Weaver's Week 2010-11-07

Last week | Weaver's Week Index | Next week

Our best thoughts are with former Win, Lose or Draw host Danny Baker, who stated this week that he was experiencing poor health.


Fee Fi Fo Yum

CBBC on BBC1, since 10 September

Some people are game show legends. Take, for instance, Les Dennis.

Fee Fi Fo Yum

Such is the starting point for CBBC's new game show. In the opening title sequence, Les Dennis is quite literally taken from the studios of his glitzy and glamorous programme Family Fun for You!, plucked by a giant hand descending through the studio roof. The giant hand belongs to a giant body, in this case a young giant called Brian (played by Nigel Cooper). He's quite clearly been watching Blue Peter, and has made a television studio out of a shoebox and some pipe cleaners. Les Dennis is gently deposited in there.

Not content with picking a legend off the planet, Brian has also scooped up a handful of children. And he's planning on eating some of them. Some, but not all. No, he's going to return half of them back to their regular lives. The others will become Brian's regular lunch.

For a construction made from used kitchen roll tubes and discarded eggcups, Brian's studio is actually rather good. Yes, it doesn't have a floor, lying as it does on his laminated tablecloth, but it has shiny lights, working buzzers, and it looks entirely decent.

Fee Fi Fo Yum How to make a studio from a shoebox.

Over the course of the show, the teams will play some games. Some of them are old ideas given a new twist – for instance, using a catapult to land projectiles on a target is something familiar to viewers of It's a Knockout and to viewers of Blast Lab. On this programme, it's dressed up as firing baked beans from a spoon onto a piece of toast. Others are quite deliberate homages to other game shows – one round involved contestants swimming in a soup bowl to find letters, a cross between Countdown and Incredible Games. And there's a round where Les scoffs some obnoxious substance, like Scotch eggs, pickled onions, or white chocolate.

But there's more to a balanced diet than games alone, and Fee Fi Fo Yum includes some of the other programmes shown on Giant TV. There's Giant Weather, Giant News (unaffected by the recent National Union of Giants' strike), and plenty of giant commercials. All of this allows the programme to develop its own narrative conceits – giants suffer from flatulence, enjoy snacking on humans, and believe that the best way to treat bodily disfunction is to hit the affected part with a large mallet.

Fee Fi Fo Yum A catapult game; the clock looks like a kitchen timer.

These inserts are partly germane to the competition – most episodes feature an observation round – but it's mostly there to make the programme memorable and more entertaining to the target viewers. Adult viewers will, perhaps, appreciate some lampooning of accepted television practice – the studio spotlight is actually Brian shining a torch into his shoebox set, and Les plays the sort of uber-glittery over-slick host that has only ever been a caricature.

Eventually, the show moves towards a conclusion. Points have been awarded throughout the game, and these translate into a time advantage in the final round. This is an obstacle course, with physical, mental, and skill games. One contender from each team must first step through some doughnuts, then through some kitchen roll, and along a rolling pin while it rolls – and Brian dangles some tea-bags to knock them off. After that, the contender must complete a bridge out of pieces of broken chocolate, and climb into the soup bowl. Then they must scale a ramp – while more soup is poured down it into the bowl – to pull a cord and release their team. So that's elements from The Superstars, Gladiators, one from The Crystal Maze, and two games from past series of Raven. The programme can be decided by who can scale a mucky slope the fastest.

Unlike any of these programmes, Fee Fi Fo Yum is only ever played for laughs. It is an entertainment, nothing more, the games and spectacles are not to be taken seriously. As an entertainment programme, it works wonderfully – Les Dennis hits just the right note, the cross-talk with Brian is carefully scripted, and the result is a feelgood programme for Friday.

Fee Fi Fo Yum Mmm, humunchies.

