Deal Or No Deal (Channel 4, 2005-present)
A show that has been a big success around the world and is based on a format that originated in Holland, essentially a glamorised guessing game, but a very intriguing one. I remember when the show launched in this country it was sold on the point that every contestant who took part was guaranteed to go away with some amount of money, but they didn’t know how much it was going to be.
When Channel 4 launched their version of the show in 2005, the production team looked for a host that would have a suitable style for the show. I think that they made a great choice in Noel Edmonds, who it’s easy to forget now had barely appeared on TV for five years previously. He always engaged with the contestants really well and despite his horrible shirts cranked up the tension when necessary.
There were 22 contestants each with one of the distinctive red boxes which were all randomly assigned one of the money amounts. One of them was then picked to take the walk of wealth and sit themselves down in the chair as they prepared themselves to take the challenge to win a potentially life-changing amount of money, as much as £250,000 could be won.
They picked a box to be opened, and whatever money amount was contained inside is eliminated from the game so for goodness sake keep them low. After a while the phone rings and Noel has a short conversation with a mysterious banker figure who will give an offer. The contestant will want to win as much as they can by hopefully keeping the biggest value boxes in play, the banker will hope to have the pleasure of seeing them win a small amount. Noel then asks them the all-important big question, “deal or no deal?”. If they say “no deal” the game carries on, if they say “deal” they win the offer and the game continues to determine if it was the right decision.
If they carry on until the end there are two boxes remaining. If they say “no deal” again they win the amount in their own box. There have been a lot of changes to the show over the years. When it launched it was 45 minutes long, but it has now been extended to an hour. There have also been variations on banker’s offers where it has also been possible to win holidays and other things. More recent innovations have included a 23rd box, which has the potential to double a contestant’s winnings, or make them lose everything, and button that could be used once which when pressed would require the banker to make an offer.
Deal Or No Deal would go on to be a big success, and it’s the only daytime Channel 4 game show that’s come anywhere near being as durable as the classics Countdown and Fifteen-To-One. In its earliest days it was doing so well in the ratings that it seemed to be on every day at one point. Needless to say there have been a lot of tense finishes and only seven contestants out of almost 3,000 have gone all the way to win the top prize.
Deal Or No Deal has also won several awards, and there has been a lot of merchandise released, including board games and interactive DVDs. There have also been a lot of creative themed specials of the show usually around Christmas and Halloween, including a few where the money amounts were specially changed, and even some celebrity specials.
It is great to think that Deal Or No Deal has run for almost a decade now and indeed a lot of interesting contestants have won lots of money. I don’t watch the show much now and to look at recent episodes is a little odd, with everybody seemingly shrieking after every box is opened, and all other sorts of bizarre things like having to do a silly dance when the smallest amount of money on offer is eliminated from the game. For the impact it has had on TV though it is still an important and successful show.