Weaver's Week 2012-08-26

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This week, Chaser Anne Heggerty suggested that she has a Bacon number of 4, via Peter Polycarpou, Harry Fielder, Tom Cruise, and Kevin Bacon. But we can do better. Cruise can be short-circuited by going via someone who was in I Could Never Be Your Woman with Polycarps, and Starting Over with the Bacon. The name of this versatile actor: Wallace Shawn. Not to be confused with the other Chaser, Shaun Wallace.


Don't Blow the Inheritance

ITV, 20 – 31 August

You can blow a trumpet! You can blow your nose! But... Don't Blow the Inheritance

With The Chase off propping up ITV's weekend schedule, other programmes are able to have a run in the teatime slot. We reviewed Tipping Point a few weeks back (top line: we'll have a little more), and Dinner Date a couple of years ago (summary: nothing unexpected). There was also a one-week experiment with Some Blokes Kicking a Plastic Bag Around a Grassy Field, which we weren't impressed with.

Don't Blow the Inheritance Point at someone who isn't Tim Vine!

Don't Blow the Inheritance is hosted by Tim Vine. This is a good start, as Tim is one of the funniest comedians around; this week, he's been voted Second Funniest Comic in Edinburgh, behind only The Dandy. He's joined by four Young People, and an older relative – parent, uncle, granny, that kind of thing. The basic conceit is that the oldies will build up a cashpot, and their younger relative will attempt to win as much of it as they can.

After the almost-inevitable introductions (hello, who are you, what do you want to do with the money?) we're left wondering whether part of the charm is to pick our winners. Do we want the contender who is going to have a big wedding with the dosh? Or the one who is planning to fund a Master's degree? And then we realise that this is teatime ITV with Tim Vine, not after-sunset Channel 4 with Liza Tarbuck, so we're not really meant to judge the plans for the money.

Don't Blow the Inheritance There's lots of colour on this show.

All quizzes require some rounds, and Don't Blow the Inheritance begins with round 1. All quizzes need Questions Requiring Answers, and Don't Blow the Inheritance uses exactly that as the name for round 1. Tim Vine will read out some questions, and the older members of the pairs will give the answers. There's only one catch: they don't have the buzzers. No, the buzzing is done by the Young People, on behalf of their relatives. The players can interrupt the question, and Tim will read the question – but only up to the point where he was interrupted. That's if he hasn't got in half-a-dozen jokes and puns.

There's a £1000 reward for a correct answer to any of the questions, but should the older player prove unable to give the right response, all of the other players get a grand. We've seen these mechanics a number of times before – buzzing in on someone else's behalf was a hallmark of The Waiting Game (2001), and that show also gave points to all the other sides for errors. At the end of the round, the player with the least amount of money leaves the show. If a tie-break is ever needed, it's done in the same way – Tim will ask a question, the youngsters will buzz in, the older players will respond.

Don't Blow the Inheritance A round two question: the longest coastlines in the world.

Round two follows, and this is The Top Ten. From the top to the bottom, the young players pick a broad category for their relative to play – for example, "South America". The older players are then given a list with ten possible entries, for instance "The first ten South American countries alphabetically". £1000 for each correct answer, and while there's no penalty for errors, the player must wait for Tim to say yea or nay to each response.

There are circumstances in which this round is a complete anti-climax – two teams can have a huge lead after round one, and are both impossibly far ahead after playing their lists. An elegant way around this is to have the top team pick first, but then the bottom team plays first, so everyone is always playing catchup. Yes, we've nicked that idea from Radio 4's venerable Counterpoint, just as the original round appears to owe something to the likes of Panic Attack.

A great game show has an unforgettable round three, one strong enough to define the rest of the programme. It follows in such esteemed footsteps as The Connecting Wall (Only Connect (2)) The Accumulatower (Accumulate!), and The Assault Course (The Krypton Factor 2010). Here, The Semi-Final owes its debt to the head-to-head final in Going for Gold. Two teams are faced with a series of clues towards one answer. Would you buzz in on the clue "Sale of the Century contestant"? No? Perhaps "Wears his trousers high" would tempt a buzz from the youngster so that their older relative can say, "Ah, that's Simon Cowell". Again, £1000 for each correct answer, but £1000 to the other side for an error.

