Tarby’s Frame Game (ITV, 1987-1989)
Tarby’s Frame Game was a word association game shown on ITV primetime that was hosted by comedian Jimmy Tarbuck (or “Tarby” as it seemed everyone had to call him) moonlighting from the Palladium. The title sequence featured some red, green and blue spheres floating around which reminded me of one of my favourite game shows Turnabout, but how you played this game was different.
Two teams of two took part. There are two words on the screen in a frame which are linked together by another word, and the teams have to buzz in if they know what it is. They have three chances, if they get it right on the first frame they score 30 points, if they get it right on the second frame they score 20 points, and if they need all three frames they score 10 points. So for example if the first word was “Guide” and the last word was “Worm”, the correct answer would be “Book”.
The highest-scoring team went through to the next round, with the losing team taking away the consolation prize of a colour television (and yes, it was described as “Tarby’s telly” in an attempt to personalise everything). Then the whole sequence was played again with two new teams, with again the highest-scoring team going through.
In the next round, there were more clues for the two remaining teams, but this time there was only one frame on offer so teams only got one chance to answer, and they were now playing for money, with £50 for every correctly completed frame, and a £50 bonus for completing three in a row. The winners of this round went through to the final to play for the big prizes, which had a variation of the frames and two contestants played individually instead of together.
The final would start with one contestant being shown five frames which all had the middle word filled in, and they had to add the start and finish words themselves. The other member of the team would then be shown the start and finish words of the frames and they had 45 seconds to fill in the blanks, winning increasingly better prizes for how many they correctly completed, and if they get all five right they win the star prize of the car.
Tarby’s Frame Game is another game show that I vaguely remember, and it was interesting watching it again on YouTube. It ran for three series but it hasn’t been repeated in recent years and some of the prizes don’t look too impressive now but they were decent enough for the late-80s. In 1988 ITV daytime launched a game show with a similar word association idea which was Lucky Ladders, and that’s another favourite of mine.