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Episode Gotcha

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The Gotcha Episode was a joke episode intended as a prank on Richard Whiteley. Filmed on 2 October 1998, it was planned by Noel Edmonds and the cast of Noel's House Party. Whilst it has never been broadcast in full, edited highlights were shown on House Party and several documentaries since. The rounds were set up as part of the joke. It was produced immediately before Episode 2400 and therefore is sometimes referred to as "November 1998" to maintain series continuity. The reason given for incumbent champion Mark Jeary not appearing was given as the fact that "he had to go home".

"Amanda Richards" played "Richard Max", with Richard Max winning 58 – 36. The Dictionary Corner guest was Richard Stilgoe, and the lexicographer was Susie Dent.


Rnd Selection Amanda Richards Score Richard Max Others Max.
4 25 7 3 9 2 8 → 299 298 6 – 29 299
(9 + 3) × 25 − (8 − 7)

(2.5 seconds)
75 2 6 3 8 7623  –  623 ☓
6. 2. 3. ☓

Best: 623 = (75 + 8 + 6) × 7

8 7 7 8 3 6 100 → 291 293
100 × 3 − 7
36 – 58

CV: 291 = 100 × 3 − 7 − (8 − 6)

9 HOGCAT 36 – 58 GOTCHA 106

Jokes and Notes

  • The contestants' names, Amanda Richards and Richard Max, were not the real names of the actors and were made up to be confused with Richard Whiteley and Richard Stilgoe. It was also claimed Amanda Richards had a pair of Alsatian dogs called Carol and Richard.
  • In Round 1, Richard Max, when declaring, said that he had "a lovely bunch of coconuts", referring to the song, and, in particular, "big ones, small ones". He continued what Whiteley described as his "What's My Line?" routine in Round 2, miming his declaration of SABRES.
  • For Round 2, Dictionary Corner jokingly suggested MARSBARS, and after Dictionary Corner spotted EMBARRASS, Richard Max's mobile phone timely went off and it turned out to be his mother calling. Richard Whiteley carried out a conversation with her, which, amongst other things, instructed her to "calm down, woman!".
  • During Round 3, Amanda had to go to the loo as the clock ended. Richard Max also continued his banter from Rounds 1 and 2, declaring "I've got you under my skin".
  • During Round 4, Richard Max asked for an "inverted T – T as in "Terrific Time"". Vorderman responded by saying the target was a "terrific" 299. The clock music for this round continued after the 30 seconds were up, with the section between 8 and 22 seconds being repeated ad infinitum.
  • In Round 4, Richard Whiteley inadvertently asked Richard Max how many letters were in his word, when it was in fact a numbers game.
  • Richard Stilgoe read the following limerick of Amanda during the Dictionary Corner break: "There was a young woman called Richards, whose hobby was going to the pictures, she liked Dumb and Dumber, and Gone with the Wind, but best of all she liked Saving Private Ryan." Richard Max declared that he didn't get it, before Stilgoe conceded that "it needs work", and Whiteley suggested that the final line could be that "best of all, she likes eating pilchards".
  • During a filming break, Richard Whiteley laughed about it being his craziest program ever.
  • In Round 5, everybody joked, "I've got DIARRHOEA." Richard Stilgoe responded, "Well, it's a collection of bowels incontinence".
  • In Round 6, OMETHINGS was brought up as the seemingly random selection, with Whiteley saying "ah!" when the final S was selected, and went on to indicate the contestants would not need the full thirty seconds by faking being drunk when starting the clock. When Amanda declared five, Whiteley's response was "What?? Five??", and proceeded to put his head in his hands when Richard Max declared six. Dictionary Corner played along too, offering HINGES, MOISTEN, GNOMES and an illegal nine beginning with GNOMES, GNOMESHIT. Only Whiteley spotted the obvious nine, joking, ironically, that the programme is a wind-up.
  • The original letters for Round 7 were MRKELICIT. Despite it not being the conundrum, Richard Max pressed his buzzer and offered the word LIMERICK. After declaring LIMERICK, Richard Max read another limerick: "There was an old man called Whiteley, whose puns were always said frightfully, he took some Viagra, and now like Niagara: he rushes and gushes twice nightly."
  • The second Round 7 only contained two vowels, something that should have meant the round be thrown out and played yet again. However, no one noticed this in the studio. Following the second Round 7, Richard Max very audibly passed wind.
  • The original Round 8 had 75, 2, 6, 3, 8, 7 and a target of 623. Richard Max declared "6, 2, 3" (concatenating the small numbers 6, 2 and 3). When this was disallowed he complained to Richard Whiteley that he didn't know this was against the rules. Whiteley told Richard Max to look him in the eye and told him that "you know you're talking a lot of bollocks, don't you? You know the rules very well." Amanda then claimed that Richard Max was putting him off, and started crying. She went up to Whiteley and asked that she and Whiteley swap places, which Whiteley said she wasn't allowed to do "because of the way the programme runs". Amanda then asked Whiteley if, seeing as she was badly losing, she could be informed of the answer to the conundrum. Whiteley said that he didn't want to tell her, and calmed her down by claiming, somewhat ironically, that this programme would be repeated forever due to Amanda saying "I've got DIARRHOEA".
  • For the rest of the game, Richard Max appeared to look somewhat disgruntled, and did not offer a solution to the seemingly easy numbers game, nor buzz for the conundrum.
  • Whiteley could be heard laughing during the clock music on the conundrum, and after the conundrum answer, GOTCHA, was revealed, the audience burst into cheers and Noel Edmonds of Noel's House Party walked out on stage and gave Richard Whiteley a "Gotcha Oscar."
  • Richard Whiteley joked, "[The conundrum] was supposed to be EDUCATION"; in reality, EDUCATION has two anagrams (AUCTIONED and CAUTIONED), and could thus never be an actual conundrum solution.

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