Show Discussion: The Bank Job series 1

10pm, Channel 4

Endemol’s bright new hope, The Bank Job hosted by George Lamb, begins this evening.

In it, contestants answer questions and pick vaults to try and earn as much money as they can, all the while making sure they leave enough time to get out of the vault before it shuts on them. All the daily winners come back for one final winner takes all game on Saturday night.

The online game was quite good fun and you will be able to play along with the online show this evening. But will it stand up to a full hours worth of viewing for six days (in fact the final is 90 minutes on Saturday)? And we have some reservations over George Lamb as choice of host, he didn’t seem quite comfortable doing the live links on The Million Pound Drop last month. Why not try and predict how often he’ll use the word “guys”?

205 Comments

  1. Netizen says:

    Oh I liked the chatter from the contestants tonight. It helped fill what would have been some very awkward pauses. Were there five zeros opened in one round? I was under the impression there were supposed to be only 4 for some reason.

    George was doing his best with a dodgy wifi signal which is forgiveable, but whose fault was it when the autocue scrolled too fast for him to keep up eh?

  2. Brig Bother says:

    Night three, up to 1.4m including +1.

  3. Mart with an Y not an I says:

    And no-one has mentioned that I think more seconds were added back on to the clock for one of the numerous restarts than were on it originally…

    The most glaring thing was, as mentioned, the ‘can you move it back down a bit’ with the autocue by George. Pretty unprofessional given all he had to do was throw to the VT package – which most people with a basic grasp of english could blag quickly without much thought. Did he really need a script to tee that up?

    Oh, and that clock on the pillar is still stuck at 2.20 behind contestants row…

    ..and there was a crash pull out and too early cut too re-frame. Makes me wonder if Endemol don’t think the ‘live’ graphic in the top right hand corner of the screen is enough, and don’t care if it descends into brief anarchy.

  4. Tim says:

    On the basis of episode 3, The Blow Job already gets all three of my Shame votes for 2012. The biggest shambles I have ever seen in live television history. Not “unpredictable”, not “exciting”, just embarrassing. Endemol have singlehandedly destroyed the genre.

  5. John R says:

    Here we go…They aren’t gonna get all 4 out in 5 seconds!

  6. Steven says:

    Bit of controversy already.

    A question with the answer ‘Big Fat Gypsy Weddings’ was met with ‘Gypsy’, which was initially rejected and then the player said BFGW and George back peddled and let her pick a box.

    In the question immediately after, with the answer ‘A Fairytale of New York’, it was answered by another contestant as ‘The Pogues… Fairytale of New York’, and was rejected.

    Seemed a bit unfair to me.

    • Travis P says:

      Reminds me how they adjudicated the questions on The People’s Quiz. Most of the judging for some answers were poor.

      Given The Bank Job did a run through last weekend to tweak any bits and iron out flaws. It’s given me the impression they didn’t bother doing a run through.

      • Brekkie says:

        That was rather unfair – you could tell the contestant was understandably pissed off too. Served the girl right too she got no money for that question.

        The tie breaker worked fair enough – but I agree if people get £0 and there are just a few seconds left they should surely be allowed to leave if they want too. Similarly it would be good to have some boxes which prevent people who’ve already won cash from leaving.

        This show definately would have benefitted from being pre-recorded rather than live. Indeed unlike Million Pound Drop the playalong game is absolutely minimal (indeed it could probably be expanded to run alongside a recorded version) and the questions are not based at all on current events – so no need really for it to be live.

        • Travis P says:

          She still got to the final though.

          At least yesterday’s Chase had an answer by Anne but Bradley needed more and he was right to do so.

          Who directed Days of Thunder? Anne answered Scott but he wanted a full answer since there are two Scott directors. Ridley and Tony.

          Back to The Bank Job, the clock isn’t working at the start. They’re better off having a fixed number of questions for the first two rounds. Say 20 questions so the contestants know whether to risk it or to stay for an extra question.

  7. John R says:

    “How brave is she?”

    Not very George, until you influenced her decision…

  8. Brekkie says:

    And another thing, might it be better they have to answer a question to leave. So basically when they answer a question they can either go for cash or leave the vault – but not both.

  9. Alex says:

    I can’t help but feel that from the whole spiel at the end that George did to the camera that we’re going to be set with a Prisoner’s Dillema set-up for the end tomorrow.

    BECAUSE THAT WOULD SUCK.

    • Andy "Kesh" Sullivan says:

      That’s what I just tweeted. It’s Golden Balls or Shafted all over again! I HATE this gameplay mechanic. What’s wrong with 4 elimination rounds to see who leaves with the lot?

    • David B says:

      That would suck big balls. Not just because it’s a cheapass way of saving prize money, but it has the potential to make the entire week of shows entirely pointless.

      And c’mon, it’s not like it’s anything new now, is it really? Sometimes I regret the day producers found out about game theory.

    • David Howell says:

      Do we have a Hall of Shame winner for 2012 even before the 2011 polls have closed?

