You know, just to spice things up a little.
Catchphrase used computer graphics and a little character called Mr Chips to cryptically act out well-known phrases (later, when they had run out of sayings, they included film and song titles). Two contestants then had to buzz in with their correct answer and the person with the most points went through to the final. This was called Super Catchphrase - a word search format which required them to move across an alphabet board in a straight line, guessing all the catchphrases behind each letter. I suppose it owed a lot to A Question Of Sport’s Picture Board round or Blockbusters.
The real pleasure in watching Catchphrase came from the contestants. They often took Roy Walker’s advice a little too literally when he said “say what you see!” For example, if Mr Chips was illustrating the phrase “don’t put all your eggs in one basket”, the contestant might buzz in and say “er, man with two baskets, er, sharing out some eggs” to which Roy would reply “Ooooh, that’s good….but not quite right!” (in later series, he developed a very annoying habit of excitedly shouting their answer back to them which implied that they were correct, only to say “you’re wrong” in a deflated tone).
However, there is one episode that earns the show a place in the television vaults.
Words don’t actually do it justice. Just watch this:
I particularly like the way in which the innuendo went straight over the head of the female contestant, Marita. Although having said that, she also had one thousand pounds less than the male contestant so she obviously wasn’t the greatest catchphrase-spotter either.
By the end of the nineties, Roy Walker decided that he would step down as Catchphrase host. He has rarely been seen on television since, bar some appearances on Phoenix Nights and all those talking head shows about classic television (usually just to talk about that clip).
The show was never the same with the new presenter Nick Weir (although he did manage to fall down the stairs at the beginning of his very first episode, breaking his leg in the process. He seemed to confuse Catchphrase with You’ve Been Framed, and ended up presenting the rest of the series on crutches). They tried to revive it again more recently with ex-Blue Peter presenter Mark Curry.
However, it was quite clear that the show had enjoyed its peak a long time ago and I preferred not to spoil my memory of what was a genuinely entertaining programme.