Those who know me well will know I love a Game Show – I’m a massive fan of Pointless (and went behind the scenes there), but I’ve been watching Deal or no Deal pretty much since it started (nearly 10 years ago!). The lovely folks at Endemol invited me and Alice and Tanya for a special VIP tour of ‘The Dream Factory’ in the heart of Bristol. They are launching a fantastic ‘Deal or No Deal – Noel’s Quiz’ App for Android and iPhone soon and wanted to give us a sneaky peak of that as well as letting us see how The Dream Factory works.
The Dream Factory is located at the Bottle Yard Studios on an industrial estate in Bristol, the studios, which are run by the BBC were purpose-built for Deal – the set isn’t dismantled each week or at the end of the day, it’s there to churn out three episodes a day, five days a week. They were currently filming for August, and when filming stops in March they should have enough episodes in the can until 2016 – which is insane!
From the outside the Studio looks very unassuming and just like an industrial unit, you wouldn’t have any idea what it was, aside from a tiny sign on the side of it.
Once inside, we went to the staff canteen for lunch, they were busy filming the second episode of the day, and the TV screen was playing a live feed from the studio and the episode was coming to its nail biting conclusion. When the episode was over we were going to start our tour as the contestants ate their lunch, it was good to catch up with Alice and Tanya – Alice had actually been a contestant on DonD in 2013 and was sharing her memories of her experiences there. The canteen filled with the contestants fresh from the filming, all charged up and excitable, it was time to start the tour!
We were led down the ‘Contestant Corridor’ which has a Green Room, Make-up Room and Dressing Room for the 22 Contestants – we were then led to the Audience Waiting Room where the Audience / Pilgrims wait in between episodes. It was mostly filled with elderly folk, all dressed in black / dark colours (all pilgrims MUST wear black / dakr clothes!) – It was like a lively wake in there, the room is decked in DonD memorabilia and even the boxes from Alice’s episode! If you want to be a pilgrim yourself you can get tickets here.
Time was limited so we were whisked into the studio, it was so weird being in somewhere so familiar, strutting down the ‘Walk of Wealth’ and even picking up Noel’s phone (photobombed by Tanya and Alice). Below are a few pictures – I wish I’d got more, but time was sparse and we were hurried along the tour.
Next up was a room we weren’t alow to enter, or even able to peek into – it’s The Bankers Office! This is the room where the Banker sits, watching the show being filmed, and making the offers. The Banker’s identity is top-secret and our guide wasn’t giving anything away about him, aside from the fact he’s very real, and resides in that office.
Our next stop on the tour was the Gallery, where all the camera feeds from the studio go to, and where all the displays around the studio are controlled from. It was real geek porn in there, lots of controls, dials, sliders and computers.
The next part of the tour blew my mind – we were going to meet Noel! In his bloody dressing room too! We were led off, and our tour guide quickly ran ahead into a room and asked ‘Is it okay if our guests see you now?’ and a very familiar voice boomed ‘Yes, of course, do come in!’
We all shuffled in to a gorgeous room (decorated by his wife), and there was bloody Noel Edmunds smiling away, he shook our hands and showed us his dressing room. He spoke about some of the recent games that were filmed, and let slip far too many secrets. He was a delight, very chatty and kind and happily posed for photographs with everyone. I’ve watched Noel on telly for years, and I think it would have broken my heart if he’d been a diva, but he really wasn’t at all.
We let him finish his lunch and went back to the canteen to have a look at the new Deal or No Deal – Noel’s Quiz app that is coming out very soon. It’s essentially DonD as we know and love mixed with questions to earn power-ups to help you play, I must admit, I was a little concerned with the notion of power-ups in DonD, I was wrong though – the game is masses of fun and I think it will be massively popular when it hits app stores very soon.
Then it was time for filming to start – we were led to the studio to the sound of ‘Don’t stop me now’ by Queen, and seated in the audience where the contestants and audience members were dancing and singing away. As the song ended, we watched the box selection happen, all 22 boxes are laid on the ‘Walk of Wealth’ and the contestants all pick numbered ping-pong balls out that correspond with the boxes. With a bit of studio ‘admin’ (fire exits etc) done, Noel came in, and the filming started.
The episode was largely shot as you see it on TV, it’s like any other TV show I’ve seen being filmed, there was very little in the way of stopping, Deal or No Deal is a slick machine, and Noel nails it all the time. There wasn’t much in the way of stumbling over lines, or fluffing them completely, it was amazing to watch!
The throws to the advert breaks gave a pause to the filming, and one of the breaks where the contestant wanted to consider an offer showed that as they promise, no one speaks to the contestant during the break. The studio was deathly silent for a few minutes while the player carefully considered the offer. Filming then resumed and the game continued, there was one particularly fiery exchange from the Banker and you could hear it from the back of the studio – he’s very real!
The game finished, it wasn’t the most thrilling of games I’ve ever seen, but the contestant seemed happy with what he got in the end. The Gallery had requested a reshoot of one of the throws to the commercial break, so the set was reset to how it was at that point, and Noel worked his magic (with a slight trip on the set), that was all that needed doing, one re-take, just shows how good he is at what he does!
We were then led out of the Studio and into the Audience Waiting Room to pose for some more photos and say goodbye to our hosts. It was an incredible day, and a lot of fun to share in some of the secrets of going behind the scenes at Deal or no Deal! Any questions about it, just drop them in the comments.