Weaver's Week 2001-07-24

Weaver's Week Index

24th July 2001

Iain Weaver reviews the latest happenings in UK Game Show Land.


Things get *very* confusing this coming week on the scheduling side. Set videos *now* or miss out.

SURVIVOR The normal Monday at 9 episode will reduce from four to two. Come back Wednesday at 8 for a two hour (!) part-live (!!) special, culminating in the announcement of the winner. I'm setting up the coffee drip already.

BIG BROTHER Normal airings Monday - Wednesday night, followed immediately by five minute BB Live, followed by a repeat of the normal show about three hours later. Thursday is where we find the contestant placed 4th, named at 8pm, thrown out at 10. Coverage on E4 in the 90 minutes between. Friday: 3rd is revealed at 8:30 in a full hour edition, with the second and winner named at 10:30. Again, E4 fills the gap.

NUMBER ONE, 100% Have finished for now. C5 has reruns of ONE TO WIN at 5:30 in the morning, for any insomniacs out there not already watching...

COUNTDOWN Teatime show airs Tuesday, Thursday, Friday only, thanks to the cricket.

THE PEOPLE VERSUS, THE WEAKEST LINK Air all week. This is the first full week for TWL since June.

UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE Pops onto the schedules a full two months ahead of schedule. Hull against Somerfield Oxford at 8pm Monday. And the occasional plug for Sean Blanchflower's site - http://www.damtp.cam.ac.uk/user/smb1001/uc/


With 100% leaving our screens this week to make way for an Aussie soap, there's now no contest as to the most dull game show on our screens. Robin Houston, like Mark Austin, used to be well known as a newscaster. Unlike Austin, Houston preferred to remain off-screen, in a role that would come to be known as The Voice Of Big Brother.

Indeed, this show is so dull, the continuity announcer falls asleep *before* the show, and introduces it to nothing more than the animated station logo.

"Things are getting personal," claims Big Trousers in a piece to camera. Yes, but are they going to get interesting? Ever?

The bickering and recriminations follows utterly expected lines: Richard is the bete noire of everyone except Charlotte, as anyone who cared would have predicted last year. Dick gets ratty because *someone* has hidden the tomato ketchup. It's in Eve's bag.

Big Trousers has a reward challenge. It's (gasp!) The Last Reward Challenge! Good heavens, we must be near the end. The remaining contestants are invited to look at themselves in a mirror, and figure how much weight they've lost in five weeks on the island. For the record, Eve wins; guessing 1lb out, and shares a large chocolate cake with the others.

I find this darned distasteful - apparently attractive people on prime- time national television boasting about how much weight they've lost? And rewarded with pigout food? This is going to be an awkward moment for viewers with eating problems. One that a show hoping to attract ten million viewers could live without. If any support groups are watching, and complain, I fear ratings could go into a tailspin. However, by press time, I've heard no complaints.

"I've managed to hang around like a bad smell," says one of the remaining contestants. It's a poor show that I can't put a name to the face after this long.

Big Trousers has another challenge, and it might seem familiar. Stand with at least one hand touching a pole. We've had one TOUCH THE TRUCK rip-off already, why do we have to endure another? Here's a phrase you never expected to see: bring back Dale Winton! Oh, they did, as a snake visits four hours in. Mick goes after 7h30. A storm is coming. Charlotte goes at 8h45, claiming a torn cartilage. The rain comes at 11h30. Jackie gives up two hours later. Eve leaves at 14 hours, giving Richard immunity.

Eve claims the ketchup was hers anyway, and she's not going to be anyone's doormat. She starts packing the next day. Looks like a unanimous vote, and there's still ten minutes before the voting. Mostly filled by a discussion about tampons in Eve's bag, seeing as how Charlotte needed them yesterday and Eve said she couldn't step off the log.

