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Creating Jamaica’s Most Popular Game Show

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Jamaican television has been captivated by what has become the number one game show on television in the English speaking Caribbean, Digicel Deal or No Deal. By no means is the creation of this hit show a simple task and the producers also had the weight of the expectations of a discriminating public to bear.    

Digicel Deal or No Deal is the culmination of years of planning and deliberation as to how to bring one of the top international game shows to Jamaica’s shores while at the same time giving it the look and feel of an authentic Jamaican production.   

Mike Hogan of New Comm and Executive Producer of Digicel Rising Stars, can be credited as being the brainchild behind this vision becoming reality: “We took a real hard look at how we could bring such a high quality and exciting program to Jamaica. The fact is, Deal or No Deal is an international brand and we had to ensure that we stepped up to the plate and gave it the respect it deserves, the show creators Endemol would hove it no other way”.

The person given the responsibility of bringing this vision to the reality of Jamaican television was head of Anyhoo Productions Limited, Producer/Director, Tanya Taylor. It was Tanya’s job to assemble the team and ensure all the elements were in place to make Digicel Deal or No Deal a success. The team comprised some of the top videographers in the region as well as other support staff that would rival any world class production team. 

“It was less than two months of intense pre-production. Digicel,  ATL, Wisynco, Pizza Hut and General Accident believed in New Comm’s ability to take the product and deliver Jamaica’s newest craze. We used the old Studio at the Public Broadcasting Corporation of Jamaica. Mike believed in the studio so we partnered with PBCJ to renovate the space to what we needed to function for the month we were to be in production”.  

Choosing a studio in retrospect might have been the easier part of bringing Digicel Deal or No Deal to TVJ. The set design and décor for Digicel Deal or No Deal was done by Michelle Simone Clarke popularly known as Siim. Siim is noted for creating some of the most eye catching sets in Jamaica such as the set for Magnum Kings and Queens of Dancehall, The KFC Quiz Show and was also the art director for Shaggy’s Church Heathen Video.  

With the set design in good hands and the studio ready it was now to the hard part, the contestants, Tanya Taylor revealed: “The contestant selection was tricky. With only about 3 weeks to filming, we placed ads in our print partner The Jamaica Observer and on TVJ.  From the entries received we, and when I say we I really mean the Godsend Assistant Production Coordinator Sanjay Ramanand, went through every entry received and selected the most interesting responses.  From there we invited the applicants and their supporters to a casting session. From that session we selected twenty seven contestants for season one.  We then created files on them for The Banker who does his own additional research which he reveals on the show.” 

With that done it was time to select the The Banker; there was intense consideration of who in Jamaica would make a perfect candidate for this role.  According to Tanya Taylor: “It was important to select someone with a numbers background who also has insight into TV production. They then had to go through Banker training with Endemol. The Endemol team put their stamp of approval on him as he passed their tests with flying colours.

The show would not be complete without the 26 authentic Jamaican beauties who are vested with the responsibility of holding the 26 cases that are key to contestants walking away with either pocket money or a big payday. The responsibility of choosing the girls was down to Associate Producer, Stylist and a beauty herself Natalie Parboosingh.  She revealed:   “When choosing models for Digicel Deal or No Deal we held a large casting and looked for beautiful Jamaican girls who possessed poise, personality and lots of energy, as standing on the set for an hour can be quite exhausting we needed girls who we felt could keep their smiles on during this process. We looked for girls who together would show all the races of our Jamaican people, which embodied our motto. ‘Out of many one people’.”

Parboosingh revealed that the 26 ladies brought a different dimension to the show with their diverse personalities which always created wonderful energy backstage: “The backstage area entailed a lot of heels running around, pinning of dresses whenever there was a wardrobe malfunction, changing of hairstyles and makeup after each shoot which on some days were as many as three. The goal was always to ensure that all 26 beauties were checked off and perfect from “head to toe” seconds before call time on set.”

Digicel Deal or No Deal is the culmination of years of thinking and months of planning and execution. When host Simon Croskill says ‘Ladies Please’ it is clear that all this effort has paid off and when the lights hit the stage and The Banker takes his seat, Jamaica knows it’s time for Digicel Deal or No Deal. 

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