To mark Deal or No Deal’s long running success, the show is going on tour with its presenter Noel Edmonds taking it to an audience at iconic landmarks right across the UK at the end of this year.
Deal or No Deal launched on Channel 4 in 2005 and fast became a hit, scooping a number of awards including National Television, Broadcast, RTS, Rose D’or & TV Choice Awards. At its height in 2006 the series attracted audiences of over three million viewers.
The show’s format, which has seen variations over the years, sees 22 contestants choose a box at random containing a monetary value ranging from 1p to £250,000. One of them is chosen to take on the banker in that day’s game assuming their position in the centre of the studio – dubbed the ‘Dream Factory’ – with their box.
Gameplay sees the contestant select boxes to be opened from the ‘wings’ hoping to avoid finding the larger sums of money, as the values within are subsequently taken out of play and determine the game’s success. At regular intervals the ‘unseen’ banker will call Edmonds with an offer for the contestant’s box based on how the game is faring. The longer big money stays in play the higher this is. Contestants are asked by Noel ‘Deal or No Deal?’ and answer accordingly to accept or decline each offer. If contestants choose to accept an offer the game continues on a ‘what if’ basis. Their box is the very last to be opened and they must hope they have made the correct decisions earlier in the game.
The on tour games will be played at the top of Blackpool Tower, on board Flying Scotsman, inside the Eden Project, underground in Wookey Hole cave; in the Great Hall at Longleat House, the foyer of wondrous Kelvingrove, Art Museum in Glasgow not to mention London’s Alexandra Palace and the Trafford Centre in Manchester, and on a Boeing 737 – taking off from Birmingham – 37,000 feet over the skies of Britain.
Early Days: Deal or No Deal and Noel Edmonds in 2005.
So, the show is leaving the Dream Factory for the first time. What’s the thinking behind the move? Why take it on tour?
We’ve recorded nearly 3000 episodes of DOND, we’ve been doing it for over ten years. Filming nearly 300 shows a year recording 17 shows-a-week. It was, by any standards, the most punishing schedule in TV. I didn’t find it punishing because I love the show, and I love the thought that every time we start to play the game, we may be changing somebody’s life forever. So when Channel 4 was deciding what to do with the show, and assessing its performance, I met with Jay Hunt, and I said “Look, that is one heck of a schedule. Why don’t we do it a different way? Why don’t we reinvent it for a new age? And the moment I said “I want to take it on tour,” she said “Brilliant, love the idea.?” Think about the format – it is so simple. It’s 22 boxes, a telephone, and me. So we’ve taken it where fans can come along and see it.
You talk about filming in some unusual places. You’re not kidding, are you? Where are you going?
I wanted to get the banker into the lion enclosure at Longleat. Obviously I’d take precautions for myself and the players. But I wanted to see whether he’s half the man he claims to be, or whether he’d end up half a man. We’ve been to the Eden project, where we recorded the show in the Mediterranean biome – and believe me, it was hot and quite challenging. I’ve never, ever walked so far while making a show. We had the player’s friends and family scattered all over the biome – we were running upstairs and going behind palm trees and doing all sorts. The whole thing was great fun.
I enjoyed the Trafford Centre in Manchester, because it was more like doing Deal in front of thousands, rather than the 100 we would have in the Dream Factory. And we’ve got what I think is a first – I don’t think anyone has ever played a gameshow on an aircraft in the air.
Will you use the opportunity to get out and about a bit around the UK?
We are. The geographic spread is pretty good, I think. We’re up in Glasgow for one show, we’re up the tower in Blackpool Tower – I think that’ll be a spectacular one. Down in Somerset for the caves, Longleat in Wiltshire, the jet is flying out of Birmingham, we’ve got a venue in London coming up. We’ve got a good spread for ten shows. That’s why I’m really confident that this is going to be exciting television, and unusual television.