      • Andy "Kesh" Sullivan says:

        I wasn’t thinking of putting it in the Hall of Shame, but after hearing THAT, I think it will now. I was led all along to believe that only 1 of the 5 finalists would get the entire stash, and as David B says, it could make the whole week utterly pointless should they be greedy barstools (and let’s face it, it’ll happen more often than not! *cough DIVIDED cough* *cough GOLDEN BALLS cough* (clears throat) Excuse me :D)

    • David says:

      Maybe when they get down to the last two, they stock the vault with the money from the first five shows, but they don’t have to leave- they play their full 45 seconds out. After that they have to decide whether to split the money remaining (plus the money they earned from the first few rounds tomorrow).

      Example:

      There’s 400K in the vault at the start of the last round, and Player A brings in 60K and Player B brings 40K from the previous rounds. After the round, Player A has 210K (took 150K out), Player B has 90K (took 50K out), and the vault has 200K left. They then have to decide if they want to split the remainder evenly- In which case Player A ends up with 310K and Player B ends up with 190K- or try and steal the whole 500K.

      Split/Split- both players get the split.

      Split/Steal- Split gets nothing, Steal gets 500K.

      Steal/Steal- both players in the vault get nothing….but the three players eliminated during the show get the 500K.

      I know it’s horribly convoluted…and I don’t know why they can’t just play it straight with one extra round, and the winner gets whatever he accumulated that night plus the other nights.

      And didn’t they say at the beginning of the week that someone WILL win the money? If no one wins anything, that could potentially cause problems with OFCOM I’d suspect…

    • Brekkie says:

      Not liking it all ending on a Prisoners Dilemma, especially if the cash up for grabs is hundreds of thousands of pounds. Surely a split for a guaranteed £300k or so is inevitable – though of course if you believe your opponent is of that view you might steal it.

      I just assumed they’d double the total cash for the episode to £1m tomorrow which would guarantee the winner at least £500,000 – probably the most cash won on live TV in some time.

      • David Howell says:

        Only a few months – the final bit of each night of “Red or Black?” was live.

        • Brekkie says:

          LOL – how quickly I’d forgot about that. I did think though we’d had the discussion not so long ago about big cash being won on live TV.

  10. Alex says:

    If I was doing the finals, here’s what I’d do:

    All five players are ordered from most cash brought through to least. No.5 plays No.4 in the £200k game, winner stays on, cash gets put in total pot, then winner plays No.3, and continue until No.2 has played against the winner of that.

    Final game is No.1 vs winner of the game before for all of the money. Which’ll probably be about £800,000 in there, meaning (from guessing) the winner’ll probably pocket about £100k. Maybe increase that by making the time 60sec.

    Of course, for this to work, it can’t really be live, unless there’s about ten printing machines during a commercial break printing the values to go on the boxes.

  11. Andy "Kesh" Sullivan says:

    Guess there’s no sense in speculating, is there? We’ll just have to bite the bullet and see how it plays out, won’t we?

    Funny thing on Twitter – The Bank Job retweeted a bloke saying that Share or Steal would be interesting, so I tweeted back saying it wouldn’t and that it should be 4 elimination rounds to see who gets all the money. The moron replies back with ‘that’d be boring’. I just told him to believe what he wants and asked if he remembered Golden Balls as that was my best guess for what tomorrow’s show might do.

    • Chris says:

      ^This

      (N.B I didn’t watch tonight and didn’t hear George’s spiel just reading the speculation)

      Given how they retweeted this I would guess with near certainty that this will be the end game which is really bad tbh. It feels like a cop-out especially if they use the classic butchered version of the original game theory which is +sum to steal.

      It might work for endemol tomorrow if the contestants haven’t seen the endgame and thus may not play optimally but I GUARANTEE that this will make the show suck in the end. Everyone in the next series will steal. Its what ended Golden balls in the end – it wasn’t exciting any more due to the mechanics.

      • Andy "Kesh" Sullivan says:

        I’ve just watched my video of tonight’s show back and George says (verbatim) after saying the prize fund is £390,500:

        “All of it and a whole lot more will be won tomorrow night, but at the end of the game, we’ll have 2 winners and they’ll face the ultimate dilemma in the bank vault. With hundreds of thousands of pounds at stake, do they share the spoils or try to steal it all for themselves?”

        The first thing that came to mind was Golden Balls and Shafted. I just know it’s going to SUCK.

  12. David B says:

    If there has to be a twist or finale to it, I’d play 5 down to 1, then have a solo endgame where the total money is hidden in the 25 boxes, and give them 1:00 of questions to get as much out as they can. Usual lock-in rule applies, and maybe there might be one rogue box that resets your score to zero?

    Then at least if you get greedy it’s your own damn fault. Technically, there’s no reason for anyone to Share in these things other than moral guilt, a quality in which these players are probably not full to the brim.

    • Andy "Kesh" Sullivan says:

      This would be the endgame I’d go with, a money chase that fits in with the whole ‘get rich and get out’ mantra of the show. Throw in some £0′s and a jeopardy element and it’s perfect (maybe something like 2 or 3 boxes that empty the fund). I’d still keep the timer at 1:30 to give them a decent amount of time to open some boxes and to give them a chance of clawing something back should they pick the rogue boxes that drain their entire bank.

