Catch Phrase (Jayverse)

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Catch Phrase is an American game show which ran from September 16, 1985, through January 10, 1986 and from September 6, 1999 to September 10, 2004. The object of the show was to solve "catch phrases", which were animated picture puzzles designed to represent objects or sayings. The program was created by Steve Radosh and produced by Pasetta Productions, with Telepictures distributing from 1985 to 1986 while UBC Television Studios took the rights for the 1999 revival.


1985-1986: Art James

1999-2004: Ross Shafer


1985-1986: John Harlan

1999-2004: Amber Willenborg

1999-2004: Pat Cashman (Sub-Announcer; also Announcer for Almost Live when Ross Shafer hosted until John Keister got the job in 1989)

1999-2004: Joe Micheals (Sub-Announcer, also V/O for KING-TV in Seattle in which Catch Phrase was carried here)

2000-2004: Tracey Conway (Sub-Announcer)

2000-2004: Nancy Guppy (Sub-Announcer)

2000-2004: Art Sanders (Sub-Announcer)

Gameplay (1985-1986)

Two contestants competed, one usually a returning champion.

Each catch phrase was drawn on a large screen by the show’s computer. Once there was enough information on the screen for the contestants to solve a catch phrase, a bell rang to alert them that they could buzz in and answer. If either contestant buzzed in before the bell rang, their opponent was allowed to see the remainder of the catch phrase and given a free guess. If a player gave a wrong answer, the other player got a chance to guess.

Correct answers added money to a bank. To determine how much money would be added to the bank for a correctly solved catch phrase, a randomizer was used before the start of each round of play. A total of nine dollar amounts were displayed on the screen and, to begin the game, the challenger would select one by hitting his/her buzzer to stop the randomizer. The amounts on the board ranged from $100 (originally $50) to $200 for the first round, $225 to $350 ($225 to $400 at first) in round two, $375 to $500 in round three, and $525 to $700 in round four. Also, for each subsequent round, control of the randomizer was given to the trailing contestant.

Answering correctly gave the contestant that did so a chance to solve the Super Catch Phrase, a completed picture concealed behind nine squares. To pick a square, the contestant was given control of the randomizer and stopped it with his/her buzzer. The square that the randomizer stopped on was then removed from the board, and the contestant was given five seconds to study the puzzle and take a guess. If the contestant did so, he/she won the money in the bank and the round ended. Otherwise, play continued until someone solved the Super Catch Phrase or until all nine squares were uncovered without either contestant being able to solve. If that happened, the solution was given and a new round of play began with the unclaimed bank from the previous Super Catch Phrase carrying over.

The process repeated during the show as often as time permitted. If time was called in the middle of a round, the remaining squares in the Super Catch Phrase were revealed and the first player to buzz in and solve it won the bank.

The contestant in the lead when the game was completed was declared the day's champion and advanced to play for a bonus prize. Both players got to keep whatever cash they won, and the losing player also received parting gifts. However, in the event of a tie, a sudden-death playoff determined the champion.

Bonus Round (1985-1986)

In the bonus game, the champion faced a board of 25 squares, each concealing a catch phrase and marked with a letter from A through Y. The board was laid out in a five-by-five grid, and the champion had to make a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line by solving catch phrases. The phrase hidden behind the letter M, in the center of the board, was always the most difficult. The champion had 60 seconds to complete a line, and could pass on phrases and return to them later if desired.

The champion could win one of two bonus prizes. If the champion made a vertical or horizontal line that did not include the M square, he/she won a prize with a minimum value of $5,000; this was usually a vacation, but also could sometimes be a piece of merchandise such as a player piano. If the champion made a vertical or horizontal line that included the M, or made any diagonal, he/she would win a prize that was worth at least $10,000; this prize was often a car or a more extravagant vacation.

If the champion failed to complete a line before time expired, he/she won money for each square claimed: $200 if the M phrase was not solved, or $400 if it was.

Champions were allowed to return for five consecutive days. If a champion won on all five of those days, he/she was awarded an additional bonus prize on top of whatever he/she had won to that point. At various points in the run, that prize was a car, $10,000 in cash, or one of the larger merchandise prizes featured in the bonus round.

Overall, contestants on Catch Phrase could accumulate a total of $75,000. Host Art James made it a point to remind contestants and the viewing audience of this at the beginning of every episode.

In the first taped episodes of the show, which aired in December, there were cash and prizes in each puzzle which are mixed around before the game starts.

Gameplay (1999 Revival)

In the main game, at the start of each round, one contestant stopped a randomizer which consisted of money amounts by hitting his/her button. The value that was landed would then be the amount for the normal catch phrases. On each normal catch phrase, the computer would draw it on the screen. When it was done, a bell would ring, signifying the contestants to buzz-in when they think they know the answer.

A regular catch phrase could be worth $25-$75 in the first round, $40-$100 in round two, and $75-$150 in round three

A correct answer won the contestant the predetermined money amount, plus a chance to solve the Bonus Catch Phrase which was hidden behind nine squares with the show's logo on each. To choose a square, the contestant had to hit their button to stop a randomizer from flashing around the board after which the square was revealed, and they had a chance to guess. A correct answer won bonus money for the player ($100 for the first round, $200 for the second round and $300 for the third round.) Also, each round's Bonus Catch Phrase offered a minor prize hidden behind a mystery square.

After three rounds, the player with the most money won the game and played the Super Catch Phrase.

Super Catch Phrase (1999 Revival)

The final round involved a game board (5 by 5 grid) with 25 lettered squares (A-Y) with catchphrases hidden behind each. The winning contestant had the task to capture five squares in a horizontal, vertical or diagonal line within 60 seconds. Prizes were won if successful, with a larger prize if the winning player used the central "M" square. It is possible to win both prizes if two lines were made, where one line did went through the "M" square and the other line didn't go through the "M" square.

Contestants Stay until they win 5 Shows or defeated whichever is first

Season 2 Changes

Starting in September 2000, New Changes were added

  • Regular Catch Phrase are Now worth $50-$150 in Round 1, $75-$200 (in Round 2), $100-$300 (in Round 3)
  • Correct Bonus Catchphrases are worth $300 in Round 1, $400 in Round 2, $500 in Round 3

Taping Location

1985-1986: Studio 1 @ Metromedia Studios (Los Angeles, CA)

1999-2003: Jonas Jensen Studios (Seattle, WA)


1985-1986: Ray & Marc Ellis

1999-2004: Whitenoise Productions (who also composed the Theme Music to Burgo's Catchphrase on the Nine Network in Australia)