Weaver's Week 2003-06-21

Weaver's Week Index

21st June 2003

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

Approximately three people on the planet who don't want to read about the boy wizard. What shall we discuss. Big Brother? Grand Slam? They're in, but there's only one place to start this week: just off the coast of Ireland.


Ireland's big summer show is on the rocks - quite literally. A ship carrying nine contestants for a reality show CABIN FEVER ran aground on rocks off County Donegal late last week. The show was washed up near Tory Island after less than a week on air.

The group of nine contestants and two professional crew were leaving the island after a night of dancing and celebrating with the King of Tory, Patsy Dan Rodgers, when the 90ft schooner foundered on the notoriously rocky shoreline. The boat got into difficulties 100 yards off the coast of Tory. A lifeboat from Aranmore arrived in minutes but was unable to come alongside because of the rocks. Eventually an Irish Army helicopter from Finner Camp airlifted some people from the ship. Others swam for shore before the boat sank.

Stuart Switzer of Coco Productions confirmed: "The positive news of this awful story is that all of our contestants are safe. This show will go on. We're not sure how yet but it will go on."

Mr Switzer said safety standards on the ship were high. He said: "I don't know the whole situation around this accident but it wouldn't have anything to do with the contestants. I think it is a misreading of a chart, it's something of that nature."

Afterwards all the contestants paid tribute to the people of Tory for their hospitality in the aftermath of the sinking. "They were just fantastic. They treated us like family - even giving us clothes to get us home."

During the journey the competitors learned to sail the schooner without the aid of modern technology. They completed complex mental games and physical challenges in order to stay on board. Each week the public was to vote for their favourite contestant and the person with the least votes was to be evicted.

Presenter Derek Mooney said that everyone involved in the show was relieved there were no injuries. "It is only a TV show, but the most important thing is that everyone is OK. Safety was the first priority. There is an investigation being held into the accident, so we don't know if the show will continue. I haven't been speaking to any of the contestants because I have been trying to keep my distance from them, so I appear impartial while on screen.

Not every day on the ship was a filming day, and when the vessel ran aground, the camera crew was safely ashore. They got very little film of the event, and had to make do with after-the-fact pictures of the wreckage. Worse was to come when insurers questioned who was at the helm when the ship hit the rocks.

The nine contestants had talks with solicitor Gerard Keane, who usually works with celebrities, in Donegal over the weekend.

More than a bird, more than a plane, it's...


The Independent ran an article this week charting the huge success of Pan African BIG BROTHER. Twelve contestants, mostly speaking English, are in a house in South Africa, with the votes cast by Eurovision-influenced national spokespeople. We await the first Pan European BIG BROTHER, where twelve contestants, mostly speaking English (apart from the contestant from the UK) are in a house in Cologne.

A television pressure group told the House of Lords this week that BIG BROTHER - and its exec producer Peter Bazalgette personally - was trying to "pass off the stuff of the vulgate" as high art. This is, of course, a load of pompous twaddle. It comes from people who still think it's big and clever to bamboozle by using big long words.

Apparently, BB "presents rather ignorant people as though they were players in a Shakespearean drama." This presupposes a highly elitist point of view: that Shakespeare is entirely divorced from everyday life, and is of value only in the highly artificial setting of the theatre. Again, codswallop. This column has already compared Jennifer Wilmington to Lady Macbeth, and sees the plot of Hamlet played out in the power struggles within the BB house.

The group's report concluded: "What is being renounced are ways of thinking about the purposes of broadcasting, and through that, the character of the society we wish to have in place." This column has said it before, and will say it again: television does not shape society, television reflects society. This report clearly puts the cart before the horse.

"But I'm a Supergirl and Supergirls don't cry"

Sissy left last week, picking up 45% of 800,000 votes. Ratings for this season are broadly on a par with last year's.

