#74: Catch Phrase - The Post Roy Walker Years
Saying What We See About The Years We'd Like To Forget

ITV: (January 2000 - December 2002)

Catchphrase originated in the United States in 1985.  Hosted by Art James, it involved two contestants trying to figure out catchphrases being shown on a giant computer screen.  While it was a victim of the globbed up Syndication Game Show Market, being aired at Really late hours of the night or not even being aired at all in some markets, it would head on over to the UK and become a runaway smash it.  Hosted by then rookie host Roy Walker, he would help take that show to levels of popularity, not seen anywhere in the US.  Many of the best moments came from his era, including the infamous Snake Charmer puzzle and the lesser known, but still hilarious, Frost Bite puzzle.  Also in Walker's version, the Set was covered in pink and blue neon and was like the US set, where there were two big monitors, one for the main game and the other one for the Bonus game that turned around before anything.  Not only that, you had an official mascot in Catchphrase in Mr. Chips.  He'd always be around getting involved in Catchphrases or in the end credits doing something fun.

But then in 2000, everything changed.  Walker was gone from the show, They retired Mr. Chips, and decided to revamp the show.  In its place would become one of the biggest messes in UK Game Show History.  Let's talk about Catchphrase, Post Roy Walker.

Now, if I get into everything that went wrong with this version, we'll be here for awhile, so I'm just going to give you the 5 biggest reasons why Catchphrase after Roy Walker was a gigantic failure.

Number 5: The New Set

The original Catchphrase Set was very futuristic looking.  The Neon, the two monitors, it all felt very slick and quite stylish.  It was a marvel to behold.  But when the show underwent the change....

It turned into this.  Instead of looking futuristic, it now looks like into a more kiddie-friendly set, or it was given a Care Bear Stare so to speak.  Not only that, it looked more bare than the last set.  All the set looked like was two contestant podiums, the big monitor and that was it.  I'm not counting the floor because how often do you see the floor on a game show, when you don't have a "View from heaven" shot.  It just looks really cheap to me.  Since the buzzers look like they were made on the cheap, and there wasn't any flashing lights on anything, except for the big board, which got cheapened as well, since there were only 2 flashing lights on it to tell the audience who has control.  The podiums don't flash, but the monitors do.  It just didn't look right to be honest.  Then when we get to the bonus round, instead of another big monitor, which looked impressive as well....

we get a chair and a cheap monitor.  Yeah, that screams out Bonus game to me.  But we'll talk more about it later.  So, they changed the look of Catchphrase to something that looked much different and felt much worse.  So now we get to #4.

Number 4: The Cheapening of Curry and his run

In 2002, Nick Weir got axed from Catchphrase.

And he was replaced by former Blue Peter presenter, Mark Curry.  He was a decent enough host.  He didn't try to be another Roy Walker, instead his hosting was nice, genial, but he wasn't ashamed to let you know that an answer was dead wrong.  Not only that, Mr. Chips came back.  The official Mascot of the show made his return as well.  So, what happened to cause this to falter?

Well, if you take a look at the contestants podiums, you can see that they were no longer playing for pounds, but for points.  In essence, cutting the budget by thousands of pounds.  So instead of playing for like 1-2000 pounds, maybe even more, the winner just received only 250 pounds.  Also dropped was the bonus prizes that were sprinkled out throughout the game that was introduced during Weir's stay.  To make it worse, the bonus game was still played for a trip, but only in Europe, instead of anywhere in the world. 

The reason behind all of this was the fact that ITV moved it into the daytime, which is sad.  It's the same thing they did with Wheel of Fortune and Family Fortunes earlier, eventually killing both of them.  The move to daytime also killed Catchphrase.  Let's move on to #3.

Number 3: The Revamped Bonus Game

To go along with all the changes made to Catchphrase, including eliminating the randomized amounts of money and by getting rid of the Ready Money Round and putting Cash Countdown in its place.  So you'd think they would leave the bonus round alone.  Right?  Wrong.

If you remember the old bonus round, you had to get 5 in a row, either across, up or down or diagonally.  If you used the M, then you got a bigger prize than if you didn't.

But with the new format, you had to connect side to side, aka The gold to the gold.  Yes, it became a poor knockoff of Blockbusters.  Now, because you can't move diagonally, you had to go up before you can go right, making the bonus game much, much harder if you had to pass a catchphrase because you didn't know it.  Personally, it's change for the sake of change.  It didn't really work for Wordplay's bonus game, and it didn't work here.  I guess they changed it because the producers got tired of everybody going for the middle and whatnot.

So now we get to the two biggest reasons why Catchphrase failed.  Here's #2.

Number 2: No More Mr. Chips

When you thought of Catchphrase, you thought of two things.  One was Roy Walker and the other was the lovable mascot of the show, Mr. Chips.  So, when 2000 hit, you'd think that Mr. Chips would be present in the show in the intro.

Well, instead of Mr. Chips, you had a bunch of humanoid characters replacing him, trying to catch the letters in the word, Phrase.  Not only that, they basically take over all of Mr. Chips duties, such as acting out key parts of the catchphrase, among other things.  There isn't really much to say here really.  It's like taking Siegfried and Roy and replacing Siegfried with Dan or you have a great tag team in the Rockers and you try to pass it off as the New Rockers with Leif Cassidy instead of Shawn Michaels.

All of these things could have been somewhat forgiven, if it wasn't for the biggest mistake that the producers made to help kill the series instead of bringing it into the new millennium.  It's time to take a look at #1

Number 1: Nick Weir

Roy Walker was the face of Catchphrase, along with Mr. Chips.  It would have been a difficult task finding a new face that could have done justice to the show.  They thought they had found one in a gigantic host in Nick Weir.  Unfortunately, he would have one of the most infamous moments in game show history.  On his first show...

....he trips and falls on the steps and breaking his foot.  So, on show #1, he pulls a Big Falldown, causing the taping to be delayed for an hour, so he could take some pain meds to get through the taping.  So when the first show went out, it was from the next days tapings.  To start he had to make the embarrassing statement that he broke his foot and is now standing up hosting the show with crutches wearing a cast and having to sit down.  And then he utters the show must go on.  Then he says the dumbest host saying in recent memory.

"So, Welcome to Crutchphrase!  I'm Nick Weir, and I'M PLASTERED!"

Thank you, High.

But anyways his hosting skills were, in a word, dismal.  I mean, he tried so hard to be funny that it hurt to watch it sometimes.  Though oddly enough, this wasn't his first rodeo so to speak, since he had hosted a few pilots and a couple shows before this such as Waffle.  But nevertheless, his style didn't work at all and was seen by millions of viewers as the main reason why Catchphrase died.  From what I've seen, he tried too hard to be funny, and sometimes gave WAY too many clues as to what the catchphrase was, and even gave tons of help in the bonus game, which Roy never did.  So in short, he wasn't that good of a fit for the show, and was axed after his third series to make way for Mark Curry and the move to daytime TV.

Well, that's it.  The Top 5 Reasons why Catchphrase: Post Roy Walker failed.  I hope you enjoyed this new style of Induction.  If you liked it, then let me know.  If not, then blame it on Nick Weir and his broken foot, the clumsy bastage. 

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