginning of each half of the Elimination Round, and the Finals. A contestant or team would earn 10 bonus points if they correctly answered a question with one of their "bonus words". The player must reveal their bonus word when it is found, and cannot come back to it afterwards.

Format #2

Beginning with the 186th episode and for the rest of the show's run, the format of the main game was changed. The Elimination Round was dropped, and two new players competed in the Semi-Finals, by this time renamed the Qualifying Round and was played the same way as the first version. At this point, five points were needed to win the Qualifying Round. The Finals was renamed the Championship Round and was also played the same way except point values were doubled when somebody reached 50 points (Example: a word on line 4 and in position 5 multiplied by 2 was worth 18 points), and the first player to reach 100 points played the Solo Game. Under this "straddling" format, a game could stop at the end of one episode and resume at the beginning of the next.

Also, if a champion won the jackpot in the Solo Game, the opponent they had defeated in the Championship Round came back to play again in the Championship Round of the following game.

1985 Pilot

An unsold pilot was taped on October 18, 1985 with Jack Clark as host and Gene Wood as announcer. Two teams of two players competed for the whole show.

Round One

During the first round, one partner was given a word to define (much like The $25,000/$100,000 Pyramid) and then hit a button revealing the board to the partner. The partner then had to find that word on the board, they had 15 seconds total to define and find the word. If successful, the team earned as many points as there were seconds left on the clock (e.g., eight points if there were eight seconds left).

Each team played four words, with the team in the lead earning 20 bonus points.

Round Two

In the second round, the host read clues to words on a new board. The first contestant to buzz in and correctly identify that word earned 20 points. The first team to reach 100 points won the game and chose one player to play the Solo Round.

After the Solo Round, the players on both teams switched positions and played another game. The team with the most money at the end of the day's two games returned on the next episode.

1989 Version

The second version aired from April 3 to July 14, 1989. Only one format was used during this run, however it differed slightly

Qualifying Round

Two new contestants competed to find the answers to the host's questions. Scoring was determined by how much time was left on the clock when the contestant buzzed in; the clock started at 100 points and decreased by 5 points as each 1/3 second passed. If nobody guessed the correct answer when the clock reached 25 points, the host gave the line number that the word was on. Halfway through the round, points were doubled and the contestants were given a new board. The first player to reach 1,000 points won the round and competed against the show's returning champion in the championship round.

Championship Round

In this round, the host gave a category, and a new board containing six possible words in that category was revealed. The first contestant to buzz-in and find one of those words was given 20 seconds to find the five remaining words to win the board. If unable to do so, the opponent was given an additional five seconds to find one word, with the contestant hitting his/her button once he or she finds a word, winning the board if successful; otherwise, the board went to the opponent. Each board was worth money; the first board was worth $200 and each board after that was worth $100 more than the previous one. The first player to reach $1,000 or more kept their money and won the game and played the solo round.

Solo Round (all versions)

The bonus round was better known as the "solo round" and was played the same on all three versions. The winner of the main game was given a new board and 60 seconds to find ten words on that board. Once the host read a clue to one of those words, the contestant used an electronic pencil to circle the word that was being guessed and call it out. The contestant had the option to pass at any time and return to that question later.

Each correct answer was worth $100, and if all ten words were found before time expired the contestant won a cash jackpot which began at $5,000.

  • In the 1970s version, a returning champion would immediately retire after winning the jackpot, making the player they beat in the Championship Round the designated champion for the next game.
  • On the 1985 pilot, the Solo Round did not use a growing jackpot; instead, teams played for $5,000 in the first Solo Round and a total of $10,000 if they made it to the second.
  • In the 1989 version, a returning champion could stay on for a maximum of five days regardless of how many jackpots they won.

The jackpot's base amount and increase per loss varied in each version:

Version Base Value Increment Highest Won
1974-1975 $5,000 $1,000 each day not won, up to $25,000 $21,000
1985 Pilot $5,000 None $5,000
1989 $5,000 $5,000 each time not won, up to $100,000 $50,000


All three versions used the instrumental theme "Chump Change," composed by Quincy Jones and Bill Cosby. For a brief period, the 1970s version used an alternate theme written by Edd Kalehoff.

