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Series / Golden Balls

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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 held 100 of them. These balls contained cash amounts that ranged from £10 to £75,000. The Lovely Assistant then mixed in four "Killer" balls, bringing the total to 16, and each of the four contestants received four balls at random.

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 as large a jackpot as possible by keeping high-value balls in play. 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. In case of a tie, the contestants not involved in it tried to reach a consensus as to whom they wanted to eliminate; if they could not do so, a random draw decided who went out. If every contestant received one vote, they all continued debating until three of them agreed to kick out the fourth.

After the first elimination, the remaining 12 balls (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. Each placed two balls on the front row and three on the back, and the second round followed the same rules as the first. After this round, one more Killer was added to give a total of 11 balls and the contestants took turns picking two at a time, the first to "bin" (eliminate) and the second to "win" (place in the jackpot). Kept cash amounts were added to the jackpot, but each kept Killer divided the jackpot by 10. After five "win" balls had been chosen, the round ended and the final jackpot was set.

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 psych 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 2007-09. The show was a Sleeper Hit for ITV at first, but began to taper off later on, resulting in its demise.

Not to be confused with the 1993 Spanish film of the same name.

This series provides examples of:

  • Actually Pretty Funny: A man named Darren has this reaction when his opponent stole the whopping sum of £66 from him.
    Darren: She's welcome to it.
    Jasper: Kimberly! How desperate are you?
    Kimberly: What? Two nights on the pub!
  • All or Nothing: Happened whenever at least one player chose to Steal.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Many contestants who successfully Steal try to apologize to the people they've stabbed in the back, but it usually doesn't go over well.
    Dawn: I'm so sorry, Amy.
    Amy: (silence)
  • Blatant Lies: Oh so many. Every single episode has a wide number of lies — people passing off Killers as cash balls, people claiming their back balls are higher than they are (or, sometimes, lower), people claiming they have balls that they know others have, and of course, people claiming they'll Split. You will see people tell lies on this show. Two contestants caught telling large lies in the first round (and advanced because of them) justified them in their own way.
    Fletch: I'm an honest guy... but what are you gonna do?
    Neena: You would have done the same.
  • Broken Aesop: Jasper frequently pointed out that if both finalists "are greedy" and choose to Steal, neither wins anything. But... if only one person is greedy, they win twice as much as if they had Split with the other person.
  • Cassandra Truth: When a player had two Killers on their front row, the obvious means by which to persuade the others to take them through anyway was to claim a ridiculously high amount. Naturally, the others would typically be wise to this and not fall for it, leading to this trope when - as was sometimes the case - the player with the Killers was actually telling the truth.
  • Confession Cam: As the contestants look through their back balls (in both rounds), they use a Confession Cam offer a sentence or two discussing their gameplan, strategy, and what they intend to do. In the second round, some will discuss whether they want to Split or Steal (although some do change their minds). Also, after the balls are revealed, the finalists do a confession cam discussing how they feel the day went down — together if they both Split, separately if one Split and one Stole, and, hilariously, together if they both Stole.
    Joanne (in Round 1): Believe me! I have the art of lying down to a T. Pulling the wool over their eyes will be easy.
    Hugh (in Round 1): I'm gonna play an honest game, but I'm gonna lie through my teeth if I have to to get to that cash!
    Keith (in Round 2): Well, I hope to be in the final with someone who's trustworthy, as I'm keen to Split and that would make it all easier.
    John (in Round 2): If I get through to the final, I will Steal — no matter what, every time.
    Sandra (in Round 2): If I'm lucky enough to get through to the final, the size of the jackpot will determine if I Split or Steal.
  • Doomed Protagonist: If an opponent chose Steal in the final round, the other player was guaranteed to leave with nothing.
  • Downer Ending: Whenever the final two players went Steal-Steal.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Usually, if a player started with two Killers on the front row, they weren't going to get through, though exceptions are known, mostly in Round 2.
  • Game Show Host: Jasper Carrott.
