Show Discussion: Cheap Cheap Cheap

By | August 13, 2017

Weekdays, 3pm,
Channel 4

And so as ever it comes to TV’s most innovative man Noel Edmonds to come up with something genuinely a bit different, which may well crash and burn but might also turn out to be massively entertaining. It’s a gameshow, set in Noel’s shop, but also has sitcom themes running through it.

We’ve often longed for a UK version of incredible Italian show Avanti Un Altro and for better or worse this might end up being the nearest UK equivalent. The general manager is Barry From Watford, who’s an established thing, and chaos is provided by other characters as well. I’m quite interested to find out how much is script and how much is off the cuff, because 30 episodes of 60 minutes would require a lot of writing.

Pairs of contestants must determine which of three items is the cheapest. Do it eight times in a row and they leave with £25,000. Get it wrong and they leave with nothing.

We can certainly see elements to take issue with from the start – that money ladder is all over the place in the top half, and it sounds like you have to decide to play on before you see the question which is stupid – there’s no jeopardy in walking away which they will if you have to gamble blind, you have to lure them in. It also remains to be seen whether people coming for a quiz get annoyed by the comedy and vice versa.

Despite all this we’re looking forward to finally watching it and have our fingers crossed for it, even if it might not quite work.

66 thoughts on “Show Discussion: Cheap Cheap Cheap

  1. Danny Kerner

    Also the play along elements has probably faded away due to the fact that Channel 4 has been sitting on the cutting room floor that the prices have all increased. Unless these have been recently recorded it’s pointless to play along. I know tins of beans are one round as I have seen Tesco beans in the long version trailer. They will need to show a statement either at the beginning of the show or in the credits like pointless does stating “prices are correct as of …” or “prices are correct at time of recording”.

  2. David B

    We received this query at UKGameshow Towers about a show someone’s trying to find the title for, and I’ve drawn a blank. Does anyone know?

    “All that I can remember of the show was it was on ITV at 9.25am normally on when you were at school, but if were sick lucky enough to watch it. It had a short run put in between lucky ladders and runway I think, so late 80s early 90s. Had a big stereo that spun around in the middle and was music based quiz, cant remember the host but think it had two people up against each other and a celebrity, really cant remember. It was not name that tune”

        1. David B

          …Even so, the fella says it’s the right one. So, er, well done.

  3. Danny Kerner

    It’s definitely improvisation comedy. I’m liking this show. And I was right about the statement being shown at the beginning about prices being correct at time of recording. They are filming it as if it’s a sitcom.

  4. Phil G

    Well it’s different…

    Not exactly good different, though.

    No studio audience is a weird one considering you want to hear laughter from the ‘jokes’

  5. Cliff

    I’m enjoying seeing established comedy characters Barry from Watford and Marijana on a daytime quiz show; it gives the thing a very unusual twist. As for the game itself though… well it’s hardly the most thrilling thing is it.

    At one point Noel said the shop shuts at 6pm; was he expecting the show to go out at 5pm? It’s way too lightweight for an evening slot, but gentle enough entertainment for the daytime. Interesting that it’s followed so soon on from Letterbox, which has been given an evening slot that it’s not suited for.

  6. Brig Bother Post author

    It’s a fairly easy watch and I enjoy its loose feel and I chuckled, but although I like the characters (I think they all pulled their weight) I don’t think the comedy goes far enough, and I don’t think the game is anything to write home about, the whole thing is a Milky Way when you really want a Snickers.

    I found it quite weird that everyone was performing in the world’s largest studio but because the only audience is the waiting contestants the laughter there is is quite echoey – surely if there’s going to be a show where an audience should be played up to it’s this one.

    The money ladder is even worse than it looks with the possible £1,000 bonus at £5k, that means potentially in the next round blindly risking £6,000 for £7,500. Urgh. If you don’t want people to win large amounts of money you have to be smarter in how you pitch it, everybody is going to get fed up with contestants absolutely correctly walking away at the same place.

