Weaver's Week 2004-10-02

Weaver's Week Index

2 October 2004

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

This week's mostly been spent re-writing and updating old articles for the new look UKGameshows.com website, and have you seen how much more information's there yet? Many thanks to Jenny Turner for converting the past year's Weeks into the new format for the website.


Countdown Update

Over halfway through the qualification rounds of the current tournament, and who is in place for the quarters?

1) Paul Gallen (8 wins, 846 points, -37 to par)

Paul is the young prodigy, and he just got better and better as his eight games progressed in late August, finishing with a -22 performance. With 48 more qualifying games, he's assured of a place in Finals Week from December 9.

2) Jack Welsby (8 wins, 831p, -55)

As we discussed some weeks ago, Jack is another very strong contestant, and would certainly give Paul a very close game in the final. Jack is also assured of a place in Finals Week.

3) David Thirlwall (8 wins, 704p, +61)

Barring a most unusual set of events - octochamps almost all the way into December - David will make Finals Week; by that time, he'll not have won a game on screen for at least 23 weeks, and we reckon that will put him at a disadvantage.

4) Roy Thearle (4 wins, 489p, -5)

Roy looked set to join the ranks of octochamps, but had the misfortune to come up against Paul Gallen. He'll be a dangerous floater should he make the finals, and it would be unfortunate if he didn't. Note that Roy finished under par, in spite of suffering a lost game - that's the mark of someone very dangerous.

5) Robert Harris (4 wins, 427p, +43)

Looked set for the octochamp run until he came up against current champion John Gray (of whom more in a few weeks) in a very good match last Monday.

6) Mike Hannam (4 wins, 425p, +47)

Mike won four games during September, without quite looking like he's strong enough to make the semis. Sixth place at the start of October doesn't look promising.

7) Ian Laird (3 wins, 342p, +67)

Three wins in July.

8) John Stitcher (3 wins, 326p, +76)

Ran into Jack Welsby, and certain not to make the quarters.

Since we last looked at Countdown, the other winners have been Neil Newcombe (2 wins, 251p, +26) and Barbara Matthewman (1 win, 124pts, +52).


Heat 21/24

Margaret Thomas has Victorian Britain. Ned Sherrin on Counterpoint would describe this as a "portmanteau" subject; it's very large, and probably won't be that deep. Margaret starts well, but falls away towards the end - perhaps she wasn't expecting such the overdose of science questions. She scores 7 points (0 passes).

Peter Bennett offers British Pop Music of the 1950s. We never knew that Terry Dene was described as "Britain's Elvis," and the round manages to finish without a single question about the king of pop, Cliff Richard. Peter did his research, the researchers did theirs, and the contestant finishes on 9 (0).

Sheila Ramsden has been studying the Journeys of St Paul in Acts of the Apostles. She takes the questions slowly and carefully; a tactic that works most of the time, but Sheila has more gaps in what is a relatively small subject. Sheila finishes on 9 (1).

Daniel Blackburn takes the Films of Sergio Leone. He's the only contestant who could pass for under 30, and races through his set of questions. 14 (1) puts Daniel clearly into the lead.

Second time around is general knowledge. Margaret Thomas gets the one about the distinction between flotsam and jetsam, one of the regular questions on Fifteen-to-One. And she gets a question about the Apples of Hesperides, curiously omitted from January's Hercules series. Margaret finishes on 17 (1).

Sheila gets some tricky little questions, finishing on 16 (3). Peter puts in a plug for his school, starts well, continues shakily, then roars ahead a little, finishing on 17 (3).

Daniel therefore needs just four correct answers to win this heat, and he gets those in reasonably short order, then passes rather than run up the score too much, causing us to wonder if the game show gods will smile on such benevolent behaviour. He finishes on 24 (5).

University Challenge

Before we begin, and in response to an emailed query, a quick word on Mr Butt-Philip. Last week's winning Lancaster team featured Theo; though we have no proof, we reckon that his brother David was one of the members of the Royal Northern College of Music side that made the quarter finals last year. The RNCM fell to the eventual series champions - could this be an indicator to watch?

And now, a short word to the continuity announcer. Do not reveal the result of the game in any way, otherwise we shall come round there and make you watch the programme. Nasty.

First round 3/14. Newcastle -v- University Oxford

Newcastle were last amongst us two years ago, just beating York in the season opener, but falling in the second round to Worcester Oxford. An earlier side lost to Oriel Oxford in the 99 quarters. Univ Oxford haven't appeared since 1996, when they beat Gonville & Caius Cambridge and Heriot-Watt before falling to Selwyn Cambridge in the quarters.

