Weaver's Week 2001-09-25

Weaver's Week Index

25th September 2001

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

This week:

- Finals in Channel 4's Quiz Hour

- University Challenge

- One amazing week for Millionaire


The grand final of NUMBER ONE, and the series final of COUNTDOWN aired back-to-back on Friday.

Number One, the fast-paced quiz hosted by Krishnan Guru-Murphy, is still a new quiz. Indeed, it's so new it retains something of the smell of freshly cracked cellophane about itself. In a year that's not had many daytime quiz highlights, this is a most welcome addition to the schedule.

The early part of the show becomes a very entertaining personal battle between undefeated Geoff Thomas and genial Brian Wright. With more multiple-place questions than normal, the final was even more fast moving than usual; with an exceptionally high calibre of contestant, the errors were few and far between, allowing tactics to come into play. The best-three-of-five second round became best-five-of-nine, as there's to be no final face-off.

The top ten, in finishing order, were:

Derek Moody, Warrington, £3350 Geoff Thomas, Northwich, £7050 Steve Turnbull, Cheltenham, £3200 Matt Shin, Walthamstow, £3150 Robert Willer, Mitcham, £4900 Phil Dudley, St Helens, £4350 Brian Wright, Brixton, £4500 Bill Baynes, Pinner, £2700 Christopher Hughes, Pontysend, £3350 Rob Jones, Wembley, £2300

Derek, who qualified at Number One, spent most of the first round climbing up the ranks, displaced Geoff with the last question of the round. He beat Geoff 5-3 as the second round went without any changes to the order.

Countdown, the show that's as old as Channel 4, adds an extra six rounds and 15 minutes from Monday. This week has seen the best four performers over the past three months play out for the leather-bound Oxford Dictionaries.

With only four seeds taking part, it's no surprise to find the top two seeds - John Rawnsley and Geraldine Hylands - qualify for the final. The first half of the final was not a classic, but a power cut meant I didn't see the second half. Grr. It's repeated in the early hours of Monday.


The advertised Titanic Oxbridge battle has been held for a week, owing to "inappropriate" questions. Instead, we have the David and Goliath contest of Imperial London taking on De Montfort.

Imperial beat St Andrews, Lancaster, Exeter, Warwick and the LSE en route to the 96 title. Defending the following year, they lost the opener to St Catherine's Cambridge, came back as high-scoring losers only to lose to Manchester. Last year, Imperial soundly beat Cranfield, Durham, sneaked past Manchester, thrashed Hull and beat St John's Oxford in the final.

De Montfort appeared in 99, beating Portsmouth but falling heavily to Bristol in the second round.

De Montfort features three postgrads, which appears to be cheating slightly. Undergrads might have done better, as they're trailing 115-0 when Paxo belatedly takes the picture bonuses. Are we on for the lowest score ever? Perhaps not; Jo White gets the Leicester institution off the ground, and gets the chance to snarl "You stupid boy!" - a catchphrase from DAD'S ARMY - at Paxo. They finally pass 40 just after the music round, and trail by a mere 110.

This is the beginning of a mini-revival for DM, cutting the gap to 85 after the second picture round. This is as good as it gets, Imperial marching ahead like champions, DM creeping past the century right at the end. The final score: 250-110.

Star of the show is Lloyd Kilford of Imperial, getting 7 starters and 102 points. Captain Darius Fidgett failed to buzz once.

The highest-scoring losers after game 8/14:

185 Hull 150 Edinburgh 140 LSE 130 Leicester


An irregular series celebrating appearances of the animal that Hannibal didn't take over the Alps.

Q: What is the name given to the domesticated form of the guacao, herded in the Andes...

Steve Turnbull: Llama

A: ...much prized for its wool, it's the alpaca.


Which of the following is least likely to get their hands on a million pounds any time soon? A) Chris Tarrant B) Celador staff C) The Lawyers D) Charles Ingram

Watching last Saturday's (Sept 15) Millionaire, I noticed something was rather unusual. Part way through, Chris Tarrant announced a "specially extended" show. I knew ITV had pulled the film scheduled to follow Millionaire, and adding time to the quiz seems a reasonable way of plugging the gap. He introduced ten new contestants, made a swift change of suit, and played on.

