Give Us A Clue was a TV panel game, which aired on ITV between 1979 and 1992. Spanning a massive thirteen discs, the set covers most of the episodes that Michael Aspel hosted between 1979 and 1984. The show is a simple game of charades played by two teams; One for the ‘boys’ and one for the ‘girls’. The team captains for this period were actress Una Stubbs and dancer Lionel Blair.
On paper, Give Us A Clue looks like an unusual prospect for a release on DVD. British TV panel games aren’t usually prime candidates for physical media, as they’re a little bit like a newspaper; Viewed once then discarded forever. This show had a second life in repeats, but that ended a long time ago. Once one begins to dive into this massive set compiled by Network, known for their releases of the similar situated Indoor League, the reasons for the release become clearer.
The first couple of series features Blair and Stubbs each playing in teams with two other celebrities and a member of the public. This version of the format feels like they tried to find a way to include the audience, but it doesn’t quite fully fit. The game is fun, but the inclusion of the public confuses matters. It might just be me, but celebrities of this era mostly look like the average person you’d find on the street. This means a member of the public blends in, and you have to remind yourself they aren’t famous. I guess that’s the bonus of the three discs that contain this version; The game is so lively you don’t really care. After the first few series, they swap the fourth player for another celebrity; This ramps up the chemistry and makes the episodes even more nostalgic for celebrity spotters. There are also a fair few unexpected matchups that make you think “who knew that person was on a show with them?”. For example, who would have thought Doctor Who’s Jon Pertwee (Third Doctor) and Peter Davison (Fifth Doctor) teamed up with Geoffrey from Rainbow?
The guest list featured on this set is astronomical. It literally contains anyone who was popular at some stage up to that moment in time. It has to now hold the record for the most celebrities found on a Network box set. It’s an incredible roster of legends including Beryl Reid, Max Wall, Nicholas Parsons, Kenny Everett, Kenneth Williams, Richard O’Sullivan, Barbara Windsor, Diana Dors and so many more! There are even stars who I never expected to see, including Laugh-In’s Judy Carne, Derek Griffiths, Peter Butterworth, Jimmy Young, Roy Kinnear, Kenny Lynch, and Liz Fraser. The above is only the first few discs, and I’ve not even scratched the surface yet.
The show’s loose demeanour leaves things open for all kinds of double entendres and unexpected moments; Actor Tony Selby’s reaction to being asked to mime the Australian TV series Chopper Squad; The unique Kenneth Williams, channelling his Just a Minute energy for all kinds of witty quips; Every time Una Stubbs plays a round; David Jason’s very verbal and physical prescience; Michael Aspel’s quick thinking. There are just too many memorable moments to fit into one paragraph.
Being an upbeat show of a certain vintage, featuring “real” personalities, there are occasionally attitudes and language that reflect the time. There are also some visual moments, aside from some of the fashion, that may make some modern audiences uncomfortable. Some episodes have more of these incidences than others. The odd comment or clunky clue, in this writer’s opinion, isn’t enough to detract from the enjoyment of the show. I believe that if you bear context in mind, this show is a delightful experience.
Picture and Sound Quality:
The episodes appear to have been sourced from the original master tapes and are of excellent quality. For a show with a lot of physical movement, the frame rate isn’t too jarring, making it a pleasant watch. One or two episodes have a couple of slight glitches in sound, but nothing that lasts for too long or is too frequent. The majority of the episodes look so good, that I have to wonder why they haven’t been run on TV for a long time.
Given the volume of episodes on offer, I think it is justified there aren’t any special features in this set. The only bonus on offer is that every episode comes with subtitles; Making this show more accessible than ever before.
Network has compiled an astonishing set that brings together most of the episodes of Michael Aspel’s run. It’s a shame that not all episodes could be licensed, but with 90+ episodes totalling forty hours, there is more than enough to satisfy. It’s an entertaining game that may be from a simpler time, but the laughs are still as contagious now as it was then. The celebrity prescience on this set, also, is so big that I doubt Network will ever match it. If you have fond memories of this show, this will (hopefully) not disappoint. If you’re just discovering this show (like me), then you have a long journey ahead of you…and it’s a fun one. Give Us A Clue is available to pre-order from Network Distributing. It will be released on the 28th of November 2022.