Catchphrase (UK game show)
|Created by||Steven Radosh|
|Presented by||Roy Walker (1986–99)
Nick Weir (2000–1, 2002–4)
Mark Curry (2002)
Stephen Mulhern (2013–)
|Narrated by||Andrew Lodge (1986)
Nick Jackson (1987–94)
Ted Robbins (1994–6, 1998–9)
Charles Foster (1998)
Robin Kermode (1998–9)
Chris Jarvis (2000–1, 2002–4)
Peter Dickson (2002)
Jonathan Gould (2013–)
|Theme music composer||Ed Welch (1986–94)
Simon Etchell (1994–2004)
Marc Sylvan & Richard Jacques (2013–)
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||19|
|No. of episodes||369 (inc. 9 celebrity specials and 1 family special)|
|Location(s)||The Maidstone Studios (1986–92)
Television Centre (1993–5)
Carlton Studios (1996–2004)
The London Studios (2013–)
|Running time||30 minutes (1986–2004)
45–60 minutes (2013–)
|Production company(s)||TVS in association with Action Time (12 January 1986 – 28 October 1994)
Action Time and Carlton (4 November 1994 – 23 April 2004)
STV in association with Digital Rights Group (7 April 2013 – present)
|Distributor||ABC Family Worldwide
|Original channel||ITV, STV, UTV|
|Picture format||(4:3 SDTV) (1986–2000)
(16:9 SDTV) (2001–4)
(16:9 HDTV) (2013–)
|Original run||12 January 1986– present|
|Related shows||All Clued Up
Catchphrase is a British game show based on the short-lived U.S. game show of the same name. It originally aired on ITV in the United Kingdom between 12 January 1986 and 23 April 2004. A currently running revival premiered on ITV on 7 April 2013 and has aired two series.
Catchphrase was presented by Northern Irish comedian Roy Walker from its 1986 premiere until 1999, airing weekly at night. Nick Weir took the programme over in 2000 and hosted it until the end of series 16 on 23 April 2004. Mark Curry replaced Weir for the final series, which moved to a daytime slot and ran from 24 June to 19 December 2002. When the series was revived in 2013, Stephen Mulhern was named presenter.
In the original series, two contestants, one male and one female would have to identify the familiar phrase represented by a piece of animation accompanied by background music. The show's mascot, a golden robot called "Mr. Chips", appears in many of the animations. In the revived version of the show, the same format remains, but there are three contestants.
- 1 Format
- 2 Production history
- 3 Revival (2013—)
- 4 Transmissions
- 5 Ratings
- 6 Mr. Chips
- 7 Family Catchphrase
- 8 Notable moments
- 9 Theme music
- 10 Games
- 11 References
- 12 External links
In the main game, at the start of each standard round, one contestant stopped a randomiser consisting of money amounts by hitting his/her button. The value landed on would be the amount for the normal catchphrases in that round.
In the Nick Weir series, there was no money randomiser; the cash prize was set as default to £100 in round 1 and £150 in round 2. In Weir's third and final series, the round 2 amount for a normal catchphrase was doubled to £200, and for the final series with Mark Curry, these were replaced with the corresponding points values.
The cash prizes of £100 and £200 respectively for the two standard rounds were retained for the revived Mulhern series in 2013. A third round was played in the celebrity special, where the cash prizes were worth £300.
For the revived 2013 series, three contestants start the game instead of two. An extra round was therefore added in which the three contestants compete to guess catchphrases on the screen, and the first two contestants to correctly guess three catchphrases would advance to the main game. This round is not used in the celebrity specials.
For the first round, the computer would slowly draw a catchphrase on the screen accompanied by background music (the 2013 series uses CGI computer animation). When most of the catchphrase had been revealed, a bell would sound and the contestants could then buzz in and try to guess the answer. If the player that buzzed in guessed incorrectly, the other player would be offered the chance to guess. If a player guessed correctly, he/she would win the predetermined amount and then have a chance to solve the bonus catchphrase.
