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Opening boxes sounds a bit dull . . . yet Deal revival has me hooked


Seven years after its final episode on Channel 4, Deal Or No Deal (STV) is back. The jackpot has been cut to £100,000 from £250,000, and Catchphrase’s Stephen Mulhern has replaced noel edmonds. Otherwise, the format is exactly the same.

Is it just me, or does Mulhern look like a younger, cheekier version of Piers Morgan? He’s 46, but appears as if he’s arrived on a Chopper bike, fresh from his paper round.

He was good with the contestants, but his chat needs a bit of work. Contestant Raj revealed that he makes costume jewellery. ‘Oh, nice,’ said Stephen. Sian is a wedding planner. ‘nice,’ said Stephen.

Myles is getting married soon. ‘nice,’ said Stephen.

He was almost upstaged by Sian, who was the first contestant in the hot seat and never seemed to have a thought she didn’t say out loud. She left with a respectable £17,500.

Deal Or no Deal shouldn’t really work. There is nothing for the viewer to contribute, no answers to shout. It’s all about opening boxes and guesswork.

To refresh your memory, 22 contestants have a box each. Inside each box is a token representing anything from 1p to £100,000.

When it’s their turn to be the main contestant, a player can win the amount in their own box, and can ask to see inside some of the other boxes. Low figures are cheered, high amounts greeted with a groan.

every so often a mysterious figure called The Banker rings in to offer a cash figure with the words: deal or no deal. The contestant in the hot seat then has to guess whether the offer is higher than the amount in their own box.

Sounds a bit dull, doesn’t it. Yet when contestant Daryl opened his box to reveal 1p, I found myself gasping with relief. Yes, you’re right — I should probably get out more.

We all get nervous when a new boss arrives, and it seems William Shakespeare was no exception. He had good cause to be worried when James I replaced his patron elizabeth in 1603, according to Shakespeare: Rise of A Genius (BBC2).

James didn’t like the theatre, and dozed off during plays. early in his reign, he banned theatregoing on Sundays.

Yet just as the Bard must have been wondering whether to throw in the quill, his company was unexpectedly appointed as the King’s personal troupe.

That was lucky for us. If he’d retired to Stratford, we’d have missed out on Othello, King Lear, Macbeth and The Tempest.

This final part of three episodes also answered the question that every writer faces. Tell us,

Mr Shakespeare, where do you get your ideas from?

very little is really known about the world’s greatest playwright, but a distant relationship with his family — he lived in London, they lived in Stratford — might have inspired King Lear. And was The Tempest a last gasp before he retired?

Perhaps the most interesting theory was that Macbeth was a desperate attempt to suck up to James, who had an interest in witchcraft.

The playwright’s daughter Susanna had become the target of a campaign against Catholics. In the aftermath of the Gunpowder Plot, this could be fatal. Luckily, Macbeth was well received by the King. not long after, Susanna Shakespeare disappeared from the list of dangerous Catholics. What a coincidence, eh?

Just one thought: a more cautious father might not have written a play in which the King is murdered in Act II.






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