Deal or No Deal is the United Kingdom version of the Endemol game show, which was first broadcast on Channel 4 on 31 October, 2005. Presented by Noel Edmonds, the show is normally broadcast from 4:15pm to 5pm on weekdays and on Sunday evenings in a varying time slot, normally lasting 45 minutes and sometimes an hour for special episodes (eg. anniversary show).
The game is played using twenty-two identical sealed red boxes, each with an identifying number from 1 to 22 displayed on the front. Inside each box is a label showing a different amount of prize money. All the boxes are sealed by an independent adjudicator; the value inside each box is not known to Noel Edmonds, the contestants, The Banker or the production team before the game.
At the start of each episode, one of the 22 contestants, each standing behind one of the red boxes, is selected to be that episode's player. The selection appears to be random, though this is never stated and in fact selection is done by the production team (indeed, by 2007 it was being explicitly mentioned on the programme that contestant selection was non-random). In any case, the contestants themselves do not know who is to take the seat until it is revealed at the beginning of the show. Usually players will appear on around 15-25 shows before they are selected to play. They then take their box and walk to the centre of the set, taking their place at the main table, in what Edmonds often refers to as the "crazy chair". Once sat down the player introduces himself, and after confirming that he selected his box at random, the game begins.
The player's box contains his (potential) prize. One at a time, the player chooses one of the 21 boxes remaining (other than his own) to be opened, eliminating the value inside it from the list of possible amounts in the player's box (displayed on a large screen opposite them). Clearly it is in the player's interest to uncover smaller amounts of money, hoping that their prize is a larger amount. Boxes are opened by the remaining 21 contestants; these contestants are also regularly spoken to by the host and offer support and advice to the player, though they play no active role in the game. These contestants, however, return for the following episode, along with a new contestant replacing the previous episode's player, so that all contestants eventually play the game, and the returning contestants build continuity between shows.
There are six rounds: in the opening round the player opens five boxes, then three in each subsequent round. After the required number of boxes have been opened in a round, The Banker (an unseen character who acts as the player's antagonist and whose money is notionally at stake in the game) offers to buy the player's box. The specific offer is made dependent on the remaining box values: if several larger amounts are gone, the offer is likely to be low, as the probability is higher that the player's box contains a small amount of money. Occasionally, the first offer (or on very rare occasions a later offer) has been replaced by an offer to the contestant to swap their box for one of the remaining unopened boxes. The Banker is never seen, relaying his offers to the presenter via telephone. The presenter tells the player the offer and asks the eponymous question. The player responds either "deal" or "no deal".
Responding "deal" means that the contestant agrees to sell the box for the amount of money offered, relinquishing the prize in their box. The game is now over, though play continues to show the hypothetical outcome had the player not dealt. Saying "no deal" means the player keeps their box, and proceeds to the next round, again hoping to reveal small amounts in the remaining boxes.
After six rounds, only two boxes remain. If the player rejects the final offer, they take the prize contained in their box (though often before the prize is revealed, The Banker offers the opportunity for the player to swap their box with the other remaining unopened box and take the prize contained in it instead).
These have been the prizes offered in all but a few episodes of the show; the prize "PEANUTS" replaced the 1p as a joke in an episode during the Christmas 2006 period (Edmonds often refers to games where only one large prize remains as being "all or peanuts"), and £500,000 was offered as the top prize in two shows over the same period (with the £15,000 removed). The £500,000 was similarly offered as the top prize in the 500th episode (except it went out first box).
On the game board, the values in the left-hand column are displayed against a blue background, and those in the right-hand column against an orange-red background, and are frequently referred to by host and contestants alike as "blues" and "reds" respectively. Also, the highest five valued boxes are referred to as the "Power Five", and the five boxes of lowest value are occasionally referred to as the "Banker's Power Five". Generally, removal of blues or low reds are applauded by the audience. The total of all the 22 sums of money is £565,666.61.
On occasion, certain cosmetic elements of the show have been altered to tie in with certain events such as Christmas, Halloween, Wimbledon and the Eurovision Song Contest. Changes include different box colours (for example, the boxes were coloured green instead of red for an episode on St. Patrick's Day and were coloured yellow instead of red for Easter 2007, and gold for New Year's Eve and the 500th show), suitable music and sound effects, contestants and audience members dressing up festively and a change to the presenter's introduction at the beginning of the show.
