from the mid-1980s in which two contestants competed to solve animated picture puzzles drawn by a computer. Some of the puzzles featured a yellow robot, named Herbie in America and Mr. Chips in the United Kingdom.
Art James was the host of the syndicated American show in 1985/86, and the much more successful British version on ITV
had three hosts — Roy Walker (1986–99), Nick Weir (2000/01), and Mark Curry (2002). At its prime, the ITV version was one of the most popular games on British television and one of the cornerstones of Saturday night television. Part of this popularity was the presence of Roy Walker as host, so much so that when he left, the show quickly went downhill and was axed a few years after. A revival
of the British version started in 2013 with Stephen Mulhern hosting. The format has also been exported to Australia, Greece, Indonesia and Poland. The Greek and Polish versions had female hosts in 2000: Joyce Evidi and Agenieszka Wróblewska, respectively.
The appeal can be broken down into two parts:
- The nature of the game allowed people watching to take part by trying to solve the catchphrases, which were usually rather witty or clever.
- Roy Walker, with his friendly personality and having many memorable catch phrases himself.
- Bonus Round: Here's a 5×5 board filled with catch phrases. Make a line horizontally, vertically or diagonally and win a prize package; make a line that includes the center box (containing what we think is the most difficult puzzle of the group), win the prize package and a great bonus.
- The 2013 revival changes it to a 15-space pyramid (15 at the top). Solve one catch phrase per level, win from £2,500 to £50,000. Solve #11, win a bonus prize.
- Game Show Winnings Cap: On the American version, a champ retired after winning five games. The champion was also given an additional prize (first a car, then later $10,000 in cash, then still later a speedboat).
- Home Game
- The Announcer: John Harlan. The British version went through seven different announcers.
- Game Show Host: Basketball star Rick Barry hosted the American pilot (page 120), but Art James helmed the series. Roy Walker, Nick Weir, Mark Curry, Stephen Mulhern and Andrew O'Connor hosted in the United Kingdom. John Burgess was the Australian host; his version was titled Burgo's Catch Phrase. David Chalik was the host of Indonesia's version, Tebak Gambar, from 2001 to 2003. Agenieszka Wróblewska was the host of the Polish version, O co chodzi?, in 2000. The Greek version, Vres ti Frasi (Find the Words), had two hosts: Miltos Makridis from 1998 to 2000, succeeded by Joyce Evidi.
- Studio Audience
- Sudden Death: If the players failed to answer the Bonus Catchphrase when it was fully visible, they were shown one more and whoever got it won the round. If they didn't get that either, they continued playing sudden death until someone got one.
This show provides examples of:
- Art Evolution: The catchphrase graphics of the first few ITV series looked like contemporary micro games, using many of the graphical techniques used then to draw the catchphrases. The last few series had graphics rivalling cartoons.
- The 2013 British revival shifted to 3D graphics.
- Carried by the Host: Roy Walker. When he was axed, the show's popularity went with him, eventually getting axed itself. Even though it managed to last three more years, karma neatly bit the new guy on the arse very quickly.
- Catch Phrase: "Say what you see" (popular enough by the late '90s to be used as a catchphrase on the programme), "It's good but it's not quite right", and "Keep pressing, keep guessing." The most iconic one, of course, is "Riiiiiiiiiiiight!".
- They're so popular that Stephen Mulhern is refusing to use them in the 2013 revival as they're too associated with Roy Walker's tenure. Instead, Mulhern came up with "The clue's on the screen but what does it mean?"
- Early-Installment Weirdness: The first series of the British version never featured the Ready Money Round. All series between 1987 and 1993 featured it, but it was only played once after the commercial break, after which if there was still time to play, it'd go back to the normal format.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Probably the best example in the medium — trying to replace a legend got Nick Weir a broken leg five seconds into his tenure.
- Obvious Rule Patch: The British version changed the rules involving cash awards from each toss-up adding money to a pot for the "Super Catchphrase" in the original US version to each toss-up directly awarding the cash and a separate pot for the "Bonus Catchphrase".
- Spin-Off: The show currently survives as a phone-in game on BBC Radio 1's The Chris Moyles Show and is known as Car Park Catchphrase. It requires contestants to phone in and buzz for answers using their car horns. Roy Walker is involved by use of several recorded soundclips. It's a case of Actually Pretty Funny for the way the presenters try to hold conversations with the sound clips; because of this, Hilarity Ensues rather quickly.
- Title Drop: "Catchphrase" was once used as a catchphrase. The animation for that particular puzzle was almost a literal title drop.
- Visual Pun: The show practically ran on them, particularly when the graphics improved enough to draw things as opposed to words.