Game Show Memories – Cross Wits.

Cross Wits (ITV, 1985-1998)

For 11 years from 1987 to 1998 ITV used to have a slot for game shows at 9:25am. I always enjoyed this slot and it featured a lot of memorable shows, it really was the only way to start your day, so here’s a review of one of them.

Cross Wits was a Tyne Tees production shown five days a week and hosted by the cardigan-wearing Tom O’Connor. The show was all about crosswords. Every weekday a contestant was paired with a celebrity to play the game. I did enjoy it when Countdown‘s Richard Whiteley and Carol Vorderman competed against one another and there was a friendly rivalry to discover who would come out on top at the end of the week. vlcsnap-00308

The idea was that in each round there were six crossword clues that were all linked by one word. The teams worked together to solve a simple clue to have a chance to guess the link for ten bonus points. There were also variations including the mystery round, where contestants had to guess the link after only one clue and if they got it right they won a telephone, the anagram round where the first letter of each clue spelled the link, and the musical round where all the clues were lyrics to a famous song. vlcsnap-00309

When time was up, the highest-scoring team went into the final round. They had to get ten clues right in one minute for the contestant to win the star prize of a holiday, or a consolation prize if they missed out. Although I remember watching Cross Wits regularly in the 9:25 slot, it was only shown there from 1988 to 1994, and it appeared in various timeslots at the beginning and end of its run and eventually ran for over a decade. vlcsnap-00311

For me, Cross Wits was of all the 9:25 game shows the one that seemed to be enjoyed most by older viewers, “the blue rinse brigade” as you could call them, the show was very cosy and easy-going, helped along by Tom’s corny gags, lots of knitwear, and it could be enjoyed by people who liked to compile and solve crosswords, although I think it was suitable for all ages to watch. vlcsnap-00310

Cross Wits used to be repeated frequently on Challenge, but it hasn’t turned up since that channel joined Freeview, maybe it could be time to dust off the tapes and give them another re-run in a daytime slot as I think there’s still a lot of people who would enjoy seeing this show. vlcsnap-00312

Of course, “And remember, if there’s ever a cross word in your house, make sure that it’s written and not spoken, just for me, all right” was the show’s catchphrase.


3 thoughts on “Game Show Memories – Cross Wits.

  1. Steven says:

    Used to love this show as a student. Would certainly not be opposed to seeing reruns on Challenge.

    Enjoying these game show retrospectives, Adam. Great stuff.


  2. Des Elmes says:

    Crosswits did indeed air at a time later than 9:25 in its early years (and was hosted by Barry Cryer during that time, too), but once it moved to 9:25 did it not stay there until its (probably untimely) demise?

    Yes, the episodes with both Richard and Carol were probably the best ones.

    Of course, Tom was also a Dictionary Corner regular from 1996 to 2008, making over 100 appearances. Returning the favour, you could say.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s