|Directed by||Julian Smith|
|Presented by||Jasper Carrott|
|Country of origin||United Kingdom|
|No. of series||6|
|No. of episodes||288|
|Location(s)||BBC Television Centre|
|Running time||60 minutes (inc. adverts)|
|Original channel||ITV, STV, UTV|
|Original run||18 June 2007– 18 December 2009|
Friend or Foe?
Deal or No Deal
The Bank Job
Golden Balls is a British daytime game show presented by Jasper Carrott. It aired on the ITV network from 18 June 2007 to 18 December 2009. It was filmed at the BBC Television Centre. From 25 February 2008 to 13 February 2009, the show was sponsored by ITV Bingo (powered by Party Gaming) (STV Bingo in Scotland); from 2 November to 18 December 2009, the show was sponsored by Carpet Right; and from January 2013 to February 2013, whilst repeated on Challenge, the show was sponsored by Sky Bingo. Golden Balls Ltd licensed their name to Endemol for the game show and merchandise.
At the back of the studio is the "Golden Bank", a giant contraption like a lottery machine. Inside it, are 100 golden balls, containing cash values, ranging from £10 to £75,000 (in the unaired pilot, the highest valued ball was £200,000 and £100,000 was also present). Twelve of these balls are randomly drawn from the machine and four "Killer" balls are added by Amanda Grant, the "Balls' Assistant". These sixteen balls are split equally and randomly among four contestants. Each contestant places two balls on his front row and two on his back row. The balls on the front row are visible to all contestants; the balls on the back row are visible only to their owner.
Each contestant in turn announces the contents of the balls on his back row. The contestant can either tell the truth or lie about the balls. After each contestant has done this, the contestants discuss who they think is lying, and try to establish who has the worst set of balls, either in terms of having the lowest amount of money or the most Killer balls.
The contestants then secretly vote for which of them they would like to leave the game. In the case of a tie, the contestants must try to reach a consensus in open discussion. If this does not occur, who is eliminated is decided at random. This is decided by giving each contestant involved in the tie another golden ball, one being a Killer ball and the others empty. The contestant who had the Killer ball is eliminated. At the end of the round, the contestants reveal the contents of the balls on their back rows and the eliminated contestant's balls are "binned", namely they are out of the game forever.
The three remaining contestants' balls are put back into the ball machine, along with two more cash balls chosen at random from the Golden Bank and one more Killer ball, making fifteen balls in play. These fifteen balls are split among the remaining three contestants randomly and equally, with two balls on their front rows and three on their back rows.
As with Round 1, the contestants reveal the contents of the balls on their front rows and announce what is in the balls on their back rows, and may lie. The contestants then discuss the veracity of each other's claims, and vote a player off in the same fashion as in Round 1.
Bin or Win?
The two remaining contestants' balls are again put back into the ball machine and one more Killer ball is added, making eleven balls in play. The two contestants sit at a desk with the eleven balls between them. In turn, starting with the contestant who brought the most money into the final, the contestants pick a ball to "bin" (eliminate from the game) and pick a ball to "win" (add to the jackpot). If a Killer ball is picked to be won, then the cumulative value of the jackpot is divided by 10. This process is repeated five times.
If the very first ball to win is a Killer, it only decreases the maximum potential jackpot.
Split or Steal?
After five balls have been won, the contestants make one last decision to determine the final jackpot division. Each contestant chooses one of two final golden balls, one with "Split" printed on the cash background inside it, and one with "Steal" printed on the killer background inside it.
- If both contestants choose a Split ball, the jackpot is split equally between them and they both go home with half the money they've won.
- If one contestant chooses a Split ball and the other chooses a Steal ball, the Stealer goes home with all the money and the Splitter goes home empty-handed.
- If both contestants choose Steal balls, they both go home empty-handed.
The players have a chance to speak with each other face to face before making their choices.
The table below shows how much of the jackpot is gained by each contestant with the different combinations of choices:
This is similar to the prisoner's dilemma, a well-studied problem in game theory. A key difference is that, in the standard Prisoner's Dilemma payoffs, if the one player defects (or steals), the other player is better off defecting than cooperating (splitting), but in Golden Balls, if the one player steals, the other player gets the same amount (nothing) either way. The catch is that all three results in the matrix where at least one person steals are Nash equilibria, and stealing is a weakly dominant strategy; this means that, as long as someone is planning on stealing, neither player has anything to gain by changing what they're doing, but if both players are planning on splitting, the players have an incentive to steal for a better payoff, and so both players splitting is an unstable strategy.
