Whatever happened to Monica Rose after doubling her money?
Sunday 22 June 2008
The news that there are plans to revive Hughie Green's Double Your Money has not been greeted with universal acclamation. It therefore falls to those of us who watched its first incarnation to enter, if not a case for the defence, at least a plea in mitigation.
Compared to most other game shows of the era, Double Your Money was cerebral stuff. Contestants chose one of 48 subjects to be quizzed on, some of which – like architecture, meteorology, Shakespeare and world religions – would be unlikely to pass under the dumbed-down bar of today.
Starting with £1, they progressed to the sound-proof booth where they had a chance to win £1,000, then equivalent to some £15,000.
But we watched it not for that but for Hughie's succession of hostesses. There were Jean Clarke and Nancy Roberts, whose undulating exits would not have disgraced a Carry On... film; Alice Earrey, a former tea lady; and Sabrina, aka Norma Sykes, for whose 41-19-36 figure the word "pneumatic" hardly did justice.
But outshining them all in quirkiness was a 4ft 9in accounts clerk who was so chirpily cheeky as a contestant that, two months later, she was brought back as a hostess. Her name was Monica Rose, the daughter of a Tube worker and a cleaner, and she was an instant star.
But, in private, she found the dislocation from old friends' lifestyles hard to take. There was a drugs overdose, a break-up from her boyfriend, and a Stephen Fry-style disappearance.
It was not until 1980 that she found the humdrum happiness she desired, marrying a Baptist lay preacher and working on a supermarket check-out. In 1994, she took her own life. She knew that fame and doubling your money was a dangerous cocktail.
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