To Tell The Truth (Jayverse)

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To Tell the Truth is an American television panel game show in which four celebrity panelists are presented with three contestants (the "team of challengers", each an individual or pair) and must identify which is the "central character" whose unusual occupation or experience has been read out by the show's moderator/host. When the panelists question the contestants, the two "impostors" may lie whereas the "central character" must tell the truth. The setup adds the "impostor" element to the format of What's My Line? and I've Got a Secret.

The show was created by Bob Stewart and originally produced by Mark Goodson–Bill Todman Productions. It aired—both on networks and in syndication—continuously from 1956 to 1978 and intermittently since then until UBC revived it on June 7, 2012 following Take Me Out.


1956 Pilot: Mike Wallace

1956-1968: Bud Collyer

1969-1977: Garry Moore

1977-1978: Joe Garagiola

1979-1981: Robin Ward

1990: Gordon Elliott

1990-1991: Lynn Swann

1991: Alex Trebek

2000-2002: John O'Hurley

2012-2016: Cat Deeley

2016-Present: Anthony Anderson


1965: Gene Rayburn

1967, 1991: Mark Goodson

1968: Bert Convy

1960's, 1972 & 1977: Bill Cullen


1956-1960: Bern Bennett

1960-1972: Johnny Olson

1972-1977: Bill Wendell

1977-1981: Alan Kalter

1990-1991, 2000-2002, 2012-2017: Burton Richardson


1956-1967: CBS Primetime

1962-1968: CBS Daytime

1969-1978: Syndication distributed by Firestone Film Syndication

1980-1981: Syndication distributed by Viacom Enterprises

1990-1991: NBC Daytime

2000-2002: Syndication distributed by Pearson Television

2012-Present: UBC Primetime (The Series debuted on June 7, 2012 following Take Me Out)


To start, three contestants all of whom claim to be the same person introduced themselves (most of the time the contestants are of the same sex, on rare occasions there would be a mixture of both sexes), then the host read the sworn affidavit of the real person. After the affidavit was read and when the challengers went over to their desk, the panelists one by one asked a series of questions to the challengers based on the affidavit in some way for an unmentioned amount of time. Once one panelist's time was up, another panelist started questioning, except in the 2016 version, where the panelists simply took turns asking one question per turn until time was up. The impostors were allowed to lie, but the real person was game bound to tell the truth (hence the name of the show). Once the entire panel's time was up, they started to vote for whoever was the real person. Each panelist showed his/her vote, and regardless of whoever they voted for, the appropriate panelist's vote for the appropriate contestant was signified by an "X" (in most versions the Xs appeared in lights, but in the 90s version only, the Xs were on flip cards), except in the 2012 version, where it was signified by the panelist's name in the second season. Once all the votes were cast, the real person then revealed himself/herself by standing up by virtue of the host saying "Will the real (insert person's name) please stand up?". After the real person revealed himself/herself, the impostors told everyone their real names & occupations; then there was a brief chat (sometimes a stunt) to the real person. For each incorrect vote, the team of challengers won some money.

Panelist's Diqualification

Sometimes, a panelist would recognize or actually know one of the challengers, not necessarily the real person. If and when that happened, the panelist can disqualify himself/herself (later renamed recusal) causing an automatic wrong vote and giving the challengers money for that vote.

Audience Vote

In two of the versions (one of them being the original and the other the one in 2000) as well as the 50s pilot, the audience got in on the fun by making a vote themselves. The challenger with the majority vote got that vote. In case of a two-way or three-way tie, it worked the same as the panelist's disqualification; for that vote was considered wrong and the challengers picked up the incorrect vote value.

One on One

On two versions after two regular games of To Tell the Truth were played, one special game was played called "One on One". There were two versions of "One on One" on both versions.

1980 Version

Impostors from both games played the "One on One" game. In this game, an interesting fact about one of the impostors was revealed to the panel for the first time. Each panelist asked a series of questions to the impostor across from them. After 20 seconds of questioning, each panelist decided if the impostor across from each one had the fact or not. When all said & done, the impostor with the fact stood up, and each incorrect guess was worth $100, with a complete stump paying off $500.

1990 Version

In this version, a member of the studio audience faced a brand new contestant who told two stories (which appeared in single words to the home viewers), one of them being the truth. All the audience member had to do was spot the true story. To help out, the panel would each ask a single question about each story. When the cross-examination was done, the audience member made his/her decision as to which was the true story afterwhich the contestant revealed the true story by saying "To tell the truth… (insert correct story)". A correct decision won the audience member $500, but an incorrect decision won the contestant $1,000 (except on the pilot).

Theme Music

Theme Music from the 1990 Revival on NBC which was hosted by Gordon Elliott (and later Lynn Swann and then Alex Trebek) performed by Score Productions

Theme Music from the Cat Deeley Era of To Tell The Truth which was used from 2012-2016 performed by Take 6 with Music by Score Productions (The Theme was Supposed to be used for the 1990 revival, but not made it to the air)

Theme Vamp from the Cat Deeley Era of To Tell The Truth with No Vocals with music performed by Score Productions (The Theme was Supposed to be used for the 1990 revival, but not made it to the air)