Weaver's Week 2001-11-12

Weaver's Week Index

12th November 2001

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

This week:

- Can Leeds only win a game on the football pitch?

- Robert Kilroy-Silk: smooth as silk or oily as a derrick?

- When NICKED! moved into another show.

Kudos to Sue Mitchell on the QuizGB Yahoo! list, who suggested that if the original host of UC, Bamber Gascoigne, is "Bambi," then current host Jeremy Paxman must be "Thumper." The new nickname comes into effect at once.


Repercharge 1: Leeds -v- Downing Cambridge.

For those who weren't with us last week, Leeds lost 220-145 to St Hugh's Oxford. Downing Cambridge lost a wonderfully tense 220-220 tiebreak to Newcastle in week 11. Interesting to note that Downing's captain is now studying the resonance of pheasants in the 17th century. Is this going to be a running joke?

Early blows are traded to parity. Then Downing explodes into life, and scores 85 without reply before Thumper takes pity on Leeds, accepting a mangled "in flagranto delicte."

Student Life Indicator Of The Week: Downing gets full marks on a set of questions about bookstores. This is clearly vital to an understanding of the state of British academia. Weaver is unsure quite what this signifies.

Unlucky buzz of the week: "JUST A MINUTE has three grounds for interruption..." Reynolds, Downing: "Hesitation, repetition..." Thumper: "No... hesitation, repe - er - repetition, and what?" Howells, Leeds: "Deviation."

By the second picture round, Leeds has closed the gap to 40, and trails by 30 with four minutes to play. Downing cannot pull away, and Leeds reduces the gap to five with just over a minute left. The fourth Downing error of the night brings the scores level, but then Leeds errs; Thumper fails to fine them five. Downing gets the starter, runs the clock down, and wins 205-195.

Stars of the show, once again: Peter Kitson (Downing) 106, Will Howells (Leeds) 98. Downing took 22/34 bonuses, Leeds 17/33.

Next week, Hull and Edinburgh fight it out.


Straight to ITV, where Robert Kilroy-Silk has just begun the channel's glitzy game show with a logo forming out of liquid silver. Viewers in the UK may recognise the font as exactly the same as Blaze TV's logo, as seen at the end of SM:TV. Six contestants stand in isolation booths, and bid for money. The person bidding the most is eliminated. That would be the BOAWJP (Bit Of A Wasted Journey Pointer) from FLUKE, then.

Each player gets to bid all or some of their cash kitty, based on the beginning of a question. The person bidding the most sees the whole question, and plays to win or lose that much money. The part question can end in the middle of a word: "Which British play..." becomes "Which British playground game..." At the end of the round, five questions, the player in the lead elects to remove someone. The first person they remove can make a whiney plea, which may or may not persuade the leader to remove someone else.

In round two, everyone is given money up to the leader's total for doing absolutely nothing. There's a new option that each player can use once in the game: to shift a question you've won to someone else. Shiftee gets it wrong; they lose the money as if they'd bid. Shiftee gets it right, they gain that much from the shifter. Four questions, including one ad break later, the round ends. Someone else makes a lame case, and may or may not be ejected. Sorry, shafted.

Round three, three players, three questions, and the stakes are for the leader's amount again. I didn't like the way DEFECTORS originally gave a vast reward to the person already in the lead, but this is taking the alternative a bit too far. Again, we lose another player. And have to suffer another burst of annoying toadying.

In the finale, we carry forward the leader's money. And the finale gives the two players a simple choice: to share, or to shaft. Here's the choice matrix:

A does

B does




Both share prize



B wins all



A wins all



Nothing won

There's a video presentation from each player, before we viewers see the first votes. The players don't; then the two discuss their tactics. I thought the pleading was done by now. The final decision is made, and revealed. And that's your game. No-one mention how this is the exact same mechanic that TRUST ME used last year - bidding up an amount, then deciding whether to take or split it, and we'll be fine.

