A little over a month ago, my lovely niece, Suzannington, Lady Fairfield, sent me a link to apply for the chance to appear on the TV game ‘Deal or No Deal’. I felt like the opportunity of a lifetime had suddenly been made available to me.
I have one big secret guilty pleasure. Well, when I say secret, most people who know me know I love the show. Now you, dear blog reader, are also aware. So that makes another two people who know. Actually, I don’t feel that guilty, either, but Lady Barton St Mary would say that’s because I have no embarrassment button.
Ever since applying, I’ve found myself day dreaming about being on the show:
“What’s that Noel? Ha ha, thanks for saying you wish all the contestants were like me…”
“ I’d love to come back for the ‘special contestant’ show at Christmas – with Jimmy Carr? You’d like the banter?”
What is it that makes Deal or No Deal such compulsive viewing? Why would an intelligent, serious thinking, sophisticated, attractive, modest man such as I be so fanatical about an afternoon game show?
Let me explain. I am of course, referring to the British version of the show that features 22 boxes and 22 members of the public plucked from obscurity to star on the show. None of that briefcase and toothsome lady combo you have in the US or other such countries.
DOND (as we followers call it) is more than a game show. It’s a soap opera. Like every soap opera, there’s the old lady, who may be a sweet old thing that is happy with a few bob or one that wants to win £250 000, fly to Vegas and blow it all on roulette and 20 something male escorts. The middle aged woman, who’s happily married /divorced/single who looks pretty good in the right light with a following wind and is the most likely to take ridiculously stupid risks. The young stunningly attractive man/woman, the gay man/woman, the eccentric, the Northerner, the Cockney, the… you get the idea. All types. All on the same show.
Every day, you can tune in to see who’s picked, what they do, what their story is,
how their DOND life ends. It’s a beautifully constructed, condensed version of their life. If your life lasted for 22 boxes. Plus adverts, which, if were part of your life, would be a major part. A bit like the ‘having to go to work’ part of your life.
All these qualities show what a good TV programme it is, but there is one element that makes it a great TV programme. Noel Edmonds.
Noel gets a lot of bad press. He’s old school. Actually. He’s just old. A bit cheesy, middle of the road. But people of a certain age know that Noel was class. A proper Radio 1 breakfast show DJ that made you laugh, informed you and felt like your friend. Unlike today’s Radio 1 DJ, who needs sycophants, lacks a lot of social skills and is overtly self obsessed, though does have one thing in common with Noel in that he has no real interest in popular music.
So, I grew up with Noel. Breakfast Show. Multi-Coloured Swap Shop. House Party.
Every programme, Noel has managed to be the perfect corporate host. Friendly, amusing, engaging, personable. But you never really feel like you know him, you could never be his friend, a bit like your favourite teacher at school.
My aforementioned niece and her brother, Dear Charlie, never quite saw the power of Edmonds. They felt he was a figure of fun, an irrelevance, a mere bagatelle. Until one day at the Emirates, home to Arsenal football club.
Lady Fairfield and Dear Charlie are season ticket holders. This season, they were attending the game against Arsenal’s greatest rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. Tottenham took a 2-0 lead very early on and Arsenal’s woeful season looked like it was about to get worse. Until Lady Fairfield decided to take a monumental leap of faith and embrace the power of Edmonds. Or, more specifically, his belief in cosmic ordering, whereby you ask for the cosmos for what you want, and it provides it. Lo and behold, Arsenal pull back to 2-2 before half time and go on to win 5-2. Noel Edmonds’ legendary status is sealed with my niece and nephew; no more mockery. Edmonds became a family guru.
So every night, either on Channel 4+ or More4, I watch Noel weave his magic on a show that involves opening 22 boxes.
Is there a secret? According to the internet, no. I’ve seen many intricate mathematical formulas trying to explain the best way to play, but still I’m intrigued. I’d love to be able to work out the percentages instantly on a certain board, but I rely on familiarity and having seen so many games, can predict an offer from the banker.
Over two evenings, I worked on my application form, trying to make it worthy enough to be chosen for an audition, at least. Thinking back, it was very Noel. Most embarrassing moment. At least two of these. Saddest moment, Ditto.
Having to temper your responses so that your embarrassing moments were more Edmonds than Graham Norton. Promising money to charity – but how much?
Describing yourself to be appealing to the programme – too smug? too humble?
In hindsight, I don’t hold out much hope. I love the programme, but I’m not desperate. I would love the money, but I’m married to gentry and live in a gated estate, for goodness’ sake. All my embarrassing moments involve a lack of clothing, alcohol or both, which is never good for public consumption or my relations with Lady Barton St Mary.
But still the hope remains. Applications have closed.
22 boxes. A quarter of a million pounds. Just one question…