Weaver's Week 2001-12-03

Weaver's Week Index

3rd December 2001

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

This week:

- Shafted Shafted

- Millionaire Interactive

- University Challenge's Tin Cup


For the uninitiated, that'll be one of the catchphrases of SHAFTED. Along with "You're only safe if you're in the lead," and "Will you share [gesture] or will you shaft [another gesture, verging on the obscene if viewed from the wrong angle]," and "Where's the remote?"

On Monday's SHAFTED, two contestants managed to diddle each other out of a £207,000 jackpot, deciding to walk away with the grand total of 0p. This was perhaps the high point of the series. On Tuesday, ITV decided to shelve Robert Kilroy-Silk's new quiz show. In its place, Chris Tarrant with another episode of WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?. At 6 million, viewing figures weren't high enough to lead in to top drama COLD FEET, so ITV will bring out its proven big gun.

The network promises SHAFTED will return at the end of the year with an "uninterrupted run" for the remaining 16 episodes. In the same way, X-FIRE will return next year. Forgive a touch of cynicism, or a thought that this might follow THE PEOPLE VERSUS into the shoulder-peak shadows.

In the meantime, relieve those agonising waiting pains at www.playshafted.com or devise your own twists to the rules and present the game at your family's Christmas gathering. It beats the same game of Trivial Pursuit you've played for the past twelve years. Perhaps.

Or you could go to the US and play WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE for anyone who wants to see members of the public take part in the quiz. If you thought the couples and parent gimmicks in the UK were tawdry, ABC has been running more celebrity editions than regular Joe shows for some months now, and reports this week suggested the network may remove WWTBAM from its regular prime-time programming next autumn. A syndicated daytime edition and sweeps specials will keep Celador's cash rolling in, while industry commentators suggested that this was a negotiating ploy by the mouse.


Viewers with a DVB receiver, or an OnDigital box, are now able to play along with Chris and the contestants, and potentially win some fantastic prizes. Not money, that's for the main quiz, but knick-knacks and promotional goodies. Millionaire video games, Millionaire CDs, Millionaire cough sweets... you get the picture.

It's all very simple to play. Tune to ITV2 (not the regular ITV) and press the red button on your remote control. Scroll through the rules, then answer the same question that the contestant on screen faces by pushing the appropriate numbered button.

Scoring is simple, and is the same as on the main game. Viewers can push the "Walk away" button, bank their winnings, and not risk dropping back to the previous safe level. There are bonus points for getting the FFF question right, and for answering the question correctly before a contestant uses the lifeline.

Technically, there are still a few rough edges. The top of the screen contains a score bar, showing exactly how much you've scored in this game. This is perfectly aligned with the top edge of the screen if you're watching in widescreen on a regular set, but obscures the contestant's forehead in centre cutout mode. At the bottom is the set of options: in centre cutout, this exactly covers the options on screen; in widescreen, one can see the top two choices. Most importantly, when a contestant goes 50-50, interactive players still see all four options. It's impossible to find which have gone missing.

These aside, the presentation is fast and clean, with the opportunity of winning big prizes. If you score the maximum available, that is.

This is a fun little addition to Millionaire's range, and while it's not a particular selling point, it might shift a few DTTV boxes.


Second round, match 2: [#5] Edinburgh -v- [#3] Wadham Oxford.

It'll be close. Edinburgh appeared just two weeks ago, beating Hull in the second repercharge. They lost their opener to Christ's Cambridge. Wadham took the obligatory big win over Cranfield in early September.

Correct bonus answers are at a premium early on, just three coming from the first five starters. Edinburgh has the early advantage, but doesn't pull away until the music round. It's never one-way traffic, but a 100-point lead at the second set of pictures doesn't give much room for an upset.

Stopping Thumper In His Tracks:

The islands of Samoa are divided into two administrative areas: Western Samoa...
Andrew Gregory, Edin: American Samoa

Student Indicator Of The Week, the moment that says most about Britain's academics.

Thumper: [uninspiring question about an element]
Freya Harrison, WadO: Tin
Thumper: Wrong. Edinburgh?
Gregory: Tin

Edinburgh's captain later explains that they all thought Harrison had said "Zinc." This tells something about the ears of fine students, or the acoustics of Granada studios.

Though Wadham tries well to pull back, the final score is a fair reflection, Edinburgh winning 220-130. At the third time of asking, David Griffith (Edin) got not one, but three starters. This is three more than he got in the first two shows put together. Gregory's 65 was the top individual score, just ahead of Mary-Ellen Foster's 63. Harrison led for Wadham, on 43.5. Edinburgh got 18/39 bonuses, Wadham 8/30.