Don't Blow the Inheritance A round three question: cripes!

Most of the time, this round really tends to drag on. Only if one of the players is prepared to buzz on the first clue does it perk up, otherwise Tim has lots of 20 second gaps to fill. He's good, but he's not that good. We might suggest giving an extra bonus for buzzing in after one clue (say, make the question worth £1500), or give players less time on the first clue. We did notice some canny play, with the youngsters buzzing in as soon as the third clue was displayed, before Tim could read it. These questions tend to be very easy with three clues. Indeed, the whole programme isn't tremendously taxing, perhaps a notch easier than civilian episodes of The Chase.

Eventually, the round ends, and we have a winner. For the final round, the older relative can sit back, because it's their young companion who will be answering the questions. As is common in every 12 Yard production, five correct answers stand between the contender and the money. Tim will ask the first question, and if he receives a correct answer, he'll calmly and gently proceed to the next question, perhaps pausing only for a joke or ten.

Don't Blow the Inheritance One question to go...

But if the contender goes wrong, Tim goes into full meltdown mode, throwing out the jokes and asking question after question. He does this because the money is running down, diminishing by £500 every two seconds, so the typical prize fund of £15,000 will expire in a minute and a quarter. The format guarantees a tense ending – usually because Tim is asking questions like there's no tomorrow, but occasionally because the young brainbox has got five in a row and won the five-figure prize pot.

As well as the usual stack of jokes, Tim throws in some corny catchphrases, with audience participation. "The show that offers thousands of pounds!", to which the audience responds, "Thousands of pounds!" as though they're a human echo chamber. When a pair is eliminated, Tim shouts, "We lose a team," with the reply "It's the end of a dream". As one does. Tim's younger brother Jeremy Vine says "Tim is the new Brucie!", only slightly over-egging the claim.

Don't Blow the Inheritance is a decent format – there's room for a couple of tweaks, as always, but we wouldn't change much. There's nothing flashy about this programme – no electronic gimmicks, no real use for video or audio, nothing that couldn't be administered using the buzzers and bells from the 1950s. If we're being honest, we watch this as much for the host and the finale as for a passable middle game.

Countdown Update

Five competition weeks since Countdown's last set of finals, and here are the daily winners. Carol Corley was the first champion (1 win, 129 pts), quickly replaced by Baljeet Nijjhar (3 wins, 338). It wasn't a tremendous surprise when Paul James took over the champions' chair, the first of eight strong performances. He finished with 794 points, and set a high bar for everyone after.

That included Chris Marshall, who completed eight wins of his own, a total of 682 points. On a good day, he'd give Paul a game, but Chris had more off-days. Anthea Rata was a one-win champion (180 pts), perhaps a little unlucky to lose to Grant Waters. He went on to record seven wins (722 pts) but was stopped from achieving octochampdom by Andy Rossall. His two wins take us up to the Paralympic break; Countdown resumes in mid-September.

This Week And Next

Episode four in the current series of University Challenge pits Strathclyde against Durham. It's the English side getting off to the better start, knowing the Sugar Loaf mountain of Wales and Gondwanaland. The producers reject "dwarf planet" as a synonym for "asteroid", and they're absolutely right, because "dwarf planet" is a term left undefined by the International Astronomical Union's "We Hate Pluto" branch. A mickey mouse organisation making goofy decisions.

Back at the game, Durham have picked up questions on Asian currencies, and alcoholic drinks, and Quakers. Strathclyde have picked up a missignal, and the Kiss of Death comes just before the audio round. "There's still plenty of time." Though Strathclyde get a starter, Durham continue to grind out a spectacular performance. With only the odd exception, they're answering two-thirds of their bonuses correctly, and no matter how lucky the draw, no matter how weak the opposition, bad teams don't get two-thirds of their bonuses.

Strathclyde pull round in the closing moments, securing two and three correct starters in a row, but the battle is long lost. The final score is 245-70 in Durham's favour; Thumper tries to find something to say to Strathclyde and doesn't quite succeed. We'll just point out Durham's bonus conversion rate: 26/36. Finally, a team to watch out for.

