Catchphrase (partially found pilots of ITV game show; 1985)

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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. Prior to the show being greenlit, six pilots were filmed in 1985, which featured different hosts.


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 revisit.[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] A revival hosted by Stephen Mulhern has been producing new episodes since 2013, following a successful pilot in 2012.[4]

The Six Pilots

Despite Walker being synonymous with the original show, he was initially not in the running as Catchphrase's host.[6] The show's producers, TVS, would establish six pilots featuring different hosts.[7] According to Walker in a Student Pocket Guide interview, Bob Monkhouse, the host of other notable British game shows like Family Fortunes and The Golden Shot, was highly considered for the role, with TVS even offering it to him.[8][6] Additionally, Nick Owen, a television presenter and newsreader most known for breakfast news show TV-AM, also filmed a pilot episode.[9][6]

Meanwhile, Walker was performing at a show at the Bournemouth International Centre alongside Russ Abbot in 1985.[6] TVS officials were present at the event, and believed Walker would be a good candidate for Catchphrase.[6] Thus, he was invited to host a pilot, to which he agreed.[6] According to Owen in a 2020 tweet, the field was reduced to himself and Walker, with the latter gaining the hosting duties.[9][6] He stated that the producers ultimately made the correct choice.[9]


According to Kaleidoscope, all six pilots no longer exist within ITV's archives.[10][7] The reason behind this surrounds the fate of TVS and its archive.[10] In 1993 it was sold to International Family Entertainment, which was later renamed to Fox Family Worldwide.[11] When the company was sold to the Walt Disney Company in 2001 for $5.3 billion, the latter acquired the TVS collection.[12][11][10]

Disney's acquirement of the TVS archive has attracted significant controversy; following the takeover, key paperwork documenting and noting rights of the various TVS media had been destroyed.[13] It has made the public release of many TVS shows difficult to achieve.[13] Further, Disney has wiped several TVS shows from its collection, including the the Saturday morning children's show Motormouth.[14] The TVS episodes of Catchphrase have suffered a similar fate; when ITV contacted Disney as to their fate, the latter responded they no longer held the master tapes.[10] Thus, Kaleidoscope's Chris Perry announced that the TVS episodes, including the six pilots, were officially considered wiped, with an ongoing appeal for recordings of these early episodes.[15][10][7] Of the six pilots, a Super Catchphrase segment from Owen's audition has resurfaced.



Segment of Nick Owen's pilot.

See Also

External Link


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 UK Game Shows detailing all UK versions of Catchphrase. Retrieved 7th Oct '22
  2. 2.0 2.1 Adam Nostalgia detailing the original American version of the show. Retrieved 7th Oct '22
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Radio Times summarising Catchphrase. Retrieved 7th Oct '22
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 British Classic Comedy detailing the original show, noting it ran for 17 series, with the revival running since 2013. Retrieved 7th Oct '22
  5. Joe detailing the famous "Snake Charmer" catchphrase. Retrieved 7th Oct '22
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 6.6 The Student Pocket Guide's Walker interview, where Walker detailed how he receive the chance to audition for the show, leading him to be selected over Owen and Monkhouse. Retrieved 7th Oct '22
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Kaleidoscope listing the six pilots and noting all are missing alongside the majority of the first ten series of Catchphrase. Retrieved 7th Oct '22
  8. British Film Institute's Bob Monkhouse biography. Retrieved 7th Oct '22
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 UK Game Shows' Owen biography, also noting Owen agreed with the decision to have Walker be host of Catchphrase. Retrieved 7th Oct '22
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Kaleidoscope Facebook page discussing the missing TVS episodes, with Perry confirming they do not exist in either ITV's or Disney's archives (Closed Facebook group). Retrieved 7th Oct '22
  11. 11.0 11.1 TVS Television summarising the company's history and noting it was sold to International Family Entertainment. Retrieved 7th Oct '22
  12. Archived Media Life Magazine reporting on Disney purchasing Fox Family Worldwide. Retrieved 7th Oct '22
  13. Missing Episodes discussing Disney wiping TVS shows like Motormouth from its collection. Retrieved 7th Oct '22
  14. TV Forum discussing Kaleidoscope's announcement that the TVS Catchphrase episodes are considered wiped. Retrieved 7th Oct '22