This Mr never misses

Derek Batey - Mr & Mrs television show
Derek Batey - Mr & Mrs television show
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HELLO and welcome to another edition of Mnctep n Mnccnc...

Or perhaps you’d prefer to tune into Pan i Pani.

Chances are though, its original name of Mr and Mrs will suit you just fine.

For more than 40 years St Annes-based entertainer Derek Batey has been encouraging couples to broadcast their domestic secrets to the nation – and these days the show is a global phenomenon.

“We’re doing our third series in Russia, it’s big in Hungary – where the box game version has also become popular,” says Derek. “Poland, Lithuania, New Zealand and South America also feature it. Some countries do their own versions – like New Zealand and Southern Ireland, some do their own and some – like South America – just dub their voices on to ours!”

The show, which is loved and loathed in equal shares, was first aired in 1968 and asks couples to prove how well they know each other with a series of innocent but probing questions.

Three years ago it made a return to ITV screens after a 20 year absence and again proved to be a hit.

“I’m delighted with the ongoing success of something we just originally thought was a bit of fun,” says Derek. “I think it appeals to everyone’s natural curiosity – there’s a bit of the voyeur in all of us and this show sort of takes people behind the curtains and into the front room. It certainly wasn’t the prize money that pulled in the viewers – though it’s quite good now on some of the foreign versions.

“When we started it I never in my wildest dreams thought it would end up going from Blackpool’s Central Pier to Russia with love.”

Derek is now hoping that plans for a long awaited pilot version of the show for the USA will work out but in the meantime he enjoyed a bumper Christmas of sales for the box game version and is currently working on a pocket sized travel version which can be played on flights, train journeys and cruises.

“I’ve had to come up with another 500 questions – though I must admit not all of them are new!” he admitted.

Now in his “83rd year” Derek shows no sign of slowing down, dividing his time between his St Annes home, Florida and the Canary Islands.

But despite the global popularity of the show – which he co-created for the now defunct Border Television and owns the rights to – there are no plans to diversity into, say, a modern Mr and Mr or Mrs and Mrs version.

“When I hosted the original show I never even had couples on who weren’t married,” he says. “I’ve been asked over the years to try a single sex version but I have always gently declined.”

n Mnctep n Mnccnc is more or less the Russian for Mr and Mrs and Pan i Pani. is just about right for the Polish.