Template:Infobox British television Family Fortunes is a long-running British game show, based on the American game show Family Feud. The programme began on ITV on January 6 1980 and ran until 2002 and revived 4 years later in 2006. The difference in the show title is because the producers thought the word "feud" too confrontational in the UK cultural context.[citation needed]

It was originally produced by ATV, then by Central and finally by Carlton, who had acquired Central. The 2006 revival is produced by talkbackTHAMES.


It was hosted by the popular Bob Monkhouse (1980–1983) and then from 1983 to 1985 by Max Bygraves, who received some criticism for his hosting of the show. After being rested for the whole of 1986 (during which time Bygraves offered to finance its production himself) it returned with Les Dennis in 1987, and had a consistently successful run for the next fifteen years. Dennis left in 2002, then it was moved out of peak time and became a daily daytime show, hosted by Andy Collins, but it only had a short run in this format before being axed. The revived version for 2006 is hosted by Vernon Kay.


Two family teams, each with five members, would guess what "100 people surveyed" had said in response to a question (e.g. "we asked 100 people to name something associated with the country Wales" or "we asked 100 people to name something you'd associate with the Royal Family"). For each question, a different member of each family would come forward to give the first answer, and the family of the contestant who pressed the buzzer quickest would have the right to guess first, and the Family whose member gave the highest answer would have the options to "play" try and find and all the answers or "pass" giving the other family the opportunity to find the answers (they would usually play). If a family managed to come up with all the answers given by the "100 people surveyed" (most commonly six in the early part of the show, reduced in number after the commercial break), they would win the pounds equivalent of the total number of people who had given the answers. Every time someone did not give an answer that was on the board, the family would receive a "strike", accompanied by a large "X" on the board with the infamous "uh-uhh" sound. If they came up with three strikes, the other family would have the chance to come up with one answer that might be among the missing answers. If this answer was among those given by the "100 people surveyed", the other family would "steal" the money; if not, the family who had given the three incorrect answers would win the money anyway.

Following three rounds prior to the commercial break, "Double Money" is played. Gameplay would be the same as the first rounds, but the money won would be double the precise equivalent of how many people had given the answers (£1 = £2, £2 = £4 etc.), and there would be fewer possible answers. The family who passes 200 hundred points first would go on to play "Big Money" (known in other versions as "Fast Money") for the jackpot. This involved two contestants (out of the five in the family team) answering five questions that fitted with those given by the "100 people surveyed", with the questions asked within a narrow time limit. The first contestant would give his/her answers to the five questions within 15 seconds; then the second contestant (who had been out of earshot of the first) would give his or her answers within 20 seconds (the extra time was available for the contestant to give another answer if he/she duplicated an answer given by the previous contestant). If they got 200 points or more from the ten answers (i.e. at least 200 people had agreed with all ten answers combined) they would win the top cash prize. From 1994 onwards a bonus star prize was available if all five top answers were found, but this could only be won if the contestants reached 200+ points and won the top cash prize. If all five top answers were found without the 200+ points the star prize would not be won.


The top cash prize in "Big Money" in the first series (1980) was £1,000. From the second series (1981), the prize would start at £1,000 then rise by £500 weekly if it was not won, to a limit of £2,500 (£3,000 from 1982, which it could stay at for more than one week if it still wasn't won). Once won it would always revert back to £1,000 for the next edition. In the 1987 series, it would start at £1,000, and if not won rise by £1,000 per week to a maximum of £3,000. From the 1988 series the prize was stabilised at £3,000. After the abolition of the IBA's prize limits, it rose to £5,000 from 1996. It should be remembered, though, that the money had to be shared out between five people; by the end of its run even the top cash prize seemed relatively small compared to those available on other game shows such as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?.

The bonus star prize was always a car between 1994 and 1997. From 1998 contestants had the choice of either a car or a holiday. Somewhat oddly, they usually chose the car (which could only be won by individual members of the family - presumably the ones who played Big Money) rather than the holiday (which the whole family could go on together).

During the programme's brief daytime run in 2002, the prize values shrunk significantly. If the contestants scored over 200 points they would win £1,000 and if they found 5 top answers on top, then it was increased to £3,000. (As with the previous prizes the £3,000 could only be won on top of the 200+ points.)

