Weaver's Week 2005-03-27

Weaver's Week Index


Growing Old Disgracefully (part one) - 27 March 2005

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

Readers are cautioned that this week's Week contains language that some might describe as "rudey."

Monkey's From TV Heaven

Well, ITV has been rather busy this week, announcing a pub quiz hosted by Al Murray. He plays a comedy pub landlord, and that's the character to host Fact Hunt later in the year.

They'll also have lots of celebrity-obsessed programmes. Celebrity Shouting, Flouncing And Cooking will be back for a second series, as will Celebrities Under Pressure, while Celebrity Shark Bait, Celebrity Love Island, and Celebrity Wrestling rather speak for themselves. Pop fanatics will no doubt be tutting and shaking their heads at the prospect of more one-hit wonders grasping for success on Hit Me Baby One More Time, not least because that wasn't the blimmin' title. And Phillip Schofield asks Have I Been Here Before.

And speaking of being here before, the Monkey will also be celebrating its fiftieth anniversary in September, and has announced plans to bring back some old shows. 3-2-1 is the first name on everyone's lips, but who could possibly replace Ted Rogers? Joe Pasquale's name springs to mind - he's a comedian, is good with people, and has worked on cheap 'n' cheerful shows before now.

The Golden Shot would have to go out live, and (as we discussed last month) needs someone who can handle live shows, and is a wonderful people person. Could Phillip Schofield be the man they're looking for?

Family Fortunes, Wheel of Fortune, and Catchphrase have all been dropped from daytime ITV in recent years, which should prove enough of a hint to the schedulers. We see no need to replace Bullseye host Jim Bowen - repeats on Challenge have proven that the original is still the best there. Would Bob Holness want to come back on Blockbusters, or would he let Liza Tarbuck rule the roost once more? And would he dare Raise the Roof again?

We wouldn't say no to a revival of Celebrity Squares, maybe with Trev and Simon (OK, or Antan Dec), so long as it features Dermot Murgnahan sitting bottom left and doing absolutely nothing all show.

But if we're going to have a revival of some old quizzes, what about some favourites from the very, very early days of the channel. Possibilities include Des O'Connor's Take Your Pick, Hughie Green's Double Your Money, the famous Criss Cross Quiz, Bob Monkhouse's Do You Trust Your Wife? and that currency-free import The 64,000 Question. All of these shows were regulars during the first couple of years of the network, when ITV turned on new stations across the country, and there was a palpable excitement across the network - it was as if the final of I'm A Celebrity took place every night.

Omitted from ITV's list of prospects was Sale of the Century. Anyone would think that Nicholas Parsons wasn't able to host shows any more. Others omitted from the nostalgia fest were such hit television shows as Supermarket Sweep - yes, Dale, we'll let you out of retirement for a one-off show. No-one's mentioned You Bet!, there's been a distinct lack of enthusiasm for a new episode of Sporting Triangles, and the chances of a new run of Interceptor are (sadly) minimal-to-nil. Still, at least we're not going to see the remaining episodes of Shafted - well, not under the heading of "Game Show Classics." Maybe as "One Joke ITV Comedy Pilots."

If ITV really wants to make its 50th anniversary a big one, perhaps it could fund the biggest game show prize anyone will ever see - Chris Tarrant hosting The 64 Million Question. Even if that were only 64 million tenpences, we'd be talking about that for years.

The Monthly Countdown Update

With all the sporting and other interruptions, it's difficult to say exactly how far we are through the qualifying process. We are about half-way through, and this is the story of the last four weeks.

Four weeks on the calendar - thanks to the Cheltenham Festival, and the decision not to air a new episode on Good Friday, only fifteen episodes have passed under the bridge. We started the month with John Mayhew completing his octochamp run, accumulating 813 points and finishing -7 to Par.

Chris Hunt took over the vacant champ's chair, and notched up five centuries in his first five appearances. However, he had had more than one word disallowed in the majority of his games, and he looked wobbly on a couple of occasions. In his seventh match, Chris had "spruiced" disallowed in the opening round, pulled back to level pegging at the end of the first period, and remained locked until the third. Another disallowed word, "gifter", gave away the lead, Chris took it back on the numbers, only to lose a very difficult conundrum. Chris's run had come to an unexpected halt after just six wins, he made 715 points at -11 to Par.

Sue Drinkwater proved that her win was no fluke by winning three more matches in strong style. Her run came to a halt when she met Tanmay Dixit, whose first scoring word was FARTED, and took the lead later with FANNIES. Thanks to a shameful leak from elements of the national press, these words had been leaked before transmission - as had the fact that Mr Dixit, the youngest contestant in Countdown history at eight years of age, had won the game. Ms Drinkwater's final score was four wins, 385 points at +75 to Par.

Mr Dixit's language may well have disqualified him from any appearances on Dick And Dom when he grows up a bit, but he made a second win on Countdown before being knocked out by Mike Meakin. Tanmay's final score was two wins, 262 points, +8 to Par. He could have been very good indeed.