The studio set is in the colour scheme of THE WEAKEST LINK, in blue-turquoise-green, though there's a lit runway down the middle of the floor that reminds me of GREED. It's a decent enough set, but terribly derivative.

The music is all electronic synth effects. To be crude, it sounds like someone having a few too many baked beans before recording the show. There's no underlying tune, as seen on MILLIONAIRE, Weakest Link, PEOPLE VERSUS. Even Greed's oft-repeated sting was preferable. Not only is this sound derivative, it's annoying and too loud. Mercifully, it does diminish in the end game.

Silk's catchphrase: "You're off the show," sounds tired, but could improve with practice. On NUMBER ONE, Krish turned the simple phrase "You're out" from a statement of fact into a catchphrase. Not a very good catchphrase, but it's the effort that counts. There is something not quite right about Shafted. The way people are given money for nothing helps to drive up the stakes, but a player could well survive the first two rounds without answering a question. The sound effects (I can't call them music) are very annoying.

The biggest problem, though, seems to be the host. Robert Kilroy-Silk began his career as a member of parliament, before leaving in the mid 80s to host a daytime current affairs discussion show. Kilroy! is a wildly popular show, but has given him a reputation as someone who is bland and inoffensive. He carries much of this blandness into this show; during the eliminations, the game could do with a dash of Anne Robinson's cynicism to add flavour. The cries for help only serve to distract - they're as clearly scripted as responses on BLIND DATE, and act against the concept of Trust No One that the show would like to portray.

Don't let these carpings mislead you: this is a very promising format. I'd make three changes, though.

1) Keep some reward for strong performance in the early rounds. Instead of topping up everyone's pot to the leader's level, take it 50% of the way there. The playing field is not level, but nor is it as skewed as otherwise. For a financially strapped company - say, ITV - this would also tend to reduce the final payout.

2) Get some proper music, with instruments, or at least realistic fakes. Millionaire has raised the bar far higher than it was, almost demanding that the sound effects could be issued as a commercial CD. I wouldn't pay a penny for these effects.

3) Silk is a fine presenter, but he's not the man for this particular job. We need someone cynical, someone who perhaps has experience of playing other people off against each other. Does anyone know where "Nasty" Nick Bateman is?

That's not such a rhetorical question, as SHAFTED is made by Endemol's UK subsidiary Initial TV, the same company that got the credits for this year's BIG BROTHER.


Glenn's standing on a wet railway line "First trick to the mole is to know your enemy. Paula's abilities meant nothing. Strong bonds are forming. Seven contestants remain; one of them [drum beat, eye lift] is the mole."

At the end of last week's episode, the prize pot stood at £21,500. Still in the game:

Paul Tregear, 29, firefighter, Westcliff on Sea Essex

Tanya Buck, 33, fitness instructor, Barnet Herts

Dafydd Williams, 27, event co-ordinator, Cardiff

Mel Brookes, 30, information associate, Fleet Hants

Chris Lintern, 27, company director, Chapmanslade Wilts

Karrie Fox, 50, artist, Truro Cornwall

Jim Anderson, 40, garage owner, Kilmarnock Ayrshire

Glenn recaps the story of the silver tubes. Keep them with you, and don't forget them. Chris, this includes you.

Day 10. After a break, they've been driven south to a steam train, and Summerland. "It's time for you to work harder." £10,000 in this challenge. Two volunteers - Chris and Jim - remain behind, the others join the train.

Chris and Jim get an envelope from Glenn. There's a Pass available, and two mountain bikes. One of them could win the pass if they beat the train to the next station, 12km away.

All aboard, until the train stops 2km down the line. And we thought Railtrack was an exclusively British failure! No, this is planned. Glenn explains that five people will appear on the train, each is in one of 50 editions of the local newspaper the team has. Give the full name, and the train will advance 2km.