University Challenge

Second round, match 1: Christ's College Cambridge v Edinburgh

Into the second round proper with two teams that weren't exactly stretched last time out. Christ's College Cambridge beat Liverpool by 290-60 on 16 August, and Edinburgh overcame Jesus Oxford by 335-35 on 20 September. Based purely on their better bonus conversion rate, we suspect CCC may just have the edge here.

No need to remind us of the rules, we'll just kick off with a tribute to Look and Read, who invited us to think big at the beginning. It's the Big First Answer, because "Big" is the first answer. Cambridge get that, and go bish-bash-bosh through questions on poets. They also get Bloomsbury from little more than its geographical boundaries, and know about The Bash Street Kids. After their first-round match, Christ's College were involved in a short-lived correspondence in The Independent newspaper, which can be summarised in captain Joe Walmswell's contribution:

"The sheer arrogance of the baby-boomer generation, in assuming that their transient cultural products are somehow timeless, is astounding. Who will remember Bryan Ferry in 50 years?"

Clearly, Mr. Fairy is a here-today, gone-tomorrow pop star. The Bash Street Kids are timeless.

Back to the game. Edinburgh get going with scientific terms beginning with AZ, then Christ's pick up a difficult starter about letters on a dartboard, and bonuses on pairs of people whose names differ by one letter. The first visual round ends in a mess: a player offers an incorrect answer, Thumper gives the answer, then remembers that he can't now pass it across. Stuff happens, and Christ's lead by 80-10. St Boniface lifts them into bonuses on the Basilica in Rome, and then on coloured revolutions in post-Soviet states. Remember, this side is captained by a student from Moscow. Just when the game's looking over, Edinburgh remember where the prime minister of Canada lives, but their poetry bonuses go nowhere.

Only Connect had the Greek letters, University Challenge gives some publicity to the Hebrew character aleph. Edinburgh get the audio round, on songs sampling The Clash. Christ's College lead by 145-45. Knowing which river you'll be on when turning left at Albuquerque helps Edinburgh stay alive, and European geography of places halfway between A and B takes them further. As if to prove the Transient Cultural Icons point, the teams don't know that Albert was eaten by a lion in the 1950s monologue.

Thumper is right to rule Edinburgh out of time when they hesitate on a "answer as soon as you buzz" question, and that lets Christ's through to extend their lead. No-one knows which French impressionist's self-portrait is shown, Christ's lead by 170-65. The game's been on the cusp of overness since before the audio round, but Edinburgh are doggedly staying just in the hunt. They don't close the gap much with the other self-portraits, and Christ's pull knowledge of films based on "King Lear". It's our Little Billy question of the week, but ages of British prime ministers proves evasive to the teams. Words prefixed by "epi" is more fertile soil, and with 125 points at four minutes, that is Game Over.

University Challenge Edinburgh were represented by Ben Grey, Jack Binns, Ben Skerry, and Andrew Gray.

Edinburgh impress with knowledge of orchestras, and the NATO phonetic alphabet. They pick up national museums, though sadly the National Football Museum has moved from Preston to Manchester, forcing the closure of Urbis gallery and displacing Channel M. Christ's advance with various Maclaurin series, Edinburgh prove themselves to be commune-ards, we're going to have to hurry Thumper, his time is up and there are some hieroglyphics waiting. At the gong, Christ's have won, 220-160.

Didn't look like it would be that close at the end. Chad Belloli was best on the buzzers for Christ's with four of the starters, though the side's starters were well spread. The side made 22/33 bonuses. For Edinburgh, Andrew Gray was strongest on the buzzers, but 14/29 bonuses is what let them down; two missignals didn't help. Overall accuracy was 57/87.

Next match: Oxford Brookes v University of the Arts, London

Only Connect

Series 4, quarter-final 1: Epicurians v Bridge Players

"Why not record this episode, then play it back later and impress your friends. Friends, did someone just say that that would be a good idea". What?! Is Victoria intending for her opening spiel to be the most incomprehensible thing about this programme, bearing in mind that this programme is deliberately incomprehensible in the first place. Quick, get to the questions, we understand them!

