Yes, you can understand Channel 4 giving Noel Edmonds another chance. Despite the fact that the ratings for the final ten shows of Deal Or No Deal dwindled down to as low as 200,000, just before Christmas last year, it was a smash hit back in the day and ran for eleven years, including Christmas Day editions, celebrity specials and even some live shows.
However, it was a gameshow that intrigued me for quite some time before I called time on it, although my favourite moment was of a greedy old woman who had a choice between £5 and £250,000, and was SO SURE that the top prize was in her box, that she turned down one of the highest £250k deals ever of £90,000. What was in her box? Well, if you didn’t hear me guffawing all the way from Manchester that day, then yes, it was £5.
So, Mr Edmonds produces more hits than misses, and is generally a safe pair of hands. He also seems to have given up his temporary career of talking to cats. However, this new show feels more like a Saturday night programme that somehow was acceptable in the ’80s when there was little else to watch. And it’s not Saturday evening. It’s a weekday afternoon.
Cheap Cheap Cheap sees Noely asking contestants to guess which of the three cheap items are the cheapest. Yes, if you thought Deal Or No Deal was a simple concept (22 boxes and a load of guesswork), then this The Price Is Right rip-off begins its journey of 30 episodes over six weeks, although Channel 4 clearly aren’t quite so sold on this ‘Deal’ as they’re shoving it away at the 3pm housewives slot rather than Deal‘s 4pm ‘quite a few people have already left work for the day’ slot. In fact, it shows how little faith they have in it, in that 4pm is where *repeats* of A Place In The Sun are being shoved.
There’s terrible acting from the ‘cast’, including Alex Lowe as store manager Barry, and the shop’s Health and Happiness Guru, Marijana (I bet her name gets changed! – or so I thought before I found out that actress Gabby Best had a 2015 TV series with the same character), amongst others, all giving it a feel of the amusing-at-the-time 321 with the late Ted Rogers.
The first couple are two male best friends who have to tell Noel about each other, as if it’s a game of Mr & Mrs, and can they pick which is the cheapest item out of baked beans from Heinz, Prince Charlie’s Duchy Organic range from Waitrose and Tesco? If they do, then they get £250, working their way up the scale until they get to £25,000 – IF they do. If they get it wrong, they’re out of the shop.
Occasionally, Noel tosses the contestants a bone, giving them the option to cheat on their current dilemma with the chances to “See the next question”, “Reveal the price of an item” or “Remove the most expensive item”. However, like Deal Or No Deal, each decision could take mere seconds, but instead they ponder over every one for forever and a day.
In addition, one of the items late in the show is a ‘urine detector’. Well, someone’s taking the piss with this programme!
Almost finally, “What other television show gets so excited about baked beans?”, says Noel, looking like he wants to throw himself off the top of Big Ben after showing us his crinkly bottom. Perhaps it’s the lack of atmosphere created, since there’s no audience (not even a canned one, a la The Chase).
He’s also joined in his ‘cast’ by Emily Lloyd-Saini as bored shop assistant Kelly, and Kiell Smith-Bynoe as mouthy delivery driver Keith. The ‘banter’ between them all is forced and as convincing as the chances of this getting recommissioned beyond its initial run.
And I haven’t even bothered to make the ‘cheap’ gag that it *looks* cheap!
Cheap Cheap Cheap is a painfully long experience which makes Deal Or No Deal look like a Mensa test, and I can’t find anything to salvage it whatsoever. Given that it’s set to run for six weeks, Monday to Friday, either it’ll be hugely successful, or it’ll tank so quickly that it’ll defect to More4 after a week or two, which is where 8 Out of 10 Cats was bumped to after people stopped watching it. I expect that all 30 episodes are already in the can, so there’s no chance to tweak future ones, either, in reaction to viewers’ reactions.
In fact, it’d be financially beneficial for Channel 4 to simply burn Noel’s Store down and claim on the insurance!
(Update on Monday 14th August: I watched this a second time, following the hashtag #cheapcheapcheap and all of those contributions were a damn sight more funny than those acting on the show. Bear in mind, the tweets contain plenty of swears!)
Cheap Cheap Cheap airs Monday to Friday at Channel 4 at 3pm from tomorrow, and then later on All4, but it will NEVER be released on Blu-ray and/or DVD. Click on the top image of Noel for the full-size version.
Episode 1 Score: 0/10
Director: Steve Smith
Series Producers: Neil Gallery and Monica Long
Creator: Noel Edmonds
Music: Dan McGrath and Josh Phillips
Himself: Noel Edmonds
Barry: Alex Lowe
Kelly: Emily Lloyd-Saini
Marijana: Gabby Best
Keith: Kiell Smith-Bynoe
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.