Why gameshow Celebrity Catchphrase is always a winner in my eyes - Emma Newlands
When it comes to naming the top TV shows of recent years, conventional wisdom dictates that the likes of Breaking Bad, The Wire, and Succession usually feature prominently – high-stakes dramas with compelling, expertly crafted storylines.
But just as deserving in my view of a place in the higher echelons of the list, and which I try to never miss an episode of – the multicoloured entertaining delight of a gameshow that is Catchphrase, and particularly the epic Celebrity Catchphrase version.
Catchphrase itself apparently originated in the US in the mid-80s, before crossing the Atlantic and being guaranteed a place in telly history by late host Roy Walker. Revived in 2013, it is broadcast on ITV and made by Scotland’s STV Studios, with the now long-running celeb version commissioned five years later, and none of us have looked back since. In fact ITV rightly says the latter is “one of the most recognisable and beloved shows” in its weekend schedule, while it can boast an eclectic and high-calibre roster of guest stars – any show that has featured Jarvis Cocker gets my vote.
And while it might technically be light entertainment, in my eyes it can hold its own against any drama for tugging on the heartstrings (when contestants talk about their chosen charities) and edge-of-the-seat tense (especially in the final super Catchphrase challenge).
It is also way more hilarious than most comedies, and no writer could surely ever come up with anything as preposterously amusing as some of the answers put forward by the contestants (many of whom have not grasped that the answer has to be a catchphrase).
Like its top-billing, watercooler, seminal boxset TV show peers, it has its own hardy protagonists in the form of affable host Stephen Mulhern plus mascot and ultra-versatile “actor” Mr Chips. Mulhern surely deserves his own specially-created category and win at the Emmys for resisting the constant temptation to either laugh in the face of or lose his temper with some of the contestants’ utterly ridiculous guesses, exacerbated by the fact that the programme is evidently having to work to come up with new catchphrases and matching clips. Long may the show’s bid for contestants to keep “pressing and guessing” continue – I will tune in and so feel like a winner myself every time.
Emma Newlands is a business journalist at The Scotsman
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