Lucky Ladders (ITV, 1988-1993)
Lucky Ladders was a fast-moving weekday word association game that was based on an American format called Chain Reaction. It was hosted by Lennie Bennett who always livened up things by wearing a lovely sweater and throwing in a daft joke now and again and it was one of my favourites of the ITV 9:25am game shows. Every day two teams of two took part who were related in some way. They always had to run on waving as they were introduced by Peter Simon (him again!). The ladder which featured seven words then appeared on the screen with the top word and bottom word filled in. One team member had to ask for a letter under the top word or above the bottom word and the other one has to guess what the word was. If they got it right they won some points, but if they didn’t it went over to the other team.
Sometimes it could be rather frustrating as the teams struggled to guess the simple word clues and Lennie would end up saying “when this ladder started I had hair”. When the ladder was completed the team that did so won a bonus. The contestants then swapped places and the points were doubled for the next ladder. The ladders carried on until one team got to 200 points. The losing team were then given a few consolation prizes, give them a round of applause, weren’t they lovely.
The winning team then went on to play the jackpot ladder. Again they had to guess the words but this time they were restricted to only being able to ask for five additional letters. If they did complete the ladder though they became the reigning champions who would then face another team. If they managed to complete the jackpot ladder five times they won the star prize of a holiday so they had to be sharp thinkers. I’m not sure if anyone ever achieved this but it was always enjoyable finding out what would happen.
Lucky Ladders was one of the few game shows that was produced by Anglia for ITV. It was a show that I always enjoyed watching, it was harmless fun and everyone seemed to enjoy being on the show, including Lennie Bennett who always hosted the show well, but unfortunately after the show ended in 1993 he wasn’t seen much on TV after that. It also had great music and recently a brief clip from what appears to be an unaired pilot from 1987 appeared on YouTube which was interesting. It’s definitely a show I would like to see repeated on Challenge (although I think it was repeated endlessly on UK Living for a bit in the 90s) or maybe even revived.