Weaver's Week 2018-03-18

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This from Alistair Griffin:

Stop all the darts, cut off the state of the art cordless phone,
Prevent Bully from mooing...win a motorhome,
Silence the revolving board and with grey suit on,
Bring out the teasmade and look at what you could have won...


Jim Bowen


Caton Primary School has lost a former deputy head. Jim Bowen, the PE teacher turned comedian, has died aged 80.

Raised in Clayton-le-Moors, Jim never lost his Lancashire roots. Even while teaching, he honed his craft in the working men's clubs, and was inspired by comedy legends like Ken Dodd. Jim's television breakthrough was on The Comedians, and he would appear on many television comedy shows through his career.


Jim Bowen will always be remembered for Bullseye. The show – combining quiz questions and darts – established its format and catchphrases. From 1982 to 1994, Sunday teatime during the winter was Bullseye time, as familiar as soup and crusty rolls.

The category board, where the thrower fires a dart at a special board, "it's flashing to help you", and the knower answers a question, getting harder as the round went on. Pounds for points, each thrower scores with three darts, top score faces a question. Jim bids goodbye to the lower scorers, "it'll take me two minutes to count out the money."

After the break, a professional darts player throws for charity, then it's the big prize board. "Keep out of the black and in the red, nothing in this game for two in a bed." The prizes are rubbish, but we can do so much better. Here's the big prize gamble, wager all of these prizes against a mystery prize (a car, a speedboat, a caravan, a fitted kitchen). For defeated contestants, the "bus fare home", and "look at what you could have won".


Fifteen years on primetime television is a rare feat, and even a format as simple as Bullseye will go stale in the wrong hands. Jim had the right hands. Stern enough to keep the show on track, silly enough to let it go a little off the rails. He knew that it was a bit of fun, he knew that some of the prizes were a bit naff. He established a rapport with Tony Green, the darts player turned scorer, and children could watch for mascot Bully going "moo".

Most of all, Jim Bowen worked with the contestants. Other game show hosts had been aloof, the style of Bob Monkhouse, or they'd been jesters like Bruce Forsyth. Jim knew when to give a joke and when to sympathise with the players. He would let people tell funny stories against themselves, and never make them come across as fools. Perhaps it helped that this was a regional television show, made in Birmingham or Nottingham, hosted by a comedian from Lancashire. There's a different atmosphere, now that production is concentrated in London and Salford.

Bullseye became a television institution, and Jim was there every step of the way. The show finished in 1995, there was no real reason for it to stop, but there was never any real reason to renew it. Other than it was very popular, and there's nowt wrong with being popular, so long as you're good at it.

What Would Your Kid Do?

What Would Your Kid Do?

Boomerang (part of the Twofour group) for ITV, 6 February – 13 March

We'd be surprised if this show runs for fifteen years, though it's certainly good enough to run for some more.

Jason Manford is the big man on this programme. He's in his element, able to make some sharp jokes, play a two-faced pantomime villain, and still emerge as a generous host. Impressive work.

The game is played by three families – a child of about 6, and their parents, or grandparents, or aunt, or other relative. In the opening segment, Jason directs his first questions to the child. It's only polite, speak to the leader of the group first, because without the child, the adults would not be here.

What Would Your Kid Do? The set is lit in red-orange-yellow hues.

We might briefly compare Jason's approach with that on Brightest Family. Anne Hegerty adopts that snooty persona with everyone, and it feels like she's conversing amongst equals, Jason is more clearly talking down to the young children, but so does every adult who's not familiar with the child.

After the introductions, the children scurry off stage, we won't see them again until the end of part three. To be precise, we won't see them in the flesh until later: we'll see them on film throughout.

What Would Your Kid Do? Cooking up a surprise for the parents.

Before this recording started, the children have already done some activities. The children thought that they were playing in a classroom, but we know better. This classroom is full of miniature cameras (a "fixed rig", in the jargon) and the play was structured to make certain tests.

Jason introduces the test from the studio, and then we start the film package. Jason explains what's going on, we see most of the story from the classroom, and then the film stops. What happens next?

Each test looks at a different part of a child's psychology. Will your child be honest or cheat for a reward? Will they give in to peer pressure? Will they keep at a task and not get distracted? Will they hold on to icky beasts at the zoo?

What Would Your Kid Do? Will the child press the red button on the wall?

