Catchphrase (partially found pilots of revived ITV game show; 2012)

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Catchphrase logo.

Status: Partially Found

Catchphrase is an ITV game show. Originally broadcast from 1986 to 2002, it tasked contestants with figuring out what familiar phrase is being represented by an animation shown on screen. In 2012, it was reported that a pilot was to be filmed, which ultimately helped greenlight the show's revival under Stephen Mulhern. At least two are known to have been filmed.


Catchphrase originated from an American version that ran from 1985 to 1986.[1][2] Originally hosted by Roy Walker, the show proved more successful in the United Kingdom than in the United States.[2][1] Episodes saw two contestants compete against each other in identifying catchphrases from the animations shown on screen.[3][4][1] For each correct answer, the player would not only win money, but also had a chance of answering the Super Catchphrase consisting of an animation hidden between nine squares.[1][4] If they were correct, they would receive the amount within the Bonus Bank.[1][4] However, every incorrect answer would result in both contestants again answering puzzles for another chance of earning the money, reduced by £100 each revist.[1][4]

Whoever earned the most by the show's end entered the Super Catchphrase.[1][4] The contestant was tasked to identify five catchphrase from a grid of 25; if they answered the M square correctly and four catchphrases surrounding it vertically, horizontally or diagonally, they would also win a holiday abroad.[1][4] The Roy Walker run proved highly successful, with perhaps its most famous moment being the catchphrase "Snake Charmer", where the mostly obscured animation gave the impression that the show's mascot, Mr Chips, was performing risqué actions with a snake.[5][1][3][4] The show was revamped in 2000 with Nick Weir taking over as host.[1][3] However, neither his nor Mark Curry's run in 2002 proved as popular, with the show going on hiatus not long afterwards.[1][3] In total, the original show lasted for 17 series and 348 episodes.[4]

2012 Pilots

A decade later however, ITV were interested in reviving the show.[6] In July 2012, it was announced that ITV were to commission a pilot, with Stephen Mulhern as host.[7] On 27th August 2012, one pilot was filmed by STV Studios and Digital Rights Group.[8] This pilot, along with at least one other, proved successful, and ITV announced that a eight-part series would be filmed in October 2012, with the first episode airing on 7th April 2013.[9][10][1][3] The show remains on-air as of 2022, having run for at least seven series and over 60 episodes.[4][3]

Two individuals claimed to have been in-attendance for one of the pilots.[11][12] TV Forum user JasonB praised Mulhern for his hosting duties, whilst also deeming the pilot to have generally reflected the original show.[11] He did however criticise the usage of catchphrases connected to other ITV shows like Downton Abbey and The X Factor.[11] An in-depth review originated from Bother's Bar; based on their notes, much of the pilot's new concepts were incorporated into the revived show.[12] This included episodes being extended to 45 minutes, having three contestants compete with two moving onto the next round by answering three catchphrases correctly, and a revised Super Catchphrase where the contestant must answer five questions to climb up the pyramid and earn up to £50,000.[1][12][4] Bother's Bar felt the pilot maintained the show's spirit, and deemed Mulhern as "perfectly competent", but criticised the opening round and the graphics.[12]


Based on a C21Media page promoting Catchphrase, at least two different pilots were filmed. One featured the contestants Katie, Dave, and Sophia, while another saw Sue, Barry, and Tina battle it out. Based on the available footage, it is known that Dave made it to the Super Catchphrase, while Katie and Sue were eliminated in their respective pilots' Elimination Round. Additionally, footage and screenshots posted onto Mulhern's website illustrate minor differences to the final show, including a different logo and a slightly altered studio where questions were shown on an oval screen rather than a rectangle.[10] Ultimately, these remain the only publicly available remnants of the pilots.



See Also

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