When Nick Weir took over as host in 2000, not only would contestants win the money allocated but they would also win spot prizes if a sound was played after the contestant guessed a catchphrase correctly. During the 2001 series, this new feature was changed, with the (now different) sound to indicate a spot prize could be won being played before the catchphrase was shown, this was carried over into the revived Mulhern series. In Weir's final series in 2002, the spot prize was removed and instead, one catchphrase in the first round of the game was also worth a 'Travel Bonus' prize, which was generally a weekend/short break away in a European city. If one player got a normal catchphrase wrong and the other player incorrectly guesses the same catchphrase, the game would just continue with neither player getting the predetermined amount of money or a chance at solving the bonus catchphrase. There was no bell used for the first half of the game for the Weir/Curry/Mulhern era.
A correct answer won the contestant the predetermined money amount, plus a chance to solve the bonus catchphrase, which was hidden behind nine squares with the show's logo on each (or random shapes in the Nick Weir/Mark Curry era). The contestant chose a square by hitting his/her buzzer to stop a randomiser on one of them. That square was then removed, and the contestant had five seconds to come up with an answer. If they were right, they won the amount of money in the bonus bank. If not, another normal catchphrase was played.
In series 1, the bonus bank would start at £100 and increase by £100 each round for the first two episodes and for the rest of that series, it would start at £50 and increase by £50 each round. This format carried on from series 2 until series 9. In series 10 (the first Carlton series), it would start at £150 and increase by £50 each round, but £10 would be deducted for each square removed. From series 11 until series 15, it would start at £200 and increase by £50 each round, again with £10 deducted for each square removed but in series 16 (Nick Weir's third and final series), in the first half of the game, the bonus bank still started at £200 and would increase by £200 in round 2. In rounds 1 and 2, it would still eliminate £10 for every random shape removed. In the second half, it would start at £1,000 and increase by £1,000 in round 4. In round 3, it would reduce by £100 and in round 4, it would reduce by £200. For the final series (with Mark Curry), the pound values were replaced with corresponding point values.
If the bonus catchphrase was not solved after all nine squares had been removed, normal catchphrases would be played without the bell, the first contestant to buzz in and answer correctly winning the amount of money remaining in the bonus bank.
Depending on how long it took to solve the bonus catchphrase, another game would be played with a higher possible amount in the randomiser and a larger amount in the bonus bank.
In the revived 2013 series, the bonus catchphrase is set at £500 for round 1 and £1,000 for round 2, but does not reduce when a square is removed (just like in the TVS years).
From series 2, (the Roy Walker era) a new feature which was not seen in the US version, the "Ready Money Round", was introduced. This round followed a similar structure to a standard round, except that all normal catchphrases were worth a fixed amount of money (originally £50) and there was no bell, so the contestants could buzz in and answer them whenever they wished and as many times until the puzzle is solved or time runs out. In the TVS series from 1986 to 1994, this round was played only once (normally after the commercial break, but sometimes before-hand), subsequent rounds being played as standard with the bell and money randomiser. In the Carlton series from 1994 to 1999, however, all of the rounds in part two (up until the end of round klaxon) were ready money rounds. In series 11, the amount for a normal catchphrase increased to £100. From series 12-13, it increased to £125. If the end of round klaxon sounds and the bonus catchphrase had yet to be solved, the panels would be gradually removed until a player buzzed in with an answer. If neither player guessed correctly, a normal catchphrase would determine who won the bonus bank money.
In 2000, when Nick Weir took over as host, this round was replaced by the "Cash Countdown", in which the amount for each normal catchphrase started at £250 before quickly counting down towards zero. The quicker the contestants could answer, the more money they would win. In 2001, the starting value was increased to £500.
This round was retained in the Mark Curry series, but renamed the "Catchphrase Countdown" due to the show having abandoned pounds in favour of points.
The Mulhern series adopts a similar format to the "Ready Money Round", renaming it as the "Quickfire Round". All catchphrases in this round are worth £500, but no bonus catchphrase is played in this part of the game. The round instead ends straightaway upon the sounding of the time out klaxon.
The player with the most money won the game and played the Super Catchphrase. Both players kept their money. In the Curry series, the player with the most points won £250 but the player who didn't win was given a consolation prize, usually a digital camera.
In the Super Catchphrase, the winning contestant faced a 5 x 5 board of 25 squares, each marked with a letter from A to Y in ascending order. The contestant chose a square and attempted to solve a catchphrase behind it. During the Roy Walker era, the aim was to get five squares in 60 seconds.
