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Secrets behind TV's most famous catchphrases from Del Boy to Homer Simpson

Mirror logo Mirror 14/03/2019 Emily Retter
a drawing of a cartoon character: Homer Simpson's catch phrase is known the world over © WENN Homer Simpson's catch phrase is known the world over

When The Generation Game’s Larry Grayson famously said: “Shut that door” he was actually referring to a real door.

The catchphrase became synonymous with the legendary TV host in the 1970s and 1980s, but he first used it long before he became a star.

He was working the summer season at a seafront theatre in Redcar, Teesside when his act was interrupted by a door to the beach that kept flying open in the wind, and out came the now-classic line.

Now the door has been found during regeneration of what is currently the town’s Regent Cinema and is being preserved.

But the Regent’s manager Neil Bates adds: “The catchphrase originated from his manageress.

 

Larry Grayson wearing a suit and tie smiling at the camera © Credits: PA

When she wanted to talk to clients she would invite them into her office and say in a rather stern voice, ‘Shut that door’.”

It seems that when it comes to a catchphrase, there’s a story behind those immortal words:

Bruce Forsyth: Nice to see yer, to see yer nice

Bruce Forsyth et al. posing for a photo © Credits: ITV

Brucie once revealed his catchiest phrase of all had its origins in his boyhood trips to watch Arsenal.

He would sit near the players’ tunnel and one day as the players came out, he shouted: “Nice to see yer”, and it became a regular exchange.

Much later, the BBC told him he needed a catchphrase.

As he was racking his brains, a make-up girl walked past and said: “Nice to see you again, Mr Forsyth.” The memories flooded back.

Paul Daniels: ‘You’ll like this. Not a lot, but you’ll like it.’

Paul Daniels et al. looking at the camera © Credits: REX/Shutterstock

Before he was a TV star Paul was in one club in Bradford when he coined his catchphrase, thanks to a rowdy crowd who were hard to please.

For once, a heckler proved useful because the phrase was Paul’s spontaneous putdown to the troublemaker. And it stuck.

Dad’s Army: ‘Don’t panic’

Philip Madoc wearing a uniform © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited

Writers Jimmy Perry and David Croft loosely based this catchphrase of Cpl Jones on an elderly Lance Corporal Perry had served alongside in the Home Guard.

“When Jones told everyone not to panic, it was usually the case that he was the only one panicking!” he said, recalling the gent.

 

Homer Simpson: ‘D’oh’

a graffiti covered wall © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited

Proof that genius breeds genius – and no idea is ever new.

In the script originally just written as “annoyed grunt”, the noise ‘D’oh’ was inspired by Jimmy Finlayson, who played the comic foil in 33 Laurel and Hardy movies, but was shortened from his “D’ooooooh” because creator Matt Groening thought it suited Homer’s lazy character.

Del Boy: ‘Lovely jubbly’

The much-loved sitcom writer John Sullivan came up with ‘lovely jubbly’ for his most famous character Del Boy when he saw the slogan for an orange juice drink in the 1960s.

Sullivan later pictured Del Trotter using it. Del was never short of a catchy quip, but lovely jubbly even entered the Oxford English Dictionary in 2003.

Nicholas Lyndhurst, Lennard Pearce are posing for a picture: The comedy was originally aired from 1981 to 1991, and then in occasional Christmas episodes until 2003 © BBC The comedy was originally aired from 1981 to 1991, and then in occasional Christmas episodes until 2003

Catherine Tate’s Lauren Cooper: ‘Am I bovvered?!’

Lacey Turner, Catherine Tate are posing for a picture © Credits: BBC

Catherine admits she came up with her character’s most famous catchphrase long before Lauren Cooper was born.

She said it first in a live show, and decided she must use it because of how her audience reacted.

As people left the theatre Tate could hear them repeating it and she knew she was on to something.

She said: “It’s a blessing because you can’t sit down and write a catchphrase, it is the audience that actually picks up on something.”

Bugs Bunny: ‘Eh, what’s up doc?’

a drawing of a face © Credits: REX/Shutterstock

Bugs first said these immortal words while nonchalantly chewing on a carrot in A Wild Hare, in 1940.

The phrase was the writer’s, but Bugs’ manner was adapted from Clark Gable’s performance in It Happened One Night in which his character leans against a fence eating carrots and gives instructions with his mouth full.

The scene was well-known at the time and audiences were well aware that Bugs was spoofing Gable.

Fred Flintstone: ‘’Yabba dabba doo’

a close up of a box: Fred Flintstone and Barney © Provided by Trinity Mirror Shared Services Limited Fred Flintstone and Barney

The origin of Fred’s iconic “Yabba dabba doo” catchphrase came from Alan Reed, who voiced Fred from 1960-77 – and he nicked it from his mum.

He just came out with it, when the script only called for ‘Yahoo’.

He explained his mum used to say: “A little dab’ll do ya” - which she, in turn, got from a Brylcreem commercial.

Stu Francis: ‘Ooh, I could crush a grape’

Stu Francis et al. posing for a photo © Credits: BBC

Stu’s famous Crackerjack quip was surreal, and his explanation is too.

He said: “I was on stage and there was a gang of women at the front, and one lady had a really infectious laugh.

"I just leant over, and said, ‘You’re enjoying yourself’ and she said ‘I am, you bloody fool, I am’.

"I could feel the tension, I thought ‘What am I going to say?’ I ended up saying, ‘I’m glad you’re here. I’m so excited. I could… crush a grape!’ I don’t know where it came from.”

Victor Meldrew’s ‘I don’t believe it’

a man wearing a hat and glasses posing for the camera © Credits: BBC

One of the nation’s all-time favourites didn’t catch on straight away.

Actor Richard Wilson first said his grumpy character Victor Meldrew’s catchphrase, “I don’t believe it!” at an awards ceremony and “no one blinked”.

But, he recalls: “Then it gradually became this huge thing. I began to run out of different ways to say it and the writers started rationing it.”

Related: In pictures: Behind the scenes with Only Fools and Horses [Mirrorpix]


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