Cheap Cheap Cheap (Channel 4, 2017)
After the successful and long-running Deal Or No Deal ended, Noel Edmonds returned to Channel 4 with a new show that he created himself. Noel is someone who is known to like to try something a little different in TV, and we were promised that Cheap Cheap Cheap would be a unique cross between a game show and a sitcom, where contestants played the game while various comedy characters looked on and interacted with them.
The response from viewers to this idea was rather predictable really, with most comments on the show from people after one edition just consisting of “this is the stupidest thing I’ve ever seen, I turned off after five minutes”, and “Noel has really lost it this time”, causing the ratings to slump very quickly. I watched to the end of the run though and I just feel that I want to defend this show and reveal why I became a fan, although I am clearly in the minority.
Noel opened his new store in Somerset and he was joined by Barry the manager (played by Alex “not the one who used to be in Hurricane #1” Lowe), plus Marijana the health and happiness guru, Kelly the sales assistant, and Brian the odd job man. Although it seems that some of their material was scripted, I’m not entirely sure if Noel knew what they were going to say, and this made things a little unpredictable. Teams of two take part and they have to determine the lowest-priced item of the three on offer, that’s it really.
If they get stuck they have three tools that were on offer to help them. They could take a look at the next question before deciding to play, they could have the most expensive item removed, or they could have the price of one item revealed. Only one tool can be played per question though. After they make their choice, Noel reveals the prices of the items, and if they have correctly chosen the cheapest, they move one step up the money ladder.
If they decide to play and get it wrong however, they lose all their money. There are eight steps on the money ladder, each question is in theory supposed to be more difficult than the previous one, and the star prize was £25,000 for getting eight right in a row. Barry always looked forward to opening the till for the successful contestants. Shows also straddle so if it’s time for Barry to close the shop for the day they can resume their game in the next edition.
There were a few other odd elements to the show. First of all, there was no live studio audience as such, only the other contestants waiting to play were watching on, so most jokes met with little response, I feel that it would’ve worked better with a bigger audience, and whether you got the style of humour on offer made a difference too. Also, there were lots of guest appearances from old school 1980s celebrities including Bobby Davro, Lionel Blair, Russell Grant and Dennis Taylor who took part in sketches that ranged from amusing to cringe-making.
Perhaps the oddest thing though was how the show ended. By the end of the run, the actress who played Kelly was absent and it wasn’t clear whether it was part of the story or if she had walked before work on the show was completed, and there was also what some people felt was a rather contrived jackpot win in the final edition that left them wondering what exactly was happening behind the scenes.
Cheap Cheap Cheap did reach the end of its six-week run without being moved from its daytime slot, although the ratings were very bad by the end and it was a big failure, and even though it only ended last month I imagine there is no chance of it returning to the screen. If this really does turn out to be the end of Noel’s long TV career then that is very disappointing. Maybe for a second series they could relaunch the show without Noel in a late-night slot, call it Barry’s Bargain Bin and just have him shouting at contestants as they play for terrible prizes. It couldn’t do any worse.