Strike it Lucky



Michael Barrymore (1986-99)

Alan Carr (2020-22 specials)


John Benson (1986-88)
Robin Houston (1990-1, 1992, 1996-9)
Nick Jackson (1991)


Thames in association with Talbot Television and Blair Entertainment's Kline & Friends for ITV, 29 October 1986 to 29 December 1994 (155 episodes in 10 series)

Co-produced by Central, 1993-4

Michael Barrymore's Strike it Rich:

LWT and Grundy (formerly Fremantle (UK) Productions) for ITV, 12 December 1996 to 23 August 1999 (54 episodes in 4 series)

Talkback for ITV, 20 June 2020, 1 and 22 May 2021, 23 July 2022 (Epic Gameshow episodes)


Michael Barrymore hosted in his own inimitable style. Three teams of couples attempted to beat each other and the Hot Spots by answering questions correctly.

"Alwight?" "ALWIGHT!" "How do I look in this tux?" "ALWIGHT!"
Barrymore banters with the contestants before the game.

The question answer person in the couple chose 2, 3 or 4 questions. The answer to each not-terribly-difficult question was hidden in a group of six on the big board. If they picked the right answers, one "move" per question was theirs. However, if they got one wrong, the next team got a chance to steal the moves.

This contestant has her work cut out.
Today's number is 6.

When someone finally completed the "bid", the other half of the successful couples got to move along their "arch" of ten television monitors. By "striking the screen", they got to see whether there was a prize or a Hot Spot behind it.

Aww, just what your Nan wants.
And now she's lost it. Good on you.

And what is a Hot Spot not? A narrative feature which stopped the show finishing in half the time it could have been. Oh sorry, "A Good Spot!" Anyway, the couple could decide to stop at any time within the amount of moves they had, banking any prizes they'd won so far. Alternatively, they could keep going but if they hit a Hot Spot then they lost any prizes for that turn and we went back to the questions.

Barrymore ensures one of his elderly contestants is following the plot.
My impression of Stephen Hawking losing his marbles.

There would be supposedly between 5 and 8 hot spots but in later series it was almost always 6 (two for each of the three couples).

Come on son, you know the answer.

The screen before the final Question screen would always be a nice holiday, but they would either have to (a) risk it on the main Strike it Lucky Question, or (b) bank it but give the other teams a chance to finish. The first team to get across the monitors and answer the main SiL question won the game and went through to the end game.

Quiet please audience, Nan is crossing her fingers.
Just joking, she won anyway.

Here, they had to get across the archway of monitors from left to right, hitting as few Hot Spots as possible. They were given three options of being allowed to hit 2, 3 or 4 Hot Spots, fewer Hot Spots meaning more cash.

Money, Money, Money.
10, 10, 10.

On the thirty screens would be 10 Arrows (a free move), 10 Questions (True or False questions which turned into free moves or Hot Spots) and 10 Hot Spots. The computer would jumble everything up and then blank out the screens. The contestants now had to guess Top, Middle or Bottom for each of the ten columns of screens, and if it was a free move or they got a question correct they would win 5% of the money they were playing for. If they got a Hot Spot they lost one of their "lives". This would keep going until they got to the end or they ran out of chances.

No hot spot please.

It was never the best game show ever, and the British public overrated it, but it was jolly enough.

Did you enjoy your night even though you lost your Nan's dining suite?

The Epic Gameshow version ran for an hour rather than half an hour and, for the first special, used twelve screens instead of ten. It wasn't the first time the show had aired hour-long instalments; a number of Christmas specials featuring children had been lengthened. However, this time to bloat the show they ran the final round as a head to head. For the actual final, they added screens to the top of the set and contestants had to get to the top without losing three lives.

Key moments

The episode where an old Scottish gent had come to the studio without his glasses, and therefore couldn't read the possible answers from the video wall across the studio.

The episode where two different contestants were asked to complete 'The Princess and the...'. One guessed 'Porker' and the other guessed 'Turnip'.

The prizes that may not match the couple who receives them. Such as an elderly couple winning hang gliding lessons. There were even prizes we couldn't figure out what the hell they were.

Llama Trekking? Sounds like a rejected Star Trek spin-off.

Before the game started, one contestant admitted she didn't like Italians. This led to one prize being offered as a weekend break in Verona, Italy.

