Weaver's Week 2013-02-24

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Deal or No Deal

In Kent, a football team has run into trouble, after it emerged their crest included the emblem of a town council abolished in 1973. Wonder if they could change their name to Deal Or No Deal FC, the Red Box Club.



Second Supreme Championship, Week 7

One quarter-final tie is already known: Jack Hurst and David O'Donnell meet on Tuesday next week. Conor Travers plays next Monday, Jon O'Neill and Jonathan Rawlinson get games this week.

First, Innis Carson must take on Kirk Bevins. Innis is heading for a Ridiculously Long 25 Hour head-to-head Countdown Marathon against Mark Deeks, hoping to raise lots and lots of money for Comic Relief (and if you can give a little, that would be tremendously appreciated). Kirk is coming off the second Perfect Game of the 15-round format. He needs to attain perfection in the first round to have the second-longest streak ever, 18 consecutive rounds. "Smutted"? That's a word, apparently, to mark with dirt.

37-37 after five rounds, but then Kirk hits "Malaise". Not only is that short of perfection, ending his streak at 22 selections, but it's not a winner. Innis has "Lairages", places where cattle rest en route to slaughter. Two rounds later, Kirk ties it up again, finding "Vendetta". 69-69 after the second period, and absolutely nothing is going to split these players. Not even the conundrum: it's 102-102 at full time. Again, a tie-break conundrum is required, this one is solved by Kirk. He'll go on to play Conor Travers, the only other man to have a Perfect Game, in what is (on paper) the best game of Countdown ever staged. That's next Monday. Set your videos now.

Christine Hunt and Jack Worsley played on Tuesday. "Will you start The Chase?" asked Nick, perhaps unaware that that's another show. As early as round two, Jack comes up with the the winner "Ruddies", then "Eternal", and Christine picks two large numbers. Jack's the only one to solve them, it's 38-14 before Phil Hammond gets out his woolly hat, and we're not seeing an upset from here. Well, not in the game sense, though Jack holds "Atheism" and "Godlier" in consecutive rounds, and ends up the winner by 115-67.

In the last round-of-16 match, Dave Hoskisson met Neil Zussman. In round two, Neil risks "sub-prime", but the hyphen means Susie can't allow it. Both risk "undersole" in the next round, hoping it's the bit near the bottom of the shoe, but without success. Harsh taskmistress, our Susie, but fair with it. Neil has a "Facial", then the better numbers solution to lead 19-13. Dave strikes back with "Consoled", but then it's honours even through the second period, with Dave going into the break ahead by 51-49. It's not until round twelve that Neil leads with "Jasmine", but there are no changes in the next two rounds. Neil solves the conundrum first, and his winning score is 90-75.

QF1: Jonathan Rawlinson v Neil Zussman

Jonathan is "surprised to still be here", Neil has "hardly slept since his last game". Which, given the recording schedule, is not a tremendous surprise. Honours are even through the first four rounds, but we sense that Jonathan is edging the psychological battle, just a little more confident than his opponent. It shows in the numbers round, where Jonathan's four-large selection allows him to claim a seven-point lead, 33-26 at the anecdote. Neil posits "betitled" afterwards, it's logical, but it's not in the dictionary. His offer of "jarrose" in the next round is, by his own admission, in the language of "gibberish". One of the host's friends is fluent in that tongue.

No changes in the next two rounds, which include Jonathan dropping his first point of the night, but then Jonathan solves his opponent's numbers pick to lead 69-39 at the interval. As they say on the other side, we can see where this is going: he goes for "Ionisable" in the next round, Phil Hammond MD bets his life on it being in, and the Grim Reaper slinks out of the studio clutching his novelty scythe-handle in the shape of a hare. It's interesting how people say the word "Heinous": all in the studio here make it open with "Hee", many of this column's peers prefer the opening sound "Hey". Neil is off by 100 in the final numbers game, Jonathan spots the conundrum, and he's the winner by 118-53. Maximum for the game was 119. Jack Hurst or David O'Donnell lie in wait.