      I know I keep harping on about how much the final show will suck, I just can’t believe they’re stooping to the level of using the Prisoner’s Dilemma when it didn’t need it. It didn’t work for Shafted and it made me turn off from Golden Balls when I initially liked it.

      • art begotti says:

        I’m not a fan of the “lose it all” thing, but might I suggest a box that knocks 15 or 20 seconds off the player’s clock? I mean, I guess it’s still the same “lose it all” principle (if they’re already under that threshold of safety), but somehow risking the time rather than the earnings feels better to me.

  13. Alex S says:

    Finishing on the Prisoner’s Dilemma will be a massive disappointment to end a pretty disappointing week. Even on Golden Balls when the prize money got quite high (but still nowhere near this prize pot, if indeed the total pot is played for) I generally found it quite unpleasant at the end result, with small amounts of money if you lose out you can shrug it off more. I really fear that the finale later today will end up as actually quite unpleasant viewing.

    • David Howell says:

      The highest-stakes Prisoner’s Dilemma decision to have aired on UK television was on episode 4 of “Shafted”, just over £200k. The result was a double-shaft, and no UK game show has come that close to giving away two six-figure prizes simultaneously until now.

      I love David B’s suggested endgame. It’s thematic and everything. The only way this endgame fits the theme is encouraging the players to act like, well, bankers.

  14. Tim says:

    How can Endemol look themselves in the mirror with any hint of artistic integrity when they repeatedly go and do this?

    At least when Golden Balls hijacked Split/Steal, it could finally be said to have engrained the mechanic in the public consciousness (after Trust Me, Shafted, Beg/Borrow/Steal). Now this really does look like a poor production unit bereft of ideas flailing around in their own little twentysomething playground with nobody on hand to criticise them. I bet they sit around the table every morning patting each other on the back and calling each other creative geniuses.

    I truly despair.

  15. Weaver says:

    Tangentially related to all the above, from which I don’t dissent at all, has anyone spotted a Devised By credit in the credits? I don’t think there is one.

  16. Thomas says:

    I have to be honest and say that I haven’t watched the Bank Job after the first 25mins or so (I just didn’t like it) but I was reading Facebook yesterday and noticed that quite a few people are commenting on the noticeable lack of contestants over the age of 35. I’ll also hold my hands up and say I don’t know how the application process works for this one (something about playing an online game first?) but can’t production companies just say over x years of age need not apply? Wouldn’t that make life so much easier.

    • David Howell says:

      Basically: play the online game, win two head-to-head matches in one of the (many) designated two-hour windows (the last of which was Tuesday night), and you unlocked access to a bog-standard web application form that was basically Deal or No Deal’s without the rhetorical gambling questions. Then they went through regional auditions like loads of other shows, and picked twenty people under the age of 35 to appear on the telly.

      (And, separately, access to a draw for £10k that presumably is taking place tonight.)

      • Andy "Kesh" Sullivan says:

        I was riled up about Hayley from last night’s show getting to be a contestant after applying Tuesday night. Talk about a kick in the nuts to all those that started playing when the game was launched and became Elite players but heard nothing! It felt just as galling as those who got on Millionaire after only one call, when there’s people who tried and tried many times without success to be on it.

        Although, to be fair, I’m kind of glad I didn’t get picked to be on. I’m too honest for my own good, so I’d probably have ended up with nothing, so it’d have been a Bit Of A Wasted Journey.

        Oh, and it appears The Bank Job will only re-tweet people who talk positively about the cop-out endgame – “@TheBankJob Final is less than 12 hours away. Time for a date with destiny. Let’s do this!” No, let’s not…

  17. Mart with a Y not a I says:

    Right. Big issue here with the Split/Steal gameplay. If it’s played out like Shafted/Golden Balls, then 1 of the 3 outcomes means the money can’t be won – which makes all the on-line publicity and George’s intensive ramming home of the point rather like another Endemol show, pointless.

    Outcome 1 – Split/Spilt – Money Split. Everyone happy
    Outcome 2 – Split/Steal – Steal wins. Spliter v unhappy
    Outcome 3 – Steal/Steal – No-one wins. Accountants happy

    So, what other twist are they going to introduce tonight to stop the very likely outcome (if the bombastic blusterings from the VT’s about ‘I’m only here to take all the money ect’ are to be taken at face value) of a steal/steal case reveal and for someone to win the money?

    As for a fairer outcome, I’m with David’s suggestion futher up the page. One player, One clock, one vaultwall. However I would do it like this.
    Overall winner plays 1.30 of questions. Add another 5 vaults making a total of 30 to choose from. Put the 20 highest cash bundles from the week back into 20 of them, with 5 zeros, and 5 time remaining reductions penalties of 1, 3, 5, 7 & 10 secs.

    Answer questions for the 90sec, but they can’t leave the vault until there is more in their case than the total amount they personally took out of the vault in the heat and final.

    That would be possible. No nastyness and with a target to aim for would have meant the end game would have been a tense affair right up to the end.