Standing between us and the hieroglyphs are the teams. David Brewis collects dead animals, Aaron Bell is a former United Kingdom Superperson, and Katie Bramall-Stainer is a stand-up comedian. They're the Epicurians, they appreciate the finer things in life. Across the studio, Chris Cooper plays the violin, Tim Dickinson plays cricket, and Nick Smith is an English Lit graduate. They're the Bridge Players, because they play bridge. That's as easy as it gets.

Bridge Players start proceedings, and start with the audio question. They need a short blast of the final song to get an answer; it's not tracks, but "Crying", "Tears of a clown", and Some Opera. Bonus for the Epicurians, and their own question is works completed posthumously by someone else. As opposed to being completed by someone after their own death, which would just be freaky. Two points. Hats on, it's the Wick of Twisted Flax, hiding four things the same, if only they knew a base when they saw it. Home plate is the giveaway for one point.

"Who's Marion Crane?" Wasn't that Andy's mother? Jean-Paul Marat is the giveaway, they all died in the bath, and Ms Crane was actually the victim in "Psycho". Pictures for Bridge, who have a smug-looking German politician, Rod Stewart when he wore a parakeet on his head, and does that mean all their names are anagrams of each other? No, it's Limahl, and Sophie Dahl, and Helmut Kohl, and -HL is the bonus for Epicurians. Four Golden Ages give them one point from their own final question, so the Epicurians lead by 6-1.

Round two should be coming next, and it is. Bridge Players start with a Superset, then go down to a Union, a Subset, and will their score increase by The Empty Set? Null, it's Intersection: the same symbol rotated through 90 degrees each time. Nasty! We've heard the answer to the next question from the Epicurians, they've been awarded two points, and we still don't get it. Oh, how to kill Jaws. Good one. Pictures for the Players, but they're people who they've got no idea who they are, and have to completely guess. The answer, obviously, is a feather duster.

Wick o' Flax o' Doom is the next question, and it's going to sink two-thirds of the way there. Which is good, because it's the planned route of the Titanic, and two points to the Epicurians. Were the Bridge Players in Cofton Park a couple of months ago, when there was a step towards canonisation? They get two points. For the final question, a cave comes down to an arch to a stack, and finishes as a stump. Not precise enough, so Epicurians extend their lead, 10-3.

Only Connect Building a bridge to the last eight.

And they'll advance further on the connecting wall. What have they got? Some twins, some Lib Dem politicians, which they get by Mr. Bell jabbing amongst six possibilities while the other two discuss other possible answers. (Readers will already know that Shirley Williams was never a leadership candidate, and David Owen remained with the Continuity SDP. Splittist!) Various types of guns come out in about half-a-dozen jabs, and then they get four members of Take That. Cor, remember them? The last answer is one they spend time thinking about, and can't quite get it. Hmm, when was Sol Campbell ever the Lib Dem leader? That last one: types of drug? Probably somewhere, but no, they're types of Pokemon, as chronicled in loving detail on every page of a certain other wiki. Seven points!

Bridge Players kick off with some Haydn symphonies, but there are also sorts of clock. Including the clock clock? But then it all goes a bit horridly wrong, and there's much humming and hawing for a minute. We're seeing bits of a typewriter, eventually they're seeing parts of a typewriter. They go for clocks, but time expires. Yes, there is a group of clocks, but the final group? Things that have eyes, including Jupiter. Six points!

Going into the final round, Epicurians lead 17-9. Mssn Gvls is upon us, beginning with Ores. Unrefined metals, and that's 4-0 to the Epicurians. They're a bit good at this. Famous pirates and privateers ends in a 3-1 win to them, including an appearance by Captain Pugwash. Terms used in theatrical scripts is 3-1 to the Epicurians, Food writers ends 2-0 in their favour. Ancient cities, that goes 2-1 after a slow start. Numbers is a 3-1 Epicurian win.

