You Bet Your Life




Over the weekend, I was checking the channels on my satellite setup when I stumbled what looked like a charity event taking place.  I stopped on that channel, watching for a while before I realised that I had found this channel before, by accident, when I watched a version of The Apprentice that took a very unusual form.


Sitting back, I watched as a number of musical acts performed, and then the announced said that they were going to go to the start of a very special edition of a show he called You Bet You Life.


Intrigued, I watched as the large screen behind him went from some strange graphic to a dark moonlit scene.  A man came into focus, dressed in black save for a white Guy Fawkes mask that covered his face.


“Good Evening, folks, and welcome to this special charity edition of You Bet Your Life.  I’m your host, Monsieur Fawkes, and we’re here outside the home of the noted industrialist and philanthropist, Sir Edmund Linton.  We have been here for some time, and know that in the house at the moment are Sir Edmund and his wife Jane, as well as the mother, sister and brother in law and their daughter.  Tonight we’re going to make a surprise visit to the family, and they will play You Bet Your Life!”


Turning to face the house, Fawkes signalled to a small group of black clad people standing with him.  “Let’s go,” he said as they moved quietly round the house to the rear entrance.


Stopping outside the rear door, Fawkes stopped and turned to the camera.  “We understand the family are currently gathered in one of the reception rooms, enjoying each other’s company.  As always, we will go in and make sure they understand what’s happening.  You’ll go back to the studio after that, and then join us when we are ready to begin the game.”


Whoever was filming the man and his team continued as the rear door was quietly forced, and the team silently made their way through the kitchen and into the corridor.  As they moved through the house, it was possible to hear more and more clearly the sounds of laughter.  The team stopped outside a large wooden door, and Fawkes put his finger to the painted lips of his mask as he grabbed the door handle with a gloved hand.


Pushing the door hard open, the camera focused on a group of six people sitting down.  One of them, a woman in a pale green silk dress, screamed as a man in his late forties stood up and shouted “What the hell….”


“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Fawkes said loud and clear, “Please do exactly as we tell you and nobody will be hurt.  Everyone get don on your knees, hands behind your head, now or we start shooting.”


The group were now revealed to be carrying small arms, which they pointed at the back of the heads of the six people.  As they looked on, terrified, Fawkes said “We’ll see you later!” as the screen went black.


I have to say that I sat there, mildly intrigued as the show went back to a display of the amount raised and other entertainment.  I am, of course, familiar with charity telefons, but this seemed to be taking a new line in the raising of funds.


These events do take a considerable time, often to say very little, but I stayed in my seat as the events passed until they returned to the home of Sir Linton.  As the screen returned to the home, it showed Fawkes standing in the room, with the four women sat in chairs opposite him.  Each had their hands up behind their heads, and were looking on terrified as the assistants to Fawkes covered them with pistols.


“Welcome back, everyone.  We’re here in the home of Sir Edmund Linton, and we have been joined by the four female members of the female, who will be playing You Bet Your Life!  Let’s meet them.”


He walked over and stood behind the woman who had screamed earlier.  The green silk dress she was wearing was a little ruffled, and one of the thin straps over her shoulders had slipped down.  Fawkes gently replaced it as he held the microphone in front of her, one hand on her greying brown hair.


“Your name is?”


“Jane – Jane Linton.  What have you done with my husband?”


“Sir Edmund and your son in law are quite safe, Jane, helping some of my colleagues with a small task.  Why don’t you introduce me to the rest of your family?”


He walked behind the woman in the chair next to Jane.  She was slightly smaller, but her facial features were so like Jane that it had to be her mother, whom they had mentioned earlier.  She was wearing a dark purple tweed jacket with a black check, and a matching skirt, while around her neck was a dark purple scarf worn as a cravat.  She winced as Fawkes placed his gloved hand on her greying hair.


“I presume this is your mother.  Why don’t you introduce us?”


“This…. This is my mother, Amanda.”


“Nice to see you Amanda and this is?”


Jane looked at the next woman in line.  She was wearing a dark grey trouser suit and grey leather ankle boots, with a cream coloured silk camisole top.  Her hair was longer, around her shoulders and dark blonde.


“Jane, please don’t let them hurt me….”


The slap Fawkes gave the young woman caused her to cry slightly.


“Please – this is Carol, my sister, don’t hurt her.”


“Which means,” Fawkes said as he walked to the last woman, “that this is your charming daughter Julie.  Is that correct?”


“Mmmmmum,” Julie said as she looked at her mother.  She was eighteen years old, and was wearing a black sweater and leather skirt, with mid length black suede boots.


“Yes, it is,” Jane said as she bowed her head.


“Excellent!” Fawkes said as eh walked back in front of her.  “Jane, this is how we play You Bet Your Life!  We’re going to have a series of tasks, and in each case your family will be helping you to answer the questions.  If you get them right, you earn extra points, but if you get it wrong…”


Fawkes quickly walked forward and pulled on Carol’s hair, causing her to yelp out in pain.  “Please, stop, I want to see my husband,” Jane shouted out.  Fawkes let go of Carol and took Jane by the arm before turning to the camera.


