Game Show Memories – Family Catchphrase.

Family Catchphrase (The Family Channel, 1993-1994) vlcsnap-00309Family Catchphrase was a mid-90s spin-off from the classic game show Catchphrase, but instead of single contestants taking part, it featured related teams. Curiously, it was not shown on ITV and it wasn’t hosted by Roy Walker, but instead Andrew O’Connor who is one of my favourites hosted so he was a decent substitute, and it was shown on The Family Channel, which over the years would eventually evolve into the channel now known as Challenge. vlcsnap-00323

Two teams of two took part, usually consisting of a teenager alongside an older relative such as a parent or an aunt or uncle. The rules were slightly different to the original version of Catchphrase. First of all, teams played for points instead of money, and various rounds were played as a team or individually. Just say what you see! vlcsnap-00321

The first round was the same as regular Catchphrase, with teams having to wait for the bell before they answered. The bonus Catchphrase was also the same with its nine squares to pick from, and this is the first version where the value of the bonus decreased each time it was incorrectly guessed, and this rule was introduced to the ITV series in 1994. vlcsnap-00606

Then there was a round where the teams played individually and there was no conferring, so this was the only time where youngsters weren’t encouraged to listen to their elders. The final round was similar to the Ready Money Round as the bell had been taken out and teams could buzz as many times as they wanted until they got it right, but because there was no money on offer it was renamed Fast And Furious. 


The highest-scoring team go through to the Super Catchphrase. This is just about the same as in the main version, with the idea of getting five phrases right in a row horizontally, vertically or diagonally in 60 seconds still the same, only the prizes on offer were on a smaller scale, such as the main prize for going through the M square being a trip to Alton Towers or a games console. vlcsnap-00335

I didn’t see Family Catchphrase the first time round, but in recent years I have seen a few editions thanks to the endless repeats on Challenge and YouTube. There were a couple of memorable moments. First of all, in a clue which had a worm protruding from the planet Earth, a boy buzzed in and said “The Worm From Earth”. The look on Andrew’s face. Also, a pre-fame Simon Amstell took part with his aunt and they ended up winning some nice prizes. vlcsnap-00312

I also noticed that Family Catchphrase used the title sequence introduced in 1986, but featured the set design introduced for the 1994 relaunch on ITV, which made it an odd mix of 80s and 90s visually. Overall though I did think that this was a fun variation on the idea, and I enjoyed watching it more than the post-Roy Walker revivals on ITV.


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