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Boxing clever or a load of old bollox?
October 22, 2006 1:49 PM   Subscribe

The weird world of Deal Or No Deal.
"My God," I thought, as I climbed off the treadmill, exhausted. "They're in a bubble. They've got no sense of reality. They have, in Noel Edmonds, a charismatic leader who believes in nutty things. It's like a religious cult! An incredibly nail-biting and entertaining cult, brilliantly presented by Noel, but a cult none the less."
Jon Ronson (previously discussed here, here, here and here) goes behind the scenes of the wildly successful British version of Deal Or No Deal.
posted by afx237vi (37 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
psst! your first & last "here"s go to the same url
posted by jonson at 2:09 PM on October 22, 2006


On behalf of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, I apologise. Again.
posted by goodnewsfortheinsane at 2:12 PM on October 22, 2006


Aw crap, I really tried not to mess up my first ever post to the blue. The first "here" should go: here.
posted by afx237vi at 2:13 PM on October 22, 2006


I hate that show.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:22 PM on October 22, 2006


What does this distinctly different version of the show say about the UK in comparison to the US, I wonder. I doubt we US audiences would abide mysticism as an element of a game show, especially combined with the captive contestant setup...

But America's Next Top Model... Starting Over... these shows have something perhaps worse than an inward-gazing cosmology motivating their contestants.
posted by Ambrosia Voyeur at 2:24 PM on October 22, 2006


I assume somewhere the "solution" to Deal Or No Deal has been worked out and published, i.e. the threshold offer from the banker, in any given situation, beyond which you should accept. That's the only "system" a rational person would need. It's probably still effectively completely random anyway.
posted by snoktruix at 2:26 PM on October 22, 2006


In other countries, such as the US, the people behind the boxes, the box-openers, are professional models ... They all wear identical showgirl costumes. UK Endemol's brilliant idea was to make the box-openers fellow contestants - players-to-be. This means they're all sequestered away together at a hotel in Bristol, sometimes for weeks on end ... while they await their chance to get out from behind the boxes and become the main player.
Fascinating. Do they do "apprentice" style behind the scenes stuff as well?
posted by delmoi at 2:27 PM on October 22, 2006


Or maybe more useful would be the threshold offers as a function of the amount and type of risk you're willing to accept.
posted by snoktruix at 2:28 PM on October 22, 2006


I can just imagine a Howie Mandel cult, with thousands of people wearing inflated surgical gloves on their heads and talking like Bobby.
posted by briank at 2:29 PM on October 22, 2006


The real secret is that the guy on the phone is actually Mr Blobby.
posted by chrismear at 2:33 PM on October 22, 2006


For Americans who haven't lived in the UK, Noel Edmonds looks a bit like Richard Branson and a bit like one of the ABBA guys. The closest analogue to him we have is Regis Philbin, but he's much younger, and he really was never a second-fiddle the way Regis was with Joey Bishop and Kathie Lee Gifford. In some ways, too, he's like Leno, though hyperbolic and high-energy compared to Leno.

Oh, and he brought the world Mr. Blobby.

On behalf of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, I apologise.

I don't think you should have to for Deal Or No Deal. Here in America it's kitschy and silly and Howie Mandel is way over the top, but it's oh-so-addictive. It beats the crap Fox has been running out as "reality shows" the last few years.

And, hey, Changing Rooms and Ground Force were great. Fear Factor and Big Brother, NSM.
posted by dw at 2:37 PM on October 22, 2006


"I assume somewhere the "solution" to Deal Or No Deal has been worked out and published, i.e. the threshold offer from the banker, in any given situation, beyond which you should accept. That's the only "system" a rational person would need. It's probably still effectively completely random anyway."

Could it be that part of the selection process is finding people whom the audience feels they can understand? Thus beautiful people who are also logical and confident and present themselves well and less attractive people who are superstituous? Even those most people in the population will not be mystical and probably even tend towards the logical, the show probably has a bias again picking these types of people because they make for boring television.
posted by bhouston at 2:39 PM on October 22, 2006


Yeah, they deliberately select nutters to go on, from what I understand, to make it more interesting.

