Family Fortunes – 1980

Long running game show Family Fortunes was originally played with real people, before a revived version launched with the now popular trend of using celebrities.

First airing in 1980 it notched up twenty two series.  Bob Monkhouse presented between 1980 and 1983.  He was followed by  singer and entertainer Max Bygraves between 1983 and 1985.  In 1986 the show took a rest, during this period presenter Max Bygraves was so keen to see it return he offered to finance it’s production himself.

It did indeed return in 1987, but with a new host in the form of Les Dennis.  He presented for 15 years until 2002, when a new presenter, Andy Collons took it to daytime TV.  After just one series in it’s daytime slot the axe finally fell.

During it’s original run there was a Christmas Special most years with prize money going to charity, and contestants being either celebrity families, or a group of actors famous for playing a fictional family.

In 2005 it made a brief re-appearance as part of Ant and Dec’s Gameshow Marathon, with Celebrity contestants Vernon Kay and Carol Vorderman’s families competing.


Two family teams, each with five members, would be asked to guess the results of surveys.  There were three rounds like this, with a member from each each team  approaching the podium. As the question was read, the first of the two nominees to hit a buzzer gives an answer. If this is not the top answer, the other nominee is asked. The team with the higher answer then chooses whether to “play” the question, or “pass” control to the other team (in reality, the teams rarely chose to pass).

The answers along with the number of people out of 100 surveyed who gave it appeared on a large computer screen, a wrong answer gets a large cross and the famous uh-uhh! sound.

After three rounds contestants play for Double Money.  The family who passes the £300 mark (£200 in series 1) first go on to play for the jackpot known as the Big Money round.

In the Big Money round  two contestants (out of the five in the family team, in the 2006 revival including the celebrity as the second) 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 gives his/her answers to the five questions within 15 seconds; then the second contestant (who had been out of earshot of the first) 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 get 200 points or more from the ten answers (i.e. at least 200 people had agreed with all ten answers combined), they win the top cash prize. From 1994 onwards, a bonus star prize was available if all five top answers were found, in addition to reaching 200+ points. In the 1998 series one contestant of the Hollands family scored 193 points after finding all five top answers leaving the other member to get only 7 points from his/her five answers. If the family could not earn 200 points, they won £2 per point, up to £398. In the revived 2006 version, a loss earns £10 times the points earned in both front and end games, up to £1,990.

Comedy Connections

In common with many game shows, the host has usually been a comedian, Bob Monkhouse was a legendary stand up comedian, Max Bygraves started his career as a comedian and Les Dennis first came to prominence in the later series of ITV’s The Comedians.








Bob Monkhouse (1980 – 1983)
Max Bygraves (1983 -1985)
Les Dennis (1987 – 2002)
Andy Collins (2002)



Channel: ITV
Original Transmission Dates: 6th January 1980 – 30th December 2004


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One Response

  1. Nasreen Rajabali

    Family Fortune was really enjoyable when real families came and played. it is time these family programs are present again. it helps build family watching and shows how much fun a family can have.

    hope you guys think the way many of us are feeling.


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