Weaver's Week 2014-07-27

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Stand by Your Man

We came within an ace of declaring a Summerpause this week. But valour is the greater part of discretion, so we're going to review Stand by Your Man. With a warning: this show is poor.


Stand by Your Man

ITV Studios and Group M for Channel 5, from 13 June

"Sometimes, it's hard to be a woman," sang Dolly Parton. Trust us, sometimes it's harder to be a game show reviewer. We watch some of these shows so you don't have to.

Stand by Your Man is a case in point. Channel 5 saw the success of Take Me Out on ITV, and wondered how they could get a piece of that action. The basic idea is that forty single women line up in front of four men. After half an hour, the most popular gent gets to pick someone from their queue, and go on a date with them.

Stand by Your Man 2.5% of the contestants in make-up.

"A cross between Geordie Shore and Take Me Out", according to the pre-launch publicity, it was "set to make even the biggest exhibitionist wince." We've no doubt that it succeeded, at least as measured by quality.

Brian McFadden and Laura Jackson host this show. He's the token blond and is best known for leaving Westlife; Laura is from Freshly Squeezed, Channel 4's defunct breakfast pop programme. They have a difficult task: the winning gent is known as soon as the pictures (or brief descriptions) are shown on screen. There's almost half an hour to fill before the winner is declared.

Laura tries to fill the show with probing questions. "Why did you stay with Ben?" "You swapped to Chris, what attracted you?" "Jamie, you started your record collection with the Spice Girls..?" Didn't everyone?

Stand by Your Man Laura auditions for the Newsnight host.

Host Brian McFadden said he was nothing like Paddy McGuiness. "There's no cheesy catchphrases", reported the stool-dweller, tempting us to watch the show enough to find a catchphrase. We didn't find one in two episodes, but we did suffer Brian's problem with his autocue. It's by scriptwriter Richard Easter, the punchline is actually there before your eyes. Honest.

The centrepiece of Stand by Your Man is "Pillow Talk", in which each gentlemen goes into a double bed. He's interviewed by someone from another player's line. Both players keep their clothes on throughout; Stand by Your Man might air around midnight, but it's not *that* rude. We're reminded of Paula Yates's interviews on The Big Breakfast: fact-finding with flirting, and so heavily scripted as to be painful.

Stand by Your Man People will remember this show for precisely one bit: this.

After all the players have had their time on the duvet – and that's taken at least ten minutes – there's another Runaround moment. Then there's more incisive questioning from Laura in the queues. "You don't like Chris because of his shoes?" The final filler is an embarrassing clip – it might be a brief film from the mother, it might be an awkward photo from his social media accounts.

And then there's one final chance for the women to change chap before they declare a winner. He picks someone from his line, and there's brief footage of an evening out. The prizes were, without exception, cheap rubbish. Back to the pre-publicity, when Laura said, "We told them the date was a safari and they thought it was Africa. It was actually a safari park in the north of England. And one of the boys chose a spicy date so he thought it was India. It was actually an Indian meal for two round the corner." The inevitable conclusion: "Jamie and Amanda haven't arranged a second date." She returns to the Naughty Forty, he returns to his usual life, and nothing happens.

Stand by Your Man Brian McFadden (left) and Laura Jackson.

Not a tacky programme, but a base one. Stand by Your Man knows what it wants to happen, and it's not going to pretend otherwise. The show rarely moves past thoughts of sex. Again, from the publicity, "Our girls don't want romance. They want some action." Nor is it an imaginative show, we've seen every element somewhere before. It's a bit of cheap filler, made for the post-pub crowd, and best enjoyed after a large number of drinks. Stand by Your Man fills a niche.

File:Square 040.jpg

Stand By Your Set

Every year, we hear about some game shows being planned and proposed. Some of them get as far as a pilot episode. We note them down in the New Shows page, and let them fester until it becomes clear they're not going to make the screen. Then we take them out, and use them as filler for a quiet Week.

