Sábado Gigante is produced in the Spanish language; it is an eclectic and frenetic mix of Variety show and game show with celebrity guests ranging from singers to movie stars to world leaders. From its start it has been hosted by Mario Kreutzberger, known as Don Francisco.
Don Francisco originated the weekly program in 1962 airing on Channel 13 in Chile under the name "Sábados Alegres", which was soon changed to "Sábados Gigantes". He had been inspired by television shows he had seen in the USA and Argentina but, as he explained, "My idea was mixing all the programs that I saw in one program". The show quickly developed a loyal following in Chile, and then throughout Latin America.
Don Francisco (later joined by his daughter) hosted a new show every week thereafter in programs ranging over the years from 2 hours to 4 hours long (for a while they lasted even longer – up to seven hours for special shows). The show now lasts at least 2½ hours every Saturday. Don Francisco has said the only way he will not do the show is if he is dead.
In 1985 Don Francisco and the program moved to Miami, Florida, where the program began to be produced by Univision. At this time the title was changed from the plural to the singular "Sábado Gigante", although some long time fans in Latin America still call it "Sábados Gigantes".
For a while, two programs were recorded each week from identical sets: one in Miami, Florida, was broadcast in most Latin American countries and on Spanish language stations in the United States and Europe, while a second program was recorded in Santiago, Chile, for broadcast in Chile, Don Francisco's home country.
In 1992 the Guinness Book of Records recognized it as the longest-running weekly television show in history. A new show has been produced every week in its history with no reruns. The only longer running television show is the monthly The Sky at Night which, coincidentally, also has had only one presenter, a new show every month, and no reruns throughout its history.
In its early years the show was broadcast live, with the exception of short segments, notably the pre-filmed "Traveling Camera" segment where Don Francisco visited locations around the world.
On the 40th anniversary of the show in 2002 it was calculated that Don Francisco had been on the air for the equivalent of 600 continuous days, had traveled more than 2.8 million miles for the show's weekly travel segment, hosted more than 1.5 million contestants and guests, and had given away more than 3,000 automobiles plus over USD $50 million in prizes.
See also: Don Francisco