Bank Balance



Gordon Ramsay


Studio Ramsay for BBC One, 24 February 2021 to present


Television's lairiest chef hangs up his apron and takes on a primetime big money show.

The press release tells us:

Devised by Gordon Ramsay's production company, Bank Balance sees contestants trying to stack gold bars on different zones of a pivoting, pyramid-shaped structure in a quest to win up to £100,000. The zones are selected at random and players will need luck, poise and precision to 'balance' the bank – too much weight on one side could see the fortune they’ve built come crashing down!

Played by pairs of contestants, the aim is to stack the "gold bars" on a four-way balance thing, with various zones on each arm. If it tips too far in any direction, the blocks fall and the team have lost the game. Should our team place their blocks without any falling off, they win a cash prize of up to £100,000.

The players draw one of the zones at random, and then choose from 12 categories. They also choose how many answers they want to give - 3-bar pyramids are worth £9000, 4-bars for £16,000, and the 5-bar pyramid is £25,000. One-bar and two-bar stacks have no value.

Our team get a list question and a minute. Each correct answer allows them to place a bar on the zone of the balance thing. If they give all the answers and stack all the bars in time, they keep the money. Give a wrong answer or run out of time, the whole stack becomes worthless and they have to place an additional penalty block on top.

There are lifelines available - "pick again" to draw a different zone, and "bank" to be assured of the value currently on the board.

It's a high-concept show, and quite complex. Some listings magazines intimated it was too complex for mainstream television, but then the same mags give Only Connect a sympathetic write-up every week.

According to reports, Gordon Ramsay is not as brusque - or as foul-mouthed - as on Gordon Ramsay Effs and Blinds at Amateur Cooks, but he's not as soft and cuddly as he is on Matilda and the Ramsay Bunch. The syndicated press blurb for Bank Balance concentrated on Gordon Ramsay's pottymouth; the pre-title spoiler package included a bleeped scatalogical expletive.

Key moments

The 'ooh's and 'aah's when it looks like the board was about to tip over. Or, more accurately, the lack of 'ooh's and 'aah's when it looks like the board was about to tip over, because the show used a virtual audience, and without being in a room full of people leaning forward in anticipation, people were less inclined to make noise.


Fernando De Jesus, Tom Day, Sam Smaïl, and Bronson Payne.


The first ten episodes were filmed without an audience in late 2020 and early 2021, with finished episodes shown to an online audience and their reactions annotating the mix. Some episodes were shown this way with weeks to spare. Episodes were also an hour long, except for the Red Nose Day edition, which was 45 minutes long.

Bank Balance was aired three times a week, episodes went out at 9pm on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday nights. Several cooking shows have gone out in that slot - Masterchef airs three series a year three days a week, while Great British Menu aired its 2019 and 2020 series with eight of its nine weeks spread across three days - but we cannot recall BBC1 stripping A Proper Quiz Show in this manner before.

The aforementioned bleeped scatological expletive had to be bleeped in the pre-title spoiler package but not when the moment aired in its source episode due to a nonsense section of the OFCOM broadcasting code (1.6) which demanded that the "transition to more adult material must not be unduly abrupt at the watershed".


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