University Challenge Strathclyde: Michael Doriszenko, Julia Hyslop, Martin Nealon, Chris Wareham
Durham: Philip Ferry, Katie Vokes, Richard Thomas, Dominic Everett Riley

Over on Mastermind, we're going to try something different, and give contenders by their order of play in the second round. Which turns out to be their order in the first. [paper toss]

  • Roland McFall (Radiohead) remembers that their first airplay came from Gary Davies. Woo!! 10 (3). In his general knowledge round, the contender names a well-known bakery, and gets the plot of Starlight Express to finish on 23 (5).
  • Graeme Marley (Sherlock Holmes stories) has a wobbly start and good recovery, making it to 10 (5). His general round slowly but surely ticks up the score, to 22 (7).
  • Sarah Le Fevre (The Goodies) gets to say "I'm sorry, I haven't a clue" and it's not taken as a pass. 13 (0). She does collect a fair few passes and errors at the start of her second tilt, closing on 19 (6). Nineteen more than the rest of us have managed!
  • Aidan McQuade (Michael Collins, the Irish nationalist) does the big man well, in a round that is a potted biography. 15 (1). Almost without effort, the contender moves through the round, but then comes to a halt and barely stumbles over the finish line: 24 (6) is the winning score.

So charity director Aidan McQuade wins a low-scoring programme. He'll be back in round two next year.

Over on Pointless, they asked a question about BBC entries to the Eurovision Song Contest. Everyone remembers Katrina and the Waves, some die-hards remember Daz Sampson. But 2003 singing sensations Jemini? Still pointless.

It's been Edinburgh Television Festival week, and we've learned that Channel 4 isn't doing the Paralympic coverage for the money, but as a deliberate statement about society. The controller went on to say that Big Brother had distorted the channel's priorities. As much as this column appreciates the social dimension of the Big Brother show, we have to agree that it had become a distraction for the channel, and it's better consigned to the history box.

Elsewhere, Liz Murdoch disagreed with her brother James, ITV said that Superstar was "disappointing" and the daily programme didn't work, and Stuart Murphy promoted himself. The BBC has confirmed that The Voice of Holland UK will return. It's good news for fans of rotating chairs, because they'll have a greater role in the new series, and there will be fewer derivative and tedious live shows. We wonder if the final will bother with The Winner's Song, maybe it would help imprint the winner on the minds of the viewing public.

The Beeb's also announced a new show for Saturday evenings; from the description, it appears to be a re-mount of Britain's Best Brain from a few years ago. We'll take a Jamie and Zoe show, it can't be worse than Tonight's the Night.

We've also learned that the Edinburgh Television Festival's channel of the year is BBC2; the digital channel is BBC4. Celebrity Juice didn't win digital programme, and digital tie-ins for The Bank Job and The Voice were beaten in their interactive tweetcast podation category.

Ratings in the week to 12 August have emerged. No game shows on BBC1, and nothing tickling our fancy on ITV. The top game is therefore Big Brother, 1.45m viewers on Thursday night. Mastermind returned with 1.25m on BBC2, and Come Dine With Me was Channel 4's top show with 1.1m viewers. Deal or No Deal peaked on Friday with 890,000, and we wonder if that's going to be beaten when Only Connect returns. Elsewhere, 600,000 for Hell's Kitchen on ITV2, QI XL on UKTV Dave secured 475,000, and Bit on the Side brought 445,000 to 5*, that channel's top BB audience of the summer. Consumerism on Challenge, with 125,000 for The Price is Right and 98,000 for Supermarket Sweep.

They've been promoting it with the wit, wisdom, and inner monologue of Victoria Coren, and that's the first time anyone's bothered to promote Only Connect (BBC4, 8.30 Monday). So we won't bother promoting the new series of Only Connect (BBC4, 8.30 Monday), which begins on BBC4 at 8.30 on Monday. Also this week there's a Who Wants to be a Millionaire special (ITV, 8pm Sunday), then after Only Connect is Celebrity Juice (10pm Thursday, ITV2), and that's probably the only time these two shows will ever appear in such close proximity.

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