    So this occupies an odd place really – it’s not unwatchable, but I’d struggle to claim it was good, and I don’t think it’s quite mad *enough* to become a cult hit. On first viewing, a Category 5 on the Six Visceral Reactions then.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Also also, there were one or two bits where a character punctured the dramatic tension which I thought was an interesting decision, if not the right one.

  7. Clive of Legend

    If there was ever a show silently begging for a studio audience, it’s this one. Passed the hour pleasantly enough, but surely the sitcom vibe requires an audience?

    1. David B

      The lack of audience is baffling. You could quite happily reduce the prizes in keeping with the show and spend the money on an audience.

  8. Kniwt

    OK, I braved it and sat through the whole thing. The only possible redeeming quality I saw is that the games can straddle episodes, so at least you don’t know when a game is going to end. Otherwise, it can be something to have running in the background while you do something else, but it doesn’t command much serious attention (nor, I suspect, is it supposed to).

    Perhaps it’s time for a reappraisal of Heads Or Tails. 🙂

  9. John R

    It wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t great either, I actually think Channel 4 should have given it a go as a one off around the same time as Sell Or Swap as Noel and done it live as Noel works best that way, amazed they’ve knocked together 30 episodes must have been a sweetener in Noel’s contract for axing Deal Or No Deal. We would be perfectly happy with some more On Tour episodes by the way Channel 4!

    As best described by Noel himself, in the early (45 minute) days, Deal Or No Deal itself was the perfect ‘entertainment drama’.

  10. David

    It wasn’t that bad…I do agree it needs an audience though. The game itself is rather thin, but the characters are decent enough. Probably a one-series-and-out show.

  11. Mathew Palmieri

    Watched it…… Right, So you know Why most of these WWTBAM knockoffs usually try to have the same kind of tension and atmosphere as the main show, due to these large prizes being on offer? This show has none of that. The millionare money ladder only “works” when your trying to have tension in big prime time game shows. Imagine playing deal or no deal with the same top prize in this show! ….that being said, i do like the concept of the show more than the actual execution, which is’int to say that its Bad…….. its just… mediocre? lackluster? I do like it, but its clearly missed potential.
    It needs a better game to go along with it. I do enjoy the characters, but they really did-int do enough in the episode to…. get to know them? they just….Fumbled about with the game. Perhaps they should get into episodic plot’s for me to know them a bit more.
    I do agree it needs an audience.

  12. Richard

    Amazing show.
    Great and easy understanding of the show.
    Fantastic and funny gags for mid afternoon show. Noel has put a lot of effort in creating this show and hosting.
    I wonder if channel four would air a weekend celebrity special. With much more opencand rude gags.

    I know somebody who was on this show. There EP is airing next Thursday. They said they had the best time, Noel and the team were so friendly and even when they had to retake things they all enjoyed he mess ups.

    I was reading on a well known ratings page that the show was watched by
    271K (4.4%) is that good or not for a 3pm slot on Chanel four.

    Cheap cheap cheap 271K
    Cash trapped 2.12m
    Pointless 2.71m
    Tipping point 1.89m
    Looking!omg at this it was not doing that great. It’s going to end like that of channel four shows. It’s a bit of weekday fun.

  13. Dan

    I think the second episode was better with the inclusion of rounds where you have to guess the cheapest price. Adds more tension since there is no obvious own brand choice.

    There’s a good show in here somewhere, I think it needs to iron out it’s kinks and you have potential for a long lasting series.

    The comedy style is all over the place, some of it being visual, some of it being puns, some being verbal and some being absurd. I think they need to decide a definite comedy style and stick to that.

    Like that they have the booby consolation prizes. Been a while since we last saw those kind.

    All in all ok could be better 6/10

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I loved the consolation prizes, and I liked that Barry gave the carousel a different lottery machine name each time.

