Weaver's Week 2002-10-05

Weaver's Week Index

5th October 2002

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

This week, CHALLENGE?'s leading advertiser went into liquidation. Who will handle claims against Claims Direct? Also...

- Will Thumper manage to avoid living up to his name?
- Is Chris Moyles any good on live telly?
- Fear. Is it a factor for the Wok?


First round, match 5: Selwyn, Cambridge -v- Merton, Oxford

Selwyn beat Birmingham in 96, a winning draw with Middlesex and a victory over Univ Oxford saw a creditable semi, defeated by the LSE. Their 98 run knocked off Harris Manchester Oxford, but was brought to a crashing halt by Leicester. Merton hasn't appeared in the revival.

Selwyn goes 3/3 on plate tectonics, Merton replies with 3/3 on mnemonics. Selwyn amuses Thumper no end when they suggest Arthur Scargill reckoned the UK was a socialist country, instead of Poland circa 1983. They then cause the poor host's eyebrows to fuse a few light bulbs when they suggest a former British prime minister included Mr Ronald Reagan.

It's a low scoring match; just ten splits the sides going into the music round. Thumper finally gives up when Selwyn suggests that the 18 year olds got the vote in 1918. Eighteen. One-eight. Only 52 years out. Somehow, the sides are level again at the second picture round.

Then Hinesh Rajani gets to grips, securing three starters in a row, and Merton looks unstoppable. Mark Galtrey for Selwyn gets a run of starters later on, but very few bonuses. That's the reason Merton runs out the winners, 180-160.

Gratuitously Long Starter Of The Week: Meaning "royal" and coming to mean "a royal palace," what name is given to a large hall or building with double colonnades and a semi-circular apse used in ancient Rome for public assembly, and also to certain churches...

Alec McCluskey, Merton: Basilica

Brainless Response Of The Week: What is the angle at the apex of an isosceles triangle if one of the angles at the base is 21 degrees?

Galtrey: Erm...

Thumper passes on McCluskey: 48?

Thumper: No, this is GCSE level maths. 138 degrees. [rolls eyebrows]

Thumper Lashes at the Producers: Which animated film of 2000 is about an arrogant young ruler who is transformed into a llama? [Selwyn passes] Why you should be expected to know this rubbish, I've no idea. The Emperor's New Groove.

Galtrey is Selwyn's top scorer, making 92 points. Rajani's 60 leads the way for Merton. Selwyn made 14/32 bonuses with two missignals; Merton 18/36 with two missignals.

The Top 4 Losers Board: 180 York 165 Jesus Oxford; UMIST 160 Selwyn Cambridge

Next week: Leeds -v- Liverpool John Moores

FEAR FACTOR (Endemol UK for Sky One, 2000 Tuesday)

The format is similar to the one we know from the US, but there's a crucial difference. The six contestants are in two teams of three, and no one leaves before the end. This is probably because the contestants have been flown out to South Africa, which is a very long and expensive flight, and it would be rather pointless to send someone home after 15 seconds of screen time. This also allows the show to spin out to a UK cabsat standard 48 minutes, rather than the 43 minutes of the US version.

Ed Sanders hosts. He has a cockney accent, but isn't as nasty as his trans-oceanic counterpart. He can leave that up to the teams. All he needs to do is explain the challenges, and conduct a few interviews. His role is similar to Dermot O'Leary's on BBLB - telling the facts, and maintaining a neutral editorial stance. One wonders if Ed Hall might have been considered for the job, but then FF takes itself seriously.

There's a potential £20,000 jackpot, but only one team will win some money. The first game is a timed physical challenge, with £3000 going to the fastest four to complete the challenge - assuming four complete the challenge.

Challenge two is always some sort of snack, the sort that Uri Geller would knock back in his stride. The opponents choose the order of play for two members. £3000 goes into the kitty for anyone who can chow down within the time limit. The third is the spectacular finale, worth £5000 to the winner, and the winner of this challenge is the only one to take any money home with them.

As ever, FEAR FACTOR plays on the abilities and strength of its contestants. Sanders' understated hosting contrasts well with Joe Rogan's loud and brash US style. A case of different approaches for different markets, I suspect.

