Weaver's Week 2002-11-30

Weaver's Week Index

30th November 2002

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

This week, Vanessa Feltz said she was "addicted" to Celeb Big Brother. The show reached its conclusion this week.


First round, match 13: Warwick -v- Wadham Oxford

Warwick made the semis in 96, beating Pembroke Oxford, Caius Cambridge, and Newcastle, before falling to Imperial London. The side lost to Oxford Brookes in 98, Birkbeck in 99, and Newcastle (on a tie) and UCL in 00. They beat Peterhouse Cambridge in 01, but fell to Sheffield Hallam in the second. Warwick alumni include "Education secretary Estelle Morris." She resigned a month ago. C'est la vie. Wadham took out Cranfield last year, before losing to the spirited Edinburgh side in the second round.

170 is required to make the repechage: by the first picture round, it looks more likely that Wadham will be vying for the lowest score ever, as they trail by the magnificent non-score of 65-0. Wadham pulls it back slightly by the "music" round, 130-60, though with Sarah Brightman involved, this is more of a "sound clips" round.

Warwick is in imperious form tonight, allowing just five starters to the opposition by the second picture round. Watch this side, it's going a long way forward.

Thumper is clearly feeling nice to the Wadham team, allowing them a starter with the answer "radicals" after prompting for something before, such as the word "free." It's a bit late for the win, but could just have affected the top scoring losers.

Not that it does: Wadham doesn't get any of the bonuses, then three missignals. Warwick's final winning score is 275-140. Had Wadham come up against almost any other side, I think they would have progressed.

Wow! That's a quick start! The first starter:

Begun by the emperor Vespasian, and completed...
Andrew Lay, Warwick: The Colosseum.

Hidden Student Indicators Of The Week: Warwick goes 3/3 on allegedly obscene literature. Wadham goes 3/3 on conversational Russian. The teams combine to go 0/4 on opera singers (and Sarah Brightman) in popular music.

Obscure Running Items: Well, Wadham knows about Pavlov's dogs and the conditioned reflex. Watching, Annie?

The Top Losers Board (two highest scores plus one on 165 sure to qualify):

185 Emmanuel Cambridge

180 York
165= UCL
165= UMIST
165= Brasenose Oxford

Andrew Lay (88) and Jonathan Skinner (86) were the backbone of Warwick's win. Clare Dyer-Smith led for Wadham with 43. Warwick made 30/45 bonuses and one missignal; Wadham 15/24 with three missignals. The teams were perfect on arts questions, with Warwick picking up 60 of a potential 65 on literature.

Next week: Southampton -v- Edinburgh in the last first round match.


+ Goldie, the retired BLUE PETER dog. Celeb list rating on entry: D-

+ Anne Diamond, the former TV-AM presenter. Celeb list rating: C+

+ Sue Perkins, the comedienne. Celeb list rating: B-

+ Melinda Messenger, the host of FORT BOYARD. Celeb list rating: B

+ Les Dennis, the host of FAMILY FORTUNES. Celeb list rating: B-

+ Mark Owen, the former pop star. Celeb list rating: D

Going into this week, Goldie and Les Dennis were up for eviction. Anne Diamond was being lampooned by the Daily Tabloid and Daily Hell for daring to look a bit like a grown up Kelly Osbourne. Melinda had lost her voice, and Sue was beating Mark at Connect Four.

It's "How To Make A Big Brother Quilt" on Channel Four this week, as the celeb six are asked to sew patches of fabric together, while discussing events from their life. Maya Angelou was unavailable, apparently. Though they sew through the night, the group fails to have at least two people on the sofa at all times, leaving it entirely empty at least twice. BB takes pity on the group, and allows them to have a few drinks and a box of discussion topics. This allows Les Dennis to gush about his wife.

First to leave is the dog of the group. Goldie is led out after losing a 5-4 split on a quarter of a million votes. Low votes? Not really: we've had slightly less than 48 hours to vote, rather than the usual three and a bit days. Unusually, the evictions take place via the back door, now right next to the glass patio door. No-one's coming out of the front door until Friday, so they don't have to have crowds on set five nights out of ten. His post-march interview shows a deep rift with Melinda Messenger - there was clear friction there.

Goldie's revised rating on exit: well, we've now heard of him at Weaver Towers, and he's provided a memorable image of a bloke wearing a wig and a Bob T. Builder outfit on a mini-digger shoving baskets of food about. For that alone, C-.

There's an 80s party after he leaves (playing top music from, er, 1991) and another task on Monday. The five remaining contestants must answer three questions about one other housemate. Ten correct answers out of 15 wins a reward. The person with the lowest score will nominate the next two for eviction. Anne gets 2/3 on Les, Les a big fat zero on Melinda. Mark scores 3 on Sue, Mel 3 on Mark, and Sue 2 on Anne. That's 10/15, just enough to scoop (errr...) some tea bags.

