Finders Keepers (1)



Richard Stilgoe


BBC1, 13 February 1981 to 1 March 1985 (42 episodes in 5 series)


General lyricist/wit/reporter bod Stilgoe hosts this game of battleships on a 7x9 grid with two sides of three kids each trying to sink each other's fleet. Noted for its BBC Model B graphics for the game board, as well as the constant use of the phonetic alphabet to avoid confusion between letters ("Golf Five"). When the teams found one of the coloured squares on the board, they would get points. Completing a group gained double points (e.g. a group of 4 completed = 8 point bonus) and answering general knowledge questions correctly, including picture and music rounds, enabled you to keep control.

In later series, there was a celebrity guest in disguise in the audience, with his/her name given as an anagram (one of Richard Stilgoe's specialities!) and the teams had to guess who it was by solving the anagram and/or asking the person yes/no questions. The teams also tried to defeat the guest on a general knowledge question they had brought along in order to gain extra points. The celebrities who appeared were mostly kids' presenters and/or sports stars of the time: they included Adrian Hedley, Duncan Goodhew, John Craven, Joanna Monroe and Howard Stableford, as well as certain others listed below.

In most series, there were also 'Pathetic Prizes' - as Stilgoe rightly called them. Winning teams in the last series simply got lunchboxes. (Eat your heart out, Blankety Blank!)

Overall, an enjoyable and good-natured, if fairly basic, kids' show; this was mostly down to Stilgoe's wit, wisdom and anagrams, but also partly to the battleships-style game, which certainly proved to be an effective format. It could perhaps have gone on for another series or two, but it was probably due to the arrival of new kids' quizzes such as Beat the Teacher, Secret's Out and First Class that it finished when it did. Still, c'est la vie!


"Foxtrot seven"


Robert Gould

Theme music

The second series featured a bloody grating song with a female voice going 'Fin-ders Kee-pers Loo-sers Wee-pers' for ever and ever. It was written by Peter Gosling.

The fourth and fifth series featured a much more tuneful and witty intro song performed by Stilgoe himself at the start, tapping away at a slimline synthesizer:

Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers
Finders Keepers, Where's that square?
Finders Keepers, Losers Weepers
Buzz the bleepers to find that square.
Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, Roger and out!

Verses were tailored to the players for that show, thereby doubling up as a neat introduction to everyone taking part.


Stilgoe used to make up a witty song every week to introduce each contestant in turn, in between renditions of the main theme song. Deb Garfield (née Ward) writes:

I was on Finders Keepers (from Swanton Morley CE Primary School) - we had our own song written about us at the start:
From Dereham in Norfolk, it's the Swanton Morley set,
Eileen Stockley is a drum majorette,
Richard Piagessi hates the A-Team's forces
While Deborah likes horses, and horses, and horses.....
We won the warm up, but lost on the actual show and Peter Powell was our mystery guest. It took nearly 3 hours to film.... nightmare!

To give a few examples of the anagrams of the celebrity guests' names, the late Percy Thrower was 'Cherry Powter', Maggie Philbin was 'Bigleg Hipiman', Johnny Ball was 'Jyll Hobann' and Suzi Quatro was 'OU Quiz Star'. Oh, and we were once given an anagram of 'Richard Stilgoe' in Radio Times - this was 'Giscard O'Hitler' - apparently this was not too controversial at the time.

Strangely, in later series, the use of 'Bravo' for the letter B was sometimes replaced by 'Beta' - possibly because A was 'Alpha' in both the Greek and the phonetic alphabets and therefore it was logical to follow the Greek alphabet for those two letters, even if they could not do so from C onwards.

The computer playboard was designed by Ian Chisholm and John Mitchell.

TV Brain tells us that nearly all of the episodes survived in the archives with 28 of them surviving. These are the episodes that survived:

Series 1: Episodes 1 & 4
Series 2: Episodes 1-2 & 4
Series 3: Episodes 1 & 4-6
Series 4: Episodes 1-6, 8 & 10-12
Series 5: All 9 episodes

Web links

Wikipedia entry

Opening titles from 1981 and 1983 in the BBC Motion Graphics Archive


Full episode from 1982


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