    • David Howell says:

      If the idea is to make sure that the money is given away, how it might work:

      * 1st v 2nd get to play the Prisoner’s Dilemma first.
      * In the event of a double-steal, this is then repeated with 3rd v 4th.
      * If that, too, is a double-steal, 5th gets the lot.

      Yes, it would be faintly ridiculous, but at least that provides some sort of incentive to split somewhere down the line. Though if it were me in that situation I’d still throw the first round and figure that would give me a very good chance indeed of leaving with £390k. And you thought that the third-best player getting £2k and the best player nothing on Weakest Link was bad enough.

      I’ve seen tweets from two of the finalists, and it would appear at least possible that Michael would split against Wayne (he posted several supportive tweets last night and this morning).

    • Brekkie says:

      Perhaps C4 have finally realised they can’t keep giving away money and maintain their no call and lose phone-in policy.

      The contact between the finalists though is another reason the Steal/Split is an anti-climax – indeed whichever of the three scenarios they get it’s rather dull.

      I agree there should be a final round with the single winner where they basically risk what they’ve won to win more.

  18. Travis P says:

    The Bank Job rating for last night.

    The Bank Job: 1.11m (4.5%) , +1: 184k (0.9%)

    It got beaten by all four major channels. It even lost out to Sicily Unpacked on BBC Two. Doesn’t look good for tonight.

  19. Alex says:

    Prisoner’s Dilemma is definitely happening. FUCK.

    Still, George has gotten the dinner jacket out for the final. It’s like Going For Gold never happened etc etc

  20. Mark L says:

    my guess is that the third player (Oonagh) gets the lot if they both steal

  21. Mark L says:

    nearly right…. they should share, but suspect they will both steal (Daragh definitely will imho)

  22. Chris says:

    AND THEY STEAL – HOW PREDICTABLE

  23. Greg says:

    The final round did not suit the show at all and ruined a weeks worth of viewing for me. grrrr

  24. David B says:

    I’m glad of the result because it means the badly handled situation with Wayne’s bluffed question means that he got some cash.

    But surely in that situation the winners are always in an odd-on situation to lose, with the high chances of an aggressive opponent?

  25. Brekkie says:

    As much as we didn’t like the idea I’ve got to admit it was a tense moment with a neat twist – though surely next time (I think it deserves a second chance) they’d have to do something different.

    I definately think though they should have double the money in the Vault tonight to make the stakes that bit higher – and not sure about the highest box from each round going through either. I’d have probably said take the winnings from both finalists.

    • Brig Bother says:

      I was feeling genuinely sick with tension during the build up, so it was worth something I suppose.

      I don’t mind if it comes back for a second series. I think there’s interesting strategy and decisions to be made. I just want it to be better.

      Also it’s a lot less fun to watch without chatting on Twitter. It should work standalone really.

  26. David says:

    Well in a way, it makes sense- if the motif of the show is stealing money, there’s no “honor among thieves”….although I wouldn’t have done it this way at all.

    If they want to bring it back, make it a weekly series, make each ep standalone, and tweak the money in the vault to fit their budget (if you want reasonable win each ep, put 50K in round 1, 75K in round 2, 100K in round 3- 225K total, and it seems the winners the first five nights were getting around 15% of the total available, so that would put it at about 35K or so per week with those numbers)

    • Brekkie says:

      Although C4 desperately need weekly formats rather than stripped, I think for a second outing at least it needs to remain stripped – though perhaps with 5 pre-recorded shows and a live final as most seem to agree this is one show which would really benefit from not being live.

      It could probably work as stand alone episodes though but think the prize needs to be a bit higher than you suggest – though that can be offset by tweaking the format so some weeks nothing is won. (Perhaps a final round with the winner where a target has to be reached (either cash or no. of questions) to exit the vault.)

  27. Billy Hicks says:

    May have been an unoriginal ‘twist’ but that there was amazing television. The three who won (especially one of the women) were hugely emotional, and Michael looked furious after losing the cash. An oddly feelgood and moralistic ending, a Share/Shaft just wouldn’t have felt right.

  28. Travis P says:

    Well, I actually felt nothing in that final round compared to the Red or Black spin where I had goosebumps.

    I would’ve preferred David B’s idea of having an Estate of Panic style final. Either you leave or do you be greedy and stay in the vault? That’s what you call ULTIMATE JEOPARDY!

    On twitter earlier I did ask TV critic Kevin O’Sullivan (the guy you would see pop up on Channel 5 News) about The Bank Job. He summed it up as boring and pointless.

  29. Travis P says:

    and I’ve already claimed my joke.

    The Bank Job is simply the UEFA Europa League. You need to be a loser to win it.