Tanya gets the first person in 65 seconds; Dafydd the next in 8 minutes. No one can get the third, while it's downhill for the cyclists, and past the train. Paul has the answer, but it's taken him 22 minutes.

Chris suggests to Jim that *they* go on a go-slow, take the money, and all live happily ever after. Chris spots that everyone had newspapers on the train, mentions five stops. He knows a heck of a lot!

Karrie gets the fourth person in 3 minutes. Which suggests Mel has the fifth person. She gets it in seven minutes, and the train beats the cyclists. £10,000 in the kitty, and the gentlemen deflect attention from themselves.

Dafydd points out that "Andre Agassi" was one of the names suggested, Jim reckons he did the right thing.

Weaver's suspicion: Tanya was very quick, Karrie quite quick. Chris knew *a lot* about the game. Suspicion on all three.

En route to the next game, Jim is hauled over, and suspects that the cars are stolen. The vehicles are impounded, and the contestants arrested. On the UK Game Show List last week, I mentioned how Channel 4's LOST! changed when some contestants were arrested. This, then, would be...


Jim is first to be quizzed and searched at the police station. He's charged with "tampering with the tube". Yes! This is a fix-up for the next challenge!

In the van, Chris has been asserting his rights, and people are rather confused and irritated. Inside the cop shop, Chris demurs about removing his belt, and loses his trews. Chris does not have his tube, and is arrested for that offence.

The others are kept in one holding cell. Inside each tube was photographic paper, which turns black when it's opened.

The evidence shows that Dafydd, Karrie, Mel did not open their tubes. Paul, Jim, and Tanya accidentally opened their tubes at various points; all join Chris in the cells. The common excuse - that the top fell off - is only borne out by Tanya's paper.

The prisoners must escape their cells by solving a mathematical puzzle before midnight, and win £10,000. Fail, and they're fined £2000 - £5000 for Chris, who forgot his tube. The honest contestants are given a personal cheque for £1000. For each cheque that comes back, one person will be released.

The puzzle: if A=1, B=2, C=3 (etc), work out [1]:




Neither side knows the details of the other side. The honest brokers only know about the cheques; the criminals only know about their challenge.

Jim took five minutes, and was wrong. Karrie returned her cheque, and buys him out. Chris took two minutes, and was confident and wrong. Mel returned her cheque. Paul took his time, and got the posers right. Tanya took longer, and was right. Dafydd returned his cheque, and will probably be killed by Mrs Williams.

Dafydd spots Chris was mad; Karrie checked the papers before they left. Chris reckons he dropped his tube somewhere, and someone else picked it up. Paul asked Jim what a square root was, and then got the answer correct.

Weaver's suspicion: I've not had chance to review the tape for body language clues at this stage, that may provide some clues, especially amongst the guilty four. Chris, again, fails to produce his tube - he might have learned after the early morning call a few days earlier. With four in the cells, there wasn't much option but to return the cheque. Suspect the four locked up, which removes Karrie from suspicion for the first time.

[Soundtrack: "Little Britain" - Dreadzone]

The next day, the team has to jump into a lake. From a cliff. 20, 30 or 40 ft. £10,000 if the seven can combine for 230 ft. They can't discuss their heights with each other before nominating.

Chris: 40 ft. Wheeeee! "No problem." Apart from a blooded lip. Mel: 40ft. Poor landing, and hurt her arms. Paul: 40ft. He implies Tanya will only go for 20. Pride gets the better of his nerves. Jim: 40ft to splashdown in moments. Tanya: 20ft. "It'll conquer a huge fear." It's windy. It's taken back. It's done! Yay Tanya. Dafydd: 40ft. "Let's get it done." Karrie doesn't have a 10ft cliff to jump from, but has gone for the full 40. And goes for it.

So, that'll be a total of 260ft, and another challenge won. £30,000 this episode, taking the pot to £51,000.

Glenn suggests moles like hills, or someone's feeling the heat of suspicion.

