A sketch in 'Not The Nine O'Clock News' had an out-of-work actor ( Griff Rhys Jones ) receiving bad news in the post. "Dear Sir", it said: "We would like you to appear on 'Give Us A Clue'.". So horrified was the poor guy that he shot himself.
What can one say about 'Give Us A Clue'? This Thames panel game was basically charades on television, with two teams of celebrities ( three men versus three women ) competing against one another to see who could come up with the outrageous mimes.
It got going in 1978, with Michael Aspel ( later Parkinson ) as host, Una Stubbs ( later Liza Goddard ) as one team captain, with a saluting Lionel Blair as the other ( my late father detested Blair with a vengeance, and hurled insults at the screen whenever he was on. 'Effeminate' being a cleaned up version of his most frequently used one. My mother once pointed out that Lionel had fathered children, to which Dad sneeringly responded: "They're probably not his!". Ah, that man's rapier-like wit is sorely missed ).
Amongst the good sports ( or sad losers, depending on your view ) were Paul Henry ( 'Benny' from 'Crossroads' ), Jon Pertwee, Joyce Blair ( Lionel's sister ), Madelaine Smith, Michael Barrymore ( in the days when he was funny ), Billy Dainty, Bernie Winters, Honor Blackman, Francoise Pascal, Gabrielle Drake, Roy Kinnear, Brian Marshall ( they were probably short of people that week ), Alfred Marks, and Harry H.Corbett.
The early shows included members of the public as team members. I do not know where they got these poor sods from, but they managed to be fairly useless. A man made a right berk of himself one night miming his own name. He had read the wrong side of his card!
Warren Mitchell went on once, and, slipping into his 'Alf Garnett' persona, rebuked Una ( she had a charming habit of sticking her bottom in the air when miming - no wonder I loved the show! ) in no uncertain terms. When Warren read the title of his next mime, the studio ( those privileged to see what it was ) erupted in laughter. It was 'Mind Your Language'!
On a sadder note, the great Marty Feldman made one of his last television appearances on this show. Recently returned from the States, ( following his sacking by Universal studios ), he looked haggard ( he sported a beard ) and unwell. Though Lionel introduced him as 'that genius of comedy', Marty's heart was just not in the game. He could barely raise a smile. It was sad to see him in such a dreadful state.
One of the early shows featured Libby Morris ( forgotten now, but a very funny lady in her day ) trying to mime International Rugby League. I cannot do justice to her performance, but the harder she worked at it the more confused the team got. When she finished I had tears rolling down my face. Another wonderful performance came from the tough guy-actor George Sewell, who had to do 'The Virgin Soldiers'. He got 'soldiers' right, but just how do you convey virginity in mime? He had a good go though, putting his lips to his fingers to denote innocence.
'Clue' ran for years, surviving ( as previously pointed out ) a change of host and team captain. An attempt by the B.B.C. to revive it some years back as an early morning show did not work out.
The early editions boasted a catchy but familiar sounding theme tune by the talented Alan Hawkshaw. I say familiar because it was the same as the B.B.C.'s children's show 'Grange Hill'! I never found out how it came to be used on two shows broadcast at the same time on different channels. Thames later replaced it with an original composition by the equally talented Denis King.
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