  30. Chris says:

    I’ve been thinking about the endgame and here’s my thoughts on how to improve it – its sort of based on David B’s ultimatum idea but a bit more neutral

    Idea is thus. Both players are shown the total jackpot and are each given a blank cheque and must decide how much of the pot they want to give themselves. They can write any amount from £1 to the entire jackpot (though doing the latter is foolhardy)

    The two cheques are put into a machine which totals up the combined value of the two cheques. If they total to less or equal than the prize fund then they win their desired amounts – everyone happy

    If they are too greedy and the total is over then the machine shreds the two cheques. If that happens who ever asked for the most amount of money is asked to leave and goes home with nothing
    If this happens the surviving player who got their cheque ripped up (but wasn’t so greedy to get kicked out) picks from one of three cases – each with the name of a losing contestant and that player comes in to play

    The process repeats until the final two. If it goes over again then the least greedy walks away with the lot

    The idea is that its much harder to game than the prisoners dillema – still punishes greed but offers a alternate strategy which has the advantage of saving C4 a lot of money

    It meets the ethos of the show: Be greedy and get rich but don’t be too greedy and cost yourself the game

    • David B says:

      *stands up and applauds*

      Though I think if it gets down to the final two, the least greedy gets everything if they bust.

      My version was a traditional player vs. the house idea. I wasn’t the one to bring up the two-player Ultimatum Game – that was @shinydh – but I’ll take the credit gladly.

      • David Howell [@shinydh] says:

        Credit where credit’s due; this got floated by one or both of Chris and Iain in a completely different context, ages ago.

        The discussion this has started is absolutely cracking, though. And for what it’s worth, I’d almost certainly write something like £174,950, because my use for a six-figure sum is “buy a house”, and an £xxx,950 sum is thematic with that. (Actual example of a £174,950 property in the area I’d want to move into, there.)

        In the case of the £467,500 jackpot we actually got, the only way I don’t get the money is if the opponent asked for more than £292,550. And seeing as my utility curve becomes flatter than a Roman road in Norfolk beyond about £175k, why would I risk asking for more?

      • Chris says:

        Though I think if it gets down to the final two, the least greedy gets everything if they bust.

        Yes that was the plan

    • David B says:

      Thinking this through, the reveal on this could be really good: the big counter on the safe could ‘drain’ the money that’s been taken out of the safe, by the sum of the two players’ cheques, in an erratic slowing down/speeding up way. But if it goes beyond zero then they’ve Bust.

      • David Howell says:

        That really is crucial when you consider that the tension of the big reveal was the best bit of the actual PD ending we got.

        • David B says:

          Though I vehemently disagree with the format choice they took here, at least it looked like they thought through the reveal well – something easily bodged on one-off live shows. In fact, beyond that weird cut-away they always did at the start of a question (with strobe lights!?), the direction was pretty good.

          However, what happened in this case was our winners were actually in a shot taken up by 15% of the screen real estate at the time they won…

    • Ronald says:

      Under these suggested rules, both players are strongly motivated to pick exactly half the jackpot.

      Both can take half the jackpot without risk of penalty, and knows the other is similarly motivated to make the safe, symmetrical choice. Any of the five players on the show would have worked that out, consciously or not: even the douchebags.

      Prisoner’s Dilemma is now a cliche, but it’s used because it works and because the game theory is right. It produces an unpredictable result and genuinely tests the personal relationship of the contestants.

      In this case, it fitted well with the theme of the show (Thursday’s final round was game theoretically and televisually awesome) and here it produced great TV in the reaction of both the winners and the losers.

  31. Chris says:

    Thinking about it though. It needs work

    Everyone would ask for half the prize

    If a opponent is too cautious or copies you then you get your prize anyway
    If they ask for more then they lose anyway

    I think the idea is good in principle but needs rework

    • Alex S says:

      I was just about to mention this, provided you write down exactly half you’re guaranteed to either win that amount, or stay on to play the next contestant. You could force an unequal decision but then you’re getting into Divided’s endgame.

    • David B says:

      But in my head, the way I’d do it is for players 1 and 2 to play first. If they bust then I’d go straight to players 3 and 4, and then if they bust player 5 wins by default.

      • Alex S says:

        It’s slightly overcomplicated, but could you do it with splitting the prize pot into several unequal ‘bundles’ of cash, the distribution of which the players are aware of, and have them taking it in turns to privately pick one of the bundles to put in their case. Every time they make a decision they get the option to leave, but if they try and take a bundle their opponent has already taken, they lose.

  32. Chris says:

    Another idea: Instead of the most greediest on paper getting the boot – offer the choice of who leaves to the waiting contestants
    without them knowing how much was asked for by both

    That allows people to ask for more money than half if they think that they won’t be accused of greed

    (Like the last idea I post this about 2 mins after thinking it up – feel free to point out any flaws – This puzzle is bugging me now)

    • Ronald says:

      That’s interesting, thanks.

      If I believe the other contestants like me – I can perhaps safely play higher than half the jackpot (but perhaps the safety of half is still too tempting).

      If I believe the other contestants might not like me – I have to hedge and play lower than half (low enough that I can guarantee to get some money).

      The net result is probably to save Endemol a bit of money. :)

      A knowingly-better-liked contestant potentially has a huge advantage, if they choose to take it. (The contestants didn’t seem to be familiar enough with each other for this to be the case). In theory, the top contestant can argue a rational second contestant down to 0, just because the second contestant should want to win something. In practice, they could take down significantly more than half the jackpot.

