Gordon Ramsay’s Bank Balance: A few cheese boards short of a four-course meal

TV: The funniest thing about this quiz show is how invested the chef is in the game itself

Gordon Ramsay’s Bank Balance: a little bit Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, with a hint of The Chase and  trace elements of Bob Holness on Blockbusters

Gordon Ramsay’s Bank Balance: a little bit Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, with a hint of The Chase and trace elements of Bob Holness on Blockbusters

 

Gordon Ramsay as a cuddly quiz-show host feels about as plausible as Jedward being unveiled as new presenters of Prime Time. It isn’t simply that the idea is rather unlikely. It’s that it is both unlikely and intriguing. Jedward interviewing an international epidemiologist down a fuzzy Zoom connection? Don’t say you wouldn’t tune in, if only for conclusive proof of the nonexistence of God.

You’ll watch Gordon Ramsay’s Bank Balance (BBC One, Wednesday, 9pm), too, notwithstanding the fact that it’s resoundingly average – a three-star, finger-on-the-buzzer Frankenstein bolted together from various odds and ends. It’s a little bit Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, with a hint of The Chase and trace elements of Bob Holness on Blockbusters in the late Pleistocene era.

Ramsay explains the rules as if it’s chess meets poker while appearing to imply that self-respecting players should have boned up on Sun Tzu’s The Art of War beforehand. Actually, it’s more an overly complex Connect Four for sadists

The biggest talking point is obviously Ramsay, the superchef who shepherded the concept to the screen via his production company. He does his best to be approachable even as he crowbars in some of his trademark swears: when he says “s**t” towards the end, for instance, it feels more contractual obligation than tantrum.

The funniest thing about Bank Balance is how genuinely invested Ramsay is in the game itself. Starting with Tosin and Tobi, a London brother and sister, the participants stand to win £100,000. But that’s a secondary consideration for Ramsay, who just wants them to become really, really good at Bank Balance.

He explains the rules as if it’s chess meets poker while appearing to imply that self-respecting players should have boned up on Sun Tzu’s The Art of War beforehand. Actually, it’s more an overly complex Connect Four for sadists. Contestants answer questions to win “gold” bricks that must then be balanced on a rickety contraption in the middle of the studio. Stack enough bricks and you bag the cash. If the edifice crumples, it’s curtains.

Gordon Ramsay’s Bank Balance: the chef’s eagerness has its own charms, and you may become caught up in the excitement
Gordon Ramsay’s Bank Balance: the chef’s eagerness has its own charms, and you may become caught up in the excitement

That is the fate suffered by Tosin and Tobi, who pile up an excess of “penalty bricks”, despite negotiating questions about Shakespeare plays not named after the lead characters and women’s names mentioned in Lou Bega’s Mambo No 5.

As a chummy quizmaster Ramsay is a few cheese boards short of a four-course meal. But his eagerness has its own charms, and you may become caught up in the excitement as the hopefuls try to position blocks without completely bricking it. It’s more weird than wonderful but ultimately too watchable to be written off as a disaster. As it often the case with TV quizzes, the biggest issue is the game itself, which could have done with more time on the drawing board.

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