A quarter of a million pounds, 22 identical sealed boxes and no questions... except one... Deal or No Deal?
You must have watched it by now. DealorNoDeal is an unlikely TV blockbuster, a game show based on luck which requires (almost) no skill to play. It's revived Noel Edmonds' career and it's put a huge smile on the faces of Channel 4 bosses.
Here's how it works:
Before the game starts, 22 players each select a different box numbered from 1 to 22
Sealed inside each box is a different amount of money, as follows: 1p 10p 50p £1 £5 £10 £50 £100 £250 £500 £750 £1000 £3000 £5000 £10000 £15000 £20000 £35000 £50000 £75000 £100000 £250000
One player is selected at random and brings their box to the central table.
One by one each of the remaining 21 boxes is opened, five at first, the rest in groups of three.
At the end of each round a shadowy telephone presence called the Banker offers a certain amount of money. The contestant then has to decide whether to stop (deal) or continue (no deal).
If the contestant refuses all of the banker's deals, they open their box and walk away with the contents.
Which all sounds a bit dull, doesn't it? It's 100% chance. The contestant has absolutely no way of working out how much money is in their box, they can only narrow down the options as the remaining boxes are opened. The show is full of people wittering on about 'luck' and attempting to read some pattern into the unpredictable. All drivel. But what do you know, it works.
Still not convinced? You can have a go at playing the American version of the game online here or here. Or you can read a UK fan's in-depth blog here. I'm not claiming that Deal or No Deal is the best television going. It's not worth staying off work for, for example, but it is miles better than Ready Steady Cook. And Noel's up for a Bafta, so the programme must have something going for it.
Every show is different because the random revelations play out in a different order each day. Every show is dramatic because host Noel Edmonds manages to coerce emotion out of every situation (yes, I know, who'd have thought?). And every show is fascinating because the contestants blunder about willy-nilly with absolutely no concept of theoretical probability whatsoever. They don't understand when to stop and when to continue. They're just interested in rubbing their lucky charms and opening box 17 anyway because it was Auntie Bessie's birthday.
So, here's an example from midway through yesterday's game...
There are eight boxes left unopened. Eight amounts still to be revealed. One of them is yours.
Remaining amounts: £5 £50 £100 £750 £5000 £20000 £35000 £250000
The phone rings. Here's what the banker might offer. What would you do in each case? (please give four answers)
Take the money, or carry on and open three more boxes?