  14. Mr Blooby

    “I’m quite interested to find out how much is script and how much is off the cuff, because 30 episodes of 60 minutes would require a lot of writing.”

    The cast wrote a lot of their material based on facts about the contestants, as well as there also being a resident script writer.

  15. Brig Bother Post author

    Two strange inserts today, one with the assistant in some sort of Gogglebox homage, and then Noel the talking horse head.

    I commented on Twitter earlier that it’s like a Dick ‘n’ Dom parody but done for real and I can’t take my eyes off it even though I don’t love it. Saying that there’s occasionally a really good line. The odd-job man seems to have something killer to say every time he’s on.

  16. Chris M. Dickson

    So I watched the first episode. I didn’t laugh. I didn’t even smile. The characters were grotesque, unsympathetic and unengaging. As a comedy show it’s very weak, not allowing itself to dive any deeper than the surface, and not nearly as off-the-wall as it first appears. As a game, it has all sorts of problems; aside from the money tree, the difficulty of the game material seems to veer from almost trivial to practically impossible for no other reason than the apparent whim of the production team, and you’ve seen all there is to see very quickly.

    I watched the second episode. All of the above remained true. It’s quite tame. No smiles, no laughs, some of the jokes don’t really stand up to near-repetition, and there isn’t even “so bad it’s good” value to it from the way it plays up its own cheapness.

    In an inevitable mid-review turnaround, I am on the side of this show in a way I never was for the likes of Deal or No Deal, and I’m inclined to give this show at least a third chance.

    It’s shown that it is willing to try throwing enough stuff at the wall that it has the potential for a big hit from time to time; as much as the Gogglebox insert and the horse’s head didn’t work for me, I’m glad that they’re at least prepared to give things like them a go. It didn’t make me smile and I have no doubt that it was as scripted as anything else, but I did like Noel going off to invite another part of the set to play, and inviting another contestant to comment in the middle of the game. There’s no reason why they couldn’t have more entertaining visitors to the shop from time to time, even if the opening sequence suggests they probably won’t. While the pricing game is repetitive, some of the game material is thoughtfully chosen, and there are often some slightly subtle clues hidden, even if they have to be told rather than shown. The jokes are identifiably a bit cheekier than I was expecting.

    It’s interesting to compare this to the old The Price Is Right to which you linked a while back. Bill Cullen is proactive, varied and quick-witted in a way that Noel is not. The games are similarly one-note, with the TPiR note being rather more interesting and dramatic, but Cheap Cheap Cheap definitely had something to it. While the number of decisions is small, the show seldom felt slow, and there was a reasonable degree of variety in the comparisons, and there was a definite sense of unpredictability to it.

    Maybe I just want this show to pick up speed and get off the ground and am prepared to cut it an awful lot of slack. I don’t imagine that the first few times The Gong Show went off-piste were instant hits, judging by – for instance – seeing the first (admittedly very limited) Mike Myers version’s tries. Do any of the gags here have the potential to take off like some of the gags there? I’m not sure that the show is actually quite freewheeling enough to create the atmosphere to let it happen, but I’m even less sure that it mightn’t be.

  17. Brig Bother Post author

    I’m now watching episode three and they’ve slipped in a clip on the ‘previously on’ that didn’t actually feature as a gag.

    Aww sod it, I know I’m out of step, I know it’s not very good really, but I really enjoy the Saturday morning sense of humour with actual jokes in it of the sort you don’t really get these days. I think under different circumstances, produced slightly differently, everyone would be calling it ingenious.

    I feel a bit sorry for the actors and comics involved now forever associated with it. But I think it’d have been great fun to write for.

  18. John R

    Apparently the ratings dropped below the 200k mark for Episode 2, will be interesting to see the benchmark after a week or so.

    And yes there maybe is a vague reference somewhere in the above sentence…

  19. Brig Bother Post author

    It’s quite annoying the way they don’t resolve questions that contestants pass on.

