Punchlines (ITV, 1981-1984)
This is another game show that I don’t remember from the time, but I have heard a lot about it, and I know that it was another LWT Saturday Night show that was part of their continuing commitment to overblown light entertainment at the weekend. This one was hosted by Lennie Bennett who also hosted the daytime game show Lucky Ladders that I really did enjoy, so let’s see what this one was like.
One thing that is often said about Punchlines is that it has a rather similar idea to Celebrity Squares, but there are some differences. Firstly, eight celebrities took part, who were mostly comedians, including Bobby Davro, Matthew Kelly, Gary Wilmot, and Madeline Smith, and it’s always a pleasure to see Madeline. Two teams of two took part, including one celebrity (similar to the other LWT game show Child’s Play). Would they be able to help each other?
The idea was that all of the celebrities had a punchline. The first part of the joke would then be read out, and the contestants had to pick the number of who they thought was the match, so it was a memory test. This led to the show’s catchphrase “remember what you heard, and where you heard it”. Contestants were asked individually and then as a team for their answers, and there were ten points for every correct match. There were seven jokes, so they had to avoid the red herring.
Of course, when they picked totally the wrong number, it would be very amusing. The second round was the same, but this time all of the celebrities ran around quickly as they swapped seats, which made remembering what was where even more difficult. After the break, there were more punchlines, but this time every correct match was worth 20 points, and the first team to score 150 points made it to the final.
The losing team took away the rather odd consolation prize of a Lennie-shaped doll, but also on offer was some champagne and glasses. In the final, the non-celebrity contestant had to match seven of the eight punchlines correctly (remembering to avoid the red herring again) for the star prize. But if they didn’t get all of them, their prize was determined by the number of correct matches, so they could still win something nice, such as a dishwasher or a TV. Cue the end of the show with everyone waving frantically.
There were five series of Punchlines, including a few specials, and it definitely was a show that had plenty of laughs in the showbiz style that was popular in the early-80s. As much as I enjoyed it, I am still more fond of Lucky Ladders, but it was clearly looks like it was a fun place to be, as once again the overexcited studio audience that applauded everything would prove.