The amount of time between the recording date and the broadcast date has varied. Many of the games broadcast during January 2006 had been recorded less than two weeks previously. But on 2 June 2006, Edmonds appeared on Friday Night with Jonathan Ross on BBC One. Edmonds revealed that at that current moment in time (June), Deal or No Deal was filming for October, five months in advance of broadcast. Soon afterwards, filming of Series 2 ended and there was a four month break in recording shows until October.
During the same show Edmonds also joked that there have been two people who have won £250,000. He said that these two shows shall not be broadcast, but the players have been "paid off" nonetheless. Edmonds has said the same thing at recordings of Deal or No Deal before saying to the audience, "obviously that's not true but just wait - it'll be on the internet within the hour!"
In June 2006, it was reported that Edmonds is suffering from repetitive strain injury brought about by his constant picking up and replacing the Banker's phone during recordings of the show. The handset, according to Edmonds, is heavier than it looks. Coming at a time when episodes were being recorded in advance of October screenings, filming was unaffected by Edmonds' ailment.
During the filming of Deal or No Deal, there have been a few incidents which have affected the normal running of the programme.
On 29 April 2006, a contestant accidentally knocked box number 4 on the floor. The box subsequently opened and a glint of red was seen, resulting in all the boxes in active play being taken back and the amounts inside them being shuffled around by the independent adjudicator (the player, Massimo Dimambro, was then offered £16,000 but turned it down. He then went on to open both the £250,000 and the £100,000 boxes).
On 10 April 2007, there was a brief power cut and for security reasons, all the boxes were secured in a special locked cage until the problem was rectified.
On 13 February 2006, box number 17 (the final box) was shown to be empty. The £1 label had fallen off.
On 26 March 2008, box number 2 was also shown to be empty, except this time there was no label to be found. The studio agreed that it was a "genuine human error". Edmonds then offered the player, David Schofield, the opportunity to either abandon the game and start again, or to continue the game and the independent adjudicator would re-shuffle the amounts of money within the boxes still in the game, including the amount that was missing from the empty box. Schofield decided to go for the second option and Edmonds promptly informed him that the missing value was £250,000.
Show 71, Ann (23 January 2006) and Show 74, Andrew (26 January 2006)
Show 81, Jim (3 February 2006) and Show 93, Paula R. (17 February 2006)
Show 84, John M. (7 February 2006), Show 88, Daz (11 February 2006) and Show 106, Sam (4 March 2006)
The sequences were due to the random number generator used by the independent adjudicators to load the boxes. This random number generator assigned the same patterns to boxes in various games during January and February 2006. The sequences were first publicly exposed on the website Bother's Bar, which offered the right of reply to the producers. This offer was taken up by Series Producer Glenn Hugill, who revealed that the independent adjudicators, unaware of the potential problem they were causing, had been using the pseudorandom number generation function in Microsoft Excel to distribute the values among the boxes, and that it had not been properly seeded. Following the discovery of the patterns, the random number generation system was changed to a "balls in a bag" system (the same method as is used to distribute the boxes among the contestants , though because the show is recorded well in advance, games using Excel-generated sequences continued to be broadcast for some time. The last show to be recorded using the Excel-generated sequence method aired on 7 March 2006.
A similar discovery was made in 1984 by Michael Larson, a player of the US game show Press Your Luck, and used to amass a record number of winnings. However, none of the contestants on affected Deal or No Deal shows spotted the (admittedly complex) patterns, and as such were not able to profit to any significant degree. That said, in Hugill's statement about the problem, it was revealed that more money was paid out over the course of these shows than the average.
This deal ran from January 2006 to December 2007. Rumours suggest that the contract was worth £3 million .
The show was voted "Best Daytime Programme" at the 2006 National Television Awards. As Edmonds was on holiday at the time, the award was collected by two former contestants, Russell Cook and Sajela Sarfraz . Edmonds was also nominated for "Best Entertainment Presenter" at the same awards .
The only winner of the £250,000 jackpot to date is Laura Pearce, a 26-year-old Bureau Administrator in the Criminal Justice Department at Gloucestershire Constabulary, who took the top prize in a show broadcast on January 7, 2007. She rejected her final offer of £45,000 with the £250,000 and £3,000 as the last two amounts remaining, and her box (number 6) was opened to reveal the £250,000 prize. She also got to keep her box number 6 with the £250,000 as she created history.
