Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Big Deal Again for Noel on Saturday Evenings

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

A Big Deal Again for Noel on Saturday Evenings

Article excerpt


Deal or No Deal C4

BY WAY of making myself a little pin money (because pincollecting is a surprisingly expensive hobby, and those wax models of Jeremy Clarkson aren't cheap either), I like to spend my evenings devising absurd game shows, and seeing if TV executives will commission them. My first concept (which elicited a "very interested" from the BBC) was Celebrity Autopsy, in which famous people would be exhumed, and contestants would guess at their identity with the help of a presenter pathologist: "The clues are all there as we go ... through the bowels."

Then came a format derived from Eastern European gay porn, called The Czech is in the Male, which I fully expect Bravo to commission, if only for its title. And now I bring you Ready Steady Road Kill, in which two telly chefs compete against the clock to prepare a nourishing meal from such motor-accident-based ingredients as chapatti-shaped hedgehogs, wafer-thin squirrels, feathery frisbees of unidentified gristle and the occasional squashed rabbit (unlucky feet and all).

On first encounter, there's a distinct whiff of exhumed corpses about Deal or No Deal, the weekday C4 game show that's now been promoted to Saturday evenings.

The "take the money or open the box" dilemma is lifted from Take Your Pick, the semicircular studio design recalls Fifteen to One, the opening sig is reminiscent of Have I Got News For You, while the incessant heartbeat soundtrack comes straight out of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?

But the result is not the Frankenstein's monster of a show that you might expect, because those various influences have been reduced to the simplest possible format, with no questions, no variation, and no possible room for a contestant's skill or knowledge to intrude.

In short, it's an hour-long game of Russian Roulette, with the guaranteed drama and tension that's always generated whenever anyone makes major random decisions in public and plays life-or-death games with their financial health.

This being essentially a reinvention of old game shows, it's appropriate that the presenter has also reinvented himself. For Lord Tidybeard (aka Noel Edmonds) is no longer the egotistical, gungethrowing, puerile japester who was justly driven from our Saturday-evening screens in 1999 by the viewers whom he so clearly despised, but a quieter, humbler man with a carefully cultivated veneer of fake humility, even capable of uttering self-deprecatory references to "a blue-eyed, bearded dwarf ".

Positioning himself unequivocally on the side of the ordinary people, he told his audience that "it's your show ... this is television's most exclusive club", then greeted contestant Sam Simmons (an " ordinary person" who just happened to be a model-cum-actress) with the words "You're beautiful" and the advice that "This isn't a treasure hunt, it's a treasure dodge. …

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