‘Elicit‘ is my first “Word Powder” (words with the magic to conjure and impress), . It’s appearence here was inspired by its incongruous use by Noel Edmonds during a particular game of Channel 4’s ‘Deal or No Deal’ http://z6.co.uk/a4q5w8 . The other reason I chose to feature it, except that it flowed nicely on from my recent posts about the BBC’s use of language, is because the quiz show also served to highlight the power of sayings or motto’s as an irrational influence on people’s behaviour. Both Noel and “Gaz” (the contestant) used them within the context of the game to inform their decisions and with interesting consequences.
Gareth Robinson, nickname ‘Gaz’, had previously described by Noel Edmond’s as “the most gorgeous player we have ever had” on the Channel 4’s show ‘Deal or no Deal’ which he compares. This view obviously extended to the Director and the cameramen, who in isolation or combination had elected Gaz as the emotional barometer of the show. He has recently been caught demonstrating paroxysms of joy, deep anguish, profound sadness and total exhilaration vicariously on behalf of earlier contestants, and this from every conceivable angle. Friday, 26/02/10 the computer ‘randomly’ selected his name and he was now to hold court as the star of his own game.
He is obviously a very emotional person, but his tribute to his father at the beginning of the show “he’s never had anything in his life, anything” tribute was especially moving and nearly brought him to tears. He could even have an acting future, or a role on children’s TV, however this is not to say that all he said was not genuine or heartfelt.
For the last ten days his flashing smiles and anguished expressions had been a critical part of the show’s drama. However, they were still supernumerary to the main event; the route the day’s competitor took to the selection of just one of the 22 boxes containing ascending, if an optimist, or descending if a pessimist, amounts of money ranging from 50 pence to £250,000.
For some, win or lose, the game appears to be like a ‘walk in the park’ , for others it seems as though they are being forced to tread water, or worse still walk through mud. To the casual observer its a game show, to the regular viewer and many of the contestants it verges on a religious experience. To my mind it is a ‘ a compelling combination of the greed of present glories such as Who wants to be a millionaire and the innate comedy found in family collaboration shows such as the generation game and family fortunes, which has been whipped to a froth with all the uncertain elements found at a family wedding.
We knew it was all going to end badly when he introduced the commercial break, a quirk of the show, and told us his favourite motto “Its not about the breaths you take, but the moments that take your breath away” . Reading between the lines, heart would overtake mind, calculation of risk replaced by the exhilaration of the unknown and ‘one last roll of the dice’. Noel Edmonds had opened the show by saying ” there is a very fine line between bravery and stupidity” and this seemed to put a frame around the picture Gaz’s was now painting.
From the moment he had introduced his father, and his mission to pull him out of potential retirement poverty, the air had been emotionally charged and we knew he was aiming high. This was ramped up with every large amount of money, identified by the red background, which was selected and taken out of the game. The £250,000, £75,000 and £15,000, went in quick succession, leaving just the £100,000, £50,000, £35,000 £20,000 and £10,000 of the large sums possible to win and a wall of the lower values on the blue backgrounds.
He urgently needed to start finding the lower sums, 1 pence, 10 pence and 50 pence in particular, if he was to succeed with his objective. The audience had clearly taken him to heart, especially the young and more mature women, and when he managed to finally find a few ‘blues’ hysteria was beginning to take hold. In the next round he lost the £35,000 and a smaller ‘red’ and the audience was momentarily subdued.
His offers certainly appeared much higher than one would expect for the position of the game. ‘The Banker’ chose to interpreted Gaz’s blind determination to play to the end of the game as a calculated strategy. He underlined this strategic approach by saying how much he was enjoying the challenge of the contest, this paved the way to another crowd pleasing high offer, and accordingly he was offered £15,008 to leave the game . This he declined and promptly lost the £50,000 and £10,000 boxes, removing just one blue box during that turn.
It was time for the next break and he told the watching audience to come back after the commercials and see him win the £100,000. Predictably they returned to immediately see him lose the £5000, which left just two of the eleven amounts above £1,000, the ‘reds’ intact. The £100,000 and £20,000 were not lonely though as they had six blues for company.
The probability of a big win was now very slight and in these circumstances the offer would normally be £5,000, but he received the “phenomenal” offer of £11,008. Noel Edmonds related the bankers comments, after a short conversation on the stage, or is that ‘staged’, telephone ” he (the banker) know’s your here to make the most of this opportunity”. Continuing in his own words he observed “when you have just got £20,000 and £100,000 there (on the board), at this stage of the game, to elicit* an offer of £11,008 as you say is phenomenal”.
I’m not sure how many of the audience and viewers understood what Noel meant by *elicit (to draw or bring out or forth; educe; evoke) and probably thought he said illicit (not legally permitted or authorized; unlicensed; unlawful). The ‘Bankers’ offer did appear overly generous in the circumstances and therefore potentially ‘not permitted, ‘unlawful’. Noel’s choice of word though accurate was unfortunate, and if it had not been positioned within such a precise context, it may have elicited much greater confusion. The viewer profile suggests ‘draw out the offer’ or ‘encourage’ would have been a much better and more easily understood choice.
The audience had ‘gasped’ almost on mass at the scale and generosity of this offer. The Producers and Directors obviously having perfectly gauged the audiences empathy with the contestant were now in the process and adeptly harnessing their emotional energy – with Gaz’s help – in preparation for a scintillating climax.
He declined the offer and stoke of great bravado proposed a quick fire round. He would name all three boxes in the next round in one go and open them in close succession, without the usual pensive pauses. This proved to be a master stroke for him and the programme, and made great television as three blues were revealed and the larger amount remained intact.
The phone rang and The Banker offered £21,000. A considerable sum for a young guy. An internal battle, between head and heart now raged within ‘Gaz’ , and when finally the presenter elicited a response from him, he said “No Deal”. The offer now declined the game inexorably moved toward its conclusion. A fairy tale ending was what was required, but as the camera moved to gives us a close up of Gaz, it seemed inevitable that we would be denied one.
Channel 4 : http://www.dealornodeal.co.uk/