Weaver's Week 2012-11-18
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"Don't rely on others to step up and speak out." For the next two Weeks, we're raising our gaze, looking beyond the limited diet served by the big television channels, and thinking, what if people made their own entertainment.
The Fifty-50 Show
About three months ago, people started figuring out that if they're very clever, they can take audio through their computer, record it, edit it into shape, and record it for use later. And if that audio happens to be real-time voice chatter transmitted over the internet, then it's possible to produce a podcast that people can download and listen to at their leisure. Game show fans are clever people, and – with a little practice – they can do this.
Lewis Murphy is the man behind the weekly game show podcast from the UK, which (for reasons already lost to history) is called the Fifty-50 Show. After two months of weekly podcasts, we're beginning to see the format settle down. The programme begins with a review of the game show news. This week, the panel (Dr. Peake and Lady Caroline) have been discussing Countdown, and evaluating the podcast's idea that Channel 4 might be tinkering with the schedule to gradually ease it into a lunchtime slot. There's a suggestion that Nick Hewer is an "awful" host, and that he really ought not to be casting aspersions on words, and we can't fault any of that logic. Language changes, the host needs to keep pace. The panel also reckons Countdown is bloated at 45 minutes (or, as Channel 4 puts it, 50).
Host Lewis was planning to organise a live audio commentary on Schlag den Raab, a German game show starring Stefan Raab. It goes on for hours and hours and hours. And hours and hours. Annoyingly for this column's readers, the Raab special went out on Saturday night, so even our devoted Sunday morning readers have missed it. Well, unless it's continued all night, like a rock band having a post-gig party until dawn is itself a distant memory.
I'm a Celebrity is back, and the panel pick their favourites (Brian Conley and Charlie Brooks). This column was planning on taking another look at the show this year, but after watching twelve minutes on Tuesday, we switched off because our swear box was full. They also preview the Only Connect Children in Need special, of which more in due course. There's a Go See This Show item, talking about shows recording in London, Salford, or New Trafford in the near future. And then they get into the week's main feature, the first airing anywhere of the new cash game that literally everyone's talking about.
Twenty One Questions Wrong
The way to win Twenty One Questions Wrong is obvious. Each of the questions is an either-or teaser, along the lines of:
- "Mutton or Lamb: which hosted 'The Bank Job'?"
The contestant's task is to give the wrong answer, the one that does not fit the clue (in this case, "Mutton"). Give the response that does fit the clue and the contender has to start the list of twenty one questions over again from the top. And, because this is an intense game of swift wits and swifter responses, they must respond within two seconds or be judged wrong anyway. And that means they've got to start over. If the contender's sure of the answer, they can respond as quickly as they like, so when they hear "Mutton or...", they can call "Mutton", and move on to something fresh.
This isn't a new idea – far from it. Twenty One Questions Wrong is the end game to Italian game show "Avanti un Altro", which Mr. Bother of the Bar describes on his website. For reasons that aren't immediately clear, Endemol has refrained from selling the show outside Italy, leaving an opportunity for others to step into the void.
Twenty One Questions Wrong doesn't pretend to be original, and nor does it pretend to be a big money quiz. The Italian show will typically offer €200,000 as its nightly prize; the British version starts at 25 quid. To win this jackpot, the contender must get the twenty one questions wrong within two-and-a-half minutes. That's a difficult task at the best of times, it will take the question-master a minute-and-a-half to read out all the questions once, and takes no account of starting over on an invalid response. Fail on question 18, and it's right back to the start.
Once the two-and-a-half minutes have expired, a klaxon goes, and the money tumbles – in the UK version, from £25 to a crisp tenner. And it keeps on falling, at 10p per second. The game continues, frantically asking questions, and it is still possible to win from here.
There's one final lifeline: once the cash has tumbled to a fairly low amount, the contender can shout "Freeze" to stop the clock and stabilise the prize fund. They'll get one final chance to win the remaining dosh – in this week's game, twenty one tenpences. Start over from the beginning, still with the two-second limit, but without the crushing time pressure of earlier rounds. One error in this final run and the player will leave with nothing.