      However, they would have to indicate their intent to the second contestant without affecting their likeable status.

      On the Bank Job final this likeableness did partially come into play, though not within the rules, i.e.:

      I was thinking that I would have gone for a Steal on the basis that I thought both contestants looked very shifty in their decision making – and I’d rather the money go to the other losing contestants than someone who was looking to screw me for their own benefit.

      • Ronald says:

        addendum: losing players are motivated to ditch the contestant they think is the harshest competition, rather than the least likeable, as in “Weakest Link” final round.

      • David B says:

        But if you’re the second contestant to pick and you’ve got vibes that the first guy picked the Trash case, you’re screwed anyway so you might as well screw the other guy back. And if you’re wrong, hey, you’ve just won double.

        Given the casting of the show, chances were always going to be high of a Steal/Steal finale, as I said the day before. I can’t see how you can easily be a winner. I’d would have seriously considered playing dumb to be in the ‘losing’ three.

  33. Brig Bother says:

    I think these ideas are quite interesting and all very well but they miss the idea of The Big Moment. As soon as you start running it multiple times it’s going to lose appeal.

  34. Travis P says:

    According to Paul B, The Bank Job finished with 1.5 million. It was last in it’s timeslot and got beaten by a 1975 episode of Fawlty Towers.

    • David Howell says:

      No series two, I think we can safely assume.

      That desperate attempt in contestant and host selection to attract a young advertiser-friendly audience doesn’t matter when you only get that many viewers.

      • Brig Bother says:

        Don’t write it off just yet, I’m told by *proper* Endemol sources that Jay Hunt liked it.

        • Travis P says:

          Jay Hunt liked loads of things on BBC One but the viewers disagreed.

          Some will may recall this time last year they tried out Famous and Fearless but didn’t capture the audience. It was axed due to low ratings. It could get no more than 1.5 million.

        • David Howell says:

          And if the audience were all in the same demographic as the contestants then they doubtless made more money on the advertising than 1.3-1.5m and fifth in the timeslot would suggest.

          I genuinely have no idea how much advertisers in this country prioritise a young audience though. I know in the US over-50s may as well not exist in terms of advertising revenue.

          • Brig Bother says:

            Advertisers love the demo here as much as anywhere else.

            Famous and Fearless was barely getting a million by the time it was finishing.

            • David Howell says:

              It’s odd that we nearly always only get the overall audience figures if the 18-49 etc. demo is as all-important to advertisers as it is anywhere else.

              At least in the US you usually at least get the 18-49 numbers for all the broadcast networks published and given importance (certainly at TV By The Numbers, which all but completely ignores total viewers and constantly derides anyone who sees it as important). Does anywhere do that in this country?

        • Tim says:

          Can you tell your Endemol sources to run their badly-broken formats by us first in future?

          It’s obvious from the comments above we have the collective know-how to fix them :)

  35. Major Scone says:

    It drags on and on for a week, then the endgame is a blatant rip-off of Golden Balls. By giving the money to the other 3 finalist because the final winners both decided to steal, is a variation, but that will mean the producers have to pay out big money every week. Can they sustain that?
    It’s bland and the set is cold and clinical.

  36. Mart with a Y not a I says:

    Before I tap a couple of post-match thoughts.
    At 8.37pm last night..
    BBC One – The Thunderball draw was being televised
    Channel 4 – The Bank Job
    Channel 5 – Cleb BB

    All produced by the various branded splinter off-shoots of Endemol UK.
    Was that the first time that 3 of the 5 main terrestrial channels was showing output made by Endemol UK at the same time?

    The Bank Job.
    Next series..
    Doesn’t need to be live. (probably apart from the final)
    Doesn’t need to come from the former HQ of the Midland Bank. (you can get the same acoustics and empty feel from a minimal dressed studio sound stage)
    Doesn’t need strobing at the start of every question.

    Jury is still out on George. His attempt at being all matey and friendly is done with a tone of voice that comes across and patronising and smug. He didn’t control the lapses in time and game proceedures very well (He was even corrected by one of the contestants on Thursday night over a rule technicality) although, I will give him a brownie point for the quick thinking reference to the police siren outside last night.

    Still not sure about the trash/cash end game. I was watching it on Sky+ this morning, so I saw all the build-up on +30 speed and stopped it on the case opening.
    I actually was fully expecting in the event of a double steal for the two guys to have to decide which of the three eliminated players got the money.

    I think it’ll be back. It seems the sort of show that has been commissioned for a couple of runs before the first one aired. It relies on ‘social media’ for promotion (haa – as if they think people will be discussing it night after night on the internet…) and as that is the ‘in’ thing at the moment, that will be it’s saving grace over at 124 Horseferry Road in the next couple of weeks.

  37. Steve Carter says:

    The final however was disgusting. The two “winners” were presented with an impossible choice. Anyone familiar with Game Theory and especially the Prisoners Dilemma would recognise it as such. They both made the correct logical, mathematical decision (according to game theory decision making) and both lost. OK, so entertaining television but IMHO disgusting treatment of the so called winners.