Only there was a heck of a lot of litter on the floor. The sort of confetti we saw when Judith Keppel won her million last November, and David Edwards just four episodes earlier in April. And then Chris made pointed references to people winning *another* million and the *next* millionaire, just as he'd made on the shows after Judith stormed the tower.

The truth was stranger yet. By the end of the week, this would be the first story in ten days to knock terrorist acts off the front page of any national newspaper.

Major Charles Ingram wants to be a millionaire. Major Charles Ingram wants to be a millionaire really, really badly. But first, he's got to answer fifteen questions from Chris. And, according to press reports this week, he may also have to answer questions from Inspector Knacker, without using any lifelines.

The Major called the phone lines, got on the show, and won Fastest Finger First, as over four hundred people in the UK have done before. To the best of my knowledge, it's rare to have the spouse of a former contestant make the hot seat before - wife Diana took £32,000 just before Easter, and her husband Adrian won a similar amount earlier in the year. Indeed, Diana wrote a book on how to win money through game shows.

But it looked as if Ingram was going to go down well short of his goal, after using all three lifelines to reach £8000. However, he moved on, taking his time, thinking about each answer, mulling over the options before deciding. Eventually, he got the Million Pound Question correct, causing the release of the confetti and much jubilation amongst the audience.

Suspicions at Celador were aroused when the audience, usually as quiet as mice without their vocal cords, started coughing just as Ingram was about to answer questions. These suspicions have prompted Celador to freeze the winning cheque, and hand the matter over to the Metropolitan Police.

According to unconfirmed rumours in the press, and some speculation by your correspondent, one of his two relatives in the audience had a mobile phone silently transmitting the show to an accomplice at home. That person did the research, and communicated the correct answer by text message. The chain was completed by the very low-tech means of coughing.

"ITV's job is to ensure the integrity of the programme. It is a big programme and concerns have to be taken seriously," said a spokesperson on Thursday.

By Friday, Ingram had called a press conference in London. He had given Celador a mid-afternoon deadline to come up with some evidence. When none was released, he confirmed that he would be suing for the money. Ingram claimed he was "innocent" and dismissed allegations that he planted an accomplice in the audience who used a "coughing code" to help him win.

"While I was in the middle of the set I did not register or hear any coughing. I can't say there wasn't coughing going on but I did not use it to help me. I am innocent. I did not cheat."

Solicitor Philip Jones of Reading-based Morgan Cole, said: "Despite being given the opportunity to clarify its position, a letter has today been sent by Celador's solicitors which gives no information on the allegations. In the circumstances, our client has concluded his interests are best served by commencing legal proceedings." Jones added "all legal remedies were being considered", including defamation.

I'm reminded of the time William G. Stewart went to court against Trevor Montague, aka Steve Romana. Montague had been on FIFTEEN TO ONE once, and lost. He then re-applied under a different name, breaking the (then) strict rule that show losers couldn't return, came back to the show, and won a Top Of The Finals Board trophy. The deception was spotted thanks to an eagle-eyed viewer of Challenge TV's repeats, and Stewart had his day in court.

The case continues, but if you coughed during answer D earlier, you could be on to something.


Will we see the ITV's Third Quiz Millionaire of the year? 8:15 Saturday and 8pm Tuesday may provide answers. Millionaire is advertising for parents and children (over 16) to play together. I'm wondering if we'll see FIFTEEN TO ONE regulars from the early 90s, Anthony and Leslie Martin. Anthony was a permanent fixture in FTO finals, winning three; father Leslie faced him in two finals.

Bill and the gang return with a new run of FIFTEEN TO ONE this week, at the even earlier time of 3:45. At the risk of repeating myself, COUNTDOWN begins at 4:15 and runs for 45 minutes.

Channel 5 launches the fourth series of FORT BOYARD at 6pm Saturday, followed by the return of NIGHT FEVER.

Action-adventure fans may also enjoy X-FIRE (or CROSSFIRE, depending which listings magazine you're reading) in which six contestants are armed with paintballing equipment and given a mission to accomplish. C4 at 6pm Tuesday, repeated 12pm Saturdays.

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