1 9 7 2 – 1 9 7 8 (UK)
48 x 45 minute episodes
Host Jon Pertwee (initially Edward Woodward) presented this highly popular, light-hearted panel game from Thames Television which invited viewers to play detective every week between 1972 and 1978, pitting their wits against a panel of celebrity sleuths to solve a fictitious murder mystery.
The show’s brilliantly original formula, devised by comedians Lance Percival and Jeremy Lloyd, presented short murder mystery dramas laden with clues to be pieced together by the panellists who could ask for sections of the story to be played back and would then question all the characters involved and finally point the finger at the most likely suspect.
A panel of celebrity sleuths, included Liza Goddard, Wendy Craig, Terry Scott, Arthur Mullard, Jimmy Jewel, Jack Smethurst and Patrick Mower.
The clues fell thick and fast, but there were also many red herrings. Lively repartee was the order of the day.
Viewers were challenged to solve the murder at the end of the second act when the detective would summarise the evidence before he went on to name the guilty party.
This was the first time Lance Percival had written for television. The inspiration came to him while playing cabaret in Rotherham when he popped into the cinema to while away one rainy afternoon.
During the ice cream interval, he started to read a detective novel and spent the rest of the time guessing the end.
An American version of Whodunnit? aired on NBC in April and May 1979, with Ed McMahon hosting.
ITV made a similar series in the ’90’s – Cluedo, hosted by Chris Tarrant.