    • David B says:

      Not exactly – the game theory way of ‘solving’ this is to apply a probability to and come up with a strategy that helps you maximise your expected value given those assumptions. It was still possible for them to win money. You can’t just assume “Always go STEAL” because if the other player also works on the same basis, you’ll lose. Mutually Assured Destruction doesn’t have a lot going for it.

      • David B says:

        …apply a probability to the two possibilities your opponent has and…

      • Poochy.EXE says:

        I would say technically, you’re both right – the game theory way to solve this is via probability distributions for each player, but for this scenario, the equilibrium strategy is simply “both players always defect”.

        Obviously, in practice, people don’t always stick to the equilibrium, but I’d guess people would defect the majority of the time with stakes that high.

        Personally, I think whether or not this was a bad final simply depends on whether or not the contestants were briefed on this “twist” before the game. If they were, then I would say it would actually be a viable strategy to intentionally lose the final in hopes of the two “winners” both trying to defect. Now, if they weren’t told of this beforehand, THEN it’s a stupid final, because it’s rewarding failure and punishing success.

        • Brig Bother says:

          I think the finallists knew about it from Friday night at least, as I gather Geogre mentions it – so it’s not really a surprise.

          But yes, when the optimum strategy is to not make the final there’s something wrong somewhere.

          • David Howell says:

            Michael said on his Twitter feed that the players knew in advance. He tweeted I said that before the show that it was kinda advantageous being eliminated, but I would always prefer it in my own hands.

            He’s just tweeted that although he thought about playing to lose, “you’d regret it forever” if either player split. This actually makes me think that the virtue of play-to-lose as a strategy is dependent upon your perceptions of the other players’ strategy – and, in fact, whether they might play to lose. However, if each individual player is assumed to be maximising their EV, the optimum strategy is to lose.

            I genuinely wonder if Wayne might have been doing just that, given how badly he played round two. Michael knew play-to-lose was viable, and didn’t exactly do very well in the first two rounds either. An utterly stupid final, we can all agree; at least when, to take a non-random example, DoND rewards highly dubious decisions (be it massively questionable gambles that work out or ultra-cautious Deals that are followed by a proveout crash) we all know it’s because it’s completely a game of chance. The Bank Job at least pretended to have a skill element.

  38. profhowes says:

    The issue in the dilemma is the uncertainty – if I steal and the other player steals I get nothing, if I don’t steal and he does I get nothing – therefore I’d better steal with a chance of getting everything and the knowledge that I won’t get shafted with my opponent getting everything.

    Therefore the only strategy I would employ in this scenario is to remove the uncertainty (or at least make my opponent assume the outcome is fixed). When invited to appeal to my opponent I would say: ‘I don’t trust you to share, and you have in your mind that you could take everything if you can persuade me to share. Let me be clear, I am going to steal. You have a choice. If you steal, neither of us gets anything. If you share, I give you my personal guarantee on national television that I will give you £x (£200k in the case of Saturday’s Bank Job). Your choice is whether to get nothing, or to trust me that I will honour my word. Either way, there is no way that you can walk away with the full prize.’

    Whilst this strategy is still a risk, I think I have removed the temptation for my opponent to try to steal everything. Therefore what remains for him is the dilemma of whether to ensure neither of us win, or to trust that I will keep my word and that sharing is the only way he will get anything.

    I suspect the production company way not be too happy, and in a pre-recorded show may try to intervene – but in a live (or near live) show, they would just have to run with it.

    • David Howell says:

      Michael planned it, and was told he couldn’t. Don’t know if that was explicitly mentioned to everyone or whether he let the cat out of the bag or not, but I’m pretty sure that there was specific legalese in the Golden Balls contract to prevent it.

      • Brig Bother says:

        I believe this is expressly designed to clear the production company legally in the event that he takes the money and then sods off.

        • It’s live TV! If you are convinced you have nothing to lose, why not do it? Can George convincingly stop you? The producers might say they wouldn’t pay up, but you know that the (non-Express-family) papers would be happy to help you kick up a hell of a fuss if they didn’t.

          I watched the final. The core mechanic is vaguely interesting but the mechanic was turned into a show spectacularly badly. Here’s one way to do it. (Clue: quickly.)

          Single-sentence summary: keep playing rounds with 4, 3 or 2 players as appropiate; round winners can take the money and leave, lock-ins and round losers must leave with nothing, middle-place finishers must (and round winners can) go forwards and gamble their winnings to date in another round.

          Full summary: half-hour show, games can straddle. Four contestants start. First round is as normal. Any player locked in when time expires leaves the show with nothing. If all players escape, the player taking the least out leaves the show with nothing. The player taking the most out gets the chance to leave the show with all the money they’ve banked. All non-winning players bank the money they’ve taken out.

          Theoretically there can be 0 to 3 players remaining at this point – consider the situation where only one player escapes with pots of cash and decides to take the money and run. If there are 0 or 1 players remaining, reload to 4 with new contestants and start over again. (A single winner who chooses to play again carries over their winnings and loses the lot if they get locked in or otherwise lose, putting the edible into incrjeapordy.)