I think the show’s fans will go “Right! Why don’t you bring it to my bedroom?”, “Why don’t you do it in my house?” I’d love to do that. Why wouldn’t we? Get the neighbours round, get the community involved. There are so many different places. I’m patron of Children’s Hospice South West – I would love to go and play Deal at the children’s hospice.
Deal or No Deal goes on tour. Pictured at the Great Hall in Longleat House.
You’ve been travelling around a lot. Have you had to share meals or hotels with the banker? Or does he sleep in a coffin in a local graveyard?
That’s a lovely image! And how many people would want to fill in that hole?! But you know what’s going to happen. We’ll be at Birmingham Airport when he lands in his executive jet. He’ll probably be in his superyacht, moored off Blackpool, pouring scorn upon the rest of us, enjoying the delights of candyfloss and burgers. So far I’ve missed him, although I’ve got a feeling I saw him in the biome at the Eden Project. I saw something moving through the palm fronds – it was either him, or that gorilla that had escaped from London zoo.
If you could film an episode absolutely anywhere, where would it be?
Do I have to limit myself to the world? International Space station here I come! It’s all going to come down to the reaction of the viewers. Why wouldn’t we do international stuff? Why wouldn’t we take someone to a theme park in Florida and then play the game? Why wouldn’t we be up the Eiffel Tower or at the Taj Mahal?
Are there any triumphs or disasters from the show that have stuck with you over the years?
I think it’s probably unfair to refer to disasters personally, because there are people who made fundamental mistakes on the game. There have been people who have really needed the money, who have been overambitious or unrealistic.
The triumphs have undoubtedly been the quarter millions, which all created an unbelievable atmosphere in the studio. We’d been going for a couple of years and when Laura’s game came along, I remember John Clarke, a very dry, very witty Australian cameraman, in the commercial break saying to me “This feels different.” And it did feel different. Each game where the big money has been won created its own atmosphere. I’m a very positive person, I’m a very atmospheric person, and I’ve sensed it each time.
I love the standout games which we’ve referred to over the years. Corinne, who wanted a Bentley. All she wanted was this particular vintage Bentley, and she knew she needed £250,000 to buy this classic car. People thought she was mad when she turned down I think it was £88,000 on the penny or the quarter mill. And she got the penny. She has consistently said – because she’s been back on the show a few times – “My dream was the car. £88,000 wouldn’t have made my dream come true.” So there have been so many standout games and to host Deal and meet these people has been a real privilege.
Noel talks to ‘The Banker’ on the Flying Scotsman train.
You’ve got a couple of other projects coming up with Channel 4 as well…
…It’s ridiculous! It is absolutely bloody ridiculous! I’m doing a live show just after Christmas. I’m recording a new show, Cheap, Cheap, Cheap, with Hat Trick next year. I’m very excited about that, because it’s my own idea and I think it may well capture the viewers’ imagination. It’s very, very different – nobody’s ever done a show like this, and we might be about to find out why!
You’ve got all of this TV stuff going on, and your radio stations and other business interests. How do you relax to get away from it all?
I don’t have any problem switching off, but I am and always have been someone who just can’t let an opportunity pass by. That has been to my detriment sometimes, pursuing ventures that didn’t work out, but more often than not, things have worked out the way I’ve wanted. The radio project I’m very excited about. I believe Internet radio is going to grow massively in the next few years. It’s already hugely successful in the USA, where 70 per cent of the population now listen to radio on the internet. I’ve now got 23 stations running, all under the title of Positivity, because we have no news, no commercials, and the stations are all free to listen to.
We’re also launching Positively Noel, which is my own radio station, and it’s something I’ve always wanted to do. I can choose the music myself, I can choose what I say, I don’t have a producer breathing over me, I don’t have a broadcaster saying “Compliance, compliance…” Clearly I’m not out to offend, but I have a freedom, because it’s internet radio, which traditional radio doesn’t give you. I’m very excited about that. Keep your health and your fitness and you can pack in a lot more than most people realise.
Deal on No Deal on Tour airs from Monday 12th December at 4pm on Channel 4