Deal or No Deal is a British Endemol game show hosted by Noel Edmonds, based on the format which originated in the Netherlands that ran from 2005 to 2016. The show features a single contestant trying to beat the Banker as they open 22 identical sealed red boxes assigned to potential contestants in an order of their choosing. The boxes contain randomly assigned sums of money inside ranging from 1p to £250,000. The day’s contestant is selected at the beginning, bringing their box to the chair. As the boxes are opened over a number of rounds, the Banker makes offers of real money to gain possession of their box. The gameplay is coordinated by Edmonds, who communicates with the unseen banker by telephone. Contestants can either ‘deal’ to take the money, or play to the end, settling on the amount in their box.
The objective is for the contestant to obtain the highest amount of money they believe they can, whilst the Banker is trying to minimise the amount they have to pay out. As the game progresses and more possible final values are eliminated, both the Banker and the contestant have more information to offer deals or accept deals. The contestant faces the risk of not accepting a deal leading to smaller deals later or of the final amount being lower than previous deals offered. The Banker faces the converse, the offers made may ultimately end up being greater than the contestant would have won should the whole game be played out.
First broadcast on Channel 4 on 31 October 2005, the programme aired six days a week excluding Saturdays for the entire year for its first eight seasons. Previously there was a break in the production of new episodes during July and August each summer. Occasionally there are special episodes with a particular theme, usually based on national holidays, introducing special features and prizes.
The show celebrated its 10th anniversary on 18 September 2015 when Noel Edmonds played the game (hosted by Sarah Millican) and won £26,000 for his chosen charity Children’s Hospice South West. It was seen by 930,000 viewers at 8pm.
On 19 August 2016, it was announced that Deal or No Deal had been axed by Channel 4 with the longest break. A Deal or No Deal Tour series was announced where the show would travel to landmarks throughout the United Kingdom, and act as the game show’s final farewell.
Contestants can win prizes ranging between 1p and £250,000, and potentially £500,000 (after changes made in 2014). The game is played using twenty-two sealed red boxes, each with an identifying number from 1 to 22 displayed on the front. Inside each box is a sum of money. All the boxes are sealed by an independent adjudicator; the value inside each box is not known to anyone except the adjudicator.
At the start of each game one of the 22 contestants, each standing behind one of the red boxes, is selected to be the contestant for that episode. The contestants themselves do not know who is to take the seat until it is revealed at the beginning of the show. Usually contestants will appear on around 15–25 shows before they are selected to play. The contestant then takes their box and walks to the centre of the set, taking their place at the “pound table”, in what Edmonds often refers to as the “crazy chair”. Once sitting down the contestant plays themself, and after confirming that they selected their box at random, the gong begins.
The contestant’s box contains their (potential) prize. One at a time, the contestant chooses one of the 21 boxes remaining (other than their own) to be opened, eliminating the value inside it from the list of possible amounts in the contestant’s box (displayed on a large screen opposite them). It is in the contestant’s interest to uncover smaller amounts of money, in the hope that their prize is a larger amount or that they can get a higher offer from the Banker. Boxes are opened by the remaining 21 contestants; these contestants are also regularly spoken to by Edmonds and the contestant, and offer support and advice to the contestant. These contestants, however, return for the following episodes, along with a new contestant replacing the previous episode’s contestant, so that all contestants eventually play the game, and continuity is built between shows.
There are six rounds: in the opening round the contestant opens five boxes, then three in each subsequent round. After the required number of boxes have been opened in a round, the Banker offers to buy the contestant’s box. The amount is 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 contestant’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 first offer can also be used by the Banker to offer non-monetary items such as a dozen roses, or in the case of Jimmy Carr’s game, a holiday bribe (as Carr was playing for charity, he could walk away from the game, earning nothing for charity but a holiday for himself). These offers rarely impact the game in a serious manner.
The Banker is never seen, relaying his offers to Edmonds via telephone (although sometimes Edmonds allows the contestant to talk to the Banker through the telephone). Edmonds tells the contestant the offer and asks the eponymous question. The contestant responds either “deal” or “no deal”.
Responding with “deal” means 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 contestant not dealt. Saying “no deal” means the contestant 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 contestant rejects the final offer, they take the prize contained in their box. The Banker might offer the opportunity for the contestant to swap their box with the other remaining unopened box and take the prize contained in it instead. A swap is always offered if the £250,000 is still in play; however, it can also be offered in any situation (including, on rare occasions, earlier in the game). On one occasion to one contestant the Banker offered a second swap.
Dealing early in the game can sometimes warrant the Banker to ask for the money back in exchange for the contents of one of the remaining two boxes. The “Banker’s Gamble” is usually only ever offered under the circumstances in which the Banker has originally offered a significant sum of money and the player’s last two monetary sums are an extremely low blue (for example, 1p or 10p) and an extremely high red (for example, £100,000 or the jackpot of £250,00). If the contestant agrees to the Banker’s Gamble, they are returned to “live play” and they will play out the opening of their box (or if they have swapped, the swapped box) and win the contents of that box instead. The Banker has only offered this rarely, as it usually means that the player will either have a much larger sum of money than they dealt at, or they will leave with a substantially lower sum of money, in which case the Banker is said to have “won”. The most notable example of the Banker’s Gamble being used to the player’s benefit was with the contestant, Alice Mundy. Alice had already dealt earlier in the game at £17,500, but was left with the 1p (the Banker’s dream finish) and the £250,000 (the player’s dream finish). As a result, the Banker offered her the chance to return her winnings in the hopes that she would leave with 1p. Although Alice accepted the hand back, she declined to swap her box and as a result, she became the second jackpot winner, as her own box contained the £250,000: had she swapped, she would have left with only 1p
Sometimes there are extra twists to the game, including making offers between rounds, and offering other gambles such as “double or nothing”, where after the contestant has dealt, they have to open extra boxes and risk winning nothing or doubling their winnings. Also, the Banker has allowed the contestant to go ahead one box at the time (giving them more freedom to pull out of the game when they wish). The Banker has been known to try other tricks such as offering prize money to other people, for example, a friend of a contestant who won only a small amount in their own game. Such twists happen rarely, but happened more regularly during the themed weeks.
by simon schofield