Cattle breeds doesn't really get going, and Epicurians have it by a mile, winning 34-13. They'll be back in the semi-finals.

People who use π as their ATM PIN: Wrights v Bloggers


Heat 12

Stephen Gault is first up tonight, and he's taking The Smiths (1982-7). Morrissey, Johnny Marr (he played guitar), and others formed seminal Manchester band The Smiths. They took the rock 'n' roll playbook, and subverted every last rule in it – they were literate, emphasised melody, and are described in the Hitch-Hikers' Guide to the Galaxy as "the Losers' Liberation Front". The round starts off strongly, but – a bit like the band's career – comes to a bit of a halt too soon and it's slim pickings thereafter. 9 (4).

David Malone offers the Third Battle of Ypres (1917). This battle, also known as Passchendaele, was to capture an obscure village for the Anglo-French forces. It took three and a half months, and cost over half a million lives for no obvious gain. Plenty of gains in this round, in spite of a pause towards the end: 11 (1).

Gillian Taylor will discuss the Life and Career of Josephine Baker (1906-75), a dancer of the inter-war years in Paris. Born in Missouri, she emigrated to Paris as part of a new revue, and came up with the idea of performing while wearing a feather skirt and nothing else. The audience's eyes popped out on stalks, and her reputation was secured. There was less success back in the USA, where racism meant Baker had to come in through the back door. This round makes a grand entrance – no passes, no errors, 18 (0).

Follow that! Christopher Payne tells us about the Literary Works of John Betjeman (1906-84), the poet. Educated at Oxford, and employed as an architectural writer, Betjeman was technically a gifted poet, with superb comic timing. His slightly conservative writing style (and subject matter) made him popular with the public, and an uncontroversial choice as Poet Laureate in 1972. The round starts strongly, has a short burst of passes in the middle, and rather peters out from there. 6 (8).

Mr. Payne is back again, and he knows the plot of Summer Holiday, and the first Earl of Stockton, or Harold MacMillan as he's better known. (And how come no-one's taken that gentleman as a specialist subject lately?) Rabbit punches and "the aged P" advance the score further, and the final score is a neatly symmetrical 14 (14).

Mr. Gault remembers the star of The Truman Show and the derivation of "plumber". Mr Humphrys is remarkably close to breaking his strike by asking after the Thai Redshirts, but follows it up by asking after Pickles the Dog. Luck is not on his side: guesses at a salad vegetable and a Biblical city both come out wrong, but the contender remembers Oasis's 2002 album. More than Noel Gallagher does these days! 16 (8) is the final score.

Mr. Malone is asked who is the deputy prime minister this week, and which animals build dams out of mud. A beaver and the Lesser Spotted Nic'clegg are the answers there, possibly not in that order. His hidden Manchester music question is on fool's gold, he remembers the Rump parliament, and a character from The Prisoner. There's a good speed there, and the contender ends on 25 (5).

Gillian Taylor knows it's win or bust – eight will win, the loser won't end up in the repechage. She commences with various sorts of owl and the Roman goddess of the dawn, and adds the first cabinet post held by Mrs. Margaret Thatcher. The derivation of Reykjavik helps her to cross the finishing line, after which the round does seem to slow down markedly. The final score is a winning score, 30 (1).

Countdown Update


Michael Chadwick was October's first Countdown champion, and he looked set to win eight straight, with a promising record. For reasons that we didn't quite understand, he missed that opportunity, losing his last game, so 7 wins and 712 points was the score. Mr. Chadwick's loss came to Andrew Greenway, and the aggregate score in that game – 91 points – was lower than the next winner would ever score. Mr. Greenway lost after 1 win (113 pts).

Jack Hurst announced his entry with a score of 114 points. This was remarkable. It would prove to be his third-lowest total score. Mr. Hurst is really rather good. That's "good" in the sense of "came within one point of a perfect game", and "scored more points in the heats than anyone ever". His undefeated total of 946 points means he'll surely be the number one seed when the finals week begins on 9 December.