QF2: Jon O'Neill v Jack Worsley

Very brief introductions this time, all the better to get on with the game. Jon takes an early lead, as Jack's "repolled" is not going to be allowed. A little later, Jon offers a word that has Susie scurrying to the dictionary, and exposes her weakness with long and confusing scientific terms. It's 40-32 at the anecdote. Jon has to offer "Swipers" in round seven, which is fine. By the second numbers, it's 79-71. That eight points from the opening round is echoing down the game.

Fifteen rounds is a marathon not a sprint, but these two have been keeping pace from Greenwich Park to the Victoria Embankment. Whenever Jack tries to make a move – "Craniate" in round twelve, Jon counters with something just as good – like "Craniate". A little frustrating as a game, but we can only admire the sheer artistry of these masters at work. "The dodgiest eight of all time," says Jon in the last letters. "Jonesing"; Jack is confident about the same word, and of course it's fine. Jack's twice had to declare a not-written-down numbers, it's 112-104 into the conundrum. Jon solves it to take a 122-104 win, Jack congratulates an even better player, and bows out with wonderful grace.

Countdown Stars of the game: Neil Zussman and Jack Worsley.

Jon's back on Thursday. He'll meet Conor Travers or Kirk Bevins. There shall be cake.

University Challenge

Group phase, match 3: Pembroke Cambridge v St George's London

Defending runners-up Pembroke Cambridge had an easy win over Bath last time out; St George's overcame Lancaster. The London side get off to the better start, helped by the spat between George Orwell and George Bernard Shave about the politics of Little Billy Shakespeare. We were surprised to learn that the wake of a boat is always 39 degrees wide, and that the Know Nothing party attracted 22% of the vote once. There is much wailing and gnawing of bones as the Only Connect question ogres tear up sequence questions, about nationalities of UN secretaries-general and new members of the United Nations. St George's leads by 50-10.

Dale Winton

You know that bit on Supermarket Sweep where Dale Winton (left) gave ingredients and asked players to identify the product? Tonight, Thumper is doing just that, giving a long list of substances. But it's a little harder than Dale's show: these are chemical formulations with Latinate names. No "Equus exanimatus", so it's not budget lasagne but toothpaste. The audio round is on winners of the Classical Brit awards, after which St George's lead has extended to 95-30. With St George's pulling further away, and Pembroke not getting more than one bonus per round, this episode quickly runs out of steam. The second visual round is on objects photographed by the Hubble Space Telescope, an excuse for some astronomical lovely, everyone ends up getting a starter, and the final score is a comprehensive win for St George's, 195-105. As we seem to be saying a lot this year: not a classic match.


Semi-final 1

Everyone here has won a heat, or been one of the best runners-up. From here, it's win or bust. And, with five contenders to get through, no time to hang about.

  • Matthew Bradshaw takes Rising Damp (1974-8). Set in a run-down boarding house, Rising Damp was a sitcom produced by Yorkshire Television. Rupert Rigsby is the show's anti-hero, a skinflint landlord who pries into the lives of his tenants, exposing his own prejudices. Avid viewers of Qd The Master Quiz (1991) may recall how an episode of Rising Damp was a set text for a recall quiz the next day: this column's seen no other episode. The contender clearly has, finishing on 9 (1). Read more: the authorised guide.
  • Michael Wright: US military aircraft of the Second World War (1941-5). Not that this is in any way an unworthy subject, we just cannot possibly add to the title. Lots of additions from the host, saying that something was a codename or a nickname. The contender makes his way to 10 (1).
  • Aidan McQuade: Novels of Dennis Lehane (b 1965). He's most famous for the Kenzie and Gennaro series, detective-noir books set in his native Boston. This is, basically, the first question: everything else is plot detail; given that there are about ten books in the Lehane canon, this is fair. The contender makes 11 (0), and hears "I nearly started another question, but I didn't". Read more: the author's website.
  • Kathryn Palmer: St John's Wood Clique (1863-90). An alliance of seven formal members, and a number of other associates, in north London. They encouraged and criticised each other, and generally depicted anecdotes from history, vignettes to show what life was like for the common person. Final score is 10 (1). View more: "When did you last see your father?"
  • Mark Grant: Films of Marlene Dietrich and Josef von Sternberg (1930-5). Seven movies, created by the director von Sternberg, in which Dietrich acts the role of a glamorous femme fatale in some remarkably stylish scenes. The exact relationship between the two is argued about endlessly by film buffs; their quality is not. A bit like this round, which ends on 10 (0). Watch more: the movie Morocco*.

