Golden Balls, ITV1

by | Jun 18, 2007 | All, Reviews

Did we like it?

Everything that is wrong with the world encapsulated in to one horrid hour.

What was good about it?

• In the episode we sat through, our flabbergasted horror seemed to have been mirrored in celestial quarters as throughout the hour of broadcast the raging thunderstorm got worse and worse until only moments after both finalists had won nothing the power cut out as if divine intervention was being exercised over our viewing habits.

What was bad about it?

• The name has allusions to David Beckham, but not his footballing prowess but instead a nickname given to him by his non-entity wife, and how he has become known in the toxic fishpond of celebrity-world.

• The set is truly awful. The background of teeming golden balls resembles a close-up of Simon Cowell’s mendacious mouth if he auditioned for the part of Jaws in a ‘celebrity remake’ of Moonraker. Or of a thousand incandescent suns who wish to lower their glowering glow by congregating in front of the main stage at Glastonbury to witness the (almost) annual grey indie guitar band marathon that can sap the luminosity from the brightest light.

• Everything is scripted, from the introductory anecdotes through to the jostling for position between the contestants as they vie to make it through to the next round by undermining the credibility of their opponents. As one contestant rambled through an anecdote about his first day as a firefighter without ever reaching the punch-line, bland host Jasper Carrott had to leap and say: “Your trousers fell down!”

• The audience’s applause for each golden ball is ranked purely on its monetary value. A £20 ball or a £50 ball is met with absolute silence; a £5,000 ball is met with a round of applause; an £11,000 ball is met with applause and cheering; and a £25,000 ball is met with hollering, applause and some members of the audience throwing themselves at the ball’s feet proclaiming it as the Second Coming before initiating a new religion founded on the principles of human castration.

• Despite obviously being given coaching on how to play the game, the contestants have all the vivacious wit of an essence snared and bottled from the odour of a rotting corpse. They will half-heartedly pick on a fellow contestant and utter a variation of “That’s not true”, “You’re lying” or “Oh you know that’s not true, you’re lying”, which will elicit the near-Wildean riposte along the lines of: “I’m not lying” “I’m not lying, you’re lying”.

• After each round, one of one the contestants is eliminated in a vote among themselves even if they were responsible of holding the most ‘killer balls’ and is conducted with the same level of proof and independent scrutiny that we imagine accompanied many of the trials in the Great Terror, during which the inevitable death sentence had been signed, sealed and delivered even before the knock on the door.

• And what resistance is there from the felled contestants to their fate. Do they gnash their teeth at the injustice of it all? No they meekly swallow their despair and disgorge the usual platitudes of “I’ve had a great time, Jasper”. How can anyone possibly suggest they have had a great time here? They’ve stood for a couple of hours telling three strangers they don’t believe a word they’ve said based on nothing but their own clueless instinct in the scandalous pursuit of free money.

• The worst part of the show comes when the final two contestants must each turn select from a random selection of golden balls one to throw away (with the hope that it will be the financially diminishing ‘killer’ balls) and one to place on the prize podium to accumulate the fund for which they will then play off for. This hauls from the rancid sewage of modern spiritualism the very worst hokum and blind faith of Deal Or No Deal as with nothing to guide them, the contestants seek solace in their instinct and that they have somehow acquired a sense of deified second sight that enables them to ascertain the inscription on a cold metal ball.

• It’s made even worse when the players demand that their colleague/opponent choose for them, illuminating that despicable trait of not wanting to take responsibility for any decision that you make.

• Once the final sum has been arrived at the contestants must take part in one last act of morality – they can choose to split or keep the money. If they both split, then the money is split – one splits, one keeps means the money goes to the ‘keep’er – and if they both keep, neither gets a penny. In the episode we saw, they both chose to keep, meaning they went home with nothing. Again the platitudes gushed out, “I’m going home with nothing but I came with nothing”, in order to numb the pain of their unsated avarice.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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