          If there are 3 players remaining, play the “two cases” round, for slightly higher stakes. Again, any player locked in loses completely; if all players escape, the lowest scorer loses completely. The winner gets the chance to leave with their accumulated sum. Players in the middle bank their winnings and must play on. If 0 or 1 players remain, reload to 4 and start over again.

          If there are 2 players remaining, play the “steal” round, for slightly higher stakes still. A lock-in loses completely; escape with less money loses completely as well. The higher-scoring escapee gets the chance to leave with their winnings, or to play on, putting all their winnings at risk.

          Optional twist: if someone plays the “steal” round and wins but chooses not to leave the show, there could be a one-player player-vs.-house bonus round TBA where a player gets the chance to increase their winnings further or risk being locked in and lose the lot. They would still have to win a round after that in order to be able to take their winnings home.

  39. jayjay says:

    This show really aggravated me because it had so much potential to be fantastic. I didn’t bother watching after episode 2 because I just got bored of it (so I won’t be commenting on the final, although I will add my name to the anti-goldenballs finale list).

    I thought the general gameplay mechanic was fantastic. It manages to reward you for knowledge (though more on that later) and a bit of nerve/strategy/confidence in your knowledge. Maybe it relied too heavily on luck, but I’m a quiz purist. I wasn’t too much a fan of the round 2 game. That seemed more “are you lucky getting the high bundles,” but I suppose it favoured those who were better at answering questions. Also, am I the only one getting sick of “win or walk away with absolutely nothing” formats? I suppose it was best for the way they ran the series, but still.

    Things I disliked: the host. George gets right on my nerves. Okay, he’s confident but everything else about him grates. Then there’s the contestants. I didn’t see episodes 3 onwards, but all the ones from eps 1/2 seemed to be annoying 18-30 year olds that were clearly screened to look cool on TV. The clip they run after round one showed them all with posey glamour shots which says lots about their selection process. Then there’s the question selection. Again, self confessed quiz purist, but they all seemed to be pop culture. I don’t remember anything history or geography or science (“which south american country gives its name to a type of bikini wax?” seemed to be the closest to geography), and they seemed to put in a few questions plugging channel 4 programmes (“with which program do you associate klunge and bus wankers?”). I know question variety isn’t the biggest deal, but this one really made me hate the show.

    So yeah, great idea promptly ruined.

    • Luke the lurker says:

      I did notice from the web game that almost all the questions were on entertainment and a sizeable proportion seemed to be either plugging Channel 4 shows or mentioned commercial products. I’m not sure whether that would be legal in a game show context – to take pay for having your slogan mentioned in a question and the answer be the brand. (For one thing, what happens if the contestant gets it wrong?)

      • Brig Bother says:

        It happens quite often in US shows. I don’t think there’s anyting illegal in it, but nobody likes to give out free advertising. Will probably happen more though with plroduct placement and the like.

  40. Luke the lurker says:

    Reading this thread and trying to fix the format has been driving me nuts for days. (On the other hand, it’s made me very tempted to do my undergrad dissertation on the final from Golden Balls, so that’s something)

    I’d be quite tempted to modify it slightly – [game theorist talk] – at the moment, Steal is weakly dominant, unless we assume that contestants would rather see the other person screwed over if they’re not going to win anything – and that’s probably fair – in which case it’s strictly dominant. I’d have played to lose. [/game theorist talk]

    I’d have a slightly modified version, with cash values chosen such that I could afford to give away 150% of the final prize budget. Each player gets the choice between “Half” and “All”.

    Both choose half – both get half the prize amount.
    One chooses half, one chooses all – the one choosing half gets half the prize amount, the one choosing all gets the whole prize amount. (So 150% is given away)
    Both choose all – both get nothing, George Lamb gets to lecture in a patronising fashion.

    The equilibria here are for one person to choose half and one to choose all. The thing you have to do is convince your opponent to choose half the amount so you can take the full amount. (I suspect this is too easy to solve – a strategy would be to tell your opponent you’re picking all and they don’t have any choice but to pick half. I suspect it may also be a bit too complicated to explain to people who are used to a standard Prisoners’ Dilemma problem.)

  41. art begotti says:

    Reading through this whole Prisoners’ Dilemma debate, I keep thinking of this one segment from Radiolab that discussed the topic. The tl;dr (tl;dl?) version is that mathematically speaking, the decision to Trash is the best decision in a one-time-only game like this (as someone above said, I can’t remember who), but if played a lot, the situation changes drastically. http://www.radiolab.org/2010/dec/14/one-good-deed-deserves-another/

    Not that the Prisoner’s Dilemma is ever a good thing to use in a game show, but is it possible that this was an example of the PD poorly implemented? When I think back to Golden Balls, I can’t help but think that the people there were chattier and were more able to develop a sense of trust for one another (especially as they had seen each other bluff or not bluff in the poker rounds). With a sense of teamwork at least slightly established in Bin or Win, I think people were more able to trust each other to make the Split decision. Here, they were competitors all week, especially on the final night, and really didn’t have any chance to develop a sense of trust in the other person. I’m hardly surprised at all that both players chose to Trash.

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