The 1p winners are referred to as the members of "the 1p club". Nick Bain is credited as "the founder" of the club as he was the first contestant to win the 1p. According to Edmonds, they originally inhabited a telephone box but moved into a caravan the day after Sharron Coates became the eighth member. Since Simon Maughan became the 14th member, Edmonds has claimed that the members of the 1p club now inhabit a barge.
On July 9, 2007, contestant Igor Karpov was left in the worst possible position at the end of his game with 1p and 10p remaining on the board, making it the first time this had ever happened. Edmonds described the situation as "the perfect finish for the Banker". The Banker offered 2p, the second lowest ever offer (the lowest ever offer was £-1,001 to Jane in May 29, 2008), which Karpov accepted to avoid winning the 1p. Karpov actually had 10p in his box.
On May 16, 2008, 11 of the then current 16 members were in the audience in order to celebrate the conclusion of the Banker's Birthday Week. During the game they all received party food from the Banker, but at the end of the show they were each given a bill, charging £9.50.
Previously, the competition was only open for the duration of the show, with the box containing the prize being opened at the end of the show, and the winner's name announced thereafter. This was changed from the third series in August 2007, following the premium-rate services operator ICSTIS imposing a £30,000 fine on iTouch, the company responsible for running the competition. It ruled that the competition was misleading since the impression was given that entrants stood a chance of winning any of the three amounts contained in the blue viewers' boxes, whereas in fact since the programme is pre-recorded, by the time of broadcast only one prize amount is possible.. The altered format of the competition only opens the competition after the prize amount has been chosen. Previous to this, Channel 4 had announced that, following a spate of revelations of improper conduct regarding premium-rate phone services across British television programme (notably on the Richard & Judy which follows Deal or No Deal), it was scrapping all premium-rate phone competitions, with the single exception of Deal or No Deal. Profits from the viewer's competition will now be given to charity. As of Monday 1 October 2007, the viewer's competition was cancelled. Noel Edmonds informed the viewers that they will be giving the viewer's competition a rest for a while like all other viewer competitions on Channel 4. He thanked the viewers for entering the competition, and now the show simply carries on without the viewers' competition for the foreseeable future. .
Players will sometimes ask fellow contestants how they feel about their box. For example, the contestant may feel that their box contains a low number. Some contestants (such as 'Psychic' Sarah), have claimed to have psychic abilities, with some being more successful than others in justifying such claims. Also, players often ask fellow contestants what previous numbers they have had in their box, and if they have had a sequence of several high reds then the contestant might say that they are "due a blue" (although statistically they are no more or less likely than any other contestant to be holding a box containing a low amount). This has sometimes been referred to as "Mally Logic" after contestant Mally Welburn who was one of the first to select boxes on this basis, and is an example of the gambler's fallacy.
In a review by columnist A. A. Gill Deal or No Deal was described as 'like putting heroin in your TV remote'.
The Banker's identity is never revealed (he is credited merely as 'Himself'), but through his discussions with Edmonds, his 'character' is often built upon. Similarly, it is unknown exactly how his offers for the boxes are calculated, though it is clear that it is not merely the result of a dispassionate calculation, with offers sometimes much higher or lower than would be expected (very occasionally even above the arithmetic mean of the remaining prizes), and sometimes not simply a monetary figure, including joke items, or in two cases an amount of money for the previous game's contestant who had won very little.
On Christmas Day 2006, at the end of the show, a brief clip of the Banker was shown. A man in a suit and hat was seen switching off his television after watching the contestants sing Christmas carols. He then took out a mint humbug from a jar and grunted to himself. He was only seen from behind, so little could be seen of his appearance. However, he seemed to be old and well-built. On the episode which was broadcast on 23 January 2008, the Banker claimed that he was both "portly" and "bald".
The Daily Mirror and Jo Whiley on BBC Radio 1 reported on 3 April 2006 that the actual offers made by the Banker were calculated by Glenn Hugill and two 'Executives' (believed to be executive producers Richard Osman and Richard Hague), but that Hugill has the final decision. This has not been officially confirmed or denied.