Broadcast history


The first version ran from April 1, 1974 to June 13, 1975 at 11:00 AM (10:00 Central) with Jack Narz hosting, replacing The $10,000 Pyramid, which moved to ABC one month after its CBS cancellation. Initially, it did well against Alex Trebek's American debut on NBC, The Wizard of Odds, but when NBC gave Trebek a new show called High Rollers at that time slot, NYSI began to struggle while the producers altered the format several times.

NBC's resurgence in its morning lineup in early 1975 with the likes of Wheel of Fortune prompted CBS to clean house, canceling The Joker's Wild along with NYSI. Gambit, which had begun in 1972 at 11/10, returned to that slot after NYSI's departure from the lineup.


Fourteen years later, CBS decided to try the show again from April 3 to July 14, 1989 at 10:30 AM (9:30 Central) with Los Angeles news anchor Chuck Henry hosting. The series was taped at Studio 33, now the Bob Barker studio at CBS Television City in Hollywood.

Not only did it face its sister Mark Goodson-packaged game Classic Concentration (hosted by Trebek), but the new NYSI faced a vastly changed television market from the days of the original - syndicated talk shows such as Donahue and Sally Jessy Raphael had become popular and made games like NYSI seem tame and quaint by comparison. Additionally, the number of daytime viewers had declined greatly since 1975. With a greater possibility for local advertising revenue from the talk shows, numerous stations passed on the game despite the solid performance of its lead-in, Family Feud.

In order to counteract affiliate preemption, CBS scuttled NYSI in order to bring the daytime Wheel of Fortune onto its schedule after NBC cancelled it on June 30.

Foreign versions


From 1985-1993 a children's version aired on the Seven Network in Australia. It was hosted by Mike Meade and "co-hosted" by a robot named "Melvin" who was a Tomy Omnibot toy, and pitted individual children against each other. Melvin's uncle Morton (another Omnibot) had his own segment on the show entitled "Morton's Mouldy Movies", in which Morton would narrate stories in a grandfatherly voice accompanied by footage from silent film shorts.

From 1990, the show was hosted by Sofie Formica, and ran as a week-long competition between two primary schools. The winning students in each episode would win individual prizes, and the overall winning school would win a larger prize, typically valued at around $2,000.

In 1998, Beckers along with Fremantlemedia revived the show. Broadcast on the Nine Network, it was hosted by Scott MacRae and produced by Tony Ryan, with Bill davidson as Executive producer. In 2000 the show was replaced with Download, also hosted by McRae, to coincide with the new millennium. Although a different show, it contained a similar type of game, with the children slowly having letters revealed to them to aid them with general knowledge questions. McRae was replaced with Nathan Lloyd in 2002, and he was replaced with Emily Jade in 2003.

Line Games

The Line Game is played the same as the qualifying rounds of the 70s version. The host read a clue, and the answer was revealed one letter at a time, sometimes using one or more letters of the previous word. Letters were revealed until someone buzzed in and gave the correct answer and score or if only one letter was left in the word. Each subsequent word uses one or more letters of the previous word is The first player to guess four words correctly won the round and a prize package.

Two line games are played and the winners of the line game play the Big Board round.

Big Board

The Big Board round is the same as the championship and elimination rounds in the 70s version and the qualifying round in the 1989 version. It uses the same scoring format of the 70s version. The host read a question and the first kid player to buzz in guesses the line number. If correct he/she then gives the position number and the word. Players score based on the line number & position of the first letter. The player with the most points when time runs out wins the game.

Solo Round

The solo round was played the same as in all the other versions, except that the winning kid player needs to find seven words with the help of the clues read by the host. Since this was a foreign kid's version (in Europe and Australia, children are not allowed to win any money on game shows), solo round winners received a grand prize.

United Kingdom

A British version aired from 1980-1987 (originally only in Scotland during 1980), which was produced by Scottish Television.[2] Johnny Beattie hosted the series, followed by Jack McLaughlin.

There was also a kids version in the UK hosted by Fred MacAulay, airing during the late 1980s (it aired a few years after Australia's version premiered).


Preceded by
11:00 AM EST, CBS
4/1/74 – 6/13/75
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Card Sharks
10:30 AM EST, CBS
4/3/89 – 7/14/89
Succeeded by
Wheel of Fortune


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