No matter your thoughts on Noel Edmonds’ headline-grabbing antics in recent times (a few examples: he doesn’t believe in death and has spent the past couple of years giving motivational talks to pets), you have to admire him for being an enduring relic belonging to a much better, and a lot stranger, era of daytime and Saturday primetime television. Here’s a man who managed to score a UK Christmas Number One with the acid-house Dalek that was Mr Blobby and literally turned guessing what’s in a box (Deal Or No Deal, which ended last year) into one of the longest-running TV game shows.
So it’s understandable why Edmonds’ return to telly is something of national importance. But is Cheap Cheap Cheap, Edmonds’ new Channel 4 game show, actually worth seeing? We gave it a watch to find out.
It’s a return to Noel’s wackier offerings
Edmonds’ latter-day output seemed to be reining it in a bit. 2007-2010’s Are You Smarter Than A 10 Year Old? was just a slight ego boost for anyone who felt rubbish about themselves after only getting one question right while watching University Challenge. And his last programme, Sky’s Noel’s HQ (2008-2009), nobody watched so we’ll never know if it was actually good or not.
Edmonds has not had a fresh TV hit in a decade so instead of waiting until a great idea falls into his lap, with Cheap Cheap Cheap, he seems to have picked all the five or six ideas he’s had during his telly exile and decided to just incorporate all of them into one truly mind-bending show.
The concept will seem familiar at first
Cheap Cheap Cheap is like the past 20 years of British TV condensed into hour-long chunks. It’s a Price Is Right-style game show taking place in what appears to be the set from Open All Hours. The basic premise is that contestants have to guess which is the cheapest of three consumer items, like a TV version of betting with your mate when browsing a price comparison website, or a companion show to Supermarket Sweep.
But then it’s a show-within-a-show
As soon as you think you’ve got Cheap Cheap Cheap figured out, it suddenly adds another weird, surreal layer into the mix. As well as game show host, Noel also plays the owner of a bric-a-brac store, who is regularly interrupted by various actors in the guises of shop assistants, delivery men and the like. There’s no live TV audience like game shows normally have, or the canned laughter of mainstream comedies. Instead, there’s just the deafeningly awkward, forced laughs of the contestants to fill the void during these strange interjections.
Cringe-factor is off the scale
Every now and then Cheap Cheap Cheap starts to feel like an interactive theatre piece populated by failing actors who seem to think their main objective is to make you feel the most uncomfortable you’ve ever felt. At other times, it gets a bit Carry On, as awkward jokes are made about “rent boys” and other very un-woke topics. Whatever it is, it doesn’t look anything like television in 2017.
It’s more pointless than Pointless
What a world we live in, though, that a truly bizarre TV show like this can exist. People will be talking about it, probably not in a good way, and it’ll be prime ironic-viewing fodder. But, no matter what Edmonds might say, life is finite.