So, this week we've had two instances of rifling through Eve's bag, damage to a waterproof jacket, leaving the contestants to get struck by lightning, encouraging reckless weight loss. Plus the lying, and deceit that the producers have inflicted on us since the opening episode, back in AD 975. It almost gets worse - Eve has to check herself when referring to "where I stay tonight" rather than "the luxury hotel that the producers aren't showing." Finally, Jackie lets slip that the contestants know about The Hotel. Tampons are very cheap there, she says she told Eve. At last! The truth is as good as out. Is there any reason for me to carry on watching?

Oh, go on then. Voting time, and Zoe's shirt is black. The others are wearing "Respect the Family." "Mic 20.7.91" and "Keep the Faith." The voting is a formality; Eve goes for Jackie, everyone else for Eve. It sounds as though she may abstain if Richard doesn't make the final.

Next time: immunity galore, two more move to the jury bench, and It's The Last But One Episode! Hurrah!


Opening shots of CCTV cameras, people doing things in negative photography and the sight of Davina McCall in baggy black clothes make me double-check I've not tuned to E4 by mistake. I've not, there's a huge audience and that *was* an ITV sponsorship caption.

The premise is simple: researchers get into disguise and meet members of the public on the street. The researchers are being filmed by hidden cameras, and ask questions of their public.

So we have a young chap who stands on the street asking total strangers what an entomologist is. Lots of fast cuts of people who haven't a clue, and a language student who has a dictionary to hand. And a smart lady in her 40s who refuses to take the money... until she's invited to the studio to meet Davina. Someone else knows, and tells the difference between an entomologist and an etymologist. Step forward the man so easily identified as host of SALE OF THE CENTURY and JUST A MINUTE, Lord Nicholas of Parsons!

Then an audience member comes forward to sit on a sofa at the front of the studio - again, Davina's sitting on the right, which is still not her side. The audience member has met a tourist who quizzed her on her knowledge of the city, and we see the film. Our AM can go double-or-quits on her winnings, asked something about the researcher, but decides not to.

Another AM's cousin is at a comedy club, and will play live. There's no interaction with the studio until a mobile phone trick at the end. Then a camera moves forward, Davina speaks to the house, and informs of the winnings.

Another filmed insert, and a game where members of a family predict each others' actions, complete the set.

You get the drift by now. There are elements of CANDID CAMERA, there are elements of BEADLE'S ABOUT in potentially embarrassing members of the public, and there are elements of variety show in many of the games. Music is upbeat techno beat, rather screechy, and ear splitting in parts. The central set is like Millionaire's central floor lights, with an audience. There's a back-projected screen, showing the film inserts and OBs.

As well as St Nicholas, there are references to STARS IN THEIR EYES, FIFTEEN-TO-ONE, and the British Grand Prix.

Overall, this is undemanding fare, and thankfully has no pretensions to be high art. Davina - yet again - has exactly the right touch for this show; the teensiest bit sarcastic, but friendly. It's light, fluffy Saturday evening viewing. Nothing more, but that does give ITV Primetime its first positive game show review since MILLIONAIRE. Made by Tiger Aspect productions.


Liz Warner, the BB commissioning editor, took part in a webchat at Guardian Online on Friday 13. Liz didn't reveal much in the answers, but dodged a lot of questions:

Do you make up the tasks as you go along - in order to suss out the strengths and weaknesses of the contestants and mess with their heads accordingly? Do you feel C4 should be held accountable for the mental health of the contestants once the public has decided their 15mins is up? If the housemates just bet their maximum allowance every week in order to get as much beer money as possible, would BB let them starve if they lost? If not, then what's the point of the exercise? Do you feel bad that the romantic meals for two are attempting to precipitate a sexual relationship between Helen and Paul, therefore making [Gareth, Helen's ex] lose sleep over your hunt for ratings?

