Weaver's Week 2002-11-23

Weaver's Week Index

23th November 2002

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

This week, the launch date for BBC3 was announced. February 9. Only sixteen months late. It's also been Celebrity Big Brother 2, of which more shortly.


First round, match 12: Durham -v- Queens' Cambridge

In 99, Durham scraped past Balliol Oxford in the opening round, then overpowered Glasgow and Trinity Cambridge before falling to a supreme Open side. The following year, the college lost to North London in the opener, but just beat Fitzwilliam in the repechage. They then swept past King's London, Aberystwyth and UMIST before defeating Oriel Oxford in a very one-sided final. The defending champs eliminated Birmingham in 2001, but lost a second round match to Imperial London.

In 2001, Queens' beat the Welsh College of Medicine but fell to St John's Oxford in the second round.

This week's contest doesn't start in a very promising manner - one starter answered correctly, one missignal, two dropped. By the first picture, only four bonuses have been answered correctly, and York's place as a high-scoring loser looks secure.

It seems that every year's series has to have at least one discordant mess of a match, if only by sheer chance. Just before the music round, Queens' scores the night's first maximum to tie the scores - at 60 each. The music round - an atonal rendition of "God Save The King" that sounds like it's done by Colin Sell but was actually by Charles Ives - seems more than fitting for this week.

We finally beat the all-time low total of 250 with just over three minutes to play. Durham has an insuperable lead, and wins the contest 190-115. It's not a classic contest; this owes more to some very obscure questions than to any weakness from the teams.

Highlight of the week:

Which literary heroine escaped the designs of "the gentleman with sandy whiskers," 
whom she fails to recognise as a fox...
James Henderson, Durham: Jemima Puddleduck 
Thumper: Bet you never thought that would come in useful!

Hidden Student Indicator Of The Week:

According to a BBC studio audience in 2002, "Merle Haggard", "Dot Cotton-ed" and
"Bernhard Langer-ed" are among the current euphemisms for which condition?
Simon Harris, Durham: Being drunk.

The Top Losers Board (two highest scores sure to qualify):

185 Emmanuel Cambridge

180 York
165= Jesus Oxford
165= UMIST
165= Brasenose Oxford

Harris is the top scorer, making 59; Matthew Stevens' 32 for Queens' is bettered by all four members of the Durham side. Durham took 17/33 bonuses with one missignal; Queens' 10/21 with one missignal. The sides combined to miss 11 starters, a testament to the obscurity of this week's questions.

Next week: Warwick -v- Wadham Oxford

Bonus Not At All Obscure College Game Of The Week: Team Bath scored a wonderful goal, but lost 4-2 to Mansfield. This is still better than any student team has managed in more than a century.

Tip for any Grauniad journalists researching next week's scoops: the Tabloids -v- Broadsheets was at Christmas 98, not 00. And UC 87 aired in that well known afternoon slot of 1030 in the morning. Ah well, it's all daytime...


Big Brother's celebrity psychologist Geoffrey Beattie got his name in the papers this week when he claimed that television engaged all parts of the brain. Evidently he hadn't included FAME ACADEMY in his calculations. "It's a perfect medium for advertising" said his report, sponsored by ITV.

Outgoing champ Jack Dee pooh-poohed the show, saying it's a "tired format from a TV channel that's run out of ideas." Unlike a comic who failed to capitalise on his fleeting moments of additional fame.

As Richard O'Brien says every time he sees an update from Witanhurst: "Who are these people?"

+ Goldie, who rose to fame in the early 80s as Simon Groom's dog on BLUE PETER. After splitting from the farmer, he has carved out a small career in drumming, but is still best known for attacking a photographer at an airport in 1996. Celeb list rating: the "who he?" D-

+ Anne Diamond, who rose to fame in the early 80s as presenter of TV-AM, and used her celebrity to cut cot deaths with the Back To Bed campaign. She moved to the BBC's NICE MORNING show in the early 90s; after that show was axed in 1996, she worked on London's LBC with Tommy Boyd (host of WHAT'S HAPPENING?) Celeb list rating, mainly from her past fame: C+

+ Sue Perkins, the brunette half of comedy duo Melon Sue. The Footlights alumni hosted C4's LIGHT LUNCH in 97, before graduating to LATE LUNCH and their own weekly show on the BBC London station. They've recently finished a six-part series on Radio 4, and Sue won the initial Celebrity Weakest Link at Christmas 2000, beating (inter alia) Vanessa Feltz. Sue was persuaded to take part by erstwhile umfriend Rhona "Dark Angel" Cameron. Celeb list rating: B- and rising once more.

+ Melinda Messenger, who was plucked from Daily Star pinup to national spokesmodel in six weeks at the start of 97. Since then, she's brought her assets to four seasons of FORT BOYARD, had a child, and popped up here and there. Celeb list rating: still popular, B. (This may be the only place on the entire net where Melinda Messenger is described as a B.)

+ Les Dennis, whose career started as half a double act with Dustin Gee in the early 80s. Following Gee's tragic death in 1986, Dennis became a solo comedian, and hosted FAMILY FORTUNES for fifteen years. Last spotted doing some boxing for Sport Relief. Celeb list rating: a slightly naff B-.

+ Mark Owen, the pretty boy from pop group Take That. Voted the "sexiest man in pop" for four years, Owen's solo career came to a grinding halt after three singles and a #33 album. Last spotted doing a bit part in some soap or other. Celeb list rating: a faded D.

Opening night ratings: 7.2m / 29% (winning the 2100 and 2130 slots.)

