Thu. Feb 20th, 2020

‘One, Two, Three …’, the story of the first contest turned into a social phenomenon

One two Three…
When reading these three successive numbers it is impossible not to remember the program that Chicho Ibáñez Serrador turned into a whole weekly event since 1972. Millions of people sat around the TV to see how horny contestants managed to get the desired car or were left at the mercy of an endearing Ruperta. Although that also carries its risks.

This was one of the characteristics of a contest that landed on TVE to revolutionize it and put it on the international map. It was thanks to Narciso ‘Chicho’ Ibáñez Serrador, a young filmmaker who arrived from Argentina [él era uruguayo] in 1966 and that soon shocked an entire country with its

Stories to not sleep,
a series of horror stories in the purest Hitchcock style that earned him the Golden Nymph for Best Screenplay at the Monte Carlo Television Festival in 1967. It was the first award that TVE achieved and since then they would not take his eyes off.


This was how “being with Stories to not sleep
they called him from TVE and told him they wanted to make a great contest ”, remember in conversation with La Vanguardia Alejandro Ibáñez, son of the creator and current director of Prointel, the producer of One two Three. A call that “surprised him because it was not his habitat on television.”

Ibáñez Serrador came from making these stories of terror and theater, so this opportunity caught him unexpectedly. Also with the refusal of his father, the actor and theater director Narciso Ibáñez Menta, who “was against Chicho getting into the world of contests.” Even, Alejandro Ibáñez remembers, “he said ‘If you are going to do a contest you are going to fuck’” Luckily everything went well.

“If you are going to do a contest you are going to go to hell”

“The first thing he did was see what was done in the United States and in South America, his continent of reference for everything he had lived and worked before coming to Spain,” says Ibáñez. That was when he realized that there were three program formulas: “One of questions and answers, another of physical tests that were done in Asia and then an American program closer to luck called Deal or no deal” With these legs the base of the One two Three.

The question was how much money he would have in an era where television was still in diapers. Although TVE was kind. “Thanks to the fact that they gave the first international prize to TVE for my father, they stood at his feet and decided to give him and let him do what he wanted, because it put TVE in the international world and it became a channel that had to be attentive to see what was being done. ”



It happened again. Everyone’s eyes fell on this contest as soon as it was released and the national critics surrendered to Ibáñez Serrador. “One, Two, Three… answer again has already won the sympathy of the people because in its background, and in its form, it contains everything effective to succeed ”, the newspaper said ABC on April 30, 1972, six days after its premiere, which referred to a “Formal overturn in the way of conceiving the competitions on TVE”.

It was innovative, different from everything known to date, and everyone wanted to be there. “My father always noticed that they had something special, that they stood out in theirs and that they wanted to work, that they did not look at how many hours they are working, but what they do they do because it makes them happy and they like it.” With this maxim Ibáñez Serrador formed a team of about one hundred people who, as his son tells us, left the clock at home. Because they had no other.

Endless Shooting Days

The shooting days of One two Three they will go down in history because they are considered endless. “They were from Monday to Monday and above all in the 80s maybe they did days of up to twenty hours ”, says Ibáñez. And, the complexity of the format, its duration and the perfectionism of Chicho Ibáñez made the new afternoons early in the morning.

The program It consisted of three parts. The first covered the typical questions and answers with a difficulty that was growing as it passed round. From there they moved to the second, the tie, where the contestants played their stay in the program through physical and skill tests that varied weekly. And those who lost could get the thorn out with a consolation minigame that gave them the chance to win a prize. This would lead to the third and final phase of the auction. At this point it was common to see comedians, singers and actors who brought with them even more rhythm to the contest while the contestants already thought about whether chance would bring them the car or not. The outcome would be a matter of luck.

With all this an essential figure was predisposed, that of the presenter. In the first instance it was Kiko Ledgard who took charge of the space between 1972 and 1978, but it was with Mayra Gómez Kemp, between 1982 and 1988, when the format reached its greatest splendor. “With Mayra the program reached quotas of 80% of the audience and, although it is true that there was only one channel, nobody put a gun to people to see it ”, emphasizes the son of the creator of the format.

“Mayra from the first moment it was done with the viewer and won the audience”, Points Alejandro Ibáñez. And he is not wrong. Remembered by his teammates for his great intelligence to learn weekly the extensive script of the format, Gómez Kemp was recognized by the public three times during this stage by taking three TP of Gold to the Best Presenter. The format itself would accumulate eight until 1988, as well as a Golden Antenna and two Ondas Awards.

Not only was it a dream factory, also of presenters, actors and comedians

But One two Three…
It was not only an awards factory, but also presenters, actors and humorists. From this format, faces like Miriam Díaz Aroca appeared in her presenter’s complexion; as well as Victoria Abril, Silvia Marsó, Lydia Bosh or Nina – which thanks to the format came to represent Spain in Eurovision. All of them were hostesses of this famous space, but to them we have to add comedians such as Beatriz Carvajal, Mustache Arrocet, Arévalo, the Dúo Sacapuntas, Ángel Garó, Los Morancos, Cruz and Raya or Tricicle, who also felt in their flesh what I supposed this platform.

Everything that goes up has to go down and this format is no exception. The last stage of the format, already in the 90s, coincided with the establishment of private chains that They fragmented the audience and turned the Spanish television scene upside down. Asituation that for its last attempt in 2004 could no longer be changed.


“My father decided to make a
One, Two, Three … to read this time
and we already know that reading among young people of that time and now it was not very fashionable, ”Alejandro Ibáñez justifies before a format that It started with a share of 48% share but that was reduced as the chapters advanced to 20%. He no longer led, he no longer maintained that previous hegemony, only a nostalgic spectator who survived the slowness of the format and some excessive advertising blocks.

“He had many problems because the program was slow, it was lacking in rhythm, but also the advertising cuts were very long. We get to have a cut of up to 20 minutes so people are normal to go to another channel, ”explains Ibáñez. For him, his father’s biggest mistake was “not update the rhythms of such a long program and focus it ‘To read this time’ that was old ”.

Therefore, to give a twist to the format, from the producer of the space Alejandro Ibáñez ensures that they are “renewing and moving it in the american market” for Give him a new life. This points to Brazil and Argentina as the last countries where they have tried to give way to this format that, despite its end, marked a milestone and was a turning point in the history of television.

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