Damn good feature, that was. Good idea, great execution.
posted by reklaw at 2:47 PM on October 22, 2006


I don't go out of my way to watch Deal or No Deal, but when I happen upon it, I find it strangely compelling. I think its enertainment factor is in direct proportion to the spaz-factor of the contestants.
posted by The Deej at 2:51 PM on October 22, 2006




"Changing Rooms and Ground Force were great."

Yes. YES! And what do we have now? NOTHING.

THANK YOU VERY MUCH, MISTER TITCHMARSH.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 3:00 PM on October 22, 2006


The US deal/no deal host was on a penn radio show a few months back. I don't think the Penn radio archives go back more than 7 days however.

emailing pennradio@gmail.com might get you a response if you have the desire to track down the show/pay for the show.
posted by rough ashlar at 3:58 PM on October 22, 2006


Ha. The other day I was chatting to a chap who used to do the warm-up for that show - according to him, Noel had him fired for being "too negative."
posted by Luddite at 4:50 PM on October 22, 2006


Noel Edmonds is an absolute cunt. One of the most reprehensible human beings ever. A most self centred, egotistical, Napolean-complex riddled reptile.
posted by fire&wings at 5:07 PM on October 22, 2006


Careful there, f&w, lest people get the impression that you view Mr. Edmonds with ill favour. Best to really say what you mean, m'boy.
posted by five fresh fish at 5:23 PM on October 22, 2006


Edmonds: A most self centred, egotistical, Napolean-complex riddled reptile

So David Icke was on to something?

Also - I've hated Noel Edmonds ever since I saw him present Saturday Swap Shop when I was a kid. He's like all the wrong kinds of Englishness gathered into one place.
posted by jiroczech at 5:33 PM on October 22, 2006


I assume somewhere the "solution" to Deal Or No Deal has been worked out and published, i.e. the threshold offer from the banker, in any given situation, beyond which you should accept.

From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: Why game shows have economists glued to their TVs.
posted by Smart Dalek at 5:49 PM on October 22, 2006


Huh, I found a whole nine minutes on youtube.
posted by delmoi at 5:59 PM on October 22, 2006


My god, it's like a bad 1980s CBC-produced bit of entertainment. Cheezyass graphics, flashing random lights, cheezyass music, ugly people. And here I thought only Canadian producers where so chintzy and unsophisticated!
posted by five fresh fish at 6:21 PM on October 22, 2006


I'm not sure whats stranger:

"There's a lot of paranoia among the contestants that things they say and do in the hotel might be relayed to The Banker [...]. They fear that when it's their turn to play, The Banker might give them low cash offers if they've been deemed to have behaved in a desperate or cowardly or negative way back at the hotel."

or the fact that Noel Edmunds does actually have daily reports compiled to keep track of what contestants have been doing in the hotel.
posted by Olli at 7:03 PM on October 22, 2006


"Les Dennis can have the big Winnebago when he gets the ratings we get," Noel says.

ah hahahahahaha...

Oh Noel, you really are a plonker. It's a shame IMG tags are off, this thread is the ideal place for the most useless headline ever used to sell a regional paper.

Also, is it just me, or does anyone else who's heard Ron Jonson Jon Ronson speak struggle to read anything he writes without mentaly overlaying his (distinctly fey) voice over the written narrative?

hmmm, probably not if I can't write that paragraph clearly and succinctly
posted by davehat at 12:51 AM on October 23, 2006


Self-linking to my article about Deal or No Deal U.S. It would've been funnier if the news site didn't feel they had to go out of their way to point out that I didn't really meet with "The Banker", but I have some relevent factual information in there somewhere...
posted by wendell at 1:17 AM on October 23, 2006


Deal or No Deal UK is a strange little show. Its cheesyness is mostly because it was designed as a lunchtime filler show for students and OAPs, from what I understand.
posted by flameproof at 2:38 AM on October 23, 2006


"I assume somewhere the "solution" to Deal Or No Deal has been worked out and published, i.e. the threshold offer from the banker, in any given situation, beyond which you should accept. That's the only "system" a rational person would need. It's probably still effectively completely random anyway."