On returning to the diary room, Les points out that one of his questions was rubbish. BB had said that Melinda had sat some A-levels, when she hadn't. Students born before August 31, 1971, sat exams at age 16 at two levels - GCE (General Certificate of Education) for the more advanced, and Certificate of Secondary Education (CSE) for the less academic. Students born after this date, sitting their exams in summer 1988 and later, took a unified exam, the GCSE (General Certificate of Secondary Education.) Advanced levels, sat at age 18, are also awarded as GCEs. Melinda was amongst the last cohort to take GCE and CSE exams, but took some GCSE exams the following year at college. This clearly confused the BB researcher, as it is far too complex to be understood by anyone who didn't have to live through it.

This explanation, along with Les's long, long, long, long nominations process, means that the old joke of "...and you can see the remaining 23 hours of Les's monologue on E4..." very nearly comes true. Eventually, we figure that Anne and Sue are up for the chop, as "they can both take it" in a way that Mark and Mel can't.

This doesn't explain Les and Anne's fascination with show tunes. Les hosts a rip-off of FAMILY FORTUNES. He could be quite a good host, a little better than Andy Collins. And it's a very big hello to Miss Maisey, one of Anne's sons' teachers.

Second out, by a gnat's crochet, is Anne Diamond. Very politely, she ensures the Garden Eviction Door is closed behind her. BB is working to set the group against each other, and Anne and EMD get into a long spat over whether sewing a border on the quilt was against the rules.

Anne didn't have that far to climb in the celeb stakes, this week has served to remind us why we like her. Her habit of baking a new loaf of bread every five and a half hours has certainly endeared her to the flour fraternity, and her actions have stuck up two fingers to the tabloid press obsession with slim and busty. We'll remember her for opening up about the loss of her son, and not claiming any of the glory for the subsequent reduction in SIDS. B+.

Straight away, it's on to the last set of nominations. Sue and Mark both get a full three votes; Melinda two (nothing from Les) and Les a big fat zero. In true game show addict style, he says that he refuses to vote tactically, "as one does on WEAKEST LINK." Perhaps not game show obsessed enough: The Four had some giant skittles and a shakey-hands buzzer thing, but didn't manage to have someone act as Richard O'Brien.

Dermot, Jade *did not* win BB3. That was the lady plugging her workout video for *your channel* in the commercial break just a moment ago. Jade would have finished seventh, and been booed to high heaven, were it not for a lack of balance in the editing that week.

Perhaps the lack of Slick Rick impressions was a precursor of the last challenge. A more than slightly complex assault course, complete with laser beams they weren't meant to break. Everyone completed the course in about 90 seconds plus penalties, except for Mark Owen, your flexible friend, shaving 25% off this time.

Third out, by quite a distance, is Sue. She's had a time, bonded well with Mark, and clearly wanted to go out ever since hearing she was up for nomination again. She collapsed under her quilt, like all the bones had been sucked out of her body. In the post-hop interview, she has a go at Melinda, whom she accuses of suppressing her emotions and presenting a cold face to the world.

Sue: Tricky one, this. Never took herself seriously, until her second nomination, when she crumpled badly. Television exposure will help, but hasn't lived up to her potential, and not as good as LIGHT LUNCH. B-.

Ratings for Celeb BB stabilised at about 4.5 million - not quite as high as the regular series, but still far higher than C4 would expect to see at this time.

In a preview of how they'll spend December and January, the celebs performed a shortened version of Jack and The Beanstalk, complete in three minutes. Melinda can be seen in Aladdin at the Birmingham Hippeydrome all winter.

Melinda is third: There's clearly a brain in there, but it's being overshadowed by her amazing niceness. That cloys after a couple of days, can't last a week, and there is merit in Sue's claim that Mel put on a face to hide her emotions. B-, the only one to lose ground, albeit from a very high starting point.

Tonight's sad loser is Les. The prolonged deliberations in the diary room, the inch-perfect remake of Family Fortunes, and not being afraid to discuss his wife. This could have been a career-saving week, but it doesn't compare with Tony Blackburn for Celeb Revival Of The Year, mainly because Les didn't win. B+.

Which means the winner is Mark. Spent much of the week as quiet as the cute guy at the front in the video clips on VH1. Spent far too much time being overshadowed by the others, but we'll remember him for his amazing swinging ability and the way he came from absolutely nowhere to win the thing. Record companies were seeking his signature as early as Wednesday, apparently. C+.

Over a million votes cast in just over 24 hours to determine the winner. Compare and contrast with the shenanigans at the Beeb, which scored a million votes over four days.

Does the choice of winner tell us something about the respective audiences for ITV and C4? In the final analysis, CELEB SURVIVOR OUT OF HERE also boiled down to a transient star of the mid 90s versus an entertainer not in the first flush of youth. ITV viewers narrowly picked the more elderly entertainer; C4 the junior star.