Someone's Eating Pizza Moment: The show was interrupted by a brief fade to green (the new black) followed by a still picture of a house. One Wadham starter was lost. The continuity announcer apologised. In order to be fair, I've split this starter between all four Wadham members, resulting in odd half points flying around.

Next: St Hugh's Oxford -v- Churchill Cambridge. Pick Churchill.


This week: a funky little suitcase negotiating game, a hysterical marching band game, and a not too compelling drop-a-bomb-from-a-moving-helicopter-onto-a-speedboat game. The pot can go down, as well as up. It's the finale this weekend. Bet it's one of the remaining three.

"Somewhere or other, the mole will strike." Glenn's overlooking a valley. Everyone has suspected Karrie of being the mole. No one wants to fall here. Who will be the chosen three? Who will fall by the wayside? Tanya, Chris, Paul, Dafydd. One of them is the mole.

£71,500 is in the prize pot. Just four are still in the game:

Paul Tregear, 29, firefighter, Westcliff on Sea Essex

Tanya Buck, 33, fitness instructor, Barnet Herts

Chris Lintern, 27, company director, Chapmanslade Wilts

Dafydd Williams, 27, event co-ordinator, Cardiff

The four went on a pub crawl last night. It's 6:30am, and they now have five minutes to get downstairs. There's a newspaper outside Tanya's room. Fourteen minutes later, Paul appears. With his bag, and after a shower. That's the odd £500 off their prize fund.

Glenn leads each player away, and holds her hostage in a room in the hotel. They're handcuffed, blindfolded, and told not to remove their blinds before being led away to a car. On the wall is the final clue to the identity of the mole. It's some Scrabble letters on a board on the wall. Tanya removes her blindfold, Chris looks down his nose at the board, Dafydd blatantly removes the blindfold. Paul sits tight.

The board contains a number of words, including all the contestants' names, and reminders of the challenges. In the centre, the phrase "The mole is male."

Other words on the board include: Tanya, Paul, pair, a_o, lie, dat, qui_, newt, wel_h, clues, Chris, Glenn, Dafyd_, taxi, spy, ringer, go, crook, ?ond, bear. We didn't get a good look at many words in the bottom left corner. ? denotes a letter we didn't see, _ the use of a blank tile.

Glenn drives the four to Layer Cake Mountain, where there are four suitcases. In each suitcase, something different:

+ £1000 in cash

+ Three correct answers for the elimination

+ A free pass

+ Nothing

If all four people choose a unique suitcase, the team wins £5000. If two people choose the same case, the team wins nothing, but anyone who *has* chosen a unique case will get that. Each player will negotiate with each other once, for two minutes.

Tanya is agreeable not to have another pass, and suggests Paul or Chris goes for it. She'll take the money.

Dafydd insists Chris will take the case in front of him. Chris reckons Tanya should have the case with nothing. Chris reckons he'll take the 3, Dafydd the pass, Tanya the cash.

Chris tells Tanya that the other gents have agreed to take the case in front, leaving Tanya with nothing. Tanya wants something out of the game. Dafydd and Paul agree that Tanya will spoil that, but are unsure how they'll play that out.

Eventually, each person tells Glenn their choice, and he hands them a pre-printed card. Who has gone for what?

Dafydd: free pass, as predicted

Chris: 3 answers, as predicted

Paul: free pass, not cash.

Tanya: nothing, as predicted.

The challenge is lost, but Chris gets three bonus points on the elimination.

Paul reckons that £5000 isn't enough to accommodate the reduced odds of someone - anyone - taking the pass. He apologises to Tanya, who has been left with nothing. Dafydd understands.

The clue: it didn't cross Paul's mind to look. Dafydd reckons someone might have removed "FE."

The game: Tanya is hacked off that Dafydd and Chris have - once again - forced the position for the group, and she reckons it's sexist. Chris is happy with his lot, Paul is unapologetic about losing the money.

The obvious sabotage would be to blow the money. The not-so-obvious sabotage would be to play along, and expecting someone else to blow it.

To the Apple Bowl, for a £5000 challenge. The best person at taking instructions is... Paul. Mr 15 minutes to get downstairs. On the pitch is a marching band. Paul will learn instructions from the bandleader, he will teach the next person, and so on down the team.