The episode where Barrymore (who is 6' 3" in height) and a short heighted contestant exchanged trousers.

During the end game of the opening show in series six, the winning couple chose top for their first screen. They got an arrow and won £300. However, the top screen on the next row immediately revealed itself to have also concealed an arrow. Barrymore explained that this was a computer error and, owing to this, the couple immediately saw their money doubled to £600. Ever the quick-witted host, he then quipped: 'That is the first time...and I'm sure Thames Television will be pleased if it's the last!'

The 1998 episode featuring contestants Vera and Eric appears to be fondly remembered by fans of the show. An elderly couple who met just two years prior via a lonely hearts advert in the local newspaper. Eric's cheerful attitude in the face of his advancing years and many ailments struck a chord with Barrymore, the audience and fans. As well as Eric being reduced to hysterics after a rather inappropriate prize appeared on one of the screens. The episode was the subject of an article in The Liverpool Echo in 2017 after a clip resurfaced online and Barrymore himself uploaded the episode in full to Youtube in 2021.

In a 1997 charity special, all of the contestants were donating their winnings to Cancer Research (3 of the contestants playing were suffering from the disease). The couple who won the game went on to play £10,000 in the final game (only 2 hot spots were allowed) The first three screens they picked were all hotspots, meaning they should've lost, but Michael ignored them and allowed them to carry on because he didn't want them to lose charity money (at one point the off-screen producer was telling Michael off and Michael replied "Don't make a face at me!") In total the couple hit 6 hotspots but Michael ignored them and gave them the £10,000 prize. How nice!

No one would ever leave Strike it Lucky/Rich empty-handed. If a couple won nothing, Michael would go up himself and strike some of the screens to get them a prize.

The later series where Barrymore and the whole show went crazy.



Barrymore: "And what is a Hot Spot not?"
Audience: "Not a good spot!" (Alan Carr made the mistake of following this on his first episode with asking the audience to complete the catchphrase "He's the host with the most, a TV star, he's Alan, Alan:". "Titchmarsh", replied the audience.)

Before asking the main Strike it Lucky/Rich question: "I'll ask you the question, you can confer as loud as you like, then I'll ask you the question again, and I must have an answer." Though what usually happened was that Barrymore asked the question, the couple gave the right answer there and then, Barrymore asked if that was their answer, and they said yes.

"Before you make your mind up, the computer will now jumble them all up..."

"Top, middle or bottom?"

"You can't have a Hot Spot."

"If a question comes up you must get it right."


Based on the US show called Strike it Rich, which lasted one season. The program is created by Walt Framer.

Theme music

The original Strike it Lucky theme is called Born to Run by Paul Westwood. It has quite the middle section - check it out.

Music for Strike it Rich was by Paul Boross and Henry Marsh.


On one show, a Scottish farmer talked and read poetry for 90 minutes.

The show became Strike it Rich in 1996 because the TV company who had the rights to the name Strike it Lucky refused to give them over to their rivals when the show changed production company from Thames to LWT.

"If you actually look at Strike it Lucky, the format's a pile of crap." - Michael Barrymore, speaking in 2006. This later led him to appear on the Strike it Lucky DVD game in 2007.

The show's Associate Producer, David Mason, produced an excellent book entitled 'The Game Show Handbook' (first published 1991), which gives a comprehensive guide to quiz and game shows of the time, interviews with the stars (including Barrymore, who wrote the foreword) and some very helpful advice on how to get on shows and how to give the best possible performance when appearing.


A Strike it Lucky board game was manufactured. In some series, every contestant would take away a copy.

A Strike it Lucky DVD game was released in 2007.

Web links

Wikipedia entry

Andy Walmsley's set design from the Strike it Rich version


File:Strike_it_lucky_michael1.jpgBarrymore is a constant professional at posing. Here he is strutting.
File:Strike_it_lucky_michael2.jpgHere he is doing a star jump on the stairs
File:Strike it rich large.jpgAnd here he is looking at a camera.
File:Strike_it_rich1.jpgThe pose that made the earth stand still.
File:Strike_it_rich2.jpgWhen a couple wins the end game, we all go YEEEEEEEEEESH!
I'm little and he's large.
Well, he puts me to shame.


The very last episode


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