Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes


Voiceover: Alan Dedicoat (2010-2)


BBC Scotland for CBBC, 23 November 2009 to 6 March 2012 (156 episodes in 3 series)


Based around Chinese Whispers, Sam Nixon and Mark Rhodes host as two children and their families compete to successfully copy each other over a series of six rounds to win the mystery prize.

Mime Time

This first round involves the family members standing in a row, each in an open-fronted cubicle, separated by a moveable door. The first family member is given a choice of three cards, each with a particular action on it. Once they have chosen their card, the door to the cubicle next to them is moved back, and they have ten seconds to mime the action to the second family member. After ten seconds, the door closes, and the door between the second and third family members opens at which point the second family member must mime the action to the third family member. The process continues until the mimed action, distorted or otherwise, reaches the sixth family member at the end of the row. If this person can correctly say what action was being mimed, the family win 50 points. If they can't, the fifth family member is asked to say what action was being mimed for 40 points. If they can't the fourth person has the chance of scoring 30 points, and so on until either the action is correctly named, or the second person is unable to say what action it was for 10 points, and the family score zero. The whole process is then repeated with the second family.

The next round is a physical round, and varies from programme to programme. Tasks have included catching eggs that are being dropped from a comically large chicken overhead while on a treadmill, and placing them in a basket. Another game involved bursting specific coloured balloons with your bottom, while another game saw contestants trying to throw toilet rolls through a toilet lid target while riding motorized toilets (we're not making this up). The task usually requires the family to reach a certain target within the time limit (which isn't specifically mentioned, but seems to be 90 seconds). If they do this, they score 50 points. If not, the other family score 25 points automatically. The second family however do not compete in this round.

Quick on the Draw

In this round, the family members return to the same row of cubicles used in the first round, with the round being played largely to the same rules. The difference in this round is that rather than an action to mime, the first family member is given the random choice of three pictures to draw. The game then plays out the same as the first round which each family member having ten seconds to draw the picture for the person in the adjacent cubicle. Once the person in the last cubicle has had the picture drawn for them, points are awarded in the same way as the first round to whichever family member can correctly identify the picture. Following this, the second family then take their turn in the cubicles.

The next round is another physical round, which allows the family who sat out the first physical round a chance to score some points. Like the earlier round, this round also varies from programme to programme, but has the same time limit, and scoring as the earlier round.

Music Round

Here, the family members once again return to the cubicles, and this time must pass a tune along the row by using a childs toy instrument. Each player wears headphones to prevent them from hearing the tune until it's their turn to play or listen, but otherwise the round plays out like the earlier rounds, with both families competing in this round.

Hamster Ball Havoc

In this final round, the families compete at the same time, as three members of each family get inside human-sized hamster balls. One at a time, they must navigate a short obstacle course inside the studio, which consists of a circuit around several columns, each with a ball balanced on top. If they clip the columns, and the ball drops, they are deducted 25 points. The course continues with a trip around the back of the audience, before returning for another circuit around the columns. After their family member has completed their lap, the next family member can start, and so on, with the first family to get all three members across the finish line being awarded 100 points. After this, the final scores are tallied, and the winning family is revealed.

Overall this is quite a good programme. The stronger rounds are the ones based in the cubicles, as these quite clearly stick to the programmes theme. It's also interesting to see the mimes etc become distorted as they get passed along the row. While adding some variety, the more physical rounds seem to be more loosely associated with the idea of copying others, but are perfect for this kind of children's TV show. Sam and Mark are good, and work well to create the fun, lively atmosphere the programmes requires, and also to convey that to the viewers at home. Not bad at all.


"Close the doors!"

Web links

Official site

Wikipedia entry

See also

Weaver's Week review (Series 1 and 2)


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