EIGHTEEN MINUTES of fame as a quiz-show contestant turned to 10 years of television stardom for the pint-sized Monica Rose, the chirpy cockney who became Hughie Green's resident and most popular hostess in Double Your Money.
'Being a hostess enabled me to see the world,' said Rose, the 4ft 9in daughter of a London Underground train driver and a cleaner at White City Stadium. 'Coming from a rough council estate, it was a lot to take in - being picked up in a Rolls and travelling by private plane.'
Rose, one of six children, was a 15-year-old junior accounts clerk when, in 1964, she was given tickets for a recording of Hughie Green's popular quiz show Double Your Money, which was born on Radio Luxembourg and moved to ITV when the commercial channel opened in 1955. Always locked in a ratings battle with the channel's other audience-grabbing quiz, Take Your Pick, hosted by Michael Miles, Double Your Money gave contestants a choice of 42 subjects, offered pounds 1 for the answer to a simple question and, if they answered correctly, doubled their money up to as much as pounds 32, then gave them the chance to win a top prize of pounds 1,000 on the Treasure Trail.
Plucked out of the audience to take part, Rose won only pounds 8 but showed enough personality to persuade Green to let her chatter away for a full 18 minutes and to invite her back as a guest hostess six weeks later. She stayed for three years, but then left to escape the pressures of stardom.
Fame had included a stage act with Green, based on the programme's format, in summer seasons and even a Royal Variety Performance. When Double Your Money was taken to the Soviet Union in 1965, the Soviet cultural attache in London made it a condition that 'the little cockney girl Monica' went with the show.
Rose returned to Double Your Money shortly before it was axed in 1968, as a result of an ITV franchise reshuffle, and was reunited with Green in The Sky's the Limit (1971- 74), in which contestants could win 21,000 miles of travel plus spending money. With the demise of that show, Rose went into cabaret with a singing and comedy act, and also performed pantomime.
She finally left showbusiness in 1977 when a personal relationship turned sour. Three years later the darling of millions was admitted to hospital, suffering from depression and nervous exhaustion. Her life was in turmoil but appeared to improve when she met and married Terry Dunnell, a Baptist lay preacher and officer of a religious group called the Frontier Youth Trust, whose wife had died in the same hospital.
Monica Rose subsequently became a Christian and took a job as a check-out operator in a supermarket near their house in Leicester. Her last years were riddled with ill- health, although she enjoyed visiting a local young offenders centre once a week until last year.
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