Here is a list of all main ball amounts which appeared throughout all series of Golden Balls:
£10, £20, £25, £30, £40, £50, £60, £70, £75, £80, £90, £100, £125, £150, £175, £200, £250, £300, £350, £400, £450, £500, £550, £600, £650, £700, £750, £800, £850, £900, £950, £1,000, £1,100, £1,200, £1,250, £1,300, £1,400, £1,500, £1,600, £1,700, £1,750, £1,800, £1,900, £2,000, £2,500, £3,000, £3,500, £4,000, £4,500, £5,000, £5,500, £6,000, £6,500, £7,000, £7,500, £8,000, £8,500, £9,000, £9,500, £10,000, £11,000, £12,000, £13,000, £14,000, £15,000, £16,000, £17,000, £18,000, £19,000, £20,000, £24,000, £25,000,£30,000, £35,000, £40,000, £45,000, £50,000, £55,000, £60,000, £65,000, £70,000, £75,000.
There were 'duplicate balls' throughout every series, meaning, for example, one could open two balls containing the same amount of money. There were also, on two occasions, an amount repeated thrice in the same game. On these occasions, contestants opened their balls to reveal three £6,000 and three £10,000 balls collectively. This only occurred twice during the entire run of two hundred and eighty-eight episodes.
Near the end of its run, new, large amounts were added, in a bid to make the game more exciting. These amounts were more obscure than the 'going up in increments of £5,000' the old ball amounts system used to follow above the £20,000 ball. Some examples of these balls seen during the later series of the show are £34,000, £42,000, £67,000 and £72,000.
The first show opened with 1.6 million viewers. Viewership climbed to a steady 2 million viewers. In the same 17:00 timeslot, eight of the first eleven episodes beat Channel 4's Richard & Judy, and The Weakest Link on BBC Two also took a dent from the show's success. Series 2 went on to average 2.1 million viewers in early 2008. As of summer 2009, the show's popularity fell; it attracted only around 1.2 million viewers, which led to the show's termination on 18 December 2009. It was still regularly shown weekdays at 3pm and also on weekend mornings on Challenge in the UK, but these repeats stopped the first week of July 2013. It is now also showing on ITV again but usually after midnight.
Golden Balls has attracted attention from social scientists as a natural experiment on cooperation. A team of economists including Richard Thaler have analyzed the decisions of the final contestants and found, among others, the following (http://ssrn.com/abstract=1592456):
- Individual players on average choose "split" 53 percent of the time.
- Contestants' propensity to cooperate is surprisingly high for amounts that would normally be considered consequential but look tiny in their current context, what the authors label a “big peanuts” phenomenon.
- Contestants are less likely to cooperate if their opponent has tried to vote them off the show in the first two rounds of the game, which is in line with the notion that people have an intrinsic preference for reciprocity.
- There is little evidence that contestants’ propensity to cooperate depends positively on the likelihood that their opponent will cooperate (i.e., they find little evidence for conditional cooperation).
- Young males are less cooperative than young females, but this gender effect reverses for older contestants since men become increasingly more cooperative as their age increases.
British psychologist Adrian Raine has criticised the show, arguing that it "encourages deceitfulness", and that many of its contestants are celebrated for displaying "characteristics of psychopathy".
For series 3, a viewer's game was introduced. Four golden balls appear on the screen at the first two commercial breaks. One contains £3,000, the other three are Killer balls. They are shuffled and the viewer has to find the cash ball.
From series 4 until the end of its run, there were multiple formats for the viewer's competition, including the one used in series 3. In addition, the prize per day ranged from £2,000 to £4,000.
The Mobile Game
In 2007, Gameloft released Golden Balls, The Mobile Game.
The DVD Game
An interactive DVD game has been released.
The Board Game and Card Game
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes||Recorded||Notes|
|1||18 June 2007||10 August 2007||40||March 2007 - April 2007|
|2||2 January 2008||21 March 2008||58||18 September 2007 - 16 November 2007||60 episodes were commissioned.|
|3||21 April 2008||4 July 2008||51||11 March 2008 - 2 May 2008||The 2 hold-over episodes from series 2 plus 49 from series 3.|
|4||27 October 2008||13 February 2009||65||27 August 2008 - 17 September 2008|
|5||27 April 2009||4 September 2009||40||27 October 2008 - 12 December 2008|
|6||2 November 2009||18 December 2009||35||16 February 2009 - 24 April 2009||Series 6 took breaks from 18 May - 24 July, 31 August and 7 September - 30 October.|
- "Golden Balls - UKGameshows", ukgameshows.com.
- Brook, Stephen (3 July 2007). "ITV Strikes Teatime Gold". London: mediaguardian.co.uk. Retrieved 2007-07-28.
- Raine, Adrian. "21st Century Television's Faltering Moral Compass". The Economist. 8 April 2009.
- Golden Balls: DVD Game
- Golden Balls: Board Game
- Golden Balls: Card Game