Passing or failing the challenge in the classroom is irrelevant. There are no prizes for holding on to a witchety grub for ten seconds: that's another show. No, on What Would Your Kid Do?, the parents are asked to predict what their child would do. Look, the clue's in the title.

The children can give no wrong answers, the parents can only make wrong predictions. Jason will gently mock naïve parents, "all of your children will be honest. They'll learn." But he does this with a twinkle in his eye, as if to say, "Hope you're right, bet you're not."

What Would Your Kid Do? Ooh, I could hook a duck.

Everything is done to make this a supportive environment. The children are looked after by genuine childcare professionals, and tasks are set by an education advisor. We've no doubt that networks are available to make sure everyone has a time to remember with affection. Jason explains the scientific rationale behind the experiments as he goes along, so we're learning while we're being entertained.

Don't turn over, kids, you'll bump into Secret Life of Four Year Olds. Channel 4's fixed rig show has been a critical and popular hit over the past few years, and it's clearly an inspiration for What Would Your Kid Do? Stephen Mulhern can sleep more easily: while there are brief comparisons to his Big Star's Little Star, they're no more than "young children embarrass their parents". Little Star asked the children of famous people to talk about their parents, it's laughing at the parents for the anecdote, What Would Your Kid Do? has us sighing *with* the parents, at the antics of their children.

What Would Your Kid Do? A memory test. And not Deal or No Deal's next banker.

What Would Your Kid Do? shies away from the big theological questions. The show never suggests it's immoral for a child to lie, it doesn't imply that a youngster is "better" for deferring their pleasures. Most of the show's tests are of maturity (sometimes more mature than we'd expect for the age), or of courage or inquisitiveness.

Regardless of answer, What Would Your Kid Do? speaks to acceptance. It's a gospel of "hate the sin, love the sinner", automatic grace without exception. In its small way, the show offers a radical challenge to elective grace, the "be like us or be damned" mantra pushed by some newspapers.

What Would Your Kid Do? Which of these is going to be a queen one day?

But enough theology, no game show would be complete without prizes, and we need to get on with the prize round. The parents who have best predicted their child's behaviour qualify for the end game. They'll hear three general knowledge questions, and three options for each. Which will their child pick when they're asked the same question?

A right answer to the question wins nothing. An answer that matches the parents' choice – whether right or wrong – wins a prize. The prizes are to be chosen by the child, from two alternatives. Will they pick something useful for the home, or a grand toy for themself? A fridge-freezer or a Frozen castle? A big teddy or the Big Apple?

What Would Your Kid Do? A trip to Dubai, or a cuddly giraffe?

Jason Manford tries to keep a neutral expression, he attempts to not influence the decision, but it would be a dull ending if the child didn't pick something for themself. We viewers get to see the parents backstage, the expressions on their faces as their darling offspring spurns a fortnight in Cancun for a family of rainbow unicorn.

The prize round fits with the rules from earlier in the game, but we're not sure that it fits with the same spirit. We're now being asked to pick a side, root for the adults or for the child. For this column, it's the one flaw in a very good show. It's entertaining, gently educational, and gives us lots of warm-and-fuzzies. In short, a hit.

What Would Your Kid Do? Say goodnight, Chico.
Goodnight, Chico!

This Week and Next

Ken Dodd, comedian and entertainer, has died aged 90. Ken always concentrated on his theatre comedy shows, and was a refreshing addition to any panel game. He enlivened Blankety Blank with his flights of fantasy, and 3-2-1 with his singing. Ken Dodd's biggest game show booking was as a team captain on A Question of Entertainment in 1988.

We must also note the death of Stephen Hawking, the astrophysicist. His entertainment work was mostly in cartoons and sci-fi, though he did present the trophy to the most recent University Challenge winners last year.

University Challenge Stephen Hawking (left) with the Balliol Oxford team.

In happier news, the Television and Radio Industry Club held its award luncheon this week. Winners included Dermot O'Leary (radio presenter), Bake Off (food programme), Love Island (reality programme), I'm a Celebrity (entertainment programme), Ant and Dec (TV personality), and A League of Their Own (sports programme). The sports award goes to a comedy panel show? Ouch!

The Royal Television Society presents its awards tonight. Top of the pile is the coveted RTS Daytime Programme of the Year, where The Question Jury flies the flag against Moving On and Good Morning Viewers. For the Entertainment category, Saturday Night Takeaway and Love Island are against Murder in Successville.

