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Celebrity Squares

“HELLO CELEBRITIES!” The plea bargain to lure LORD BOB MONKHOUSE back to [cref 879 THE GOLDEN SHOT], “the big box game of stars and cars” was loads more glamorous than his previous archery-based extravaganza, helped by the presence of HERMIONE GINGOLD and VINCENT PRICE in the first show. Basically noughts and crosses on the telly, the game was piss-easy to play along with, especially for the contestants who only had to guess whether Garry Bushell knew the answer to a trivia question or not. The answer’s no, by the way. The first incarnation was enlivened by KENNY EVERETT on voiceovers, who was bored witless throughout recordings and spent most of the time playing Scrabble in the booth with his agent. After four years it ended before returning in the nineties, with Lord Bob still firing on all cylinders but having to put up with a much lower standard of celebrity, like “star of DESMONDS” KIM WALKER, CY “EMMERDALE” CHADWICK or a Chippendale mysteriously billed as simply “CHIPPENDALE” on his desk. Still, seeing Bob trade gags with the likes of YVETTE FIELDING had a curious sort of appeal. Best Bob Catchphrase – “We’ll be back in a flash with double the cash!”

18 Comments

18 Comments

  1. FishyFish

    June 25, 2009 at 1:40 pm

    Was it the case that Willie Rushton occupied the centre square in every episode (of the original run)? It certainly sempt that way.

    I don’t recall us watching the show much at home, but it was a favourite of my Grandma, and so it was on my grandparent’s telly regularly when we went to visit (along with Sale of the Century).

  2. Arthur Nibble

    June 25, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    ‘Sempt’? I’ve never heard that word before. Where’s Robert Robinson when you need him?

    I checked ‘sempt’ out on Google and it directed me to an urban slang website, which suggests you must come from the Mansfield area!

  3. FishyFish

    June 25, 2009 at 6:19 pm

    Not Mansfield, but obviously close enough for it have crept into the local dialect. 🙂

  4. Glenn Aylett

    July 19, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    Monkhouse during the last run announced to someone who had won £ 200 that ” at least Denis Healey can’t take that off you”. Wonder if this led to the show’s cancellation for fears of bias during the run up to the 1979 election.

  5. Ian Jones

    July 19, 2009 at 10:44 pm

    The show wasn’t cancelled. Francis Essex of ATV wanted Bob to try a new format, Family Fortunes, and decided to give Celebrity Squares a rest in the interim.

  6. Chris Hughes

    July 19, 2009 at 11:29 pm

    It ended on 7 July 1979, two months after the General Election.

  7. televisualcabbage

    February 15, 2010 at 11:05 pm

    Unfortunately there was a pilot version for Five with Tom Binns… But there’s always Lord Bob and his Big Box Game!

    Plus Cuddly Ken’s voiceovers as well! Genius!

  8. Adrian

    February 16, 2010 at 8:43 am

    Amazing set – it appears to be triple decker with steps going up the side! Presumably this was pre Quantel..

  9. Paul Jones

    February 16, 2010 at 9:30 pm

    There was even a “Celebrity Squares” board game when it was a prime time favourite -other regulars at this time were Diana Dora and Charlie Drake

  10. Gordon Ridout

    February 17, 2010 at 11:32 am

    Whenever I watched it always seemed to have Jean Rook on. Unfortunately. Usually in the bottom middle square.

  11. Jon

    February 18, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    I remember the 90s version, Floella Benjamin, Wayne Dobson, Joan Sims and Ken Morley were always on. As a kid, I always remember watching Ken Morley after on Coronation Street and finding it funny how he’d just been on ‘Squares’.

    Think it was brought back after Through the Keyhole ended and David Frost returned to the Beeb. You can imagine the amount of reality TV contestants if it was brought back today.

  12. Matt Patton

    February 28, 2010 at 2:15 am

    Based on an American show called “Hollywood Squares.” Various grinning mannequins as host. During the original run, Paul Lynde basically moved into the center square and stayed there, getting drunker and angrier by the year until he was finally removed. There was a 1990’s revival with a pretty good host (Tom Bergeron), but was produced by the dire Whoopi Goldberg. The center square was occupied by Bruce “I write the crap jokes for the Oscars” Vilanch, who was actually pretty funny on occasion (and sober). Alas, since Ms. Goldberg was his boss, he couldn’t simply clean-and-jerk her and send her to her final rest. A pity.

  13. Des E

    June 26, 2012 at 1:27 am

    The ’90s version was co-produced by Reg Grundy Productions, who of course were still making Going for Gold at the time – and if I’m right in thinking, it began just days after the abolition of the long-standing limit on the value of prizes that could be given away.

    Central and Grundy treaded carefully, though, for the cars on this version were still only worth low five-figure sums, and at least four of the five on offer were British – the coupé and cabriolet were Vauxhalls, the saloon was a Rover and the Mini was, well, a Mini.

    Not that that, or the much lower standard of celeb, stopped the thing from doing pretty well.

    And then, of course, other ITV game shows started offering bigger and better prizes – culminating in I’m A Late Show, Noble Win-Ratio…

    • Joanne Gray

      February 8, 2017 at 3:23 pm

      I watched reruns of the 90s version on Challenge last year and you didn’t have to read the end credits to know that Reg Grundy had a hand in it. Every show contained at least one escapee from either Neighbours, Home and Away or Prisoner Cell Block H

  14. Richard16378

    June 26, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    I can’t ever remember Granada showing this, at least when I was watching.

    Paul Lynde was the basis, personality wise, for Roger The Alien on American Dad.

  15. Andy Parker

    June 26, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    I always thought there was some sort of hierarchy involved it it. It seemed the most famous or important celebrity always got middle square because they got picked more often. Sometimes a celebrity would go for an entire show without being picked, I used to feel sorry for them! Punchlines with Lennie Bennett was a similar show.

  16. Arthur Nibble

    June 28, 2012 at 12:29 am

    Easy money for the non-questioned celebrity, though.

  17. Lee James Turnock

    June 5, 2015 at 2:59 pm

    Vincent Price apparently gave his agent something of a tongue-lashing after his first episode appearance. The series was famously wiped almost immediately after its first broadcast, but reasonable quality off-air recordings were subsequently rescued from the private collection of Monkhouse himself. One episode that sticks in my mind had Syd Little and Eddie Large crammed into one box, and Eddie got (apparently genuinely) tetchy any time Syd ad-libbed a snappy retort.

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