Jumble (ITV, 1991-1992)
Jumble was yet another one of those 9:25 daytime game shows. Just like another regular show in that timeslot Lucky Ladders it was an Anglia production for ITV and it was hosted by Jeff Stevenson who usually worked behind the scenes on shows as a warm-up, and as it was the early-90s of course he used to host the show wearing various brightly coloured waistcoats.
Two teams of two took part, consisting of one non-famous contestant alongside a celebrity, usually someone along the likes of Tom O’Connor or Carol Vorderman. The idea was that they had to solve cryptic anagram puzzles to win some money, and looking back, it could be said that Jumble is something of a cross between Catchphrase, Countdown, and maybe All Clued Up too.
A cartoon would appear on the board and there would also be a clue given to what the phrase is that it is showing. Then a jumbled word would appear. The contestant would then have 15 seconds to rearrange the little magnetic letters into the right order to create the word, being assisted by their teammate (and described on the show as “the speller” and “the yeller”). All of these words were connected to the main puzzle. The letters that were on red squares would then be transferred by Jeff over to the main puzzle, and the team would then be asked to solve it.
If they did then they would win a bonus, but if not, another word clue would have to be solved before they could have another chance to guess, and they could do this up to four times. It was at this point that I was reminded of the comment in the review for this show on the UK Game Shows website that it could it rather frustrating watching the contestants struggling to solve the rather straightforward anagrams. At the end, the highest-scoring team go through to the final.
In the final the idea was the same but it was more fast-paced. There was another word puzzle, but this time there were six jumbled words that needed to be solved, and there were 60 seconds on the clock. Again, the letters on red spaces are transferred over to the main puzzle. If they can solve it in ten seconds, they add another £200 to the money that they have already won and they are declared the show’s winner.
Jumble ran for a couple of series, and although it wasn’t as great as Lucky Ladders, it was still a decent enough game to watch for that time of the day. It isn’t a show that is remembered too much now though and its Wikipedia entry is so short that it might as well not even be there, but even 25 years on I definitely remember watching it. And again I’d like to thank Oliver Ashmole who recently uploaded an edition online of Jumble which helped to me to put this piece together.