In the TVS years, if the contestant got five squares in such a way that they made a row or column (horizontally or vertically) on the board, they would win a prize such as a TV or a microwave oven. However, if they could make a row, column or diagonal through the central "M" square (which Walker often claimed was the most difficult), they would win a holiday somewhere in the world. If they ran out of time, they won a smaller prize (such as £25 in series 1 and from series 2 until 9, a camera or a food processor) for each correct square.
When Carlton picked up the show in 1994, the top prize remained a holiday, but the lesser prizes were replaced by cash. Each correct square was worth £50, while any five at random that did not make a row, column or diagonal through the "M" square earned a bonus £50. In early 1998, the amount for a correct square was doubled to £100 and the bonus was also doubled to £100. In late 1998, the bonus was worth £500. In series 10, the star prize was always a holiday around the world, flying to eight different locations. From series 11 onwards, the star prize holiday was chosen by one of the contestants at random, using a similar style to the money randomiser at the start of each game.
When Nick Weir took over as host in 2000, the format of the super catchphrase changed considerably. Now, in a similar fashion as on Blockbusters, the contestant had to make their way from the left-hand side of the board to the right (in a horizontal line), making adjoining moves and passing on a square meant that they would be blocked and would have to find an alternative path (excluding diagonals). This format was also used in the Mark Curry series. As before, the top prize was a holiday. In Weir's first series in 2000, the holiday randomiser remained, but from series 15 (2001), this was dropped and instead both contestants each nominated a location of their choice to go to if they won, revealed at the beginning of the show. In the Curry daytime series in 2002, this feature was still included but the choice was limited to somewhere in Europe, and these choices were revealed before the second round of the main game. Each square was worth £100 if the contestant was not successful in getting all the way across the board.
If the contestant won the super catchphrase, not only did they win a holiday but they also got the total of their prize winnings (from series 10 til 16). In series 10 until 14, the contestant was given extra money to spend, in series 10, it was £1,000 in series 11, it was £2,000, from series 12 to 14, it was £3,000. If the contestant failed to win the super catchphrase, the money that the squares were worth was added to the contestant's money he/she won in the main game. During series 17, Mark Curry the contestant also won £250 for making it across the screen as well as making it to the super catchphrase, so the contestant would win £1,000 in total.
In the Stephen Mulhern era, there were 15 numbered squares in the form of a pyramid (with 15 at the top) with each row, starting at the bottom, being worth a higher amount of money (£2,500/£5,000/£10,000/£25,000/£50,000). Number 11 in the middle was highlighted and correctly answering it awarded a bonus prize, which is usually a luxury holiday.
Catchphrase was originally made by TVS in association with Action Time at their Maidstone Studios from 1986, produced by Graham C Williams and executive produced by John Kaye Cooper. In 1994, the format was picked up by Carlton Television and fully produced by Action Time Productions, in 1996 (series 11), Catchphrase moved to Carlton's (formerly Central Independent Television) studios in Lenton Lane, Nottingham where it stayed until the show's demise on 19 December 2002.
Roy Walker left the show in 1999 and was replaced by Nick Weir in January 2000, whose first moments as host saw him tripping on the stairs; the next moments were from when the taping resumed a day later, with Weir using a cast and crutches. After two searies and two years of presenting, Weir was dismissed due to unpopularity and was replaced by ex-Blue Peter presenter, Mark Curry. This was a move from weekly nighttime to a daytime series with changes such having no audience (using Canned Audience) and by re-using Catchphrases going as far back as the Walker era.
The daytime series ran until the end of 2002, but was typically re-run sporadically afterwards up to at least 2005. A third series (series 16) that Weir recorded in 2001 prior to his departure was originally scrapped from transmission, but later aired over the course of a two year period from late 2002 until early 2004. These were usually shown in late afternoon/early evening slots on Sundays and Bank Holidays.
Catchphrase ended on 23 April 2004 after 18 years due to declining ratings, and many viewers felt that Walker's departure had seen the quality of the show suffer. It was revived in 2013 by STV Productions and Digital Rights Group, with Stephen Mulhern as presenter.
