Ask the Family was a quiz show which originally was hosted by Robert Robinson and proved surprisingly durable running from 1967 to 1984 on BBC1.
The programme involved two family teams, made up of a mother and father and two teenage children who would be asked questions on a variety of subjects. The series became famous for its picture puzzles, especially for photographs of ordinary objects taken in extreme close-up - which became the programme's trademark - and animated caption slides prepared by Eric Ilett.
It was also noted for its unusual theme music, a sitar piece called "Acka Raga" performed by the jazz musician Jon Mayer. The series was presented in a terribly middle class British manner so when it was revamped and revived in 2005 it caused almost a public outrage.
The latest incarnation broadcast on BBC2 was hyped by the Beeb as the first primetime outing for Dick'n'Dom, two children's presenters who had hosted the Saturday morning show Dick 'n Dom in da Bungalow...one of the lesser regarded Saturday morning offerings on BBC TV. Their new venture received a critical mauling, too. In fact, the show's original creator, Patricia Owtram, felt compelled to write a letter to 'The Times' newspaper in which she complained: "I was appalled that, in a programme in which small girls took part, there were so many jokes about willies and so much sexy cuddling between a presenter and an over-excited mother. I sound like a Grumpy Old Producer. I probably am. If the BBC was going to take someone's idea, make it over, use excerpts from it, repeat selected programmes, and devote airtime to knocking them down, it might have been a courtesy to tell the deviser that this was going to happen." This complaint was echoed by the show's former producer Rosalind Gold who likened the new version to "witnessing your favourite aunt prostituting herself for a cheap thrill." Methinks they were none too happy!
Published on November 28th, 2018. Written by Laurence Marcus for Television Heaven.