Hardly surprising. The show has been on its last legs for some time, and the two month break last year, and the five month and ongoing break this year has only really served to confirm that the show is running out of steam, and that the show was on its way out.
But it is still sad news, despite it being almost certainly the right thing to do.
Back in November 2005, when the show was just a few weeks old, Weaver's Week wrote:
- "With the possible exception of Swap Shop, Noel has always dragged a joke out beyond the point at which it's funny. Late Late Breakfast, for example, had become an unwatchable mess long before it was forced into cancellation. House Party should have come off air in 1995 or 96. when it was still at the peak of its game. The less said about the final series of Telly Addicts the better."
But, having reached nine years, I can understand TPTB wanting to film another batch of shows, enough to take it up to its tenth birthday. Fair enough, but, nearly two years after being filmed, the final batch of shows still hasn't finished being shown! (Thanks Fifteen-to-One 2.0!)
The writing was on the wall for the show's prospects as early as the start of 2013. Despite being one of the better periods of the hour-long era, the viewing figures had capitulated from around the low millions to non-Only Connect BBC4 level figures. Three things this could be attributed to: the rise of Tipping Point on ITV, the loss of the CBBC slot on BBC1, and just a general feeling that the show had run its course.
The addition of Box 23, at the start of 2014, and the Offer Button, that September, were presumably designed to try and claw back some of the lost viewing figures. But all they really did was alienate the loyal long term viewers, who felt the show had well and truly shark-jumped, and that the idea of a blue win of any kind suddenly being rescued by +£10,000 for no risk whatsoever was completely unfair, especially on the pre-Box 23 blue winners who hadn't had that luxury.
Of course, there had been a few pre-Box 23 instances of a blue winner getting bailed out. Paul 'PJ' Johnson, who won 1p in May 2007 after being given a swap-only final offer on a 1p-£75,000 final offer (he had swapped at the first offer but left his old box to the end); after his win, the Banker told him he could also win whatever that day's prize was on the viewer's competition they had going at the time. Thus, he got an extra £15,000, the maximum possible, for his troubles. (Anji Marks, who won 1p in similar circumstances three years later, was not allowed such a bailout, much to everyone's fury)
And in August 2008, Brian Kelly, the first player following the show's summer break, won just 50p, and then revealed he had a very modest target of about £2,500 so he could pay off his mother's mortgage. After his game was over, the Banker offered to pay him the £2,500 for the coffee mug he had bought along as a good luck charm. Very few were impressed by this.
Many people think PJ's result was the first time the show went too far with its treatment of its players. I remember David 'KP' Howes describing it as 'the death of a TV show', or words to that extent. He said the same thing earlier that year when Craig Collier, who played immediately after Laura Pearce's first ever £250,000 win, was given swap-only offers until the £250,000 went!
The show regularly attracted huge audience of circa 2,500,000 for most of the first two or so years of its run. After that, however, the show began to lose its appeal, on the grounds that the format was now tried and tested, and the increasing number of 'sob story' players, clearly chosen because TPTB thought their story would make it easier to root for them. One could say, however, this was one of Deal's strong points during it's middle years: players from all walks of life gelling brilliantly as a team.
This was also, however, one of the show's biggest problems. Because the players had become such good friends and genuinely cared about each other, they, naturally, didn't want to see each other crash in their games, and thus would advocate they take the money while they had the chance. This came to a head during the summer of 2013, when almost every player advocated their friends to take the money while they still could, leading to the Banker decreasing his offer generosity and not really upping it again until the following summer.
By 2010, the show was still drawing respectable audiences of just over 1 and a half million. Even as late as late 2012, the show was still getting half decent figures of around 1.25 million. It wasn't really until 2013 that the figures dropped dramatically.
The move to an hour long slot in 2011 is often cited to be when the show started to lose its appeal (due to the extra run time requiring extra chat/padding). Figures show the ratings survived the increase at first, and it wasn't really until later that year/next year that things began to drop seriously.
I suppose, when you've got a show running (almost) daily, weekly, the format will slow easily, and you need to twiddle with things a bit to keep the viewers interested. The arrival of the Banker's Gamble in late 2007, whereby a contestant could give back their winnings at the final offer and open their box and win its contents, was met with a mixed response, to say the least. And, while most gradually accepted it as a legitimate device over time, many, including almost the entire regular frequenters of the now defunct ilovedealornodeal.com, never accepted it, and would describe any game in which it was used as 'rubbish', regardless of whether it was dealt or not.
To be fair, however, the show has done terrifically to run as long as it has. Many, including myself, have felt the show has overrun its course and should have ended a couple of years ago, but to reach eleven years on air isn't bad for a daily daytime show. In the same article I quoted earlier, WW wrote:
- "This column is not convinced that Deal or No Deal will last forever, or even as long as Weakest Link... It will have a good run, of that we're certain."
We will always have fond memories of the high and low points of Deal's run; they can never be wiped. But now is definitely the time to put the show away and let it go with dignity. The door will always be open for some kind of revival at some point, but the original show has run its course, and now is the time for it to finish up.
Thank you Noel, Glenn and co for the memories; we'll always have plenty of them.
Back with my usual UC review on Monday. See yous then.