Challenge (originally known as "The Family Channel" until 1997) has aired Catchphrase several times since 1993, mainly the Walker era. It re-ran the TVS (1986–1992) series until 2000, and the Carlton (1994–1999) series since 2004. In 2006, it began showing series 14 and 15 (Weir era). On 29 April 2013, it was announced that series 14 and 15 would return to Challenge from 7 June 2013 at 18:00, originally planned for July, but quickly moved forward. In September 2013, ITV began to air the 2013 revival series. In April 2014, Challenge began to air series 17 (daytime series with Curry). On 23 June 2014, series 16 (Weir's final series), began airing from its original run.
A successful pilot was made by STV Productions and Digital Rights Group on 27 August 2012 at The London Studios. The original format remains, although there are now three contestants instead of two, and the show has also been updated with new 3D graphics and a new concluding game.
On 9 October 2012, ITV announced that it had ordered a full series, with Stephen Mulhern as presenter. The show began airing back in primetime on 7 April 2013 at 18:45 on ITV and aired subsequent Sundays at the time.
The first of the revived series consisted of nine episodes, each of 45 minutes in length (except celebrity specials), with three contestants in the opening round instead of two. In the opening round, contestants attempt to guess three catchphrases, with the first two to get three correct going through to play for cash. There are also spot prizes on offer, once a chime is heard, which can only be won if the contestant gets the right answer. This format continued for the second series.
On 21 August 2013, it was confirmed by ITV that the show would return for a second revived series (19th overall) hosted by Mulhern again. ITV ordered nine regular episodes, plus three celebrity specials. The series was pre-recorded in September 2013 and aired from 16 March 2014.
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes|
|1||12 January 1986||18 May 1986||19|
|2||4 January 1987||17 May 1987||20|
|3||9 January 1988||14 May 1988||18|
|4||8 January 1989||26 March 1989||12|
|5||2 September 1989||10 February 1990||23|
|6||1 September 1990||2 March 1991||24|
|7||19 October 1991||14 December 1991||9|
|8||27 June 1992||24 October 1992||18|
|9||28 August 1993||28 October 1994||26|
|10||4 November 1994||23 March 1996||17|
|11||10 July 1998||21 April 1999||19|
|12||3 January 1998||1 November 1998||16|
|13||21 November 1998||13 November 1999||16|
|14||7 January 2000||18 August 2000||26|
|15||13 January 2001||12 May 2001||16|
|16||24 November 2002||23 April 2004||21|
|17||24 June 2002||19 December 2002||52|
|18||7 April 2013||2 June 2013||8|
|19||16 March 2014||18 May 2014||9|
|Episode no.||Air date||Viewers
|ITV weekly ranking|
|1||3 January 1998|
|2||10 January 1998|
|3||17 January 1998|
|4||7 February 1998|
|5||14 February 1998|
|6||21 February 1998|
|7||28 February 1998|
|8||7 March 1998|
|9||14 March 1998|
|10||21 March 1998|
|11||4 April 1998|
|12||18 April 1998|
|13||25 April 1998|
|14||2 May 1998|
|15||9 May 1998|
|16||1 November 1998||7.75||28|
|Episode no.||Air date||Viewers
|ITV weekly ranking|
|1||21 November 1998||6.56||30|
|2||28 November 1998||Under 6.46||Outside Top 30|
|3||5 December 1998||Under 6.87||Outside Top 30|
|4||19 December 1998||Under 6.87||Outside Top 30|
|5||16 January 1999||Under 8.90||Outside Top 30|
|6||23 January 1999||Under 6.82||Outside Top 30|
|7||30 January 1999||Under 7.31||Outside Top 30|
|8||6 February 1999||Under 7.70||Outside Top 30|
|9||13 February 1999||Under 7.87||Outside Top 30|
|10||20 February 1999||Under 6.88||Outside Top 30|
|11||27 February 1999||Under 6.98||Outside Top 30|
|12||3 October 1999||6.99||24|
|13||10 October 1999||7.46||20|
|14||16 October 1999||Under 5.93||Outside Top 30|