Following that were Claire Casey (1 win, 157 pts), Stevie Field (2 wins, 264 pts), and Steve Turvey (2 wins, 258 pts). Yes, a match involving Stevie and Steve, which would stretch the talents of any host. Marcus Hares took the winner's chair after Monday's game, and he's recorded five strong wins so far.

The top eight at the moment are:

1) Jack Hurst 8 wins 946 pts
2) Eoin Monaghan 8 wins 898
3) Daniel Pati 8 wins 840
4) Scott Gillies 8 wins 807
5) Tom Rowell 8 wins 774
6) Michael Chadwick 7 wins 712
7) Peter Godwin 7 wins 705
8) Ryan Loughborough 6 wins 554

There are 23 heats left, so all five octochamps are assured of a place in finals week.

This Week And Next

Adam Crozier is the new chief executive at ITV, and he's clearly a plain-talking guy. He said this week that Britain's erstwhile favourite button was chasing ratings, and that led to "lowest common denominator" programming. Mr. Crozier isn't just saying that for the good of his health, oh no. He's saying it because he wants the restrictions placed on ITV's advertisement sales to be relaxed. In his speech, Mr. Crozier said that, "Not chasing audiences would open up things like the arts, like more drama, like more factual programming." The money wouldn't all fall into ITV's bottom line? Really? Well, if you say so, sir.

The BBC has announced that the oven has gone "ping!" and Ready Steady Cook has finally reached its watch-by date. The competitive cookery programme has been on air since 1994, but is being cleared out as BBC2 cuts its budget for new commissions. Er, sorry, as BBC2 refocuses its daytime schedule.

Ratings to 24 October, and ITV's lowest-common-denominator programme Simon Cowell Annoys was seen by 13.75m viewers. More tellingly, Strictly Come Dancing broke the ten million viewer mark this week, and The Apprentice finished on 7.55m. The Cube (5.5m) overtook both Harry Hill's TV Burp (5.35m) and HIGNFY (5.15m), and did so without any viewers in Ulster. 71 Degrees North had 3.85m, which is still more than Masterchef The Professionals (3.55m) – and ahead of top digital show The Inbetweeners (3.7m). Channel 4's biggest was Come Dine With Me, as seen by 2.45m on Wednesday teatime; the soap star edition on Friday primetime had 2.1m viewers.

On the HD channels, Cowell continues to lead the way, with 950,000 for both Saturday and Sunday shows. Strictly had 490,000, a fraction ahead of The Apprentice. QI had 135,000, and ITV2 HD's Xtra Factor Result had 15,000 HD viewers, and 995,000 SD viewers. Celebrity Juice remains the biggest digital game show, with 1.285m tuning in on Thursday night. A League of Their Own (755,000) came third for The Satellite Channel, followed by Come Dine with More4 (670,000), and Only Connect (610,000). Trapped is back with 335,000 viewers, though that number's going down at five per episode.

Coming up this week, we've a celebrity edition of Coach Trip (C4, 5.30 weekdays). Fans of Just a Minute get this year's third series (Radio 4, 6.30 Mondays), and Trapped Ever After comes to BBC1 (3.05 Friday). Radio 2 presents the Radio 2 Young Chorister of the Year (8.30 Sunday), and Blast Lab comes to Ireland (RTE2, 3.30 weekdays). Viewers in Scotland may wish to note that Pointless has moved to 1pm, and those in Wales may wish to be aware of a documentary on Only Men Aloud (S4C, 8pm Thursday). Next weekend's talent shows: Strictly (6-7.20), X (8-9.30). There's a clash next Sunday night, as X's result begins at 7.45. ITV moved the goalposts there.

To have Weaver's Week emailed to you on publication day, 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.

Last week | Weaver's Week Index | Next week

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