Strike It Lucky (ITV, 1986-1994)
I’ve already written about the interactive DVD version of this game show, now I want to share my memories of the original version because it’s one of my favourites. Strike It Lucky was a game show made by Thames which was based on an American format and hosted by lively comedian Michael Barrymore, so it was definitely going to be a show with a difference.
Every week three teams of two took part. It could be said that some of the contestants were somewhat eccentric, and Michael always enjoyed interacting with them. It seems that some viewers liked to watch the show because of the unusual stories that the contestants would tell instead of the gameplay, and sometimes this would take up the first ten minutes of the show, a lot longer than most game shows give contestants time to tell anecdotes and the like.
When the game finally started, one of the team went over to the where the ten screens were, while the other had to answer questions to gain moves for them. There would be a category with six options. The more answers they got right the more screens they could play for in one go, from two to a maximum of four. If they get one wrong though, it is passed along to the next team who can steal the moves.
When a contestant has got enough answers right, Michael will then run over to the other contestant and ask them to “strike the screen”. A prize will then be revealed. They can bank the prize, or move on to the next screen, knowing that if they land on a “hot spot” they will lose the prize. Some of the prizes were rather odd then, never mind now, and at this point there was usually some “right, it’s a microwave, do you want to bank that, or – what? You don’t know what that is?”-type fun from Michael.
When a contestant gets to the other end, they have to answer a question, get it right and they win the game, and then they go into the final, where they can play for the big money. All 30 screens now come into play. There are ten moves, ten questions and ten hot spots, the computer then randomly generates where they all are.
The idea is that the contestants bid on how many hot spots they think they will find, with more money on offer for getting to the end with finding fewer hot spots. They then pick the top, middle or bottom screen. If they get a move, they go to the next screen. If they get a question, it is a true or false statement. Getting it right turns the screen into a move, but getting it wrong turns it into a hot spot. Finding a hot spot is of course not going to be of any use. There were some close finishes and a lot of money was won.
Strike It Lucky was always an entertaining game. I remember having the board game version, there were lots of Christmas specials, and a short clip was even shown in Thames’s final programme. The repeats on Challenge have also been enjoyable. Great sound effects, too. I also remember around 1990 the set design changed, but then in the following series it changed back to the previous look which was unusual (although the background changed from pink to blue), has any other show ever done that? By 1994 Strike It Lucky was beginning to look a little old-fashioned, but the show had some new life put into it in the late-90s with a revival when it was relaunched as…
Strike It Rich (ITV, 1996-1999)
The format returned for a second run in the late-90s. The show was now produced by LWT which is why there was a name change, and also to emphasise the new look and bigger prizes that were on offer. As well as that it was more of the same really, with more enjoyable contestants taking part for the prizes, and Michael never missing an opportunity to mildly embarrass an old lady.