Say the Word (2)
Challenge TV, 1997
You'd be hard pressed to tell much difference between this show and Catchword. And it's a particularly legitimate comment given that the first round is very familiar - spot a series of themed hidden words from sentences.
After this we have a word grid round where you have to trace horizontally and vertically around a 3x3 grid of letters. The idea is to find the longest word that is given by our host, Andy Crane. After this, the lowest scoring of the four contestants is given the boot.
One of the weaker rounds is the Word Rack. Each player in turn is given a separate rack which is in three parts. First, a letter is given and the contestant must come up with a word of seven letters or more beginning with that letter (like, duhhh). Then they are given a letter with which a second word must end. And finally, the word must contain two more letters in a particular order (again, with more than a nod to Catchword). Doing all three words inside 15 seconds wins some points. The contestants have to spell the word at each stage - but it doesn't matter if they get it completely wrong. What, may we ask, is the flipping point of this, then? To fill in time, perhaps?
After the break we play another Word Rack per player. The final two rounds are more innovative. The fourth round is a variation on the first but this time there is a missing word in addition to the hidden word! For example, in the picture below, the context implies that the missing word is FRANC. The hidden word is FRANCIS, since the theme is boy's names.
Again, we get rid of a player to be left to the final two. Finally, we have the most challenging game for the remaining pair. A clue such as HOT ENERGY is given, the answer to which is BAKED BEANS, since if you're HOT you're BAKED and if you have ENERGY you're full of BEANS. Some of these questions work better than others.
The winner gets a small prize, but can gamble to come back on subsequent shows and try for a better one.
Overall, it's a show that succeeds in doing what it sets out to do. But for our money, it's the slow pace that prevents the programme from really getting going. This is mainly caused by Andy Crane - who otherwise hosts the show elegantly - having to explain the answers in a painfully slow manner, such as "Take the S, then go up the right hand side for A and R, and around the top for C, H, A, S and finally M" when the computer graphics perfectly display what's going on in any case.
But hey, at least the set's got a disco ball!
David Housham (also producer)
The Ded Good Music Company