Rebel Bingo – A bingo experience for the yoofs where the audience plays bingo as normal. As soon one of them gets a bingo, they go to the stage and challenge a reigning champion in a Celebrity Juice style game, in order to win some life changing prizes. (Challenge, 2013; we have enough difficulty understanding the description.)

The Greg James Show – Straight from his Radio 1 drivetime show, Greg James gets to host his very own show as he pits two celebrity teams against each other to use massive modern hit songs (or so they say) on the springboard. (BBC3, pilot 2013)

Name That Toon – Celebrities get to control a series of amazing CGI animations. Rufus Hound hosts (Channel 4, pilot 2013. We'll have more on badly-animated Channel 4 shows next week.)

Just 1 Thing – Members of the public have a week to learn a brand new skill, then test it in front of a live studio audience. Fantastic prizes await. But before they are tested, they'll be given a change that'll make their performance of their week's trained skill even more difficult. Bradley Walsh hosts (ITV, pilot 2013)

Take One for the Team – Two celebrities go head-to-head in a series of outrageous games designed to see just how far they'll go for their friends and family. (ITV, 2013)

Take Off – Four contestants invite their friends and family to take part in a quiz that tests not what they know, but how well they know the people they've brought with them. With all four groups fully packed and ready to go, only one contestant will pass with flying colours and win the chance to take their loved ones on a luxury break. Paddy McGuinness hosts. (Channel 4, 2013)

And remember, none of these shows can appear on your telly box. Stand by Your Man just might. Don't have nightmares.

This Week and Next

"I've got a cake to bake – I've got no clue at all."

The Great British Bake Off returns on 6 August.

British Sky Broadcasting has bought 70% of Love Productions. Best known for The Great British Bake Off, Love is also responsible for the controversial Benefits Street, the optimistic Goodbye Year Six, and the syntax error Cirque de Celebrité. This year's Bake Off was made before the takeover, but future shows under the Love Production imprint will be marketed by KYTVisions.

Back at the dawn of satellite television, KYTV chose not to appeal to viewers across Europe. Instead, they chose not to appeal to viewers in the UK and Ireland. Twenty years later, it's generally accepted that television Balkanisation made corporate sense, helping to breed hugemungous profits. Never mind that it created a public more pliant to the anti-European chant, and made a mockery of Television Sans Frontiers.

This week, KYTV has bought up two stations elsewhere in Europe. This owes nothing to any potential Brexit, and everything to the pressing needs of Lord Yellowhammer's international operation The Foxy Corporation. KYTV Italy and KYTV Germany have been acquired for approximately £4.9md (€6,2md). This cash will pay for about half of Foxy's hostile takeover bid for Time Warner. Footage of the first KYTV Europa board meeting has leaked.

Next year's Eurovision Song Contest final will take place on 23 May, the Saturday of the bank holiday weekend. It's a week before the FA Cup final in England, so there's no danger of penalties deciding the trophy.

Eurovision Song Contest Every danger of a gimmick like this, so be careful.

The worst-kept secret in television is out: Fifteen-to-One is coming back. Channel 4 has ordered 40 more episodes, Dame Sandi Toksvig will host. The press release went on about how the shows will be recorded at the BBC studios in Glasgow, and how this is all part of Channel 4 "widening its supply base throughout the UK". We're checking our calendar, and it's resolutely saying July. Not September.

Pick of the week is the Dream Themes collection, television themes reinterpreted by a contemporary guitar-and-keyboard group. We particularly enjoyed their takes on Who Wants to be a Millionaire and The Bill. It's put together by Rhodri Marsden, journalist and geek, and they're playing at the Buffalo Bar in London on Wednesday. Thanks to Daniel Peake for the tip-off.

On the UK Gameshows mailing list, Jeremy Rogers wrote about how popular University Challenge was in the 1960s. He tells us that UC was networked during peak viewing hours during the decade. Twice in the 1966-67 series, it achieved a rating of 7.2 million homes (not viewers, homes). We stand corrected, with thanks.

