Golden Balls



Jasper Carrott


Amanda Grant


Endemol for ITV1, 18 June 2007 - present

Image:Golden Balls logo.jpg


What stud poker would be a bit like if there was a giant lottery machine involved and the prisoner's dilemma.

Image:goldenballs machine.jpg The Golden Bank delivers its payload.

Four players are dealt out golden balls worth varying amounts of money (from a tenner to £75,000) and some "Killer" balls. Two of each player's golden balls are on show, the rest are known only to each player. The aim is to eliminate the players with the Killer balls whilst keeping the big money in play, with a The Weakest Link style vote. Obviously players dealt weak golden balls have to fast talk their way into the next round. The final two players aim to build as big a pot as possible and then inevitably go home with nothing because they're both very selfish.

Image:goldenballs set.jpg The Golden Balls set, complete with 700 (fact!) programmable bulbs.

In round one, 12 cash balls come from the big machine and 4 Killer balls, and each player has four each, two on the front row and two on the back row. They then open the front ones and leave them open for all to see. They then each get to peek at their back two golden balls and afterwards, they take it in turns to announce what they have on their back row, simultaneously trying to convince the others they're telling the truth whilst trying to convince the other two that someone else is a stinking liar (invariably by "shouting very loudly"). At this stage, golden balls on the back row can only be seen by the player who owns them.

Image:goldenballs front.jpg The front two golden balls on show. This is a decent hand: two large cash amounts and no Killer balls, which pretty much immunises the contestant from elimination.

Then we have the vote, with some stylish cards that are put on stands that can be turned round for Carrott's "The first/second/next/final vote is for..." The player with the most votes is out of the game. (In case of a tie, the other players discuss which one to save and, if they still can't agree, the Golden Bank decides for them via a random draw - one player gets a solid golden ball, the other gets a Killer ball. The player with the Killer ball.)

Image:goldenballs vote.jpg Get yer coat.

The as-yet unrevealed golden balls are then opened and, rather predictably, there are a lot of Killer balls and missing zeroes knocking about, which often leads to how-dare-you hilarity of epic proportions when it turns out they've kept in someone with a shocking hand. The player who is voted off then has to "bin" their golden balls (a.k.a. drop them down a chute) and do the Walk.

Image:goldenballs hand.jpg One player successfully sweet-talks his way into the second round.

All the other player's golden balls go in to the massive roulette wheel thing, with two more cash balls from the ball machine and one more Killer ball, so we have 15 golden balls, 5 to each player, 2 on the front row and 3 on the back row. Repeat the last round.

The remaining two players bring their goldem balls through to the money making round, along with another Killer ball, making 11 in play for "Bin or Win". Each person picks a golden ball to get rid of (Bin) and another to add to the jackpot (Win). If they pick up a Killer ball to win, then their total is divided by 10, so if they have £10,000, their total drops to £1,000.

Image:goldenballs binorwin.jpg "Which of these completely identical-lookinggolden balls are you most drawn to?"

After they make up their row of five winners, they are given two final golden balls each: Spilt and Shaft Steal. If they both choose Spilt, they share the remaining cash. If one chooses Spilt and the other chooses Steal, the Stealer gets all the cash. If they both choose Steal, they both go home with nothing.

Image:goldenballs splitsteal.jpg Call Kilroy!


List Of Golden Ball Values

At the beginning of each game, we’re told that there are 100 golden balls in the Golden Bank. Below are the 95 cash values seen at least once during the first run of 40 shows, the second run of 58 shows and the first few shows in the third series:

£10, £20, £25, £30, £40, £50, £60, £70, £75, £80, £90, £100, £125, £150, £175, £200, £250, £300, £350, £400, £450, £500, £550, £600, £650, £700, £750, £800, £850, £900, £950, £1,000, £1,100, £1,200, £1,250, £1,300, £1,400, £1,500, £1,600, £1,700, £1,750, £1,800, £1,900, £2,000, £2,500, £3,000, £4,000, £5,000, £5,500, £6,000, £6,500, £7,000, £7,500, £8,000, £8,500, £9,000, £9,500, £10,000, £11,000, £12,000, £13,000, £14,000, £15,000, £16,000, £17,000, £18,000, £19,000, £20,000, £21,000, £22,000, £23,000, £24,000, £25,000, £26,000, £27,000, £28,000, £29,000, £30,000, £31,000, £32,000, £33,000, £34,000, £35,000, £40,000, £42,000, £45,000, £48,000, £50,000, £55,000, £57,000, £60,000, £65,000, £67,000, £70,000, £75,000

The following 42 amounts were observed in two golden balls on a particular programme: £100, £150, £175, £200, £250, £300, £400, £450, £500, £550, £600, £700, £750, £900, £950, £1,000, £1,100, £1,200, £1,250, £1,500, £1,600, £1,800, £1,900, £2,000, £2,500, £3,000, £4,000, £5,000, £5,500, £6,000, £6,500, £7,000, £7,500, £8,000, £9,000, £10,000, £11,000, £12,000, £14,000, £15,000, £18,000, £20,000

The following amount was observed in three golden balls on a particular programme (giving a total of 138 known golden balls): £10,000

Hang on a second, Carrott says there are only 100 golden balls in the Golden Bank. Well, the person who made the golden balls obviously can't count!

In the unaired pilot, the top golden ball was worth £200,000 and there was a £100,000 golden ball also.

Somehow, Golden Balls became ITV's surprise summer hit of 2007 (and they needed one after Tycoon!). Achieving audiences of up to around 2.1 million, it was ITV's first show since The Paul O' Grady Show to win the ratings battle at 5pm and the first show (other than World Cup football) to beat The Weakest Link.

The smallest win was £3, stolen by Robbie (who won £5,500 on Deal or No Deal) on the 12th July 2007 episode.

The episode on 11th February 2008 had the largest possible potential jackpot to date - £168,100 - after the top two balls (£70,000 and £75,000) made it through to the final round.

A special episode on 14th March 2008 (the day Jasper Carrott turned 63) brought together four former victims of the Steal ball from the first series and gave them a second chance to play the game: Chloe (22nd June 2007), Stephen (16th July 2007), Sarah (2nd July 2007) and Darren (12th July 2007). At the show's climax, Sarah stole £100,150 from Stephen and became (somewhat ironically) the show's biggest winner to date. Sarah had previously appeared in a team of Accountants on series 2 of Codex - in the very same top, incidentally.


Sponsored by ITV Bingo (powered by Party Gaming) - except in Northern and Central Scotland, where it's sponsored by STV Bingo (powered by, if you must know).


Golden Balls board game


Marc Sylvan


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