Entertainment Performance is between Ant and Dec (for I'm a Celebrity), Claudia Winkleman (for Strictly), and The Last Leg. And RTS Channel of the Year is between BBC1, Channel 5, and CBBC. C'way the CBBC Massive!

A good week for The Chase. Tuesday's episode featured a Gang Of Four against Anne Hegerty, and Bradley getting so very excited he shouted the last questions. Wednesday's game featured the question, "In which month is Pi day?" It falls on 14 March, 3.14 in North American usage. Wednesday's date? 14 March. Every little detail counts, and the few of us who spotted it loved it.

Bad news for the remaining fans of Robot Wars, as the series has been cancelled. This column suspects the problem was high expense and low ratings, barely over 1 million last year.

Only Connect had its second elimination match, Detectives against Beaks. Some strong scores in the early rounds, the Beaks got bones in Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, the Detectives got prime numbers in groups of ten. 10-9 to the Detectives after the early rounds turned into 16-13 after the walls. The Beaks pulled back on Missing Vowels, taking all four points in "Said when shaking hands". The result was a 20-20 draw; the Detectives won the tie break and will return in the contest.

University Challenge was on a qualification game, Merton Oxford took on Edinburgh. It was a one-sided contest, for each starter Edinburgh got, Merton scored three. The match was over with about ten minutes to play, 210-85 the final score.

Mastermind, and the final semi-final. Shahab Mossavat took Henry III, and closed his contest on 14 points. We're going to grouse about Kyle Nagendra's set of questions on The X Men films. They're not just about Wolverine! It's an ensemble cast, with many characters growing through the series. Some of them are even women, not that we'd know that from the questions. Not that this threw Kyle, a score of 20 (4 passes) is near the fun zone.

Ailsa Watson scored 18 on general knowledge in her heat, and could use that again: she got 10 on the Jack Parlabane novels of Christopher Brookmyre. Lightning doesn't strike twice, and 19 removes her from contention. Sarah Jane Bodell makes the most of her high-scoring loser slot, having edged Magda Biran for the last place. 11 on Peep Show, but the general knowledge doesn't go to plan, and 19 is the final.

Don Crerar made a perfect 11 on Albert Speer, and knows he needs ten to win. He chooses to pass rather than guess, perhaps saving enough time to squeeze in another question. But it doesn't work: there are a lot of passes, including confusion between the dunnett and the dunnock. Don's final score: 19. In a low-scoring heat, Kyle Nagendra has the most points, and will join us again in the final.

To contradict ourselves yet again, the Mastermind final will not go out next Friday. They've decided to hold it to 30 March, a Friday where there's no live rugby on the BBC so the show can go out at the same time everywhere. Unfortunately for this column, we're away for an Easter break that weekend. While we can find ten minutes to post our prepared review, we won't get to see the show until Monday. So a) no spoilers, purlease, and 2) we'll cover the final on 8 April.

BARB ratings to 4 March, still without scores for BBC1 or BBC2.

  1. Saturday Night Takeaway remains on top, the century episode pulled 8.8m viewers on ITV, ITV+1, and catchup within a week.
  2. BBC The Voice (ITV, Sat, 6m) and Dancing on Ice (ITV, Sun, 5.6m) did well.
  3. Snow on Friday made some cracking scores. The Chase (ITV, 4.45m) was up almost a million on a week before, and Four in a Bed (C4, 1.25m) almost doubled its audience.
  4. Survival of the Fittest (ITV2, Fri, 800,000) also benefited from the snow, and its scheduled final. We've not heard much chatter about this show, but we might have been in the wrong crowd. Would I Lie to You (Dave, Sat, 495,000) was helped by the weather, Portrait Artist of the Year (Artsworld, Tue, 445,000) was just popular. Go 8 Bit (Dave, Mon, 325,000) has a loyal audience.

Two popular shows return with special episodes this week: Your Face or Mine (Comedy Central, Wed) kicks off with a celebrity edition. Every episode of Celebrity Juice (ITV2, Thu) has celebrities, but this one is live!

Weekdays are enlivened by Star Boot Sale (C4), and dampened by Dickinson's Real Deal (ITV). Sport Relief (Fri) is marked by a telethon on BBC1, and A Question of Sport Relief on BBC2. And great news for the Nick Knowles Fan Club, Who Dares Wins is back (BBC1, Sat)!

Photo credits: Chatsworth TV / Central, Boomerang, Granada.

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