|15||23 October 1999||Under 6.15||Outside Top 30|
|16||13 November 1999||Under 7.80||Outside Top 30|
|Episode no.||Air date||Viewers
|ITV weekly ranking|
|1||7 January 2000||8.22||19|
|2||14 January 2000||8.99||16|
|3||21 January 2000||7.90||25|
|4||28 January 2000||7.71||21|
|5||4 February 2000||8.57||17|
|6||11 February 2000||8.33||19|
|7||25 February 2000||7.69||23|
|8||10 March 2000||7.17||21|
|9||17 March 2000||7.39||18|
|10||31 March 2000||6.53||29|
|11||7 April 2000||6.36||25|
|12||14 April 2000||6.86||23|
|13||21 April 2000||7.71||18|
|14||28 April 2000||7.08||18|
|15||5 May 2000||7.12||21|
|16||19 May 2000||6.72||22|
|17||26 May 2000||7.00||18|
|18||2 June 2000||6.65||21|
|19||9 June 2000||7.23||18|
|20||23 June 2000||5.92||22|
|21||30 June 2000||7.01||17|
|22||7 July 2000||6.39||19|
|23||21 July 2000||5.52||24|
|24||28 July 2000||7.66||12|
|25||11 August 2000||6.10||15|
|26||18 August 2000||6.51||19|
|Episode no.||Air date||Viewers
|ITV weekly ranking|
|1||13 January 2001||Under 5.86||Outside Top 30|
|2||20 January 2001||Under 6.29||Outside Top 30|
|3||27 January 2001||6.29||29|
|4||3 February 2001||Under 6.05||Outside Top 30|
|5||10 February 2001||6.62||28|
|6||17 February 2001||Under 5.73||Outside Top 30|
|7||24 February 2001||Under 5.86||Outside Top 30|
|8||3 March 2001||Under 6.15||Outside Top 30|
|9||10 March 2001||Under 5.64||Outside Top 30|
|10||17 March 2001||Under 5.92||Outside Top 30|
|11||24 March 2001||5.93||27|
|12||7 April 2001||Under 5.58||Outside Top 30|
|13||21 April 2001||Under 5.18||Outside Top 30|
|14||28 April 2001||Under 5.22||Outside Top 30|
|15||5 May 2001||Under 4.81||Outside Top 30|
|16||12 May 2001||Under 4.51||Outside Top 30|
|Episode no.||Air date||Viewers
|ITV weekly ranking||Share|
|1||7 April 2013||4.73||16||23.0%|
|2||14 April 2013||5.20||16||25.8%|
|3||21 April 2013||4.79||16||23.6%|
|4||28 April 2013||4.41||17||21.5%|
|5||5 May 2013||3.59||19||20.5%|
|6||12 May 2013||4.11||19||18.4%|
|7||19 May 2013||3.95||16||22.3%|
|8||2 June 2013||3.13||25||%|
|Episode no.||Air date||Viewers
|ITV weekly ranking||Share|
|1||16 March 2014||4.34||14|
|2||23 March 2014||3.62||17|
|3||6 April 2014||3.54||19|
|4||13 April 2014||3.41||21|
|5||20 April 2014||3.17||19|
|6||27 April 2014||3.47||19|
|7||4 May 2014||3.16||18|
|8||11 May 2014||3.27||16|
|9||18 May 2014||2.81||18|
|ITV weekly ranking||Share|
|2 April 1988||Debbie Greenwood, Bob Holness, Matthew Kelly, Jessica Martin|
|31 December 1988||Lionel Blair, Anita Harris, Maggie Moone, Chris Tarrant|
|23 December 1989||Christopher Biggins, Jeffrey Holland, Ruth Madoc, Steve Nallon, Nick Owen, Su Pollard, Debbie Rix, Paul Shane|
|5 January 1991||June Brown, Peter Dean, Wayne Dobson, Linda Lusardi, Barry McGuigan, Pamela Power, Tessa Sanderson, Kenneth Waller|
|26 May 2013||Kym Lomas, Steve Pemberton, Rosemary Shrager||4.07||17||24.9%|
|29 December 2013||Michael Ball, Michelle Collins, Carol Vorderman||3.50||23|
|30 March 2014||David Walliams, Kimberley Walsh and Emma Willis||3.24||20|
|1 June 2014||Jo Brand, Charlie Condou, Denise van Outen||3.80||22|
|22 June 2014||Mel Giedroyc, Ashley Roberts, Tim Vine||2.38||19|
Family specials (Roy Walker era)
|1 January 1994||The Grant family vs The Pepper family|
Car Park Catchphrase
In homage to the show, a popular radio parody of Catchphrase, entitled Car Park Catchphrase was broadcast on The Chris Moyles Show on BBC Radio 1 from January 2004 until December 2005. It returned to the airwaves on 8 January 2007. It was taken off the air again because of the phone-in competitions being suspended but later returned. The format in comparison to the TV show slightly changed and required callers to play from their cars and 'honk' their horns when they knew the catchphrase being described. Roy Walker himself records voice samples for the game.
