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REVIEW: Gordon Ramsay's Bank Balance, BBC One

We were lucky enough to watch an episode of BBC One’s brand new game show Gordon Ramsay’s Bank Balance. For context, we watched Episode Four of the series, which airs on Wednesday 03 March, therefore everything said here is based on this episode alone.

The format is relatively simple. Pairs of contestants (in household or support bubbles) must answer series of questions correctly in order to place different sized stacks of gold bars on the Balance Board. The more bars they build up, the more they could win (up to £100,000).

However, the more bars on the board, the more volatile it becomes and the greater the risk that the bars come crashing down – if this happens, the contestants leave with nothing (unless they’ve used one of their powers to bank the amount on the board, but there are too many niche format points to explain here).

Let’s start with the positives. It has potential, and there is a great TV show in there somewhere. The basic format of balancing blocks on a balancing board doesn’t sound that exciting, but there are some moments when there’s tension… but that mainly comes from Gordon’s face. Speaking of which, Gordon is a great presenter of this. If you’re not a fan of him, you won’t like him in this, but for the most part he’s decent. There are some (many) one liners about Gino and jokes which seem very forced and scripted, but I’m choosing to look beyond that.

The contestants (we saw two pairs of contestants in the this particular episode) are also great, with fun personalities which keep the show alive in many ways. The second pair, a mother and daughter, are particularly entertaining – especially then they completely guess an answer to a question they had no idea on, only for them to guess correctly.

One of the weakest parts of the programme is the presentation. The logo and titles are more Royal Variety Performance than primetime BBC One gameshow, and the set looks a reconstructed TARDIS console from Doctor Who (ironically, there was a question about Doctor Who in the episode). The studio setup is like a children’s board game brought to life. It’s very small-scale claustrophobic (but all suitably socially distanced), which is a shame because if this was on ITV, I can imagine a huge balance board with great lighting, production and graphics – something which this show very much lacks.

The episode starts with Gordon climbing the set stairs and introducing the programme. We then cut to an introductory VT of the first pair of contestants. These VTs are the typical TV style slow motion shots of people jumping in the air introducing themselves with pop music in the background. These VTs become completely redundant when they actually enter the set, as Gordon then talks to the contestants and explains all the information we learned in the VT all over again.

The game then begins. The contestants randomly pick a numbered token out of a pot, which corresponds to an area on the Balance Board. They then choose a category and set to blocks to use which determines how much money they are playing for. The first few rounds are great, but it can become very tiresome very quickly. Towards the end of each pairs’ game, some tension builds up with the music kicking in, only for then one single block to fall. Very anti-climactic. It also doesn’t help that the £100,000 prize is almost impossible to win.

In conclusion, it suffers from the same weaknesses as BBC One’s The Wheel, with both shows being quite slow, but strangely watchable. It’s a decent enough watch, but don’t take it too seriously. The scheduling is slightly baffling with it stripped over three nights week for three weeks at 9pm, when it should actually be a 45 minute Saturday night show much like The Wall or The Wheel.

Gordon Ramsay’s Bank Balance begins Wednesday 24th February at 9pm on BBC One and continues at the same time on Thursday 25th and Friday 26th. The show will air three nights a week for three weeks on BBC One.

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