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Family Fortunes

YEAH YEAH, “turkey” and all that, but there was much more to it than that. An American format, it was brought to British screens by WILLIAM G STEWART, who moaned that only ten thousand families bothered to apply for the first run. LORD BOB MONKHOUSE was in charge originally, heralded by some mental violins and brandishing a stopwatch when he demanded contestants “Name it!”. Lovely touches abounded, not least the fact that the winners got a colour photo marking their day, while the losers only got a black and white one. Talk about rubbing it in. Bob did a hundred shows but when he innocently said, “Here’s to a hundred more, eh?” to Central’s Head of Light Entertainment at the party, only to be met with, “Oh, I doubt it”, he decided to bail out. In his place came MAX BYGRAVES, who turned out to be a complete disaster, with the man himself admitting he was far too slow and lumbering to keep the excitement up, never mind the fact he never listened to anything anyone said (“Jimmy McFee!”). Normal service was resumed, however, when LES DENNIS took over in 1987. A colour Mister Babbage came with him, but nobody liked it, so the old one came back again, and Les kept things running smoothly for over a decade – same “funny” answers, same silly dances when the families were introduced, same prizes (like the Agatha Christie Murder Weekend), same “Ooh ‘eck!” face from Les at the end when the winners kissed him. And still nobody passed when they were invited to play or pass. The only innovation came with the offer of a car or holiday if the winning family got all the top answers, and bafflingly every single family chose the car, however that could be shared between five people. However it all came to a sad end, when it was moved to daytimes. Les quit and was replaced by the charmless ANDY COLLINS, who was rubbish and the only memorable moment of his reign of terror came when some girl’s tit fell out of her top, which has been repeated on Channel Five every five seconds since.



  1. Arthur Nibble

    July 23, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    “If it’s up there I’ll give you the money myself!”

  2. Lee James Turnock

    May 25, 2010 at 3:41 pm

    My favourite moment…
    “Name a type of ache.” (Ear ache, tooth ache, head ache etc.)
    Pratty contestant says “A fillet of fish”.
    Audience piss themselves laughing.
    Still makes me chuckle to this day.

  3. Des Elmes

    September 1, 2010 at 1:23 am

    The current celeb-only version with Vernon C*nt succeeds in becoming more of a pain in the arse every series.

    Unquestionably the funniest moment so far in it – and one of the few genuinely funny moments in it, at that – is the one where Brian Dowling shouted out “Lesbian!” when asked for a type of bean.

  4. David Smith

    January 27, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    Don’t think it was a stopwatch Bob brandished in the face of tardy contestants, it was an actual pocket watch on a chain. Very natty.

  5. Applemask

    April 7, 2017 at 7:08 pm


  6. Glenn Aylett

    September 13, 2020 at 11:02 am

    This was the only programme from the much missed ATV era that was still running on ITV well into the 21st century and only ended around 2015, although it did have a long hiatus before being revived for the 2010s as a celeb show. My abiding memory of the imperial Bob Monkhouse era, ” name a dangerous race”, ” Arabs”.

  7. THX 1139

    September 13, 2020 at 1:21 pm

    Didn’t Bob just end up yelling “SURVEY SAID?!!!” at the top of his voice to conjure up the answer from Mr Babbage?

    • Glenn Aylett

      September 15, 2020 at 7:14 pm

      Big money is another catchphrase that comes to mind from the less good Max Bygraves era. Also might this survey of 100 people( whoever they might be) been borrowed to an extent by Pointless.

      • THX 1139

        September 16, 2020 at 12:44 am

        Richard Osman admits himself that Pointless’ quiz premise is basically an inverted Family Fortunes.

  8. richardpd

    September 17, 2020 at 10:37 pm

    My late aunt had a Family Fortunes quiz book that seemed to be often played on family get-togethers, along with Boggle,Pictionary and a version of Newmarket only she seemed to understand the rules of.

  9. David Smith

    January 15, 2022 at 5:28 pm

    I recall Bob in early episodes saying, “The question will appear on screen for the benefit of those who cannot hear my voice.” A commendable display of deaf awareness there, only – how were they supposed to follow the rest of the show…?

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