Family Fortunes



Bob Monkhouse (original host) (1980-1983)

Max Bygraves (1983-1985)

Les Dennis (1987-2002)

Andy Collins (2002)

Ant & Dec (2005 special)

Vernon Kay (2006)



Stephen Rhodes (1987-99)

Peter Dickson (2000-01 & 2005 one-off special)

Roger Tilling (2002)


ATV for ITV, 6th January 1980-1982

Central for ITV, 1983-1985 and 27th June 1987-1998

Carlton for ITV, 1999-2002

Carlton for ITV, 2001 (All-Star Family Fortunes)

Granada London for ITV1, 2005 (one-off)

TalkbackThames for ITV1, 2006


Take two families, a large game board which looked like it was brought from a dodgy salesman at a bargain price, a host who could do an impression of Mavis from Coronation Street and questions supplied by the public in specially commissioned surveys.

Then sit back and watch the 'fun' in the peak years of what was one of television's highest rated and longest running game shows, Family Fortunes.

Max Bygraves, host of the second incarnation.

As Paul Merton said in Have I Got News for You - "they'll get asked to name something with a motor in it and they'll say something like... 'a cat' " and it was so true!

Third host Les Dennis.

100 people were polled on a innocuous question such as Name something you do in bed, and a person from each family hit a buzzer and guessed as to what the public might have said.

The buzz-off for control of the board

If it wasn't the top answer then the opposing team were allowed to guess. Whoever had the most popular answer got to take the question for their team (they could have passed it if they wanted but no-one did that). The rest of the family then took it in turns to guess answers until they got three incorrect guesses (as represented by a cross and a UH-UHHHHH! sound).

The game board

If the opposing team then guessed an answer not yet found they won the money (a pound for every person that replied to that answer). If not, any found money went to the first team.

After the break they played for Double Money. You're probably intelligent enough to guess what happened there.

The set as seen in 1999

The family who first made £300 went through to the final round where the excitement peaked (apparently) when the family with the most points selected two members of the family to play a fast money game against the clock- yes, it was time for Biiiig Money!

A contestant plays the end game

It was a nice gentle show with a lot of humour in it, and there was some evolution of the format near the end - particularly the chance to win a car (and later a holiday) if you found all five top answers in the end game. But as the millennium approached we thought couldn't ITV be a bit braver and try something new for a change instead of cranking out yet another series? Come in number 5, your time is up.

Then, in 2002, the show moved to daytime. Les Dennis left, knowing that this was going to be the final nail in the coffin for the show, and the oh-so-famous Andy Collins became the new host. Ratings were unspectacular, and one of ITV's longest running institutions disappeared with a whimper at the end of the year. Shame.

Key moments

The famous UK Game Show Page cockups list! A fairly comprehensive list of the hilarious wrong answers produced by some contestants over the years can be found here!

Bob Monkhouse and the rather aptly named 'Thicke Family' in 1980:
Bob: "Name something blue..."
Family Member 1 (Liam): "Sky"

Bob: "Top answer!, play or pass?"
Family Member 2 (Liam's Mother): We'll play!
Bob: "Name something blue..."
Family Member 2: "We've already answered that one!"
(PAUSE) Bob explains the rules of the game.

Bob: "Name something blue..."
Family Member 2: "My cardigan"
Bob: (looking gobsmacked) "Let's see if it's up there!"

In the Bygraves years, one man (the late Bob Johnson) managed to answer "turkey" for the first three answers in the end game, running out of time before he answered the last two. Certainly, eyebrows were raised when he answered "turkey" to the question "Name something people take with them to the beach." Then he said the same thing for "The first thing you buy in a supermarket" and "A food often stuffed". Thinking of an answer for "A famous snooker player" he eventually ran out of time, scoring a grand total of 21 for his contributions, all of which came from correctly answering question 3. The story goes that he overheard 'chicken' as the answer to the third question, and he got it into his head that if 'chicken' had worked, then surely 'turkey' must be one of the answers as well!

According to the excellent 'Gameshow Handbook' by David N Mason, there was a further twist to this episode. Mrs Johnson went to Max Bygraves after the show and asked him how much money he'd take not to broadcast the show. Max duly consulted William G Stewart, the producer, who asked her how much she had in mind. She said, "£100", and Stewart then had to explain that a single edition of the show cost £38,000 to mount. She wisely decided not to pursue the matter further!

The man who talked turkey, literally

Les having great fun with 'the Dicks' in 1998. "So you're the head of the family, that makes you, the, er..."


(Monkhouse era) "The question will appear at the bottom of the screen for viewers who are hard of hearing"

"Top [six] answers on the board"

"Let's see if it's up there!"

"Biiiig Moooney!"

"If that answer's there, I'll give you the money myself"

"The top answer was..."

"You said (whatever), our survey said...."

"We asked 100 people to name...."

"Can we remind the viewers at home of the answers that we had from (whoever), and can I have 20 seconds on the clock, please?"


Based on the US Mark Goodson-Bill Todman format Family Feud.


Veteran light entertainment producer William G. Stewart (now best known as the host of Fifteen-to-One) wasn't happy that "only" 10,000 families applied for his series.

The computer which runs the electronic board is called Mr. Babbage named after Charles Babbage, the inventor of the first programmable computer.

When the show returned in 1987 (with Les Dennis), after a 2-year break, the original Mr. Babbage computer was replaced with a coloured scoreboard for a few episodes. The new scoreboard didn't last long and they quickly reverted back to the original.


Family Fortunes interactive DVD game 2005

Family Fortunes Board game

Family Fortunes Computer Game for Windows


Picture 1 - Host Max Bygraves quizzes the contestants.
Picture 2 - Mr. Babbage gives an answer a lovely big kiss.


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