Topics of money and finance aren’t always treated with ultimate seriousness – in fact, they can provide some rather unique entertainment.
From gameshows to finance-based investigative journalism, read about seven of the best TV shows that are centred around the topic of money.
1. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Originally hosted by Chris Tarrant with Jeremy Clarkson now in the role of question master, the iconic, high-paying quiz show Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? first aired in 1998 on ITV and has been highly regarded among audiences across its 38 series.
As the title would suggest, £1 million is up for grabs and all the contestants have to do is correctly answer 15 general knowledge questions. They start ludicrously easy and increase in difficulty as you progress, winning a larger prize for each question you answer.
Contestants can simplify questions using the show’s famous “lifelines”. They can “ask the audience”, split the choice of answers in two with “50/50”, or “phone a friend” who they think may have the answer.
Although, the lifelines don’t always offer as much relief as some contestants would hope – only 12 contestants have ever won the £1 million top prize in the show’s 24-year runtime!
2. Dragon’s Den
Dragon’s Den is the show that gives wannabe entrepreneurs the opportunity to score a lucrative business deal with some of the biggest names in enterprise, including titans such as Peter Jones, Deborah Meaden, and Steven Bartlett.
It started in 2005, so far spanning 13 series, and was first broadcast on BBC Two before moving to BBC One.
The show sees inventors, business owners, and entrepreneurs all enter the “dragon’s den” with the hopes of scoring an investment into their respective products and services by giving five business magnates their best pitch.
While it takes a strong will and a promising business to walk out successful, many do secure deals from the dragons and go on to form fruitful partnerships.
Levi Roots is one of the most memorable success stories from Dragon’s Den as he struck a chord with the investors through his Caribbean-inspired “Reggae Reggae Sauce”. His pitch left a mark on the dragons and was an instant hit among the public, allowing him to start a majorly successful brand.
Starting in 1985, Watchdog was the television-based flagship of UK consumer justice.
Before ending in 2019, the show enjoyed seven series on BBC and did much to protect customers from fraudulent practices while educating them on how to avoid bad actors.
It took submissions from audience members’ experiences for its cases and used tactics of investigative journalism to track down and take action against malicious businesses.
Small companies weren’t the only ones at the show’s mercy as it also pursued wrongdoings done by large corporations, empowering consumers across the country in the process.
Watchdog once uncovered a scandal involving shoe company Clarks – they found that children’s shoes being sold as brand-new were falling apart soon after buying them as a result of terrible manufacturing and materials. Watchdog forced an apologetic statement from Clarks, with the shoe brand also paying compensation to those affected.
4. The Martin Lewis Money Show
Martin Lewis is somewhat of a financial expert and has years of experience in financial journalism.
Before he began hosting The Martin Lewis Money Show, he created the “MoneySavingExpert” site in 2003 where he still shares information and tips on financial topics today.
This same motivation was converted to television screens in 2012 – when the show began – and has been running for six series on ITV.
On the show, Martin gives useful tips and tricks on ways you can save money in your everyday life, such as creative ways to cut the cost of your bills. He also tackles current affairs that may relate to personal finance, including interest rate increases, or changes to fiscal policy.
In recent years, he has been popular for bringing greater attention to the government’s generous – now ceased – “Help to Buy” Individual Savings Account (ISA) that has helped many young people across the UK afford their first home.
5. The Apprentice
The Apprentice is a competition-based television show that aims to seek out business partners worthy of a £250,000 investment into their company from Alan Sugar, in return for a 50/50 stake in it.
Now on its 16th series after first airing on BBC in 2005, the show gathers a pool of 16 budding entrepreneurs and businesspeople to fiercely compete for the opportunity to own a business alongside the enterprising legend.
Contestants are set business-themed challenges each week that put their personal enterprise and selling abilities to the test.
During this, the tasks are overseen by two of Alan Sugar’s most trusted aides, Karen Brady and Claude Littner, who report the individual performances back to Sugar in the formidable boardroom. Here, each candidate is scrutinised over their role in the task as they battle for their place on the show.
Each week, the weakest link is delivered Sugar’s famous line, “You’re fired!”, until only one remains.
6. Only Fools and Horses
Only Fools and Horses is a classic, British sitcom that still has people referencing the show’s countless iconic moments, even 41 years after it first appeared on screens in 1981. It ran for a total of seven seasons, with its curtain call not arriving until 2003.
The show saw wheeling and dealing brothers, Rodney and Derek “Del Boy” Trotter, come up with one get-rich-quick scheme after another, which seem to fail almost every time. From selling dodgy goods to running crafty schemes, the boys are always on the hunt to become millionaires.
Only Fools and Horses offers a useful lesson about the pursuit of “getting rich quick”, although it offers a lot more laughs as we watch the pair attempt this.
Succession is a dark comedy that began airing on HBO and online streaming services in 2018 and has, so far, seen three seasons released.
It follows the fictional story of a family-owned media and entertainment conglomerate, WaystarRoyCo, in the midst of a succession crisis – hence the name – as the family’s patriarch and head of the business, Logan Roy, starts to suffer from ailing health.
In the following drama, the battle over which family member will take his spot starts to rumble.
Worlds are turned upside down as a power struggle ensues among the family as they bid to get their hands on some of the business’s pie.