The series' original mascot is a golden robot called "Mr. Chips". The figure often appeared in the animations for the catchphrases. Mr. Chips was originally depicted as being quite tall, but as the series progressed, he became a smaller figure. Variations of the mascot sometimes appeared in the animations, such as Mr. Chips with a lemon for a head (for the catchphrase "Lemonheads" on the episode broadcast 28 October 1994).
Along with Walker, the Mr. Chips character was not featured outside of the closing credits in the 2000 series. Instead, a family of a father, mother, son and two other men appeared. These characters were also featured in the opening sequence, showing the family trying to 'catch' the 'letters' of the phrase "Catchphrase", the family themselves as the letters of "Catch". This family were not as popular as Mr. Chips, but despite this, the family appeared until the series finished in 2002. Mr. Chips did eventually return to the main game for the final 2002 series, and he was also brought back for the current revival series.
"Snake charmer" (1995)
One of the most famous moments in the show's history included a ready money bonus catchphrase where the answer to the puzzle was "Snake charmer". However, the puzzle was uncovered in such a way which caused the audience, the contestants and host Roy Walker to laugh uncontrollably as the game went on as it appeared Mr. Chips (and the snake) had been doing something inappropriate.
Originally broadcast on ITV on 6 January 1995, digital channel Challenge sometimes broadcasts this episode (albeit with modified animation), and it has appeared on many "out-take" or "blooper" shows, such as It'll be Alright on the Night (the episode titled Alright on the Night's Cockup Trip, first aired on 12 October 1996).
"Dicing with death" (2014)
On the 2014 Mother's Day special, one of the Bonus Catchphrases was "Dicing with death". The first piece revealed was of a hand moving up and down in a rapid motion near the person's waist, making it look like the person may have been masturbating. Like the aforementioned "Snake charmer" incident, this caused the entire studio to break out in laughter as the picture was revealed in a similar manner.
Catchphrase's original theme tune and incidental music were composed by television composer Ed Welch, whose original version of the theme was used for the TVS incarnation of the show, until 28 October 1994. It was also used on Family Catchphrase in 1994.
The show returned on 4 November 1994 with a brand new look and now being produced by Action Time for Carlton Television. The show's theme and incidental music was re-tuned, and was composed by Simon Etchell whose version was used from 1994 to 1999, with some slight alterations made in late 1998.
From 2000 to 2004, a third version of the Catchphrase theme music was used. It was a re-mixed and "jazzed-up" version of the previous theme, composed by Simon Etchell and was used alongside a revamped title sequence followed by a new studio set.
From 2013 onwards, a fourth version was introduced, based on Ed Welch's original theme and composed by Marc Sylvan and Richard Jacques. A new title sequence, logo and studio set was also created for the series.
The first series was voiced by Andrew Lodge. Nick Jackson replaced him from series 2 until series 9 where the original run ended. Ted Robbins took over the voiceover's mascot, followed by Charles Foster briefly in series 11 (Robbins later returned for series 12), and finally Robin Kermode during series 13, which was Walker's final series.
|This section needs additional citations for verification. (July 2014)|
A number of board game adaptations of Catchphrase were released over the years. Paul Lamond Games released the first edition in 1987, followed by a "Junior Edition" in 1990, and two separate editions by Britannia Games in 2001 and 2002. An adaptation based on the current series was released by Drumond Park in 2013, followed by Classic Catchphrase, released by Ideal in 2014.
The first DVD game was released in 2005, and in November 2007, Walker returned to host an all-new interactive DVD game, complete with original theme music and Mr. Chips. Roy Walker also voiced the interactive play along version of Catchphrase on WedigTV.
In May 2013, a new Catchphrase app was released for Android, Apple inc. and Amazon kindle devices. On the Apple store, the app costs £0.69 and a free version of the app that went up to round 4 instead of having all 20 rounds.
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