In terms of accepting an offer then you really should wait for something which is higher than the average value of what's in the remaining boxes when the offer is made. The banker's offer never gets anywhere near this however so you either play to the end and hope for a big win in the last box or you take into account the personal utility of an offer even when you have a probable chance of winning more. So it might be that you have 5 boxes left, have some high numbers and some low numbers and on 'average', ie if you randomly dropped boxes till only 1 left would get about £40,000, your maximum win might still be £100,000 but you actually settle for £25,000 because what you could do with that could significantly change your life quality against the impact that 1p would have on you. Effectively, the first £25,000 is more useful than the £15,000 extra you would get from the 'average' win. (Kind of like if you are starving, the first sandwich would be worth more than the second as you're not so desparate anymore.) As personal utility will be variable then an absolute formula is not really constructable in a meaningful way. It would be interesting to see a data set for the average win for poorer people against richer people.
posted by biffa at 2:45 AM on October 23, 2006 [1 favorite]


Yeah, good analysis. So I suppose what you do if you're not into this mystical crap is just randomly select boxes until the banker offers you a choice between some reasonably desirable amount of money and a significant chance (say 20%) of getting almost nothing.
posted by snoktruix at 5:48 AM on October 23, 2006


Yeah, but you have to be prepared to move the amount up or down if you are lucky/unlucky with getting rid of small/big numbers first. Losing the £250,000 will mean much lower offers, while losing a few blue values doesn't have much of an effect. There are so many low values that it will generally mean people tend not to get decent offers until late in the game which makes for better telly.
posted by biffa at 6:01 AM on October 23, 2006


That was a fantastic article. Noel Edmunds has always creeped me out
posted by ob at 6:47 AM on October 23, 2006


Also, is it just me, or does anyone else who's heard Ron Jonson Jon Ronson speak struggle to read anything he writes without mentaly overlaying his (distinctly fey) voice over the written narrative? If it was just you before, it aint any longer. It's just started happening to me. I must be very suggestible.
posted by econous at 8:02 AM on October 23, 2006


Great article. The backstage dynamic sounds ... odd. And I've never seen the UK version so that's an interesting link, delmoi. The knocked over box apparently took away the positive energy!
posted by jamesonandwater at 3:34 PM on October 23, 2006


I haven't got a proof, but if you manage to get down to the final two boxes and the £250,000 is still there, you should swap boxes.

Similar to the infamous Monty Hall problem, the chance of the top prize being in your box is much less than that of it being in the group (i.e. the other 21 boxes). Therefore given that you have removed 20 boxes without uncovering the £250,000, it should be blindingly obvious that swapping gives you an edge, although it would require more analysis than I am prepared to waste my time with to come up with the actual percentage.
posted by smiffy at 5:06 PM on October 24, 2006


I think at the second-to-last box you also get an offer to change your mind (ie. to choose the other box instead). I believe the Monty Hall problem says that you should take that opportunity, basically putting your guess into the last two boxes being good ones, instead of putting your guess into one of three boxes (your own box does count, even when you can't guess it, I think.)

God, could I have worded all that more poorly? I hope you can get my drift.
posted by five fresh fish at 8:50 PM on October 24, 2006


Yeah five fresh fish, that's what I was trying to compare it to. Essentially the principle being that you're unlikely to make the best choice (or be given the 'best' box) first time around so given the opportunity to change your mind after some additional information (Monty Hall eliminating a door or knocking out boxes), even though it appears counter-intuitive, you should certainly do so.

However, psychologically people are reluctant to swap for fear of giving away the top box. So in summary:

Reason for swapping: statistical

Reason for not swapping: psychological

Which is more rational? Gee, let me think...
posted by smiffy at 7:45 AM on October 25, 2006


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