Forty nine people have now left the BB house. Until this week, none had accused BIG BROTHER of fixing the show, not within days of their exit. Sissy broke that mould, pointing out that the nightly show (which this column is deliberately not watching) didn't show any of her good moments, and portrayed her as a snivel-chops. She also laid into the producers for setting impossible tasks, a criticism echoed here last week.

This column hasn't been viewing the heavily edited nightly C4 programmes, preferring instead E4's continuous and less edited live coverage. So ze Week can pass no judgement on Sissy's claims to have - effectively - been edited out of the house. From observations at this end, Sissy came across as the liveliest of the twelve, certainly the most emotional, perhaps a little volatile, always worth watching. Sissy was certainly amongst the most eccentric of the bunch, and perhaps as much long-term fun as Alex from BB3.

In previous years, it's been the fourth person forced out of the house who provided the most entertainment, and provided the "if only they'd stayed in" storylines: Nick's audacious plots, Bubble's unique brand of fun, Spencer who was Spencer. This year, the house seems a lot emptier after the third removal.

Still, the Grate British Public hath spoken, and now we are nine.

"It may sound absurd...but don't be naïve"

Amazingly, the contestants had made it to Day 23 without once resorting to a game of charades. In order to rescue the rule that every Constructed Reality Show must feature a game of charades at some point, BB decided that that's how they'd play this week's reward challenge. Unlike the version played on ISIHAC, the contestants weren't allowed to use their mouths, but had to mime the book, film, or song title using signs and signals. Who would best emulate Lionel Blair's frantic hand gestures as he tries to pull off "The Butcher, The Baker, And The Candlestick Maker" in under two minutes?

It wouldn't be Jon, he took the role of Una Stubbs, and tried to guess all the other players' charades. And he didn't do so badly, guessing Fed's "Shrek" from "film," "one word," and the card giving the answer he'd carried into the room. Nush's "Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head" was simple. Tania had great trouble with her "Genie in a Bottle," which might be payback for claiming to know more D-list celebs than the producers of CELEB TORTURE. Cameron didn't even bother to try "Bohemian Rhapsody," which is probably a good move.

Two things on the live show added to the theory that Jon has more brains than the entire BB staff. One: during the miming sequence, BB threw in new, extra rules that delayed the team and probably cost Scott his reward. Two: Jon was reading from the rules, and interjected: "Sentence ending on a preposition! *Really* good, BB!"

"I'm only a man in a silly red sheet"

The cash challenge was to be a superhero, just for three days. Pull on a crazy costume, strike a pose, take out cardboard cutouts of bad guys, then return to normal life, or whatever passes for it in the BB house.

The contestants were allowed one failure, and Fed provided that failure on Sunday. There were no other failures, so the contestants passed the task. Even though Gos wore his costume when not on super duty, and changed outside the handily placed telephone box, things that were barred in the rules, BB deemed the task was passed. Don't suggest that BB wanted the group to pass this week, it would only give ammunition to the critics.

"Then she'd scream in my face, tell me to leave this place"

BB decided that this week would have two evictions, not one. The best chance to even the numbers between the genders, or re-insert a former housemate - or someone new - (with the required extra round of voting, and extra income,) give Jon his comeuppance, or show that BB is more driven by the desire to please the tabloids than to follow the rules of sporting behaviour.

In the voting: Jon (5 nominations), Federico (5), and thanks to the decision that goes against cricket's law 43, Cameron (4). To no one's surprise, Federico was first out, with Jon following in the concurrent fifth eviction.

Coming into this week, we'd already lost the Eye Candy, the Lady, and the Emotional Centre. Certain to remain: the Anodyne, the Who He, the Who She, the Hippie, the Cook, and the Narcissist. With the loss of the Bigot and the Ubergeek, only the presence of the Gentleman is preventing BBIV from sliding into anonymity.