    I get that they probably don’t want to waste quiz material but even so.

  20. jon

    139,000… for yesterday’s show.
    I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a C4 show as low as this.

    It will be pulled very soon is my guess.

  21. jon

    I think this is lower than Benchmark, pretty sure the low point there was 180,000

    Also I don’t think there is much diff in the 3pm and 4pm slot avg for C4 – there should be, but there isn’t.

      1. Brig Bother Post author

        Yeah, 170k was the figure I *thought* was Benchmark’s lowest.

        I’m also hearing that Ian Hyland suggested it bottomed out at 102k at one point yesterday.

  22. Brig Bother Post author

    Anyway clearly it’s going to get shifted to 3am at some point where it might pick up a bit of a following.

    This led me to consider that they should set it in an all-night garage and put it out at 2am and become a massive student cult hit.

    It’s a shame that people find it too weird, I think like Don’t Scare The Hare people are slagging it off for the wrong things.

  23. Danny Kerner

    What average is countdown getting as that is still going after 35 years.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Around 250-300k I believe. I don’t know if they still also show it on SBS in Australia, they seem to be showing repeats of their domestic version Letters and Numbers at the moment, which they dropped at one point to put Countdown on.

      1. Danny Kerner

        So there is a possibility this could be recommisioned if not a lot of money is given away.

    1. Danny Kerner

      Yeah it was confirmed it was a technical error and to see it in full you need to go to all4 or 4seven next week at 1pm

  24. Brig Bother Post author

    I’ve just been informed yesterday’s ep did 110k, dipping under 100k in the second half, becoming the 12th most watched channel at the time.


  25. Chris M. Dickson

    The “Truth In Advertising” department wishes to bring your attention to the following exchange very late in episode three:

    Kelly: So, is this the same game as yesterday?
    Noel: Sorry?
    Kelly: ‘Cus are you just going to do this all the way through, just guess which is cheapest?
    Noel: Yeah, that’s the game.
    Kelly: I don’t think people will watch it, Noel, but give it a go.

    I’ve seldom seen quite so sick a burn in a game show, especially one directed at itself. It’s a dumb show but it has chutzpah. It throws a lot of things at the wall and it doesn’t really matter that practically nothing sticks, except in the small matter of being commercially viable…

    1. Mart with a Y not an I

      Wow. That exchange was great. You often gets sniper fire from the edges of the production – but very seldom do you see someone on the inside, aim the barrel of the gun at the General!

      Watched it for the first time yesterday. I really wanted to like this programme. Something ‘off the wall’ is right up my street, but within 5 minutes, I was reaching for my phone to see if this was recorded at the Bottleyard (it was) by going on their website.

      Maybe it’s me, but I was expecting a bit more ‘controlled anarchy’ with the comedy.

      But my fears (admittedly reading about the show) were born out. The actual game is too weak to carry the whole programme, the comedy elements are too weak to carry the programme – so shove them into the same programme and hope no-one spots the sticky tape holding the two elements together.

  26. Daniel H

    Heads up to those who gave this a chance that today’s episode is worth a catch-up, particularly the second half.

    1. Danny Kerner

      I agree Tuesday episode is certainly worth a watch. If you are still watching of course.

  27. Kester J

    I only just caught this for the first time, and really rather liked it. I wouldn’t say it’s especially funny, but it is warm, genial and free of pretentions in a way that makes it quite appealing. Cosy might be the right word for it.

    It does feel like something from a different era though, so I’m not too surprised to hear how badly it’s doing.

  28. Daniel H

    We discovered today that the £1,000 bonus for completing the £5,000 level as a solo player actually gets carried up the board as a bonus, making the £7,500 actually worth £8,500 etc.

    It’s certainly an interesting production decision as if you play it and complete it, the light-up money ladder is essentially wrong for the rest of the game!

