Monday, 16 July 2007

Dealing With Loss

I promise I watch other shows than daytime telly, but today I saw Win My Wage on Channel 4. It's on in the afternoons after Countdown, in the normal Deal Or No Deal slot. Yes, despite what it may seem like, Deal Or No Deal is in fact only on for 48 weeks of the year. Presumably Noel Edmonds needs the time off in order to go on a worldwide bad-shirt-buying spree. Shirts that bad can't be easy to amass. Probably he visits secluded tribal societies whose sacred writings tell of a fabric of unparallelled ghastliness that he might take back to his blind tailor.

Anyhow, Win My Wage. It's quite a surreal experience watching it. It's as if Channel 4 genuinely hopes that the viewers won't realise that Deal Or No Deal isn't actually on, and have therefore constructed a crude simulacrum to put in its place. There's one contestant who plays sat in a chair facing away from the audience, and some more people who face the audience concealing amounts of money that the contestant can win. The contestant chooses between these people, hoping to eliminate the smaller amounts in order to claim the top prize. The difference (and I use the singular purposefully) is that the amounts of money are on cards instead of in boxes, and represent the annual pay of the person concealing them. Host Nick Hancock (who has the same numbers of letters in his names as Noel Edmonds. Coincidence?) drip-feeds the contestant with information about the 'wage-earners' to help them inform the choice. The amounts of money in play are arranged on a vertical game-board that looks strikingly similar to something else I can't quite put my finger on. When three amounts remain, the contestant chooses the remaining wage-earner he or she thinks makes the most, a correct choice resulting in them winning that amount. Before they decide, they can take Nick's offer to play for a lower prize in return for being told what the three occupations are that the remaining wage-earners do between them.

Astute readers may have noticed that this final decision would be easiest (insofar as it's not just a blind guess coloured by prejudice) if the three amounts left are the original highest amount and two lowest amounts. So it's probably not in your best interests to just get rid of the lowest amounts, leaving you with a tricky choice between three people all earning similarly. But they still cheer the low amounts going and boo the higher ones, because that's what they do on that other show. That other show will be back in a month's time. Maybe nobody will have ever noticed.

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