On 1 April 2007, during the end credits, rather than being billed as playing himself, the Banker was billed as "Titus Aduxas", or "tight as a duck's arse". A similar joke was played a year earlier on 1 April 2006, when the Banker was credited as "Richard Oldman" (Rich Hard Old Man).
After Laura Pearce's £250,000 win, on 7 January 2007, at the first offer, it was heard that the Banker's mother was on the line, while he was crying at the loss of £250,000 of his own money.
However, some say there is a great element of skill in attempting to manipulate the Banker into making higher offers, with the player's relationship with the Banker being of major importance. It has been seen that contestants who state a desire to "go all the way", or appear more certain and confident, can attract higher offers. Contestants can attempt to bluff the Banker by appearing more confident than they actually are, or by pretending that they intend to go all the way, and will often be rewarded as the Banker realises that higher offers must be made if he is to shift the player. Others feel that the Banker is in exactly the same situation as the player, as neither of them know what sums are in the boxes. Therefore neither of them can have any effect on the actual final sum won by the player. Similarly, the player cannot "beat" the Banker and the Banker cannot "beat" the player because the player's choice of which box to open is equally random to both the player and the Banker. However, that fact that the offers can be so varied on identical boards illustrates that there is a clear opportunity for the player to elicit themselves high offers with the right attitude. For many, this psychological element is what sets Deal or No Deal apart from other versions worldwide. In addition, while the contents of the box are purely random, players seem to need an intelligent approach to balancing the risk in order to succeed, as well as having good luck. But since a player can only play the game once, there is no balancing or judging of risk, as risk can only be stated as an average over a large number of games. It must be remembered that many gameshows throughout television history have relied on varying degrees of luck.
Others have suggested that Channel 4 is verging on Deal or No Deal overkill with the show being broadcast at least six days a week and during 'Double Deal' week twice a day. That said, the show takes a break for five weeks in the summer, with a new 'season' beginning in late August.
Some contestants have had consistently poor offers throughout their game and then turned out to have a low amount in their box, leading to early suggestions The Banker actually knows the contents of the boxes - however, statistical evidence lends no support to this theory. In fact, there are just as many occasions when consistently low offers are given to someone who turns out to have a high amount and, indeed, high offers to someone who turns out to have a low figure. After so many shows and with all data analysed, sources now agree that the declaration that The Banker does not know the contents of the boxes seems absolutely true.
The show has also had other criticism from religious groups, due to symbols which appeared on Edmonds' hand (so as to be visible when he picked up the telephone receiver to talk to The Banker), which were widely taken to be connected with his belief in Cosmic Ordering as was widely reported at the time. However, it transpired that there was no such connection and the symbols were simply placed there by Edmonds as a joke.
The viewers' competition had also attracted criticism, given that it involved no element of skill and the expense of premium rate phone calls (though free online entry was available) had been referred to on a number of fan sites for the show as a "legalised telephone lottery".
The Official Behind the Scenes Guide (ISBN 0-09-192006-X) was published on 26 October 2006, written by Noel and Charlotte Edmonds, Jane Phillimore, Richard Hague and Glenn Hugill. It features interviews with Edmonds, the Banker, and contestants, and has statistics for all players' games from Season 1.
A DVD TV game was released on 13 November 2006. Filmed in the Deal or No Deal studio, it features Noel Edmonds, and 21 contestants from Season 1 playing themselves, who open the boxes and give the player advice. The game's three modes are Single Player (played like the show), Player Vs Player (two players play rounds in turn), and Player Vs Banker (one player is the contestant, the other is the Banker, and gives offers to the player).
A card game has also been released. The 22 sums of money are shuffled, and placed on top of the 22 box numbers. The gameplay is similar to the Player Vs Banker mode on the DVD with one player being the player and another the Banker. Players then swap roles, and the one who takes more money is declared the winner. The card game is often sold in a special box-set alongside the DVD game.
Deal or No Deal video games for the PC and Nintendo DS have also been released, as has a second DVD game on 19 November 2007, subtitled "Family Challenge", and featuring series 2 contestants.
Due for release on 28 November 2008 is a Wii game and a second DS game, both titled, "Deal or No Deal: The Banker is back!"
A Deal or No Deal chocolate game is also available.