Produced by Carlton Productions, Family Fortunes is the UK version of US game show Family Feud, and retains the same format as its US parent, in which two families compete against each other to answer questions based on surveys to win averagely useful prizes. (The word fortune is only truly accurate if you have fairly low financial aspirations). For a full description of the show, mosey on over to the Family Feud node.
The UK show's first host was the genial Max Bygraves, who later made way for the king of one-liners, Bob Monkhouse. When Bob ran out of mother-in-law jokes, Les Dennis took over, and has since treated its audience to his narrow array of impressions (almost all of which are Coronation Street's dithery shop assistant, Mavis). If you fancy trying your luck on the show, you'll need to get together six family members - who can be related by blood or by marriage, unlike the slightly officious nuclear family world-view of Ask the Family - and send off your application. To succeed, "All that's required is a fun personality and a sense of humour!"1, although in reality you'll also need to travel to an audition, play part of the game, and, judging from the families that do make it onto the show, some or all of the following:
Currently being rerun on Challenge TV for the benefit of cable and satellite viewers with a lot of time on their hands, Family Fortunes makes compelling viewing. In the Bygraves era particularly, the prizes are pretty meagre, to say the least, but nonetheless the contestants applaud themselves heartily every time - see the delight on the face of Mr. Artichoke from Swirlsbury when he wins a travel alarm clock for correctly guessing that one of the top answers to "Name something you can hear the neighbours doing" was "Cooking" (A made up answer to a real question posed on the show, although given some of the survey answers the show produces, it was probably the top answer)
When the contestants aren't winning "fabulous prizes and cash along the way", they are invariably offering up daft, or unfathomable answers to the show's questions. Accounts of real answers given on the show are legion3, and some or all may be apocryphal, although you'd have a hard time deliberately thinking of more bizarre answers, as the following snapshot of questions and answers shows:
- Something that floats in the bath
- Answer: Water
- A number you have to memorise
- Answer: Seven
- Something a blind man might use
- Answer: A sword
- Something with a hole in it
- Answer: A window
- A method of securing your home
- Answer: Put the kettle on
- Something people might be allergic to
- Answer: Skiing
- Something you'd hear in a bingo hall
- Answer: An ice-cream man
1. According to FremantleMedia, at www.gameshows.co.uk ("The place for game show contestant and audience information")
2. In case any Everythingians have appeared, or are related (by blood or marriage, remember) to anyone who has appeared on the show, or on Family Feud in the US, I should point out that families often actually win the show's top prizes, and not all the contestants are as lame as the ones described in this write-up. Which means they are either highly intelligent, or that they are on the same wavelength as the majority of the public at large. It's not a judgment call I can make.
3. The examples given here appear at, among other places, www.thecatflap.co.uk.