Full transcript at http://mediatalk.guardian.co.uk/WebX?13@@.ee85a48/1 Also a two-part article on what happened to last year's BB eleven: http://www.guardian.co.uk/bigbrother/story/0,7369,521381,00.html

A very long, tedious sketch about how Josh failed to live up to his election promises. The courtroom skit didn't work. They could have had Krish back on to do his Channel 4 News interrogation... Josh has been appearing daily on Virgin Radio, the first BB housemate to get a national radio gig.

He also briefly visited a trendy London gay club, and was met with chants for Brian. Josh thinks he's the toast of gay Britain, but Brian has more resonance with that community, as does Amma, Bubble, and (heck) all the other housemates. Except Paul, perhaps.

BBLB reveals that Bubble (twice) and Brian (at least once) came to the diary room on the verge of walking out. The duty BB had to talk them round.

The high point of BBLB is when host Dermot O'Leary *finally* gets his turn in front of the mike. He's been rehearsing and getting tips all season, and finally got his chance this Thursday. The housemates spotted that there was a new voice straight off. Dermot (as BB) asked Paul to take three balls and a note to the boys' bedroom, and remain there until further notice. Paul told the others that Dermot played it straight down the middle. "Like Big Brother's Big Brother."

"I love blinking, I do." Paul and Helen spend most of the weekend in the den, and it seems that Paul is backing off a little. BB sets a mini- challenge, to make sausages for a barbie. Cue the expected feeding of each other. On BBLB, Josh reckons it's all getting rather monotonous and sickbag-inducing. He's not wrong there.

The Shrinks note that everyone except Brian is talking in their sleep. Paul says a lot. Dean wants to be famous. Helen imagines she's being intimate. We don't see Liz asleep. We do see Paul and Helen discussing how things would be different if they were both single.

The main task is playground games. Do some double-dutch skipping, ride a pogo stick, hula-hoop, space hopper. Dean's in favour of a low bet, Paul reckons they've enough food to survive and can blow most of the rest on luxuries. In the end, 40% is a middling score. The result: six minutes to complete all the activities - they take nine. It's a disaster.

Gosh, the shrinks have got a graph, plotting Paul's and Helen's flirting efforts against time. Brief early blips as Penny and Josh loom on the radar, then down as she leaves and he bats for the other side. Then they both take off, almost in synchronisation. Shrinks also spot that Helen has just about given up on Big G; "the only thing holding them back is themselves." They spend much Saturday night talking in the den, but then return to their own beds. Paul and Helen, that is, not the shrinks.

Dean reckons the final two will be Brian and Paul. Liz is more cagey, suggesting that some results mean people will know who voted for whom. The shrinks spot that Liz has become the housemother, praising and subtly controlling people. "She's vicariously experiencing pleasure through the others."

Our lovebirds wrestle, have a deep conversation, then Helen goes up for it. Paul is a little more wary. Perhaps trying to be the Nice Straight Guy, the sort that will - say - build a barbecue.

For the last time, shall we do some nominations? Brian: Paul, then a *huge* interruption. The team outside heard BB asking Brian for his second nomination. Helen is the second nomination. The reasons are the usual don't get on as well. Dean: Paul and Helen, he's bonded less well with them. Liz: Paul and Helen, for the usual reason.

So, that'll be that, then. For the record:

Helen: Dean (doesn't gel) and Liz (not *that* close) Paul: Brian (spoiled) and Liz (doesn't want Dean and Helen to go)

Final voting: Paul 3, Helen 3, Liz 2, Dean 1, Brian 1. Dean, Liz, and Brian will make the finale without ever facing a public vote. No one managed this last year, when the finale was just three.

"Stuff ain't gonna happen in here, is it?" reckons Helen, under the blanket, in the garden, with Paul. Paul heads towards Doing Things, but Helen's having none of it. Not on national television.

Liz goes for the hippie vote, suggesting she'd like to start a retreat where people can learn to respect people. It's a dream, she's the first to admit...

Dean and Brian move to the girls' room; Helen and Paul do *something* under the blankets in the den. We can't see exactly what, which is probably how they planned it. Kissing and/or fondling seem likely.

