Canadian Game Shows Wiki
Sidney M. Cohen (pilot)
Pierre Lalonde (series)
Nick Hollinrake
CTV: 1978–1981
Champlain Productions
Super People Productions

PILOT: "In just a few moments, two lucky couples from this studio audience will start on the road to thousands of dollars in cash and prizes, on TV's biggest game, THE MAD DASH! And now, here's the host of The Mad Dash, Sidney Cohen!"

SERIES: "In just a few moments, two lucky couples will start on the road to thousands of dollars in cash and prizes on...THE MAD DASH! And here's the star of The Mad Dash, PIERRE LALONDE!"

The Mad Dash was a game show where contestants would race around a huge game board and in the process, win cash & prizes.


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 20 spaces, which were marked to indicate the effect of landing on that space. The two dashers began the game at the "start" space 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 to 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 dollar symbol, which would add $10 to the team's bank any time it was rolled, and allow another roll. Rolling the dollar symbol three times in a row would add $50.

The team whose dasher reached "win" first won any cash and/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 multiplied by $10, or $100 for rolling the dollar symbol. Any money was awarded in cash directly after each win. Winning teams returned to play another game, continuing until they were defeated twice. Originally there was no limit on how many games a team could win, and winning seven games won the "Lucky 7 Jackpot". This was a growing prize jackpot that included $250 in cash, and additional prizes with a total value of $2,500. Later in the run, teams who won a total of ten games were automatically retired.


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 ranging from $20 to $250 (except for one space 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. In later episodes, some yellow spaces were reapainted orange as they could result in moving forward or backward.

The spaces took effect any time they were landed on, whether the dasher was moving forwards or backwards. Some spaces on the board remained constant, while others changed from game to game.

Common spaces[]

  • Roll Forward / Roll Back – The roller would roll the die for the dasher to move either forward or backward, respectively.
  • Roll Over – The roller would roll the die for the opposing dasher to move forward.
  • Change Places – The two dashers would switch places; the dasher who moved from "Change Places" was deemed to have landed on their new space, and would take its effect.
  • Free Roll / Miss Turn – A free roll is awarded to the team or their opponents, respectively.
  • Back to Start – The player on the board had to walk back to the START square.
  • Insurance – The team would get an insurance policy which protected them from any danger of losing either money or prizes.
  • Go Broke / Return Prizes – The team lost all their banked cash or prizes, respectively. However, if the team had an insurance policy when they landed on these spaces, the roller would put it down on the table or on the floor to negate the penalty.
  • Dash – A true-or-false question was asked to the dasher. The roller would roll the die with the dasher moving forward if they gave a correct answer, and backwards if they did not.
  • Breakaway – The roller would roll the die; the dasher was given that many seconds, from one to five, to run freely along the board towards the "win" space, stopping wherever they were when the time ran out.
  • Dice Game – The player at the table would roll with two dice. If it resulted in two dollar symbols, the team would get $100 and another chance to roll. In addition, the player on the game board path moved the total number shown on the dice.
  • Card Game – The roller would draw from an standard deck of playing cards. The dasher would move forward the number of spaces drawn, with ace being a one, unless a face card was drawn, in which case the roller had to roll the die causing the dasher to move backwards.
  • Happy Birthday – The dasher would spin two wheels: One wheel had five money amounts ranging from $25 to $200 and an insurance policy. The other had all the months of the year. The team would win the money spun; if the second wheel stopped on the player's birth month, the money was doubled. If the first wheel landed on the insurance policy, they would receive a policy which could prevent them from losing cash or prizes later in the game.
  • Pot of Gold – A series of prizes that were instantly won (not banked), win or lose, no matter the outcome of the game. After this space was landed on, it was replaced by another prize.
  • Thin Ice – A true-or-false question was asked to the dasher. If they gave a correct answer, they could take a prize from their opponent's bank. If they did not, the opposing team could take one of their banked prizes. If a correct answer was given, but the opponents had no prizes, the team was given the chance to move forward up to five squares, paying $10 per square.
  • Mini-Game – One space on the board required the dasher to play a set mini-game, and was 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, like Back To Start, or offering bonus rolls, like Roll Forward. Examples included:
    • Shooting Star – The Dasher would throw three balls at a board, Depending on where the ball landed, that’s what they would win. There were cash amounts from $10-$100, Roll Forward & “Lose Loss”. Hitting this meant that if the team already had a loss against them, this loss would be erased and the team would keep this whether they won or lost that game.
    • Bean Bag – Similar to Shooting Star, except the dasher would throw up to three bean bags at targets and would have to hit the target twice to win the prize.
    • The Mad Darts – The Dasher threw long darts (more like arrows) at a board. Before throwing they would choose to either play for themselves or their opponents, The reason: one spot on the board was “back to start”.
  • Brains or Brawn – The dasher would choose to take either Brains (a question) or Brawn (a physical stunt). If they were successful, the roller would roll the die and the dasher would move forward. If they were unsuccessful, it meant that the dasher had to go back.

Mini Dash[]

If there was too little time to play another 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 audience member played for a different prize. Originally, each contestant was asked up to three questions, and the player would have to answer two of them correctly to win the prize. Later in the run, this was changed to the player being offered a choice of five envelopes containing questions, two of which contained an instant-win and an instant-loss respectively.


Sidney M. Cohen

External links[]