Some rule changes enhance the game. Some rule changes subtly alter the game in a fair and consistent way. Some rule changes just devalue the show and can make us wonder why we bother. Removing two people is the most blatant piece of manipulation yet. All these comings and goings bring to mind the ever-changing cast of EDEN, a C4 constructed reality show that flopped in early 2002 precisely because the contestants changed every week. It seems that C4 doesn't learn from its mistakes.

Celebdaq dividends: Justine £5.88, Fed £3.84, Sissy £2.41, Nush £1.89, Gos £1.40, Tania £1.13, Cameron £1.04, Ray 27.5p, Scott 14.7p, Steph 13.7p. Bookies still make Scott the favourite to win, even though he's vying with Ray and Steph as the worst performers on Celebdaq. Maybe the double eviction is a device to throw the already incomprehensible 'daq market - where Gos was the week's big winner, Justine delisted, and Scott the loser - into even greater confusion.


David Edwards has won Millionaire and Mastermind, and made the finals of Fifteen To One and Brain of Britain.

Olav Bjortomt has also made the finals of Fifteen To One and Brain of Britain, and captained the Nottingham team on University Challenge 99-00. He claims "a paddling pool" depth of knowledge.

Mr Edwards gets off to a stronger start in the opening round, and it comes down to a 13-seconds-each shootout. Mr Bjortomt has slightly the easier questions, taking forward a whopping 3 seconds to the final round. Both Carol and James are in awe of the knowledge displayed.

Mr Edwards is in trouble in the numbers round, running his clock down to 36 seconds before giving one correct answer. He takes 17 seconds to multiply 34 by 12, and Mr Bjortomt takes a further 24 seconds.

By the contemporary knowledge round, Mr Edwards looks unhappy and ill at ease in the studio. Mr Bjortomt is happy to interrupt, but Quizmaster will not respond until he's finished reading the question. A long run of incorrect answers runs Mr Edward's clock down, and Mr Bjortomt takes through a whopping 47 seconds.

Words and letters should be Mr Edwards' round, according to the Pundits, and Mr Edwards rolls up his sleeves. He takes the early lead, but misunderstands a question, effectively incurring a penalty of about ten seconds. This takes away his confidence, and Mr Bjortomt wins by 19 seconds. Carol wonders why Mr Edwards hasn't switched once.

In the final round, Mr Edwards has the mandatory 30 seconds. Mr Bjortomt 2:04. No one switches, and Mr Bjortomt wins with 1:47 to spare. It's a bit of a walkover, really.

Clarification of Nicholas Rowe's role appeared on the Yahoo! Group last week: the Quizmaster voices all his questions live, with no retakes and no fluffs. This column is very impressed.

Next week: coverage of last night's match between Clive Spate and Mark Labbett.


Thanks to Humphrey Lyttelton and Chris Morris for this week's atrocious puns. Lyrics in the BB review are from "Superman (It's Not Easy)," recorded by Five For Fighting; and "Supergirl," recorded by Reamonn.

Former SCAVENGERS and WHEEL OF FORTUNE presenter John Leslie has been charged - and subsequently bailed - on two counts of indecent assault in 1997. Reporting restrictions and court rules mean we are unable to recount claims previously made against Mr Leslie.

Paul Fraser, the man who helped to bring Weakest Link and Millionaire to US television screens, was killed in a traffic accident in Seattle last Monday. He was 44.

The European Broadcasting Union has determined that RTE acted correctly by using the backup jury for its voting at the Eurovision Song Contest, and hence has upheld Turkey's narrow victory over Russia and Belgium. RTE continues to claim the televote is "irrelevant," a claim that will only serve to heighten the air of conspiracy surrounding the cock-up. This column would still like to see the results formally published, if only to determine once and for all who would have won had Ireland's punters been allowed to vote.

With tennis dominating the schedules this week, highlights are thin on the ground. Discovery repeats the Scrapheap Mega Challenge at 2100 Sunday, and again through the week, that's the one where people construct an early flying machine. Countdown moves into finals week: the first two quarters were rather one-sided, full coverage next week.

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