Give Us a Clue 13-Disc DVD Set – Review
By Sarah Morgan
Sometimes the most simple ideas are the best. Take Give Us a Clue, for example.
In 1979, a TV executive decided it would be a good idea to use the parlour game charades as the basis for a light-hearted competition show. It ran for the next 13 years, was revived briefly in 1997 and then returned for one night only as part of the 2011 Comic Relief shenanigans.
My mum and me were avid viewers of the original run, so I was thrilled to hear the first five years’ worth of episodes were being made available in a 13-disc DVD set. It features the classic episodes hosted by Michael Aspel, with teams captained by Una Stubbs and Lionel Blair; if you were also watching back then, you may remember that the first few series shared a theme with Grange Hill – a tune officially entitled ‘Chicken Man’ by Alan Hawkshaw.
“Incredible array of hairstyles”
What surprised me while rewatching the opening season is that each team of four (regular captain, plus three competitors) actually featured a member of the public alongside the celebrities. So, you’ve got, say, an air steward and a marketing expert appearing with the likes of Faith Brown and Kenneth Williams. According to Blair, the idea was ditched after a bloke mimed his own name rather than the title he’d been given!
The show itself is very much of its age. For the first few series, the set seems to be almost entirely made of brown carpet, which was probably rather stylish in the late-1970s and early 1980s. As time goes on, it gets slicker with some very mid-1980s pastel shades and increasingly hi-tech captions. Una has an incredible array of hairstyles too, although Lionel sticks with his trademark bouffant ‘do’ throughout.
It’s all terribly cheesy. Some of the linking dialogue will make you groan out loud, but to be fair, it all adds to the charm of the piece. And although it’s hard to imagine anybody sitting through an entire disc in one go (it does get a wee bit repetitive after a while), playing along with the game can be fun, despite the fact that some of the titles are of long-forgotten songs or TV shows.
But the real joy comes in spotting the participants. Okay, so they haven’t all stood the test of time, but seeing the likes of Diana Dors, Beryl Reid, Roy Kinnear, Jon Pertwee, Kenny Everett and the aforementioned Kenneth Williams rubbing shoulders with Sharon Davies, Geoff Capes and Duncan Goodhew is worth the price of the set alone.
‘Give us a Clue’ is released on a 13-disc DVD set by Network, £49.99