In order to provide something for E4 viewers, the sleb six have to make their own beds, from provided bits of wood and screws. The team finds it an ickier job than they thought, as they can't find the last spanner. More fine intelligence required, and some of those clippy plastic things that break after five minutes.

Task one: the six make up their shopping list, then have to fish rubber ducks out of the Sandy Memorial Pool. Their shopping has been provided in eight regular shopping baskets, and they have six minutes to move the baskets from one side of the garden to the other. The only catch: they have to use a miniature mechanical digger to move the baskets. Goldie is the nominated digger driver, and is issued with regulation Bob The Builder hard hat and reflective jacket. It's six minutes of carefully constructed hilarity, as the baskets are spilled everywhere, dropped all over the garden, taken up two at a time, sods are ripped from the turf, and the whole thing degenerates into a highly mechanised PRO-CELEBRITY IT'S A KNOCKOUT. The group wins about 85% of the shopping.

It's a Bad Week for Sue Perkins, who is unable to join Punt and Dennis on Celador's production for Radio 2, IT'S BEEN A BAD WEEK. She's in contention for their Worst Week Of The Week Award, Awarded Weekly On A Week By Week Basis, but is beaten by a shoplifter from Hereford who was caught when his talking Buzz Lightyear doll talked. The doll will now get a part in EASTENDERS.

Night two ratings: 4.5m / 20%. Still above average for the channel, but down on BB3 at this point.

Keith Chegwin, reviewing CBB for Radio 1, said that the show was "as interesting as watching paint dry." Which still makes it infinitely better than Fame Academy...

First two up for the chop are Goldie and Les Dennis. Fans of BB's Earpiece may well have heard the senior producer talking to The Voice Of BB during Friday's live nomination sequence, especially when Mark Owen was failing to give adequate reasons.

First eviction show is 2100 Sunday, another on Tuesday, another on Thursday, with the winner announced on Friday. There are tasks on Monday and Wednesday. Nothing on Saturday, allowing Earth Mother Davina to go off and do something far less interesting instead.


At Witanhurst, Dogsby and Betcha have been trying to build tension by only naming two of the contestants up for eviction on Monday, the third following a few days later. Not only does this leave the third contestant less time to prepare, it means that they cannot compete on a level playing field - or votes cast during the intervening period are discounted. Neither is A Fair Thing to do, and the BBC ought to be ashamed of itself for adopting such cheap tactics. Shame? BBC? Sorry, I must have taken leave of my senses.

Nominations for the National Comedy Awards are in, and amongst the three up for the Best Entertainment Comedy Show gong... HELP! I'M A CELEBRITY SURVIVOR GET ME IN AND OUT OF HERE! Evidently going for Uri Geller's priceless contributions.

Former host of MALLETT'S MALLET, Timmy Mallett, has won a court injunction against West Ham United football club. The soccer outfit, known to its supporters as "the Hammers" had been selling squeaky plastic hammers through the club shop. This, it was felt, was far too close to Mallett's trademarked range of squeaky plastic mallets.


Saturday sees Anne Robinson host WEAKEST LINK: FAMOUS FOR... Contestants include Edwina Currie (former MP), Terry Christian (THE WORD), Cheryl Baker (EGGS AND BAKER) and Rik Waller (11th on POP IDLE). 1840 Saturday. Followed by Eamonn Holmes' SATELLITE DELAY. MILLIONAIRE gets under way at 1955.

In the ubiquity stakes, CELEBRITY BIG BROTHER will be on C4 and E4 almost all day until the Friday finale. At Witanhurst Manor, there are just five contestants in the game, so there should only be one week after this. Thanks to the unique way the BBC is funded, it's able to string out this load of old cobblers for yet another week, and not have it come to an end till the second Friday in December. It's a SHAME ACADEMY is all over the BBC. On the upside, Britain may never have looked forward to a Friday the 13th before.

Don't forget the interactive features available to all viewers. If you're watching BBC1 (for SHAME ACADEMY) or C4 / E4 (for CELEB BIG BROTHER), you can access a wide range of information, views, conversation, and other features. Simply press the red button on your remote control handset, and pick up a newspaper after your television set turns off.

We praised the BBC for its smart scheduling of University Challenge last week. This week, it's rotten eggs to Channel 4. Last week saw the second semi final of SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE, which would rather logically suggest that the final would be this week. That doesn't take into account the claims of an advertorial for a pop magazine, something that must have been known about when scheduling for this series began. As a result, the final won't be on until December 1, giving the teams an extra week to construct a machine to schedule a television channel better.

With all this going on, there's hardly any room for other programmes. WEAKEST LINK USA gets repeats at 1715 on 2, perhaps a concession to CBB on 4. WIPEOUT at 1230 on 1, FAMILY FORTUNES at 1730 on ITV, and BRAINTEASER at 1330 on 5 are joined by FIFTEEN TO ONE and COUNTDOWN in their regular slots from 1545.

Ulrika's search for MR RIGHT has been slipping further and further down the schedules. It started at 2100, then moved to 2230, and is currently scheduled for 2300 Thursday. It may yet swap places with NHITE AND DAY at 0100. The players are isolated in a London loft, and don't know that the series has turned into the biggest turkey this side of Norfolk, unless they correctly interpret Jonsson's suggestion that "it helps if you have big families." In a similar vein, the Worst CRYSTAL MAZE Team Ever get another chance to see their abject humiliation on Monday.

This week, Angus Deayton is played by Clive Anderson. This week's Smart Alec is Qd's Tim Brooke-Taylor.

To have Weaver's Week emailed to you on publication day (usually Saturday), receive our exclusive TV roundup of the game shows in the week ahead, and chat to other ukgameshows.com readers sign up to our Yahoo! Group.

Back to Weaver's Week Index

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