Monday, 13 June 2016
416 Family Fortunes
First viewed : January 1980
On into the big brash eighties !
I didn't watch the first episode of this new game show as The BBC Shakespeare was doing Twelfth Night which we'd studied in English the previous term , starting at the same time but I may well have caught the second one.
Family Fortunes was based on an American game show Family Feud and allowed Bob Monkhouse to move on from the now rather stale Celebrity Squares. Combining elements of the Generation Game and Blankety Blank , it featured two teams of five from the same family battling for cash through guessing the public's most popular answers to categories put to them in a previous survey. The show's supposed computer "Mr Babbage" would give them a ping if they got one right and an electronic uh-huh if their answer didn't figure. Three questions wrong and the other family got a chance to steal the round.
Monkhouse hosted the first four series and it wasn't long before they had celebrity editions. I remember a DJs edition featuring Tony Blackburn. I had presumed from his radio persona that he was a complete airhead and was genuinely surprised when he turned out to be a bright bloke.
Monkhouse went to the BBC in 1983 and the always-challenging task of following in his footsteps fell to the much kinder Max Bygraves. His two-year stint was not regarded as particularly successful but will always be remembered for the episode where a Bob Johnson seemingly had a mental breakdown and answered "turkey" to the first three questions in the Big Money Round including the opener "Name something you take to the beach". Max did well to hold it together but the best bit was the cutaway to Bob's family where his son's brother-in-law - who'd set him up well - seemed to be saying something extremely unfraternal about him.
Max's stint was while I was away at University then it was rested for a year before Les Dennis took it on. By that time I'd lost interest and rarely saw it. Dennis had a long 15 year stint which finally ended in 2002 , around the same time as his marriage to Amanda Holden. Dennis was unhappy with the proposed move to an afternoon slot and his judgement proved correct as the next series with Andy Collins only lasted a year.
The show was revived with Veron Kay as All Star Family Fortunes in 2006 and though on hiatus at the moment is set to return in 2017. By a fantastic coincidence the only one I ever tuned in to , randomly in 2009 , featured somebody I knew from work, former Barnet goalkeeper Steve Berryman who is related by marriage to TV host Paddy McGuinness and gave a good account of himself. I saw him the day after the broadcast and the first question I asked was "Are they real ? " referring to the mammary glands of McGuinness's girlfriend ( now his wife ) Christine. He said he'd never dared ask but found them impressive nonetheless.