Mastermind This week's semi-finalists.

After a high-scoring round, Matthew Bradshaw is first back. He qualified on 21 September, taking the Epsom Derby. In the two minute drill, there's little room for error; this contender finds quite a bit, finishing on 16 (3).

Michael Wright took the Hornblower novels on 28 September, scoring solidly but not spectacularly in the general knowledge section. He repeats the feat here, closing on 19 (4).

Kathryn Palmer qualified with Duran Duran on 31 August. One question is constructed about a bird that evades its hunters by scurrying along the ground. After a slightly shaky start, the round picks up towards the end, finishing on 19 (2).


Mark Grant has made the final before. He got here through knowledge of "London Labour and London Poor" on 9 November, and gets to shout "Banzai!" on network television. What? Bonsai? Oh. Another slow start, strong middle bit, helped by Mark's ability to talk really quickly; a slow finish means he finishes on 19 (0)

So Aidan McQuade needs nine to win: he qualified with Michael Collins on 24 August. In contrast to the prior rounds, he starts strongly and then has to think about things. He reaches 19 points, stalls, stalls some more, and then gets the one question he needs to win. He gives the pass to lose the tiebreak, but he's already rendered that academic.

Aidan McQuade qualifies, with 21 (1). He rejoins us at the start of April for the grand final.

This Week And Next

Over on the wireless, Brain of Britain has also reached its semi-final stage. Here, Darren Martin took the game by the scruff of the neck in the opening round, and retained his lead throughout – it sounds easy, but knowing that one slip could gift a point to the fiercest opponent adds even more pressure to the situation. Darren joins us again in a month for the final.

We regret to report the death of Derek Batey, aged 84. Originally a presenter and reporter for the BBC in Cumbria, he moved to the new commercial station Border Television in 1961. There, he presented the town contest Cock of the Border, and the general knowledge quiz Try for Ten. He'll be best remembered as the host of Mr and Mrs, that quiz about how well one knows one's wife (or husband), a light and inoffensive chat that gently inserts difficult questions, ones causing the players to think about their replies. Batey had retained the rights to the format, so that overseas sales could benefit Border Television, and he was a consultant on the recent ITV revival.

BARB ratings in the week to 10 February show Dancing on Ice (6.45m) under pressure from In It to Win It (5.8m). Britain's Brightest ended its series on 5.35m, with Family Fortunes reaching 4.7m. Roughly on a par were Take Me Out (3.6m), The Chase (3.5m) and The Mary Berry Story (3.4m); University Challenge pulled 3.05m and 8 Out of 10 Cats 1.75m. Got to Dance 4 led the new channels, with 870,000 for its performances. QI XL had 500,000 on Dave, and Come Dine with Me brought 490,000 to More4. We have a figure for Pop Idle Us on 5*: 200,000, barely ahead of Catchphrase on Challenge (185,000).

Next week, My Little Princess (E4, 10pm Mon) offers a course in over-controlling fathers-in-law. There's a new run of Big Ask (Dave, 10pm Tue), Celebrity Juice returns (ITV2, 10pm Thu), and it's the UK's premier televised song contest Can i Gymru (S4C, 8.25 Fri). The Countdown Supreme Championship crowns the best Countdown player of forever (C4, 2.45 all week), and it's Comic Relief season with a special episode of Pointless (BBC1, 6.10 Sat). And Food Glorious Food comes to ITV (8pm Wednesday). Another website got an interview with host Carol Vorderman, and asked what the show is all about. "Food. Obviously." Glad we've got that sorted out.

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