From the second series in 1981 onwards spot prizes were available in the main game, turning up seemingly at random when certain answers were found. Typically these would be music centres, televisions or video recorders (or in the last couple of years, DVD players). Some were more unorthodox, such as a year's supply of beer (it is not known whether it was contrived to make sure that this was never won by teetotallers), while the same short breaks away - an Agatha Christie murder weekend in Harrogate, a stay at a health spa in Staffordshire or a canal holiday - were won on the show for many years.

The 2006 series features a top prize of £30,000. Contestants can win £10,000 for getting over 200 points in "Big Money", increased to £30,000 for getting all top answers.

The computer used in the show was affectionately named Mr Babbage, after computing pioneer Charles Babbage.

Cultural reference points

Perhaps because of its exceptional longevity (hardly any other game shows have remained fixtures in peaktime for two decades, and even those like The Generation Game or Play Your Cards Right which have long spans had long periods off the air), Family Fortunes has become a recurring reference point within British popular culture. The "uh-oh" sound heard whenever contestants gave an answer that was not given by the "100 people surveyed" is instantly recognisable, and for much of its run the show was the subject of mockery for the alleged stupidity of the contestants, notably by Paul Merton on Have I Got News for You. Certainly, many ludicrous answers were given over the years, many of which are listed at . In the later years of the programme's run, it often seemed as though contestants were aware of its reputation and did not take it as seriously as they had done in earlier series, sometimes deliberately giving answers that they knew to be absurd (i.e. in 1999 one member of a family who had been the subject of affectionate mockery for their strong Suffolk accents had been asked to name a part of the body that everyone has one of, and jokingly said "combine harvester", in the process throwing away a very strong position in the game and allowing the other family to win).

The "Turkey" episode

One of the most talked about episodes of Family Fortunes involved a contestant (the late Bob Johnson) in the Big Money round using the word "turkey" for three answers in a row, causing the audience and Max Bygraves, who was the host at that time, to break down with laughter.

Bygraves: Name something people take with them to the beach.
Johnson: Turkey. (Scored zero points)
Bygraves: The first thing you buy at a supermarket.
Johnson: Turkey. (Scored zero points)
Bygraves: A food often stuffed.
Johnson: Turkey. (Scored 21 points)

According to, Johnson had given "turkey" for three answers in a row because someone had not placed the isolation headphones on him properly, and he managed to hear the third question being answered with "chicken". He assumed that what he had heard was actually the first question and that if chicken was a correct answer, then turkey was likely to be correct as well. This story was given by the other four team members on the Channel 4 documentary Our Survey Said, broadcast on 4 June 2005.

This has been replayed on American television shows such as Game Show Moments Gone Bananas.

Coincidently, the third question and answer were given again in the 2006 series' Big Money round. The answer helped Gabby Logan and her family win £10,000 for charity, after her husband Kenny Logan had suggested haggis as an answer.


Various prize announcers were used on the show over the years; for much of the run (1987- 1999) it was Stephen Rhodes, from 2000 until 2001 it was the prolific Peter Dickson. Roger Tilling was the announcer during the more recent series (hosted by Andy Collins) in 2002. Lisa I'Anson is the announcer for the new series of the show, making her the first ever female Family Fortunes announcer.


On October 29 2005 Family Fortunes returned as the "grand final" of Ant & Dec's Gameshow Marathon, a series of revivals of former popular ITV game shows shown to mark the channel's 50th anniversary, and hosted by its most ubiquitous presenters of recent years. This show had Carol Vorderman and Vernon Kay playing for charity along with their own families, with Vorderman eventually winning. Subsequently, Family Fortunes returned for a full series that started October 28, 2006, with Vernon Kay as its host. The series opened as All Star Family Fortunes, a run of Celebrity Specials with celebrities and their families playing the game. This new series has replaced the classic yellow LED scoreboard with a multicolour video wall. The only other time a colour scoreboard was used was in 1987 but it swiftly reverted back to yellow and black.

All-Star Family Fortunes

External links


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