“We will be joining you again in a few minutes to play the first round of You Bet Your Life – don’t go away!”


It was at this point that I finally realised the event was to raise funds to support families of those who are left with problems by the apprehension of their loved ones – I believe the name AARRGH was mentioned in passing.  Anyway, I went and made myself a drink to time to see the show start again.  Fawkes had move done of the chairs beside a table and Jane was sat in said chair.  The other three women were still sat in a row, watching as four of the gang members stood next to them.


“All right,” Fawkes said, “We’re ready for round one of You Bet Your Life.  Jane, we’re going to bring you the jewellery that your family members are wearing, and ask you some questions about it.  Amanda, we will start with you.  Take off all your jewellery and place it on the cloth that is in front of you.”


“And if I refuse,” the older woman said.


“You must not refuse,” Fawkes replied as a gun muzzle was placed against Amanda’s head, “or you will lose your life.”  Looking frightened, Amanda started to remove a string of pearls that was around her neck, followed by her earrings and a broach that was on her jacket.  Finally, she took rings off three of her fingers.


“Amanda, kindly point to the most valuable item on the sheet, without letting Jane see.”


Trembling, Amanda pointed at something, before the sheet was placed on the table in front of Jane.


“All right, Jane, for ten points, what is the most valuable item of jewellery in front of you now?  Take your time now.”


Jane looked over the sheet, and then said “I think it’s this ring – it was an eternity ring given to my mother by my late father.”


Fawkes looked at Jane and replied “You are…. Absolutely correct!!  Well done, Jane, and as well as ten points your mother gets a special bonus as well.”


“What?” Amanda replied.


“Your hands tied behind your back,” Fawkes said, and one of his assistants grabbed Amanda’s hands and pulled them behind her back, quickly and efficiently lashing them together with cord.  Jane stood up to protest, but a hand on her shoulder pushed her back down again.


“Now, Carol, it is your turn – all jewellery on the cloth please.”


Carol did as she was asked, before pointing at one item on the sheet.  As it was brought over to Jane, she saw that Carol had placed earrings, a gold chain and bracelets, and various rings on the sheet.


“Again, Jane, for ten points what is the most valuable item on the sheet.”


“Don’t do it, Jane!” Carol shouted out, and Fawkes looked at her.


“I must ask for absolute silence from the other contestants,” he said as one of the gang took a black bandana from their pocket.  Folding it into a pad, they forced the cloth into Carol’s mouth, as Amanda and Julie looked on horrified.


“If either of you interrupt, you will get the same treatment.  Bind her wrists now while Jane considers her answer.”


“The earrings,” Jane said, to which Fawkes replied “Ten more points to you Jane.  Now, how about Julie.”


“Please, she doesn’t have anything valuable, just leave her alone.”


“That, Jane, is also absolutely correct – Julie is not wearing any jewellery of note.  She still, however, gets her hands tied behind her back!!”


As Jane watched, her daughter’s wrists were securely bound as well.  She barely noticed that her own wrists were also been tied together until she felt the tug of the knot being tied.


“Now then, Julie, we come to the next stage.  Which of your three family members has the most in their handbags?  We have them all on the table in front of you – guess which one.”


On the table were placed three black handbags, which Jane recognised as those of the other women.  Swallowing, she replied “None of them – there’s a thousand pounds in cash in my handbag.  Please, just take it and let us go.”


“Jane, you are on fire tonight – you get twenty bonus points – and the right to watch us empty all four handbags into our sacks.  While my assistants do that, I have a very special question for you, Jane.”


“What’s that?” Jane asked as she looked into the white face.


“Which of your three family members is going to help you in the next round – one of them has to leave us now.”



“I’ll go,” Amanda said as she stood up.  “Don’t let them have the satisfaction of making you pick.”


“I salute you, Amanda,” Fawkes said.  “Prepare her.”


Amanda watched as one of the assistants stood in front of her and removed the scarf from around her neck.  Folding it neatly, she held it in front of the older woman’s mouth and gently pushed it into the open space, before taking a thin black scarf and tying it into her mouth to hold the cloth in place.  Taking a large brown scarf, she folded it into a thick band and tied it over Amanda’s eyes, before leading her out of the room


“Give Amanda a big hand everyone,” Fawkes said as Amanda was led out, “We’ll check on Amanda later, but join us in a few minutes for the next round.”


Well, my interest certainly was held now.  I allowed the next few items to wash over my head until we returned to the house.  The scene had shifted to the master bedroom, where Jane was standing next to Fawkes, her arms held to her sides now by ropes around her chest.  Sitting on the bed were Julie and Carol, both similarly bound, but now they also had their ankles crossed and bound.  The cloth was still in Carol’s mouth, but at this stage Julie was still able to speak, although it was plain from the look on her face she was petrified.


“Welcome back, folks.  Before we start round two, let’s see how Amanda is coping.”