After the nominations are announced, Dean goes for a walk outside. In the rain. The housemates are quick to do the math - Brian, Dean, and Liz's ballots cannot be secret, on the (not unreasonable) assumption that Paul and Helen wouldn't cross each other. This causes not insignificant awkwardness. Not ill feeling, not anger, but everyone knows it, and everyone is awkward.

Paul sees his relationship as West Side Story. Dean reckons he knows boyfriends who would be down here, and not to wish him luck. Paul replies that if Big G beats him up, he'll fight back. Pay-to-view boxing isn't E4's gig, surely.

Brian seems to have calmed down a lot now that Josh has left. Paul and Helen are all over each other in a pretty spewsome manner. Dean and Liz are the sort of couple that would sit in the conservatory, drink cocoa, and watch the rain fall. Without the cocoa, that's what they do.

Dean goes around swatting flies. Thank goodness for that - those break bumpers have gotten old by now. Not as annoying as I expected, mind. Dean has been teaching Brian to sing in tune. Sadly, the note Brian hits is not a black note, nor a white note, but somewhere in the cracks.

Liz reckons she's bossy. Brian agrees to over-efficient, Dean suggests dominant, I'd say mothering.

Straight after lights out on Wednesday, Helen whacks Paul over the head with a pillow. Snogging ensues. We can see it - the other housemates in the room can't. We can also see Paul pushes her away.

On Thursday, Helen's being accusing. "All talk and no action, you are." Paul confirms he fancies Helen to the group that night, a revelation that still causes her mouth to drop floorwards. They tell the others they've not snogged yet, which we can't disprove. Liz reckons they'll just be good friends, and that's an end in itself. Paul and Helen spend the night in the den, hugging and holding up the blanket a lot. Friday sees the two sleeping in the spoon position on the bed.

Paul has struck me as a desperately insecure, vain, selfish, middle class lad who wants to be liked a lot more than he's prepared to like other people. He's smart enough to remember that BB *is* only a game show, as Nick said last year. In the process, he has hurt Helen, who doesn't seem to get the difference between real life and reality TV. Paul's hurt someone, which is something that no-one could accuse last year's anti-hero Nick of doing.

With any luck, Helen will see her fling with Nick as something akin to a romance on holiday in the Med, and she's ended up with a lot of fans.

She's also moved into clear contention for the victory next week. I still reckon Brian will emerge on top, but Helen is coming strongly and I can see her running him hard. The interesting battle is between Dean and Liz for third place - my money's on Liz, as she's been least popular on the outside, and (I assume) has a stronger core support than Dean.

The result carries only slightly more tension than the voting on SURVIVOR. Paul is over the moon, overcome with emotion. Helen is silent, blinking back tears. 84%-16% the margin, 952,000 to 188,000.

Paul is on cracking form after the news. "I wanna go. I wanna stay, too." He did have time to do up his shirt before being heavily embraced by his sister. It's interspersed with shots of the others hugging and consoling Helen, who will move into his bed.

"Big G is not here." Paul wipes his brow. "He's dumped her," and Paul looks like he could murder him. Doesn't betray in his words. They were "really really close" to going for it, but Big G's spectre was always there. Paul looks amazed and utterly gobsmacked at the tabloid headlines. Well, a small selection of them.

"Do you fancy her?" Yes. "Will you be seeing her when she comes out?" Yes. Huge cheers from the crowd outside.

Paul credits his outside supporters for keeping him there, how he stayed strong to keep others' morale up. The sleep talking plays to laughter. As does the 259 hair-touches in five minutes.

He wants Helen to win. He gets Helen's mobile number from Davina, and the lesson not to judge people too quickly.

Voting numbers - and remember, you're voting to win: Call 09011 15 44, then the personal number:

Dean: 04

Helen: 06

Liz: 05

Brian: 02

Back to Weaver's Week Index

A Labyrinth Games site.
Design by Thomas.
Printable version
Editors: Log in