Thursday 14 December 2017

‘Say what you see’: Irish chap breathes life back into Mr Chips in new Catchphrase

Louise Kelly

Louise Kelly

It took a few weeks for me – and a lot of shouting answers at the screen – to make a well informed decision about the new Catchphrase.

Wine may or may not have been involved.

Nonetheless, I’ve come to the conclusion that my eyes are definitely smiling with the efforts from Irish entertainer Stephen Mulhern and the long awaited return of the legend that is Mr Chips.

Not since the departure of the beloved Roy Walker (also Irish by the way) have cheesy introductions and ‘Dad’ jokes been laced with just the right amount of sarcasm and self-depreciation.

It could be the twinkle in his eye or the (seemingly) genuine laughter at his contestants' ridiculous suggestions but I think this latest instalment could be a winner.

Originally aired in 1986, this ITV show was my childhood crossword, a television version of Mastermind if you will, that my competitive family could fight over.

Because the beauty of the show was that age or intelligence (sorry Dad) wasn’t important.

You literally just ‘Say what you see’ as a (mostly) familiar phrase unfolds itself through animation starring a little yellow robot.

Yet, it was never more obvious just how important the presence of a likeable presenter with acerbic wit was to the success of the show than when Nick Weir took over in 2000.

(Point of note: Mr Chips was on hiatus during this series. BAD move.)

It was perhaps an indication of what was to come when this unfunny presenter’s first moments on the show resulted in a spectacular fall and a broken foot.

His popularity plummeted in a similar fashion and he was kicked off the show two years later, to be succeeded by flash in the pan ex-Blue Peter presenter Mark Curry.

Catchphrase was now only shown on school nights and ratings had hit an all-time low – as did the pretty scabby prizes that were on offer.

One series later and the game show was put to bed for what many thought could be the very last time.

However, over a decade later, Mr Chips is once again the mascot and Stephen Mulhern is playing a blinder as the mildly sarcastic but ever encouraging presenter.

With the show firmly set on series record, we’ll be keeping our eye out for some more good clean fun from the yellow fellow such as this:


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