Pets Win Prizes



Danny Baker (1994)

Dale Winton (1995-6)


Terry Nutkins

Veterinary consultant:
Bradley Viner (1994)
Mary Nicoll (1995-6)

Announcer: Bobby Bragg


BBC1, 16 July 1994 to 3 August 1996 (22 episodes in 3 series)


This was up against Scavengers on Saturday nights. Scavengers lasted one series, this lasted three.

Owners would bring in their pets to play pointless games of pet skill and agility. People with pet snails would race them for the entire show. Dogs would attempt to play Pool (albeit a slightly modified version of it), that kind of thing and it's blatantly obvious that they are trying to appeal to the kiddies with an 'Aaaahhh' factor of precisely 9.58 on a 1-10 scale. Yes, that cute folks. Even rats.

The country show-themed set of the original series

Luckily, despite the occasional 'Spot Your Pet from a selection of 10' style games, the other ones could be described as reasonably inventive, although hardly deep and meaningful. Before each game, TV animal expert Terry Nutkins would come on and say "yes, aren't these pets great?" and then walk off again.

Original host, Danny Baker

For each game won, the owner got a choice of two envelopes. Inside one of them was a consumer durable for themselves and inside the other would be a present for their pet. The choice was random.

In the final, all the winning owners took part in an animal related trivia quick-fire quiz. The questions weren't particularly serious and often multiple choice. It was first on the buzzers and for every one they got right, their little cardboard cut out animal would move forward one square on the makeshift race track. If a contestant buzzed in and got the answer wrong, they had to sit the next question out. The first one to the end or the person furthest along it when the three minutes ran out was declared the winner.

But what was their big prize? That was decided by The Professor, a cute ickle pussy cat. Again, altogether now, "Aaaaahhhh." There was a board with six sections on it, some really good (£1000, an exotic holiday), others not so good (some animal encyclopaedias, and the infamous pet portrait). The Professor would be put on a board and wherever her front paws were at the end of the thirty oh-so-much-tension filled seconds (with appropriate music) would be the prize that the owner won. They could try to tempt the Professor however they pleased but they weren't allowed to actually touch her. In later series, the prize was decided by her kittens, all of the four were on the board at the same time and then one was randomly chosen to decide the prize.

The Professor in action. If you think he's going to move from the £500 space, you've got another thing coming.

The show was reasonable fun, particularly with Danny Baker at the helm. Dale was fine as a host, but his trademark "Ooops, missus!" humour didn't really fit in here.

At the end of the day, the show was hardly a life-changing experience.

Key moments

Winton being egged on by the whole audience to pick up a tarantula.

Baker to a contestant who had just said that his hamster was his best friend, "So even if you win, you're still a loser."


"The pet portrait - the gift that keeps on giving"

"Your pet has won you..."

(Winton, to many of the animals): "Ooh, I knoooow!"


Devised by David McGrath and Andy Mayer.

Theme music

By David Arnold and Paul Hart.


Accomplished VT editor Mykola Pawluk (you'll have seen his work on... everything) once noted that perhaps his trickiest job was on Pets Win Prizes, when he had to edit a 23-minute duck race down to three minutes.

Web links

Wikipedia entry

Opening titles from 1994 and 1995 in the BBC Motion Graphics Archive


Second series host, Dale Winton, with a blow-up monkey. Dale's the one on the left.
Publicity photo for the second series of Pets Win Prizes.


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