  29. Mathew Palmieri

    Well, its pretty obvious this show will get the axe. oh well, i hope there’s a american version made for [adultswim] or Comedy Central. cause obviously, too weird for channel 4 (the channel witch doesn’t show it logo in the bumps cause “Experimenta”l)in the uk.

    1. Des Elmes

      “too weird for channel 4”

      You may not know, but in its early days Channel 4 pretty much specialised in showing the programmes that no other terrestrial channel would show. 😉

      1. Mathew Palmieri

        Yeah, i know that. just making a joke.
        Wish we had something like early channel 4 for the united states. [adult swim] too surreal and comedy focused, comedy centrals too “Left” for my taste, FX dosent do Unscripted programming anymore.
        Closet thing there is is netflix.

  30. Simon

    Odd ending to the series. Half the cast not on the last few shows (only Barry mainly) and then a really contrived jackpot win on the last show (with questions for the upper end of the ladder than belonged right at the bottom end of it)

    1. JamesW

      Given the Popbitch speculation last week about one of the cast being caught crying with boredom on camera during one taping session, I wonder if people were either walking or being asked not to attend by the end of the sessions?

      1. Jon

        It really does seem like something may have happened. The actor who played Kelly only seems to have tweeted about the show a couple of times so we can draw our own conclusions as to what the reason may be.

        It should be pointed out all the actors were still in the titles and Kelly was referenced on the sign on the door break bumpers.

        If someone was crying with boredom they should try working in retail for real or in films for that matter.

        Noel made some thinly veiled comment about being a dictator in the last show and we know he likes to take control of a show, so that could have been a problem.

        It’s a shame the ratings weren’t up to much as I think if people gave it a chance it would have found an audience, but I think people would have watched a few minutes thinking it was silly and turned over.

  31. Chris M. Dickson

    I watched nine of the 30 episodes of this in the end, and this is likely to win a non-ironic Hall of Fame vote from me at the end of the year. Yes, it’s a dumb show; yes, it makes some obvious mistakes in its construction; yes, the question material is remarkably uneven; yes, it front-loaded its ideas to some extent and ran out of surprises towards the end. However, it has chutzpah and it has moments that you’re not going to see in any other game show, and that’s enough for 7/10 in my book.

    Brig sometimes poses the idea of the alternate universe where The Fuse caught people’s attention rather harder than The Chase and Austin Healey is now an ITV A-lister; I don’t think it’s any more far-fetched to consider the alternate universe where Deal or No Deal was done after thirty episodes and a rather smarter, snappier Cheap Cheap Cheap (or something like it but only slightly better) caught on and became a Channel 4 mainstay. Later series would go on to feature bigger, crazier, more varied casts and a day where it was clear that all the contestants were pairs of actors who would each spectacularly blow an unusually easy first question, with regular contestants returning the next day as if nothing had ever happened.

    As an aside, I get the feeling that I should appreciate the artifice of shows changing their opening sequences regularly (e.g. different cast member highlights each week for this, different games highlighted in the opening sequence of every single episode of The Crystal Maze) and yet somehow it’s more irritating than anything else. The different break bumpers for every break in Taskmaster are great, but here it feels irrelevant.

  32. Chris M. Dickson

    I’d also be curious to know more about the contestant experience, particularly from contestants towards the end of the run. The editing on the show was deliberately stylistic and un-game-show-like in parts, but we got to see clips in the “previously on Cheap Cheap Cheap” section that didn’t make it to air. Was this an incredibly convoluted and niche gag for the attentive, or did they just end up trying about ten times as many comedy skits as were aired and cut the least successful 90% of them out in the edit? This might tie in with suggestions that the show was an utter bear to film, and it couldn’t have been fun to be in the room when improv try after try bit the dust.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      That’s quite interesting, I saw a “previously on” with a clip that clearly hadn’t aired in the previous show and assumed it was a gag for the attentive, but it’s quite possible it came from a misfiring gag.


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