TV Cream

TV: C is for...


LIKE A PETULANT BOOMERANG this keeps coming back, although we’re sure that they’ve done every “phrase” in the English language about ten times now and they’re throwing in stuff like “Walking Down The Street”, like that’s a catchphrase. Anyhow, 80s-Sunday-night-just-after-HIGHWAY vintage is your main concern, with sometime blue comic ROY WALKER asking you to “say what you see” in response to a badly-drawn computer image of a phrase or term, Dingbats-style. Animations starred the inimitable MR. CHIPS, a bizarre Chad-like character, about whom Roy would repeatedly ask, “What’s Mr. Chips doing?” Neon tube lights abounded on the set, and yes, we had that all-important ROTATING STRUCTURE which was compulsory for game shows in the 1980s. This was the biggest, though, with the contestants perched precariously near the edge, and then – as if that wasn’t enough – a second rotating structure on the left which served no purpose whatsoever. Show’s own catchphrase is above, along with “here’s another catchphrase”, “five seconds, here we go”, “it’s good, but it’s not right” (which Walker always said even if Joe Public couldn’t have been more wrong) and after the adverts, “it’s fast and furious in the Ready Money Round!” when show employed oft-used tactic of doubling all the prize money. Piccies accompanied by instantly recognised jingles: the upbeat one, the slightly quirky one, the desert/Middle Eastern one etc etc. Final was working out catchphrases against the clock, leading to many hilarious wrong answers from panicking punters (though the heart beat-style clock music didn’t help). Buzzer noise was grand, as was title sequence, with us flying through some weird maze on another planet.



  1. Glam Racket

    July 30, 2009 at 7:56 pm

    Walker: It’s good but it’s not right. What’s Mr Chips doing? Say what you see etc etc
    Contestant: He’s having a wank Roy.

  2. Arthur Nibble

    July 30, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Didn’t the contestants only ever have their first names announced? Both rude and informal at the same time.

  3. Lee James Turnock

    May 5, 2010 at 4:18 pm

    Possibly apocryphal outtake…
    “Say what you see!”
    Contestant replies – “A smug Irish git!”

  4. Des Elmes

    September 25, 2010 at 11:01 pm

    The second rotating structure DID have a purpose – it displayed the lettered grid and catchphrases for the final round.

    The show actually ended as a result of TVS losing their franchise, but returned less than two years later, in the autumn of 1994, after it had been picked up by Carlton (yes, you read that right). Fortunately, almost everything stayed the same – even the title sequence still had a maze in it.

    But then came the new millennium… the less said about that revamp, the better. Of course, it’s best remembered for Roy’s replacement announcing his arrival by falling down the studio steps and breaking his foot.

  5. Richard16378

    November 30, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    The Snake Charmer puzzle always seems to make it into shows of bloopers, along with the Countdown “POOF” clips.

    I’ve seen it at least 10 times & it still cracks me up, especially as it made it into the finished show.

  6. David

    September 2, 2016 at 2:08 pm

    Roy walker era only time I watched it now it’s crap with godawful Stephen mulhern

  7. Scott McPhee

    July 21, 2017 at 7:42 am

    This is the kind of show that could only work in the UK.

    An Australian version wasn’t very successful.

    The trouble with Catch Phrase, is that no one would use the phrases in everyday speech.

  8. Richardpd

    January 3, 2022 at 2:18 pm

    While Stephen Mulhern isn’t as good as Roy Walker presenting, the animation in recent years is a lot smoother, with realistic characters though Mr Chips is kept as a mascot character.

    The main board is back to being a 3×3 grid rather than that weird segmented one in the Mark Curry era.

    TV Offal added some not safe for work examples.

    At one time Challenge were repeating the TVS run of the show, I presume Carlton or someone else managed to buy the back catalogue. A lot of the TVS paperwork was shredded when they lost their franchise, & their other master tapes were stuck in a load of shipping containers in a yard in Eastleigh Trading Estate as no-one could work out who owned them.

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