Give Us a Clue



Michael Aspel (1979-84)

Michael Parkinson (1984-92)

Tim Clark (1997)

Sara Cox (2011 special)


Team Captains:
Lionel Blair and Una Stubbs (1979-86, 2011 special)
Lionel Blair and Liza Goddard (1987-1992)
Norman Vaughan (stand in for Lionel Blair; 1980)
Christopher Blake and Julie Peasgood (1997)


Thames for ITV, 2 January 1979 to 1992

Grundy for BBC One, 10 November to 19 December 1997 (30 episodes in 1 series) webcast, 5 to 6 March 2011 (24 Hour Panel People)


Charades! Err... that's it.

Oh, alright then. A team of four male celebs face a team of four female celebs in this prizeless, just-for-fun parlour game. The host shows whichever sucker whose turn it is the name of a book, play, TV show, movie, song, person or brand of soup upon which said sucker pulls a face. They then have two minutes to convey their given name by means of mime, with codified gestures to describe the category of item, the number of words and, if need be, each word in the title syllable-by-syllable.

Image:Give_us_a_clue_old2.jpg With Michael Parkinson, Liza God-dard!, and Lionel Blaaaaaaair

Three points for a correct answer in the first minute; two points for a correct answer in the second minute; one point on offer to the opposite team if they can guess the correct answer when the mimed-to team can't. Repeat until the time runs out, season with jolly giggles.

Like Blankety Blank, there was a very particular hierarchy in the way the guests sat. The usual order from team captain downstage went: (women's team) , sitcom star, actress or writer, ditsy blonde; (men's team) comedian, TV presenter, dull footballer.

Liza Goddard takes the floor while actor Wayne Sleep looks on in the background

The more modern BBC re-make with Tim Clark tried to introduce a lateral thinking puzzle (which he could "give clues to") but it didn't really fit in with the rest of the show. Regardless of whoever the host was, cheating and favouritism by the host towards the women's team abounded.

TalkbackThames were reportedly looking to revive the show in 2010, after a Dutch version (Hints) was a hit, but it never happened.

Key moments

Celebrities trying very hard to remain reputable by not using rude parts of the body in their mime.

Editions when Michael would have the missus, Mary Parkinson, on the girls' team.

The infamous 24-word song titles they'd reserve for some comedian to mime (which, surprisingly, they'd normally get after word 3).

Parky gives Lionel one of his trademark stinkers


Vince Powell (comedy writer) and Juliet Grimm (the original producer)

Theme music

For some bizarre reason, an early version of the theme music (until 1982) was exactly the same piece of library music used by the BBC's schools com-dram Grange Hill (Chicken Man by Alan Hawkshaw).

After that, there was the glorious theme tune of the Parky version, composed by Thames TV's Musical Director Alan Braden. It incorporated the entire Ring Cycle and also a catchy show-tune sing-a-long as the team captains (including, inevitably, Lionel Blair) introduced each of their team members in turn. Courtesy of TV Cream, here's the lyrics:

Did Elvis sing it?
Or Basie swing it?
Old song or new?
Give Us A Clue!

Has Spielberg made it?
Have actors played it?
In theatres too?
Give Us A Clue!
Does TV show it?
Do bookworms know it?
One word or two?
Give Us A Clue!
Give Us A Clue!
Give Us A Clue!

With Michael Paaaaaaarkinson!
Liza God-dard!
And Lionel Blairrrr!

Give Us A Clue!
(and on my team today I have...)
Give Us A Clue!
(and on my team today I have...)

We're asking you!
Give Us A Clue!
Give Us A Clue!

The opening titles from 1988.


Richard O'Brien look-a-like Tim Clark (also of sports show Under the Moon fame) had to change his name of Tim Burton because so many people confused him with the American film director of the same name.

For some bizarre reason, mainly that the script hardly changed in over 20 years, this programme was constantly referred to by chairman Humphrey Lyttelton in the radio panel game I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. The gag usually referred to some dreadful double entendre such as: "And I can still remember the look of glee on Lionel Blair's face as he was offered Howards End over Michael Aspel's desk."

Talkback Thames (as it then was) hawked around a revival in 2010, but to no takers. Maybe the broadcasters were put off by the pilot's host, George Lamb.

Web links

Wikipedia entry


The set used in the 1991 series.


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