Deal or No Deal

Deal or No Deal Saves the World – Cartoon Logic

Did you know a new series of Deal or No Deal started on Monday? Me neither. It has a certain omnipresence that makes it seem like it’s always on, but apparently it’s been away for a few months. Did you also know that they’ve made 2,817 episodes since 2005? 2,817 though. I think they missed a trick there. To save money, they could’ve filmed about 80 episodes and showed them on a repeating loop. Let’s be honest. How many of you would actually notice?

But DOND is getting a little doddery in its old age. Despite Noel Edmonds’ utter conviction that he is presenting the finest and most world-changing show in all of time and space, the production company seems to be losing some of its faith in the programme. Last year alone, they introduced two (two!) additions to the ground-breaking format (in which contestants randomly say numbers for close to an hour) that we’ve all come to love.

One new rule might’ve passed without notice, but they’ve introduced two within the space of a few months, and suddenly, I can smell fear. The stench of cancellation lingers in the Dream Factory, as they’ve so ostentatiously named the former winery in which the series is currently filmed. To be frank, I’d love this. Not only because it’s a dull format that quickly became tiresome, not only because it encourages ‘magical thinking’ (more on that later), but because it would pull the rug out from under the feet of Noel Edmonds.

Noel Edmonds. What an odd man. A bit of a bad egg too, it seems. Here is a man who opposes renewable energy, because of the threat of wind turbine construction in the ‘backyard’ of the £1.7 million Grade-II Devonshire manor house he apparently owns. Never fear, Noel. If the wind turbines become too much of a pain, you can always pop over to your £3 million home on the French Riviera. He also opposes immigration, because, and I quote, “the bus is full”, and the Welsh-language BBC, of all things.

Noel once said, legitimately: “there isn’t such a thing a death, it’s just departure. You cannot die. It’s been known for a very long time”. Noel once said, legitimately: “the biggest problem we have is not Ebola, it’s not Aids, it’s electro smog”. Electro smog! I promise you, I’m not making this up. And let’s not forget that he believes he was chosen to host DOND because of ‘cosmic ordering’, a New Age cod-philosophy in which you wish really hard for something to make it happen. I mean, he was introduced to cosmic ordering by his reflexologist, after all. Don’t doubt its power!

What can DOND do to halt the inevitable decline I’ve so convincingly argued for, then? Perhaps it could borrow from one of the many international versions of the show. Take, for example, the New Zealand version, in which one of the boxes contains a car. (Not literally: that might be a give-away.) Or the French version, in which the 22 boxes are somewhat bizarrely representative of France’s 22 régions. Or even the Chinese version, which, and I do not jest here, ladies and gentlemen, is apparently called ‘only those who love to sing will win’, in which contestants accept the Banker’s offer by… singing a song. What even?

These inevitable complications of the rules are only going to further disguise the fact that there is absolutely no strategy for doing well in DOND. It is, under all the guff and Edmonds’ violently mismatching hair and beard, a game in which a person randomly vocalises numbers. That’s it. Don’t be fooled. There is no system. You can’t channel positive energy to influence the outcomes. No matter how hard you try, the box with the big money in is utterly undetectable by any and all ‘magical’ means. Charlie Brooker once described DOND as “a gameshow based on the Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics”. If ever a nail was hit more squarely on the head.

Magical thinking, for this is what they practise in all their ‘let’s hold hands and hope the money into the box’, is the annoying way in which the human brain desperately tries to find some causality in otherwise random events. It is not uncommon to hear a contestant claim that ‘they won’t find another red box now, because they’ve just found five in a row’, as if that was how the universe worked. It’s like when you tell people that the National Lottery draw is as likely to result in the balls 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 as any other specific combination. I get it. It’s counter-intuitive. But then again, so is a lot of intelligent, coherent thought.

Don’t give it an easy ride either. Magical thinking, and the people and television shows who promote it, are dangerous. They are. You convince someone that they have some subtle influence over the cold and heartless laws of physics and probability, and next thing you know, they’re paying hundreds to get readings from top-of-the-range psychics (see also: frauds) or abandoning their cancer treatment in favour of homeopathy, or crystals, or the healing power of sand and cotton wool. It’s ok. Believe anything. Noel says you can.

It is the year 2105. Deal or No Deal has struggled on to its 100th birthday. Noel Edmonds still presents it, a floating, disembodied head powered by the tiny amount of coal and natural gas left on the Earth. His hair is blonder than ever. The show has been through dozens of format changes, and is now called Deal or No Deal or Seal or the Great British Banker Dances on the Magical Clouds of Dreams on Ice. Each episode lasts six hundred hours, and you need to keep your eight-volume rulebook to hand just to get through the opening titles.

Despite the ‘innovations’, the show is about to come to a final end. Not because of cancellation, but because the Earth is about to be destroyed by an asteroid 62 miles wide. Never fear. Noel has called up every winner of the DOND jackpot still living. They’re standing in a field in Devon in complex patterns, Noel at the centre. And they’re all holding hands. And chanting. And thinking really positive thoughts. The asteroid approaches, blotting out the light of the sun. But something is happening. The cosmos has heard Noel’s New Age prayer. A celestial banker, with glowing wings a thousand feet across, has descended into the field. He looks down at Noel, who has a twinkle in his single, staring eye.

‘I can destroy the asteroid for you, Noel,’ offers the banker. ‘Deal or No Deal?’

‘Deal,’ says Noel. ‘Or… maybe just let a few chunks fall. Knock over some of those wind turbines over there. And wipe out some immigrants, too. And the Welsh, if it’s no trouble.’

The celestial banker nods, and flies up into the stratosphere, a shimmering rainbow following him as he ascends. With a wave of his hands, the asteroid is destroyed in a blast of cosmic energy. Everyone cheers, and the laws of physics are sick down their lab coat. Noel is exalted as a hero across the globe.

And with that, Deal or No Deal saves the world.

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