The Mad Dash

The Mad Dash

"The Mad Dash" is a television game show created by Sidney M. Cohen. It first appeared in 1978 on Canada's CTV network and proved to be a family favourite based on Canada's BBM ratings. It was also shown in parts of the northern United States, a fact Mr. Cohen noted on a 1979 episode. Pierre Lalonde was the MC, and Nick Hollinrake was the announcer for the show, which was taped at the studios of CFCF in Montreal. The series ran until 1985. [ [ Canadian Network Takes A Mad Dash With Classic Game Show - The Special - In Your Face Media and Culture ] ] This classic series is included in the collection of Canadian icons in the 2006 feature film "Souvenir of Canada" based on the book by Douglas Coupland.

Currently, two episodes can be seen each week on GameTV Canada, with the pair rerunning several times during the week.


Two pairs of contestants competed in a life-sized board game. One member of each pair elected to be the "dasher" who would actually run the life-sized game board, while the "roller" remained at the host's podium. The board was a single winding path segmented into spaces which were marked to indicate the effect of landing on that space. The two dashers began the game at the "start" square of the board with the goal being to reach the "win" space at the other end of the path.

To move them along the board path, a multiple-choice question was asked of the rollers, and the first to buzz in and answer correctly was given a roll of a die. The die had standard pips from 1-5, indicating the number of spaces for the dasher to move, and a "$" symbol, which would add $10 to the team's bank any time it was rolled, and allow another roll. Rolling the "$" three times in a row would add a $50 bonus.

The team whose dasher reached "win" first won any cash or prizes banked during the game. Teams would have to roll the exact number required to land on "win"; a roll higher than the distance to win required the dasher to continue backwards after reaching "win". If the winning team had not banked any prizes, they were given a roll of the die mulitplied by $10, or $100 for rolling the "$". Any money was awarded in cash directly after each win. Winning teams returned to play another game with no game limit. Teams were also allowed to play another game after their first loss.


Spaces on the board were of various types. Spaces with blue borders banked the prize indicated on the space; if a team landed on a prize they had already banked, they were given an additional roll. Green spaces banked an indicated money amount (or one square which doubled the team's banked money). At one point, the remaining squares were either red or yellow and had an effect on the game itself: Red spaces typically had a negative effect, such as moving backwards, or losing cash or prizes. Yellow spaces were everything else; typically squares which could result in moving forward. The spaces had effect any time they were landed on, whether the dasher was moving forwards or backwards. Some spaces on the board remained contstant, while others changed from game to game. In other episodes, additional colours were used for these spaces.

Common spaces

*Roll Forward - Roller rolls the die for the dasher to move forward.
*Roll Back - Roller rolls the die for the dasher to move backward.
*Roll Over - Roller rolls the die for the opposing dasher to move forward.
*Change Places - The two dashers switch places; the dasher who moved "from" "Change Places" is deemed to have landed on their new space, and takes its effect.
*Miss Turn - Opposing team gets a free roll.
*Back To Start - The player on the board must walk back to the START square.
*Go Broke - Team loses all their banked cash.
*Return Prizes - Team loses all their banked prizes.
*Dash - A true-or-false question is asked to the dasher. The roller rolls the die with the dasher moving forward if they gave a correct answer, and backwards if they did not.
*Breakaway - The roller rolls the die; the dasher is given that many seconds to run freely along the board path towards the "win" space, stopping wherever they are when the time runs out.
*Dice Game - The player at the table rolls with two dice. If it results in two $ symbols, the team gets $100 and another chance to roll. In addition, the player on the game board path moves the total number shown on the dice.
*Card Game - The roller draws from an oversized deck of playing cards. The dasher moves forward the number of spaces drawn, with ace being a one, unless a face card is drawn, in which case the roller must roll the die causing the dasher to move backwards.
*Happy Birthday - The dasher spins two wheels: One wheel has five money amounts and an insurance policy. The other has all the months of the year. The team wins the money spun; if the second wheel stops on the player's birth month, the money is doubled. If the first wheel lands on the insurance policy, they receive a policy which can prevent them from losing cash or prizes later in the game.
*Pot Of Gold - A series of prizes that are instantly won (not banked), win or lose.
*Thin Ice - A true-or-false question is asked to the dasher. If they give a correct answer, they can take a prize from their opponent's bank. If they do not, the opposing team can take one of their banked prizes. If a correct answer is given, but the opponents have no prizes, the team is given the chance to move forward up to five squares, paying $10 per square.
*Mini-game - One space on the board requires the dasher to play a set mini-game, and is marked with the name of that game. The mini-games usually required some physical activity. The mini-game usually had a variety of possible outcomes including affecting either player's banked cash or prizes, position on the board, or offering bonus rolls.

Mini Dash

If there was too little time to play an additional game at the end of an episode, one or more audience members would be called up, one at a time, to play a Mini Dash. Each played for a different prize, and was offered a choice of five envelopes containing questions; a player would have to answer two of three correctly to win the prize. In at least some episodes, two of the five envelopes contained an instant-win and an instant-loss respectively.

Other versions

The Mad Dash has also been produced internationally. The most successful new version was produced for Polish television ("Duety do Mety", literally translated to "Duos to finish line") in 2002.

See also

*List of Quebec television series imports and exports


External links

* [ Official website]
* [ "The Mad Dash" page at TV Hatton]
* [ A "Mad Dash" fan site]
* [ Another "Mad Dash" site]
* [ Article on The Mad Dash]

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