Newcastle gets off to the worst possible start, picking up a missignal on the opening question. Thumper reckons that the poet was "An-AY-as Nin" - her name is spelt Anaïs Nin, and usually pronounces "Anna-is." The first set of picture bonuses are Name That Flag, for flags of countries that joined the EU this May. The teams are at deuce, 40-40.

Newcastle takes the lead at the next starter, but think that all astronomical discoveries were made by people called Van Halen. In spite of confusing their comets with their axe metal heroes, Newcastle takes a good lead. Thumper reckons that one should "always guess The Simpsons," showing that he's evidently reading last year's script. The audio round is songs from the stage version of The Sound Of Music, played backwards. Univ gets the bonuses on a catch-up starter, and is doogy rev at this lark, but still trail 95-60.

Best starter in a very long time indeed:

Q: Although described by one critic as "suitable only for use as a loss leader and for feeding ducks," the "Chorleywood process" has been used since the 1960s to make what foodstuff?

Andy Turner, Univ gets the answer. {1}

Univ begins a slight revival here, but it runs out of steam with a gap of 30. Thumper asks a set of questions about Christmas, forgetting that it's still only September. After the second picture round - Name That Concert Hall - Newcastle's lead is 145-85.

Univ begins another revival, and is helped by an out-of-date question - to measure inflation, the Retail Prices Index has been replaced by the Consumer Price Index. They then get a starter and set of bonuses on physics, and cut the gap to 5. Newcastle increases the lead to fifteen, but then say "flash forward" when Thumper's looking for "flashback." Univ misses the bonuses on poetry, and the gong goes. Newcastle has scraped the win, 155-150. Phew! That was a good match.

For Newcastle, Christopher Donnelly was best buzzer, making 57.8 points on this column's best buzzers system. The side made 12/30 bonuses (it felt like much more) and one missignal. For Univ, Andy Turner was the buzzer of note, scoring 89.3 points as the side made 13/27 with one missignal.

{1} Bread. To be specific, mass-produced bread, often sliced.

Next: Warwick -v- University College London

This Week And Next

Marking fifty years of the Eurovision Song Contest, the EBU will publish a "lavish, full-colour" history next March. It's already booked for coffee tables across the continent.

It's not every week that a seventy year old person goes into the Winning Lines Wonderwall hotseat, ready to face the best four-minute game in television history. And it's not every week that anyone blitzes the board with twenty correct answers from twenty one questions, leaving Gopherman saying "Don't forget your pit stops" on about the nineteenth question. To the best of our knowledge, no one has ever beaten The Wonderwall without stopping. If there were any justice, this would be on the BBC's annual Best Television Moments compilation.

The following report appeared in last weekend's Sunday Mercury, a local paper for the English midlands:

Britain's newest TV quiz king has labelled the BBC cheapskates after receiving his prize - a certificate and t-shirt. Coleman Doyle, from Birmingham, was the only person to answer all 70 questions correctly in the Test the Nation pop quiz show last month.

After coming out tops Mr Doyle, who teaches history at Holy Trinity RC Secondary School in Small Heath, said he was disgusted at his 'prize'. "I was the only person in the UK who answered all the questions correctly and I was given a Mickey Mouse certificate. The certificate and t-shirt are so bad, I'd be too embarrassed to show them to any of my friends in case they would laugh."

The 31 year-old trivia buff now plans to return his prizes to the BBC. "I'll be attaching a note telling the BBC that if this is the best they can do they can keep it. The runner-up, Adrian David, who achieved the best score in the studio, received a handsome glass plaque. Naturally, I assumed I'd be given something similar - if not better.

"I spoke with Anne Robinson on the night. She could easily have finished the conversation with her Weakest Link catchphrase 'You leave with nothing' because it mounted to much the same." The BBC has said it will look at into any complaint from Mr Doyle.

The line up for Strictly Come Dancing II has emerged. Leading the charge are Carol Vorderman (Countdown); Esther Rantzen (That's Life); Diarmuid Gavin (gardener); Julian Clary (Mr and Mrs); Sarah Manners (Casualty); Aled Jones (former singer); Denise Lewis (athlete); Jill Halfpenny (Eastender); Quentin Wilson (car driver); and Roger Black (athletics commentator). The series begins on 23 October, and will feature a nightly programme on BBC2 in the 6pm slot. The phrase "it's the new Big Brother" springs to mind.

Next week features the return of Antan Dec in their Saturday Night Takeaway (though discerning viewers treat it as Sunday morning duvet television), and Friday night sees the first in a new series of QI. New series for the following week include Mind Games, Spy, and The Apprentice.

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