Overall: Very good for the contestants involved. Combining highlights, eviction, and live nominations in one hour-long show was too much. BBLB seemed very desperate in its choice of guests and activities, and those without E4, only seeing the first half of the show, missed very little. I'm really warming to the suggestion that the format takes next year off to stay fresh.


The more observant will have noticed that last Saturday's WEAKEST LINK wasn't the "famous for..." episode, but the "luvvies" episode, in which Mark Little from The Big Breakfast beat all-comers, including Neil from the Young Ones and Nurse Gladys from Open All Hours.

The BBC's festive schedule includes an "interactive extravaganza" - TEST THE NATION: THE NATIONAL 2002 TEST. Anne Robinson and Gopherman will pose lots of questions about the year, such as "Who is the new prime minister of Pakistan?", and "Whatever happened to the Popstars winners?", and "Whose bright idea was it to commission DRAIN ACADEMY?" If this proves too taxing, Dalziel and Pascoe are on hand. There's a MASTERMIND CELEBRITY SPECIAL, in which Lord Magnusson interrogates celebrities. Hopefully including Peter Snow.

Videos at the ready for December 20: not only will we see the final of the current season of FIFTEEN TO ONE, but it will be followed by the final of the current season of COUNTDOWN. Quarter finals therefore kick off on December 12. Over the holiday period, there will be one-off challenge matches between various past contestants. The new series will commence in January with a three-week Championship Of Champions, the first in three years. Countdown will also feature a new set, in a bizarre shade of purple. The preview pictures didn't inspire confidence, but let's wait till we've seen it properly before rushing to judgment.

Highlights from Witanhurst will be on BBC Choice from 1900 Christmas Day, followed by LIQUID NEWS OF THE YEAR at 1901. We were very pleased to see TOP OF THE POPS supremo Chris Cowey reporting how he had never seen the footage on Sunday's LIQUID NEWS. After his attack on his show's dependence on manufactured pap, he is being very consistent.

Unlike Betcha, who offered a song to one of this week's singers, then withdrew it and forced a change following a meeting with the BBC, Endemol, and the sponsoring record corporation. A rights issue? If so, then it's *very* sloppy work indeed to offer something and not be able to follow through. Rigging the show? We couldn't suggest that at all, mainly because the only purpose of rigging the show would be to promote someone that would be a better long-term investment, and no such person is in the place.

There *is* someone who is prepared to jump about on the preposterous glass pillar things that rise out of the stage for the voting (it's the highlight of every week's show, apart from the closing credit.) Only he'll be smacked down by Cat "Ditchwater" Deeley, saying the oh-so-rock-n-roll "You can't do that, Elfin Safety will kill us."

Remember when MR RIGHT started, and Ulrika Jonsson was the talk of the tabloid village? The final episode aired this Thursday, and was beaten by both Ewan Macgregor and a political talk show.

Speaking of which, Boris Johnson replaced Clive Anderson as this week's Angus Deayton. He wasn't a good host, but he hosted a very funny show. Repeat 2205 Saturday night.


We have a very special episode of MILLIONAIRE this week. To mark the 300th recording (though a slight harrumph: it's only the 299th broadcast episode) this week's show will be live. The traditional "Phone a friend" lifeline will be replaced by the provisionally-entitled "Ask a mate in the green room next door" lifeline, while "Ask The Audience" becomes "Let the nation call up and help out our contestant". And there's a bonus lifeline, "Flip", allowing the contestant to change an impossible question for something more simple. Hopefully. Me thinks they need some shorter names if they're going to make this a regular event. The live show starts at 1955, and is scheduled to end an hour later.

The highlights of CBB on C4 at 2100 Saturday, and Eamonn's Satellite Delay at 1940.

Sunday: The very much delayed SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE finale is a battle royale on water. 1740 C4.

Tuesday: THE GREAT REALITY TELEVISION SWINDLE is a documentary about a spoof constructed reality show that fooled thirty people into giving up their jobs, homes, and relationships in the hope of winning a million. The show never existed, and -- well, watch the show and find out the rest. 2235 C4.

Thursday: CELEB BOOT CAMP comes to Sky1. Ten celebs, including Coolio (who?) and Baywatch's Traci Bingham (who who who?) endure a gruelling regime of drills and intimidation. 2000, but you could be watching...

Four are left at Witanhurst Manor, preparing to be released into the outside world. Though the contestants haven't been watching CBB, the producers have. They will have to survive on their wits and talents, then audition for the part of Buttons (Understudy) in Cinderella at the Decagon Theatre, Slough. Follow the progress of the four in DAME ACADEMY. Is it right across the Beeb, right across the week? Oh yes it is! Is it any good? Find out at the Decagon Theatre, Slough.

This week, Angus Deayton is played by Liza Tarbuck. Allegedly. This week's Smart Alec is someone called Peter Baldwin.

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