University Challenge 2015 is at heat two, pitting Oxford Brookes (Simon Joyce, Paula Ayres, David Ballard, Stephen Mayes) against Jesus College of Oxford University (Betha Roberts, Louise Thompson, Alex Browne, Jonathan Clingman). And that explains the green hair we saw in the Class of 2014 piece.

The show got off to a slow start: Jesus failed to score on a round about editors of That Other Wiki. None of the questions was about the snotty deletionists who think that That Other Wiki will somehow be "improved" by deleting everything the world knows about game shows. Such an assumption is, of course, a load of twaddle that bears no resemblance to any truth, and so fits in perfectly there.

Here's why we're annoyed. Facts about the largest win on The Chase are actual facts. Facts about each episode of Who Wants to be a Millionaire are actual facts. They are facts about game shows, and some people have prejudices against game shows. When combined, facts make knowledge. Knowledge is liberation. Suppressing facts actively and deliberately denies knowledge. That Other Wiki deliberately suppresses these facts. That Other Wiki denies knowledge, just so that some anonymous coward doesn't have to confront his prejudices. This misleads the world, by misrepresenting the sum of human knowledge, and it keeps people in the chains of ignorance. Educated people are taking the ladder of knowledge, and pulling it up behind them.

Please do not mention That Other Wiki, it will make our blood boil. To calm down, let's return to this poor episode of University Challenge. Oxford Brookes suffered a visual bonus round about "Nadsat" words, a Cyrillic language created by Anthony Burgess. Remember how the producers said that all their questions would have "inherent interest"? This round was duller than an obsidian mirror. Wake us up, ask questions about massive municipal bankruptcies. Neologisms of the 1990s reminds us that the typical team would have been in short trousers during the original dotcom boom.

Jesus took the early lead, and looked like they were cruising to a low-scoring victory. Oxford Brookes drew level with a couple of minutes to play, reducing the game to a three-starter contest. Oxford Brookes got the first, and two bonuses, and played slowly to ensure there would only be one more starter. Jesus got that next starter, missed the bonus, and are out.

Oxford Brookes won, 130-120. That's unless you're reading the report on That Other Wiki, where this transmission has been deemed "simply listcruft {1} that belongs elsewhere."

{1} Listcruft (n, derog.): a series of facts that a particular commentator does not like, because it does not fit into their narrow world view. "The politician's statement was full of listcruft about the economy."

The Adventure Game The Red Salamander (left) and his physio Ron Gad.

BARB ratings in the week to 13 July.

  1. The Intergalactic Cup final saw a victory for Germany. 14.9m people saw the match on BBC1 (2.35m on ITV). President of runners-up Arg, the Rangdo, is said to be "disappointed" and has made team coach the Red Salamander walk home. Top game was Celebrity Masterchef (a series-best 4.75m on Fri).
  2. 3.3m for A Question of Sport Super Saturday, and 2.5m for Tipping Point shows that Jonathan Ross is more interesting than the World Cup. 2.25m for The Cube, and 2.15m for The Chase.
  3. 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown recorded 2m, 1.9m for Mock the Week, and Big Brother (1.6m) was more compelling than University Challenge Class of 2014 (1.55m).
  4. 1.07m for Couples Come Dine with Me, 930,000 for The Million Pound Drop Live Not Live, 860,000 for the Only Connect final, and 780,000 for Big Brother's Bit on the Side.
  5. Down in the depths, there were 35,000 people seeing Masterchef Canada on Watch+1, and 16,000 found Fifteen to One on Challenge+1.

Ultimate Brain has been going out on CBBC at 9am on weekend mornings. There's live coverage of the Red Salamander's Return (Arg-o-vision, 3.85 Weds), and The Singer Takes it All (C4, 9pm Fri). As ever, ITV's embargo prevents us from saying who's on Tipping Point next Saturday. We just wonder: whatever happened to the stars of Bluebirds?

Photo credits: ITV Studios / Group M Productions, SyCo, DR, BBC Bristol.

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