Tanya is next. She asks questions of Paul. Then on to Chris, and finally to Dafydd. Then our team get dressed up in tartans and dress shirts. Paul assigns each member to a band, and the bands need to capture the flags at the far end of the CFL field, and bring them back. Around 10 minutes. The bands must not collide, and they can only use the stick instructions.

Tanya nearly leads her team into Dafydd's, and it's a nasty scramble to avoid each other. Dafydd gets his flags quickly, but Chris keeps missing his flags. Paul is concerned about Tanya, and reckons Chris is too slow. Finally, everyone captures their flags, and heads for home, but the songs expire. Chris was on the wrong side of the field, too.

Paul is pleased with Dafydd, and he's happy, too. Tanya and Chris enjoyed themselves. Paul didn't spot the arrangement of the flags. Tanya suggests Paul is the nominee.

The obvious sabotage would be to lead your band into someone else's. The not so obvious sabotage: to do a good job, but slow other teams down.

The next morning, we're off to Wood Lake. For £10,000, drop a bomb from a helicopter at 25ft to a target trailing a speedboat below. One drop each, 2/4 to win the money. The contestants talk to the pilot via radio mike.

Paul is first up, and doesn't quite give clear directions. He fires, but misses by about a foot. He's allowed to give tips to the next player, but not say whether he hit. Dafydd is next up, he misses left by about a yard.

"Bring it on" says Tanya, and she brings it on. Hits the left side of the target.

Chris is last to drop, and Tanya suspects Chris will ignore her. He claims not to, and spends a long time getting in position. He drops as the boat begins to turn, and misses left. The mole would be tipped off about the score, and do something to even the odds. Points towards Tanya, less so for Chris.

Another difficult challenge, but the boat went straight, and then weaved. Paul and Tanya dropped their bombs while the boat went straight. Dafydd dropped during a weave, and Chris waited for a weave, and blew it. So, the net winnings for this game: the grand non-total of minus £500.

The final elimination. Who nominates whom? Chris has three extra answers.

Tanya: "I've been playing the mole since day 1" Chris [Chris]

Dafydd: Votes for Tanya, but he reckons Paul [Tanya]

Paul: Hunch, doesn't know, doesn't say. [Karrie]

Chris: Tanya [Karrie]

Weaver nominates: Chris is playing an absolute disaster, but the head still says it's Tanya, based on the other clues. Dafydd ... has to go. "I think I know who the mole is, but I couldn't answer the questions based on them."

Next week... the mole is unmasked. And someone wins a shrinking pot of money. Plus a cable car and some spotlights.


THE WEAKEST LINK spends a full hour playing a nine-person game on Monday. It's just too long; 45 minutes is the right length, maybe spinning it out to 50 minutes if the guests are particularly interesting. But an hour is too much waffle. The audience doesn't agree, migrating away from RICHARD AND JUDY (2.2m) and back to Ms Robinson (4.5m). Both are beaten by BBC1's double-punch of BLUE PETER and NEIGHBOURS.

THE RACE crossed the Pacific last week, and legs it up the Peruvian Andes. En route, our teams spend a night at a mountaintop village, perform a local dance, and eat the national delicacy. Marmalade sandwiches all round it is, then. We have people who can actually speak Spanish gain an advantage, fog over footage of dead cuddly animals (it tastes like beached shark, apparently) It all comes down to a race to the line, with three sides finishing within four minutes of each other. This is thanks to an artificial conceit that stops the teams travelling overnight. Two teams are not getting on well. The other two are consistently in the hunt for stage wins. Could these facts be connected?

Sympathies, by the way, to the people of the small mountain village of Heraz. They must have thought that fame, fortune, and tourist dollars were coming their way when four camera crews descended on their town at once. Sadly, their parade and hospitality was lost when it emerged that they would only be seen by 20,000 on ITV2.


Another week, another revised BBC1 Saturday evening schedule. The Waiting Game at 7:10, followed at 7:50 by the return of the JET SET. That goes on till 8:25, Millionaire kicks in at 8:10. For the record, there's a non-interactive Millionaire omnibus on ITV2 late Sunday morning.

Find out the identity of THE MOLE C5 Sunday at 8. All three could be suspects, if you disregard the contestant who jumped up and down shouting "It's me!"

THE WEAKEST LINK TV Medics Special, postponed from September 12, finally airs this Wednesday. Followed by JET SET DEPARTURE LOUNGE, in which nine contestants compete for the right to come back and share even more studio time with Eamonn Holmes.

Radio watch notes the triennial TOP BRAIN, finding the best competitor amongst the last three Brains Of Britain. Monday 1:30 on Radio 4.

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