For some reason, the UK show feels darker and more claustrophobic than its US counterpart. Part of that is the stark white or yellow-on-transparent typeface for the captions, part of that could well be in the hosting style.

It's action packed, it's macho, and it's surprisingly watchable.

LIVE WITH CHRIS MOYLES (umtv for five, 1902 weekdays)

Not only does he present a national radio show, he pops down to a pub in London and entertains the nation. At least, that's the theory.

The practice includes some vague game show elements. The "Guess The First Thing That Comes Into My Head" game, where Chris sees a photo, writes down the first thing that comes into his head, and the first caller to guess said thought is the winner. There's some bizarre stunt involving finding a car filled of chocolate that didn't quite become clear.

And there's the show's signature stunt, "Push The Pint." Audience member tries to push a filled pint glass down a bar hanging out of a window. Most of the bar is dark coloured; if the glass lands on that, or it flies off the end, the audience (pretends to) get an electric shock. Parts of the bar is light coloured; the glass landing there results in a shock for the host. There's a star near the end; the glass coming to rest on that mark gives a shock for Moyles, and £1000 for the pint-pusher. Shove ha'penny played for half-a-million times the regular stakes, anyone?

Like ANTAN DEC'S TAKEAWAY, this show runs the risk of becoming very stale very quickly. The DAILY SHOW-influenced topical gags help pad the time, but Moyles could use a new feature Real Soon Now.


Shane Ritchie, host of RUN THE RISK and a number of other game shows, signs to the EASTENDERS cast. We needed another reason not to watch the show.

The channels for MonkeyVision replacement Freeview were announced. Music channel from EMAP, music channel from MTV. UK Lifestyle will show some of Horizons and Style's originals. Far more interestingly, a 6pm-to-6am channel, FTV, will showcase some of the best productions from the Flextech stable, probably including some of Challenge ?'s original productions. "Do you want to stick with the monkey? Defect: now." Freeview launches October 30.

All good British shows seem to wind their way over the Atlantic, but the pace has become breakneck in recent weeks. Last week, we reported how Bob Geldof launched NICKED! II: THE LAWYERS GET IN in a London court. Within hours, the format transferred Stateside, with the premiere of LITIGATED!

It's almost a direct copy of the British version: CBS is claiming prior art over ABC's proposed reworking of MINOR CELEBRITY TORTURE AND BICKERING. The Eye's spokeslegal accused The Alphabet of "a transparent attempt to infringe the copyright of SURVIVOR and wrongfully trade on CBS' success and goodwill," two qualities that have been noticeably absent from The Mouse's original shows for around seven years.

CBS claims ABC is setting its show in a rugged location similar to Survivor II: The Australian Outback. This would be different from the British version, which used the exact same location as US Survivor II. Further, the new show will use a tribal council-like campfire setting when it comes to booting each episode's victim.

I'M A CELEBRITY DOWN UNDER is provisionally scheduled for February's sweeps. It's not known which local Australian celebrities will be on the show, but Kylie Minogue seems to cover all bases.


DOG EAT DOG is in the doghouse, sent to the 1735 slot before comedy reruns. MILLIONAIRE also returns to its more regular 2000 slot.

In this week's SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE, the teams have to navigate round a course with the windows blacked out. 1730 Su C4.

WHO GOES THERE? A biographical quiz show on Radio 4, 1330 We.

BBC Choice's daily entertainment news programme LIQUID NEWS goes six days a week from Sunday, 1901.

It's the first full week of FAME ACADEMY, and this is the complete list of television transmissions: Sa 2325 Choice Su 2000 Choice Mo 1735 CBBC; 1930 (rep of Su), 2030 (rep 2300, 0100) Choice Tu 0800 BBC2; 0805, 1735 CBBC; 1900 BBC1; 2030 (rep 2300, 0100) Choice We 0800 BBC2; 0805, 1735 CBBC; 2030 (rep 2300, 0100) (2200 rep of Su) Choice Th - As Tu - Fr 0800 BBC2; 0805, 1735 CBBC; 2030 BBC1; 2130, 2230 Choice

That's a total of (whips out calculator) 17 hours 35 minutes.

Closing thought: Jade's agent reckons it would be good for her to keep a low media profile. Primetime ITV it is, then.

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