The top ten at the moment, remembering that Frank Mulvey may not return:

  1. John Mayhew, 8w
  2. Judith Young, 8w
  3. Chris Hunt, 6w
  4. Fred Reynolds, 6w
  5. Frank Mulvey, 5w
  6. Brian Roles, 5w
  7. Toni Ryan, 4w
  8. Sue Drinkwater, 4w
  9. Tanmay Dixit, 2w
  10. Sonia Cordas, 1w

University Challenge

Quarter-final draw

  • Balliol Oxford bt Edinburgh
  • Corpus Christi Oxford v Lancaster
  • LSE v Jesus Cambridge
  • Manchester v St Hilda's Oxford

Second quarter-final, Corpus Christi Oxford -v- Lancaster

Philistines, cricket bowlers, and absurdists are all subjects of early questions this week. Though they start off with a missignal, Corpus Christi take a strong early lead, helped by Name That Spacecraft From Pictures Of Its Voyage.

Thumper doesn't have to confer with his producers to accept "Vanuanu" for the nuclear scientist; it's wrong, but only just. Coventry had the first all-seater football stadium in England, which surprises us. As does the speed of this interruption:

Q: "Dynamo" was the codename for which military...
Alasdair Anderson, Lancaster: The evacuation from Dunkirk.

Lancaster is still a long way adrift at this point, and the Oxford side is pulling ahead at a rate of knots. The audio round is Name That David Lynch Theme, and CCO's lead is pushing 100 and looking unassailable.

Corpus Christi confuse soil with feet, but do get the question on the Oxford comma. Surely that's a bit close to home to be fair. They also get a lot of other questions correct. The second picture round is Fun With Greek Quotations, starting with Eureka, and ending with "How high can these people drive the score" - the lead is already 210, and they can only be aiming to put the wind up their mates from Balliol.

Corpus Christi passes 300 with about four minutes to play. Thumper says he's being kind in accepting "Plato and Aristotle" when he wanted "Plato" - Bambi would not have laboured the point so. Lancaster gets another starter question late on, and the game winds down rather with missignals all round. Nothing's going to stop Corpus Christi's win, 345-80. They were rather flattered by the score, but that's a heavy mark to lay down.

Stefano Mariani (153.1) and Nick Sharp (109.7) again led the buzzing for CCO, who made an astounding 35/53 bonuses with two missignals. Alisdair Anderson was the best buzzer for Lancaster, making 41.5 - the side had 9/15 bonuses and three missignals.

CCO 75 60 120 90 [345]
LAN 20 30  -5 35 [ 80]

Lancaster finished with Anderson (199.9) and Canovan (174.3) taking the lion's share of their buzzing. The side had a starter spot rate, bonus rate, and strike rates all just under 50%.

Future series producers please note: six more colleges will become universities later in the year. Bath Spa, Canterbury Christchurch, Southampton Institute, Liverpool Hope, Chester, and Winchester will be entitled to compete for UC from the 2006-7 series.


First round, show 3

David Love has taken the Presocratics. We know precious little about this group of philosophers from ancient Greece, but that's Mr Love's job. He scores 13 (0).

Isabelle Heward offers the Life and Films of Judy Garland. Ms Heward is another regular from the early days of Fifteen To One, and reached the semi-finals of this very quiz just two years ago, taking Audrey Hepburn and Vincent Minelli. 14 (0) is her score.

Philip Harris is telling us about the Royal Air Force, 1939-45. Again, this isn't something about which we know much; he scores a creditable 11 (2).

Jonathan Rose will have to go something to keep up with the pace. He's taking The Beatles. And with a well-researched subject like that, he makes 15 (1).

In conversation, we hear how Mr Harris did much of his research when fund-raising for the RAF in the late 80s, and meeting many veterans. He knows plenty of general knowledge, taking his score to 21 (3). It doesn't feel like a winning score.

David Love confirms that some of the Presocratics came after Socrates. Obviously. He finishes on 22 (1).

We know that Isabelle Heward knows a lot of general knowledge. You don't make more than one FTO final by chance, nor do you win an episode of this show by chance. It's no huge surprise to see her advance to 31 (0).

Jonathan Rose will need to do exceptionally well on his open round to qualify. He does well, but not quite well enough - a few passes, the odd error, and 28 (4) isn't quite a winning score.

This Week And Next

The North American version of Pop Idle has been hit with some bugs. The show relies on telephone voting, and some bright spark put out the wrong numbers at the end of Tuesday's programme. Rather than roll on and have a double removal next week, the producers aired an extra show the following night, with the results following even later. It's not clear what their version of Dogsby had to say about this, but we can imagine his waves.

Johnny Vaughan has been fuming this week. According to Johnny Vaughan, he only found out that Superstars - the show starring Johnny Vaughan and Suzi Perry in sunny Spain - had been axed when he read it in the newspapers. The BBC said that they'd told Johnny Vaughan's agent. Anyway, another chance to see how it should have been done on Cbbc Superstars, a Blue Peter special, at 1655 Wednesday and Friday.

Before that, the international Questions Pour Un Champion reaches its prime-time conclusion at (er) 1330 today on TV5, a 1950s edition of Double Your Money at 2155 tonight on BBC4, Ask the Family is remembered on BBC2 at 1900 Tuesday, and The Games continues all week.

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