Hold Your Plums



Billy Butler and Wally Scott


Musical director: Len Horton


BBC Radio Merseyside, 1984-mid 1990s

Radio City Liverpool, mid 1990s

Video releases:
Telegram for Picture Music International (1994) + Telstar Home Entertainment (1995)


Very popular local radio quiz on Sunday mornings with a very simple format:

  • Elderly woman phones in from somewhere in the Radio Merseyside/Radio City region
  • They are asked a question amongst the likes of What's Hitler's first name? (see Key Moments for more on this particular incident)
  • Inevitably, the contestant is struggling and Billy + Wally have to give out clues to help them out.
  • Billy gets very annoyed as the contestant misses the point of the clue (with hilarious consequences) and starts to scream down the phone like hell.
  • Eventually (and we do mean eventually), the question is correctly answered and they get the chance to win a prize on the fruit machine.
  • If the contestant gets either 3 bells, lemons or cherries, they win a fabulous prize - which in the past has included a knacker (a German sausage) and Linford Christie's underpants.
  • If they get three different symbols, they're allowed three nudges (unless there's a plum, in which case they get four nudges). An audience member would call out 'the nudge is out' if this happened...though latterly, the role of 'nudger watcher' went to a camp character named Terrence.
  • If they get 3 plums on the machine, they win the star prize. Well, we say star prize in very loose terms because on the 1994 video release, the prize was, erm... a brochure.

Which reminds us, Hold Your Plums was probably the first British quiz show to have ever been released on video. The first video in 1994 included a special recording of the show from BBC Radio Merseyside's old Paradise Street studios in Liverpool intercut with stand-up footage of the duo in Widnes. The second release a year later featured a live stage version from the Everyman Theatre, Liverpool.

Billy & Wally switched sides from Radio Merseyside to commercial rival Radio City and took the show with them, which continued for a couple more years before the duo called it a day. Thankfully though, they still get together on occasions for compilation specials around Christmas time on Radio Merseyside which Billy re-joined as presenter of the afternoon show not long after 'Plums' finished. At least four CDs and ten cassettes of highlights from the show's Radio Merseyside era continue to sell well locally.

Key moments

The Hitler incident, as described on the 1994 video release: An 84-year old woman from St. Helens came onto the show and according to Billy, it was the first time that Wally said I'll give her an easy question. And the question was What's Hitler's first name?. And they thought that she would know the answer given her age. But she said Err...it's just Hitler. So, they had to give her a reasonable clue.

BILLY: Think of a mammal that you can find in Sea World in Florida, it dives up and down in water, goes through hoops, you can tickle it's chin and it's also got a big smile.
CONTESTANT: Err, is it a dolphin?
BILLY: That's absolutely right, love. It's a dolphin. And that's your clue to Hitler's first name. A Dolphin Hitler. A Dolphin Hitler. A DOLPHIN HITLER.
CONTESTANT: Is it Flipper?!

And if you don't believe that, here's another question:
BILLY: Which famous film actor was best known as the Duke?
CONTESTANT: Hmm, come on, gissa clue, Billy?
BILLY: (doing his best John Wayne impersonation) The hell I will.
CONTESTANT: You gave everybody else one!

Theme music

Root Beer Rag, composed by Billy Joel. A special version for the show was later composed by Jez Ashurst.


The show won a Bronze Sony award.

HYP began as a segment within the Billy Butler show on Radio Merseyside. It then expanded into a 2-hour show on Sundays between 11am and 1pm.


Hold Your Plums video

Hold Your Plums 2 video


BBC Liverpool website featuring classic clips from the show.

Wikipedia entry


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