Weaver's suspicion: Tanya's fear of water and heights has been established before, and would be factored into the team's plan. It's a useful fear for a mole to have, but I can't really suspect on this basis.

[1] Answers to the cell puzzle; 201, 142, 51

Last time, the paintball show gelled the team. This time, I think it was the fake arrest. There's a team dynamic at work now. This brings us to the elimination. Last week's nominations are in square brackets.

Dafydd: Tanya [Tanya]

Tanya: Chris [Karrie]

Chris: Karrie [Karrie]

Karrie: Paul, Chris, Dafydd [Chris]

Paul: Karrie, mainly from the early episodes [Karrie]

Jim: Paul over Karrie, Dafydd [Paul, Karrie, Chris]

Mel: Paul, Tanya, maybe not Jim [No nomination (least: Dafydd, Paula)]

My nomination at this stage: Probably still Chris - I'm not convinced by his excuses about losing his tube. Tanya also has the knack of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So, who stays for after-dinner coffee? Chris volunteers to go first. He stays. Dafydd and Paul also asked for it. Dafydd remains; Paul will be with us. Karrie sticks around. I'm running out of synonyms, people! Jim puts me out of my thesaurus moment. He has to go.

"Disappointed, totally wrong. Who wanted a free pass!"

Next week: Treasure Hunt and The Wall.


Some bizarre voting on THE WEAKEST LINK (prime-time) leads to a finale that could easily have ended as a 0-0 draw. And the following denouement:

Anne: What is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea?

Link (playing for £9350): Spain.

Wednesday was the first time TWL went head-to-head against Millionaire this autumn. Millionaire won by a landslide, 9.9m to 4.6m.

The Race: In spite of everything that's wrong with it, I'm beginning to see that this could have been a great show. This week, we had intrigue, ride hitching, sabotage, and all sorts of nastiness. But clunky editing and soporific voiceover from Keith Duffy took away all the drama, leaving four anodyne couples travelling from Thailand to Singapore.


I did say there were changes afoot...

Saturday: UNDER PRESSURE returns for one final time at 4:55 on 5. More all-women MILLIONAIRE at 8:10 (ITV2 at 00:45, THE RACE an hour earlier.) BBC1 is showing football, so there's no GENERATION GAME or WINNING LINES, and FRIENDS LIKE THESE is at 7:05.

Sunday: More MOLE hunting at 9:25 am and 8pm.

Monday: THE BIGGEST GAME IN TOWN moves to an earlier slot at 12 noon. WIPEOUT returns to the schedules at 12:30 on BBC1, unless it's pre-empted for news. WHEEL OF FORTUNE is hosted by Paul Hendy at 2:40 in most ITV regions. The smart alec in COUNTDOWN Dictionary Corner is Nigel Rees. Mrs Trellis will be pleased to hear that I'M SORRY I HAVEN'T A CLUE returns to Radio 4 at 6:30.

Videos at the ready on Monday night. On Discovery, Clive Anderson takes over from Peter Snow (Magnus Magnusson if you're not counting the radio version) as host of MASTERMIND - weeknights at 8 (repeated 00:30.) That's opposite UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE. At 8:30, ITV's SHAFTED continues to go against HOT PROPERTY, where a couple could win a brand new house.

Tuesday: More MILLIONAIRE at 8. All New BANZAI E4, 10:35. Yay.

Wednesday: More MILLIONAIRE at 8, but only for 40 minutes. No Wonderwall on the lottery show. E4 begins MAKE MY DAY at 9, in which hidden cameras follow round people having the most strange experiences.

Friday is the BBC's annual CHILDREN IN NEED bash, so HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU won't air. We do have the BIG BROTHER reunion with all 22 contestants (or as many as they can muster) between 8 and 8:30, and William G attempts to find who is the best quizmaster in a FIFTEEN TO ONE special at 9:30. My money's on Bill.

The next appearance of NICKED! will remain secret until it airs.

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