The scene shifted to the bathroom, where Amanda was sat in the bath.  Her arms were also bound to her side, and there were ropes around her ankles and her legs.  She seemed to sense someone was there as she looked up and started trying to scream – to no avail, as the cloth in her mouth was effectively gagging her.


“I’m sure she will be fine there, folks.  Now Jane, are you ready for round two?”


“Please, where’s my husband?”


“He’s actually at his work, Jane, and he will be back shortly.  For now, though, let’s play Bedroom Hunt on You Bet Your Life!”


Julie looked up at her mother, saying “Please, Mum, make it stop.”


“It will stop soon, Julie, but for now you mother is going to tell us if we are hot or cold as we search the room for her valuables.  If she’s wrong, you will pay a forfeit, but if she’s right, you’ll be just fine.  Get ready, team.”


There were three gang members in there with the group, and as one grabbed Julie the other two made their way to the large walk-in cupboards.


“Begin!” Fawkes shouted, and they threw the doors open and started to throw boxes and clothes out of the interior.  “Hot or cold, Jane?” Fawkes said, and Jane shouted out “Please, not in there!”


“MUM!” Julie shouted, and as Jane turned she could see a large, sharp knife against Julie’s throat.


“Warm,” she said with a resigned tone, and then guided the two searcher sot a large locked box.  Breaking it open, they tipped the contents out of their velvet cases into a small sack.


“Very good, Jane – but I’m afraid Julie is not allowed to help you in the search.  Before we start again, let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.  Use these,” Fawkes said as he opened a drawer, pulled out a pair of knickers and threw them to the masked woman with Julie.  She wasted no time in sticking them into Julie’s mouth, before taking a knotted bandana and tying it in place, the knot forcing the silky material deep into Julie’s throat.


The game continued for some time, as Jane led them to a few other hiding places while both Julie and Carol watched mutely.  Eventually, the room was in a state of chaos as Fawkes said “Well done, Jane, but now we must leave one of your family behind.  Pick – will it be Julie or Carol that stays here.”


Jane looked at her sister and daughter, before tearfully saying “Julie – I don’t want her to suffer any more."


“Noble words, Jane,” Fawkes said as Julie was made to lie face down on the bed, and her ankles pulled behind her legs until they were above her knees.  Rope was then secured between them and her wrists, before a scarf was used to blindfold the frightened girl.


“We’ll be back for the final round in just a few moments – don’t go away folks!” Fakes said as the screen went blank.


By this time, I was on the edge of my seat, wondering how this was going to end.  Eventually, they returned to the Linton household, where they had moved to an office.  Jane was now secured to a large oak chair, rope wound around her upper body holding her to the chair back while her ankles were crossed and lashed to one of the front legs.


Carol was lying on a recliner, her head resting on the arm.  She was watching her sister, as well as Fawkes and the two remaining gang members, as a panel in the bookcase was pulled back to reveal a very large safe.

“Welcome back to You Bet Your Life!  Today’s contestant, Jane, is about to go for the main prize.  How are you feeling, Jane?”

“Please, let me go, you must have what you want by now.”

“Oh come on, Jane, this is the big one.  For the chance to see your sister released from the bonds holding her, answer this simple question.”

“All right, what’s the question?”

“What is the combination to the safe in your office?”

“Dnt tl hm, jn, dnt tl hm!”

“Time is running out, Jane – the numbers are…..”


“All right, all right, I’ll tell you – just make this madness end please!”


“We’re waiting,” Fawkes said as Jane gave the other two a sequence of numbers.  The safe door was opened, and the two assistants started to empty various items into the bag they were holding.


“Jane, you have been a fantastic contestant, and you have earned maximum points as well as tonight’s star prize!”


“What’s that,” she said as tears started to come down her cheeks.  Fawkes leaned over, and whispered into her ear “You all get to live.”


“Whatmmmmph” Jane said as she opened her mouth to speak, but where sounds would have come out of was filled with a silk scarf, followed by silver duct tape over her mouth.


“That’s all from You Bet Your Life tonight – please give all of our contestants a big hand!!”


The screen split into four, each focusing on one of the four bound and gagged women.  Jane stared furiously at Fawkes as he waved at the camera, before the screen went blank.


The compere of the event then turned to the audience.  “We now have a special treat for all of you.  Unbeknown to the four women, cameras have been left observing them.  The viewer who calls in with the closest time it takes one of them to get free wins a very special prize tonight – a dinner invitation with none other than Madame X!”


“Start dialling with your guesses – calls cost one pound – and why not make a pledge when you do so?  You know it makes sense, and it is in a good cause.”


The big screen behind him lit up with the cameras focused on the four women.  Jane was struggling furiously, trying to move the heavy chair closer to where her sister was lying, while Carol was trying desperately to get the rope around her wrists free.


By contrast, both Julie and Amanda were lying still, obviously listening for any sounds of help approaching, as the clock started ticking in the corner.


Well, what else could I do?  I phoned in, and amazingly enough I won with my guess of two hours, as Julie and Carol between them managed to get themselves free after an almighty struggle.  I’ll join Madame X for dinner soon – I can’t wait to see what she has to say….