Series / Golden Balls

Early-evening ITV Game Show from the producers of Deal or No Deal, which bridged concepts from Deal with that of poker. To begin, 12 golden balls were drawn from a giant lotto machine-styled contraption known as the Golden Bank (which contained about a hundred of them). Each ball concealed a different sterling amount, usually ranging from £10 to over £70,000. Before distributing them to the four players, the Lovely Assistant also mixed in four "Killer" balls, bringing the total to 16.

Each player opened up two of their balls for everyone to see, while the other two remained visible to the player only. The goal of the game was to ultimately build the largest pot you could by keeping as many high-valued balls in play as possible: after the distribution of the first set of balls, the contestants proceeded to debate over who they believed had the worst hand (low-valued and Killer balls were the main targets), often defending themselves by outright bluffing about the contents of their other two balls, before proceeding to vote out a contestant Weakest Link-style and throwing their balls in the trash. If there was a tie in the voting, the eliminated player was chosen at random.

After the first elimination, the balls remaining from the first round (along with two more balls from the Golden Bank and one more Killer, making 15) were re-shuffled and distributed again to the remaining three contestants, and the process continued again. With 10 balls and two players remaining, it was then time to decide how much they would ultimately be playing for: the contestants alternated picking random balls to "bin" (taking them out of the game), and "win" (adding it to the jackpot). If a Killer was kept, the jackpot was divided by 10.

But how much of the pot would each contestant get? Well, it's time to use an old favorite, the Prisoner's Dilemma. You've watched enough Friend or Foe to know how this works; the two contestants discussed their situation and tried to psyche each other out, and then secretly chose to "Split" or "Steal". If both contestants chose Split, they split the jackpot. If one player chose Steal, s/he got to take the whole lot. If they both chose Steal, nobody won.

Golden Balls aired from that aired from 2007 through 2009. The show was a Sleeper Hit for ITV at first, but began to taper off later on, resulting in its demise.

Game Show Tropes in use:

  • All or Nothing: Happened whenever at least one player chose to Steal.
  • Home Game: There are board, mobile, and console versions.
  • Mystery Box: Actually, they're more like mystery spheres.
  • Personnel:
    • Game Show Host: Jasper Carrott.
    • Golden Snitch: Any five figure amounts showing on the front row in the first two rounds have an almost guaranteed chance of sending the player through to the next round, but the £75,000 ball especially, as it's pretty much guaranteed to let someone through even if the other ball on show is a killer.
    • Lovely Assistant: Amanda, though Jasper acts as if she's evil, maliciously adding the killer balls to screw over the contestants.

This series provides examples of

  • Cassandra Truth: When a player has two killers on their front row, the obvious means by which to persuade the others to take them through anyway is to claim a ridiculously high amount. Naturally, the others will typically be wise to this and not fall for it, leading to this trope when - as is sometimes the case - the player with the killers is actually telling the truth.
  • Doomed Protagonist: If an opponent chose Steal in the final round.
  • Downer Ending: Whenever the final two players go Steal-Steal.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Usually, if a player starts with two killers on the front row, they will not get through, though exceptions are known.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: One middle-aged male contestant said his elderly female rival reminded him of his dead grandmother. This offended her and actually reduced the third contestant - a young woman - to tears. The vote went to a three-way tie break, and despite the man clearly having the most money, on the basis of his attitude, the women got rid of him. Adding salt to the wound, the man refused to even apologise for his comments, despite both players insisting he do so.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: One episode featured a group of returning contestants who got screwed over by the Steal ball. Ironically, the winner (a woman named Sarah) claimed £100,150 with a steal, making her the show's biggest winner.
  • The Power of Trust: The Game. The final portion of the show has two contestants, face to face, deciding whether to steal or share the pot. If both steal, they get nothing. If both share, they split the pot. If one shares and the other steals, the stealer gets everything and the sharer gets nothing. A British man who describes himself as a "professional game show contestant" studied the show and realized that the face-offs all followed the same formula: if one contestant was absolutely sincere in their desire to share the money, they were stealing. Every single time. So he devised a better solution: he went on the show, made it to the final round, and then immediately told his fellow finalist that he was going to steal (albeit with the caveat that he would share the money after the show). 100% certainty, absolutely no room for compromise. Most final rounds go on for five minutes. These two spent 45 minutes with the unfortunate second man trying everything to convince the professional to change his mind and share, because that's what he wanted to do. Eventually, the other guy agreed and shared, at which point the professional revealed that he had done the same. The kicker is that after the show, the other guy was interviewed and asked what he was planning to do before he was harangued: steal.
  • Smug Snake: Some contestants will assume that money alone will get them through the show, when trust is just as important (since naturally, a player will want people who are likely to split in the final). This can backfire horribly. See Laser-Guided Karma, above, for a specific example.
  • Unwinnable by Design: If in the final round one contestant chose Steal, the other player got nothing regardless of the option.