Not in my own words

PURISTS of the English language may claim to loath them but it is likely that even they use them sometimes. The rest of the TV watching world is more than happy to employ catchphrases in its vocabulary. I would venture to suggest that they are indispensab

PURISTS of the English language may claim to loath them but it is likely that even they use them sometimes.

The rest of the TV watching world is more than happy to employ catchphrases in its vocabulary.

I would venture to suggest that they are indispensable to some people in getting across what they want to express.

Some years ago I was languishing on the Press bench in Stevenage Magistrates' Court waiting for something interesting to happen when the proceedings were enlivened by a defendant who, when asked what he had to say to save himself from receiving a prison sentence, responded from the dock: "Beam me up, Scotty."


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Capt James T Kirk first uttered what became a famous phrase from Star Trek decades ago but it is still firmly in the public's mind.

It came fourth in a new poll of adults' favourite children's TV catchphrases.

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The top one is perhaps the shortest one ever - Homer Simpson's classic curse Doh! has been echoing around the world since it was first uttered in a short Simpsons' episode on the Tracey Ullman Show in 1989.

Just nine years later it was added into The New Oxford Dictionary of English - with the definition "used to comment on an action perceived as foolish or stupid" - and made it into the Oxford English Dictionary three years after that.

The second favourite catchphrase has a longer history, dating from the Sixties although some may think it originates from the Stone Age.

It was derived from the Brylcreem advertising jingle A Little Dab'll Do Ya!

Yes, it's Fred Flintstone's immortal Yabba Dabba Doo!

Coming in at number 3 is another Sixties phenomenon which must be spoken in a weird screechy voice to be effective - the Daleks' threatening Exterminate! from legendary BBC sci-fi show Dr Who.

It may be hard to believe now, but to a kid in those long off days it was really scary to hear the utterance from the odd looking creatures. The back of the settee seemed like a safe haven to seek.

After the Star Trek classic, to me - and possibly to you - the catchphrases become less memorable.

In at number 5 is To Me, To You from the Chuckle Brothers. Following that is By the Power of Grayskull! From He-Man - which seems so dated nowadays - then I Love It When a Plan Comes Together (The A-Team), Fandabidozi by the Krankies (I'd forgotten that one), I Pity the Fool! (A-Team again) and back to the classics at number 10 is What's Up Doc? from the teeth-filled mouth of Bugs Bunny.

Out of the next 10 favourites, the only ones that mean much to me are I Taught I Taw a Puddy Tat (Tweety Pie), Is It a Bird, Is It a Plane - No, It's Superman! and That's Another Fine Mess You've Got Me Into ( Laurel and Hardy).

They all hark back to my childhood, so that may be why they are such a power in my grey skull.

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