|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 network||ITV, STV, UTV|
|Original release||18 June 2007– 18 December 2009|
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 are 100 golden balls, containing cash values that range from £10 to £75,000. Twelve of these balls are randomly drawn from the machine and four "Killer" balls are added by Amanda Grant, referred to by Carrott as the "Balls' Assistant" or "Killer Queen." These 16 balls are split equally and randomly among four contestants, each of whom places two balls on their own front and back row holders without looking inside. The front-row balls are then opened for all to see, while the back-row balls are visible only to their respective owners.
The contestants each look at their own back-row balls and announce the contents; they may either tell the truth or lie as they see fit. They then discuss who they think is lying and try to establish who has the worst set of balls, either in terms of having the lowest total value or the most Killer balls. Each contestant secretly casts one vote as to whom they want to remove from the game. The contestant who receives the most votes is eliminated with no winnings, and their balls are "binned" (permanently taken out of play). In the event of a tie, the contestants not involved in it must discuss further and try to reach a consensus. If they do, the chosen contestant is eliminated; if not, each tied contestant is given one more ball. One is a Killer, the others are empty, and the person who receives the Killer is out of the game. The three surviving contestants then reveal the contents of their back-row balls.
The three contestants' balls, not counting any used in a tiebreaker, are closed and put into the mixer. Two more cash balls are drawn from the Golden Bank, and one more Killer is added to give a total of 15 balls in play. Each contestant receives five balls, placing two on their front row and three on their back, and play proceeds as in Round 1.
Bin or Win?
The two remaining contestants' balls are again put back into the mixer and one more Killer ball is added, for a total of 11 balls in play. The balls are mixed and placed on a table, with the contestants seated on opposite sides. Starting with the contestant who brought more money into this round, each chooses one ball to "bin" (eliminate) and one to "win" (place in the jackpot). Each ball is opened as it is chosen. If a cash ball is chosen to win, its value is added to the potential jackpot; if a Killer is chosen, the jackpot is divided by 10. Any "win" Killers that are found before the first "win" cash ball do not affect the jackpot. The contestants take turns choosing until they have five "win" balls.
Split or Steal?
Each contestant is given a set of two balls, one each marked "Split" and "Steal," and must secretly choose one to indicate their intentions. The contestants may speak to each other and ask Carrott for advice before making their decision.
- If both choose Split, they each receive half the jackpot.
- If one chooses Steal and the other chooses Split, the Steal contestant wins the entire jackpot.
- If both choose Steal, neither contestant wins any money.
|Series||Start date||End date||Episodes||Recorded|
|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|
|3||21 April 2008||4 July 2008||51||11 March 2008 - 2 May 2008|
|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||34||16 February 2009 - 24 April 2009|
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 other things, the following:
- 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.
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 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 is still regularly shown throughout the week on Challenge in the UK and Republic of Ireland although usually during off-peak times. It is now also showing on ITV again but usually after midnight.
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".
A video game was released on the Nintendo DS and Wii platforms, and another version for mobile devices was released in 2007. In 2008, an interactive DVD game was released by Channel 4. Other versions include an electronic board game in 2007 and a card game in 2008.
- "Golden Balls - UKGameshows", ukgameshows.com.
- Van den Assem, Van Dolder, and Thaler (January 2012). "Split or Steal? cooperative behavior when the stakes are large". Management Science. 58 (1). doi:10.1287/mnsc.1110.1413.
- 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 [Interactive Game] [DVD]". Retrieved 21 February 2014.
- "Golden Balls Electronic Game". Retrieved 21 February 2014.
- "Golden Balls Card Game". Retrieved 21 February 2014.