  • Golden Snitch: Any five-figure amounts showing on the front row in the first two rounds had an almost guaranteed chance of sending the player through to the next round, but the £75,000 ball especially, as it was pretty much guaranteed to let someone through even if the other ball on show was a Killer.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: After barely scraping through into Round 2 on a tie, Scott isn't thrilled to display two Killers on his front row. He tries to claim that his back row contains high amounts, but the other two contestants promptly see through his lies. After a few minutes of futile arguing, he finally admits that his back balls are "rubbish" and that he should be voted out. The other contestants are touched by his honesty - even though they do vote him out. Scott, as he's being voted out, requests that his two opponents — a steelworker and a teacher — Split.
  • Home Game: There's board, mobile, and console versions.
  • 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, the women got rid of him on the basis of his attitude. Adding salt to the wound was that the man refused to even apologise for his comments, despite both ladies insisting he do so.
  • Let's Just See What WOULD Have Happened: Contestants voted off in later seasons were asked by Jasper if they would have Split or Stolen.
  • Lovely Assistant: Amanda Grant, though Jasper acted as if she was evil, maliciously adding the Killer balls to screw over the contestants.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Many contestants who successfully Steal discover that while they're monetarily better off, they're not happy with themselves. Some are genuinely upset, others are clearly disgusted, while others solemnly believe they did what they needed to do. In particular, when a woman named Klara stole the second highest jackpot of £93,250, she seemed genuinely remorseful and was visibly crying in her confession cam segment.
    David (after stealing £1,830): To steal all the money feels...terrible, actually. It's different when you're up there; you can't really think straight...
    Derek (after stealing £1,375): To steal all the money — it doesn't make you feel too good inside. I feel bad now! I want to give him some money! (nervous laughter)
    Mohammed (after stealing £45,400): I...I...I should not have done what I did. I made a big mistake here. I don't think the money's worth...doing that to someone else.
    Klara (after stealing £93,250): I know when Peggy revealed the Split ball, I should have felt really happy that I won all this money, but I felt terrible. Really awful. I did it for my children, that's all I can say. I'm so sorry, Peggy!
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Twelve episodes featured groups of returning contestants who got screwed over by the Steal ball, while four episodes featured people who were voted off in the first round. Ironically, the winner of one of the Steal redemption episodes (a woman named Sarah) claimed £100,150 with a Steal, making her the show's biggest winner.
    Sarah: When Stephen revealed the Split ball, I wasn't proud. I didn't feel happy about what I done, but having been stabbed in the back last time, I just couldn't put myself through it again.
    Stephen: Golden Balls has taught me that some people look for revenge - and greed obviously knows no bounds.
  • Mystery Box: More like mystery spheres, but yes.
  • 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 Split, they split the pot. If one Splits and the other Steals, the Stealer gets everything and the Splitter gets nothing.
    • A 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 Split 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 pick the Steal ball (albeit with the caveat that he would split the money after the show). 100% certainty, absolutely no room for compromise. Most final rounds went on for five minutes; this one lasted 45 minutes, with the unfortunate second man trying everything to convince the professional to change his mind and Split, because that's what he wanted to do (see below). Eventually, the other guy agreed and picked Split, at which point the professional revealed that he had done the same.
      • The kicker? After the show, the other guy was interviewed and asked what he was planning to do before he was harangued; he was going to Steal.
  • Split Screen: With the final reveal.
  • Smug Snake: Some contestants assumed that money alone would get them through the show, when trust was just as important (since naturally, a player would want people who are likely to Split in the final)...though this could backfire horribly, as explained above under Laser-Guided Karma. It wasn't uncommon for two players in the second round to vote off someone with the best balls because they distrusted them.
  • Taking You with Me: Contestants who, between the final voting phase and Split or Steal, decide they cannot trust their partner sometimes have decided to do a "defensive Steal" in order to prevent their shady opponent from taking it all. Andrew below illustrates an example, but the defensive Steal can backfire, as Janet and Mary found out when they discovered their opponents were telling the truth.
    Andrew: I did intend to Split. But after he took through three killers and no £32,000, I thought, "How could I possibly trust this guy?"
    Janet (after stealing £1,049): I really did think she was going to go for a Steal!
    Mary (after stealing £1,690): Oh! Sorry, Daniel...sorry!
  • Unwinnable by Design: If in the final round one contestant chose Steal, the other player got nothing regardless of the option.


Video Example(s):


Golden Balls- Split or Steal?

In this game, the contestants can both choose to split 100,150 pounds or steal and get the whole pot, leaving the other with nothing. The problem is if they both steal, they both get nothing. And they most choose at the same time.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / PrisonersDilemma

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