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‘Deal or No Deal’ Boss on Gameshow’s Enduring Popularity and Why the NBC Version Didn’t ‘Objectify’ Women

Following the news that longrunning gameshow “Deal or No Deal” – which has been commissioned in over 80 territories – is returning to Spain after a twelve-year hiatus, Banijay’s chief content officer Lucas Green spoke to Variety about the show’s endurance, Banijay’s creative strategy and why he disagrees that the NBC version of the show “objectified” the women who starred as its “briefcase models.”

Known locally as “¡Allá tú!,” the show, which first premiered in the Netherlands over two decades ago, is returning to Spanish screens for the first time since 2008. Earlier this year it was also revealed the series would be returning to the U.K. after a 7-year break, making 2023 something of a renaissance for the format.

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While the U.K. version used ordinary people to reveal what was inside the briefcases, the U.S. version, which was hosted by Howie Mandel, featured a bevvy of glamorous women known as the “briefcase models.” Over the years many went on to have enduring careers in entertainment including Chrissy Teigen and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.

Last year, Markle, who appeared on the show between 2006 and 2007, said she ended up quitting after feeling “objectified.” “I was so much more than what was being objectified on the stage,” she said on an episode of her Archetypes podcast, titled “Breaking Down the Bimbo.” “I didn’t like feeling forced to be all looks and little substance.”

Green told Variety he disagrees with Markle’s assessment the show “objectified” its models but said the company is always “modernizing” the format. “We are constantly evolving the format so that it isn’t the same show it was fifteen plus years ago,” he said.

Read the full interview with Green below…

Why is “Deal or No Deal” such a popular, enduring format?

“Deal or No Deal” is a highly adaptable ratings winner, which continues to attract large audiences across wide markets – as shown with the recently re-launched series in Italy. Unlike quiz shows, it has no questions which makes it more cost effective, and it can be produced in high volume, without compromising quality. Ultimately, this format is unique and simple, with great storytelling at its heart, which is why it works both as an on-demand format that can be binge-watched and a scheduled daily show.

Lucas Green (courtesy of Banijay)
Lucas Green (courtesy of Banijay)

How much does the show change from territory to territory?

“Deal or No Deal” has a strong identity and format DNA; elements we consolidate, strengthen, and ensure aren’t compromised. However, every territory and culture has a different way of showcasing it. In Spain we have the original host returning, but of course there will be some modern twists! For the new U.K. version, we will be welcoming new host Stephen Mulhern. And we recently announced a completely new take on the format with Endemol Shine North America producing “Deal or No Deal Island” for NBC.

While we have a lot of flexibility with respect to the nuances of our formats, we encourage all those we work with to be considerate in the way they bring our shows to life in line with our responsibility as a content powerhouse to set and endorse global ESG [environmental, social and governance] standards.

Do you agree with Meghan Markle’s comments that the “Deal or No Deal” briefcase models were “objectified bimbos”?

No, but we are constantly evolving the format so that it isn’t the same show it was 15+ years ago. A lot of work goes into modernising our formats to ensure they represent our values as a company and wider society. The U.K. version for example, will continue to use members of the public from all walks of life to open the boxes [instead of models].

What are the wider market trends you’re seeing at the moment? (Especially when it comes to the proliferation of returning IP, including “Survivor” and “Gladiators.”)

Game shows are not going anywhere, and we’re seeing significant interest around the globe for these formats. In addition, entertainment and competition reality continue to remain hot commodities; new format “Blow Up” is travelling well and “LEGO Masters” has been ordered by 19 international broadcasters. And, of course, the likes of “Survivor,” “Big Brother” and “MasterChef” continue to thrive, both with healthy long-running versions, as well as new markets and high-profile reboots.

What is the strategy of Banijay’s creative networks division?

We support our producers to achieve best practice and production efficiency. We want them to be inspired by each other and benefit from being amongst a collaborative family of creative innovators.

Pictured above: Meghan Markle appearing in “Deal or No Deal”

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