Host for the British webcast version is Daniel Peake, with Nick Gates adjudicating. We found the game to be some of the most intense radio we've heard in a long time. Professional radio producers hope to have an "I couldn't leave the car, it was that gripping" moment. Twenty One Questions Wrong is more of an "OK, stop driving, pull over, you'll be shouting at your MP3 player and get distracted and crash" moment. It's got all the excitement of a penalty shootout, and all the free-flowing artistry of a top-class football side stringing together twenty one passes before a goal.
There are loose ends – what we heard was the first time the game had been played for a prize, and there are things that would benefit from attention. Brig's buzzer is the loudest thing in the world, and we wouldn't have objected had Daniel paused the game part-way through to catch his breath and reassure the contender. These are nit-picks, there's an awful lot of good in Twenty One Questions Wrong, and they could remain as features rather than bugs.
Back at The Fifty-50 Show, there's a debrief, a review with Dr. Peake and the contestant Caroline, one that manages to last longer than the game itself. Caroline reckons that if you know the wrong answer, it's easy. If you've no clue, it's doable. If you have to think, then Nick's buzzer finger is going to move before you can answer. And from there, a discussion of the psychology of the short-term memory which is better than anything we can come up with.
And that's just one episode of The Fifty 50 Show; other editions have told us more than we need to know about Channel 4's flop game show Baggage (which came to an end at teatime yesterday) and the career of Inside Clyde's famous David Bodycombe. There'll be more DIY media next week, but we can tell by the way it's suddenly gone dark that our view of the sun is being blocked by someone very tall.
Children in Need of Assistance special
With us this week are The Goldfingers: Daisy Goodwin, a Sean Connery lover; Matthew Parris, a newspaper columnist; and Charlie Higson, the author of the "Young Bond" novels. They're against The Fowls: Clarke Carlisle, owner of some chickens; Richard Osman, duck owner from a quiz where clever people score zero; and Rosie Boycott, who will be building The Shard for ducks.
The night is for Children in Need, and donations will be welcome at http://www.bbc.co.uk/pudsey
Pictures for the Goldfingers: a Roman bust, Ronnie Barker, a general, and with time running out they say "all looking from right to left". The fourth picture is Porky Pig, so it's stutters, and a bonus for the Fowls. Mark Antony and Sir Sidney Ruff-Diamond is enough for them to buzz in and say "Sid James". Characters he played in Carry On films, for three points.
Music for the Goldfingers: Sousa's march, the "Yellow Rose of Texas", they're thinking Monty Python and then American states. Which means we don't need the "Hawaii 5-0 theme". Phew. Three points there. For the Fowls, it's "Ghastly" and "What do you gargle with – pebbles?". Are we talking put downs on The X Factor? "It looks like a tart's bedroom?" Time ran out just before the team could buzz, and the Goldfingers go with Prince Philip's put-downs. We were close.
"Mogwai multiply" and "2K becomes 2KOH and hydrogen gas" and "Pernod turns milky-white". Apparently, this is as simple as just adding water. Two points for the Goldfingers, though the Fowls explain it all. Victoria gets into the DIY Media spirit, because she wrote this question. "The Glass Key" and "The Scarlet Stiletto" and "The Macavity" and "The Golden Dagger". Not new Sherlock Holmes stories, and no nomination from the Goldfingers. Even though Daisy's brother has won the Golden Dagger. Crime fiction prizes, and the Goldfingers have the first set, 6-4.
Into Connections, and pictures again for the Goldfingers. Bannister and Bacon and Jane Asher, and they're going for Gnasher from The Beano. No, it's to the other side: Brasher to Rasher to Asher to Antony Sher and a bonus point. Matthew Parris tries to make a sequence out of nothing, and fails. Ontario and Huron and Michigan, so which is going to come last? Erie? No. "Too easy" says Mr. Parris: it's the last Great Lake, increasing in volume, so Superior for the bonus.
Tybalt and Paris take us into Romeo and Juliet territory, but which one dies last? Juliet is the correct answer for three points. For his question, Richard is humming Tom Jones' "It's not unusual", and Clarke buzzes in to say "It's not unusual to be loved by anyone". Which is correct, for two points, and the end of the longest 40 seconds in history.
"The watershed" says 9 o'clock to the Goldfingers, and after confirming it's going forward in time, they reckon something happening at midnight. Cinderella's coach turns into a pumpkin? Oh, go on, three points. Coloured numbers for the Fowls, who have the final four balls in a snooker 147 break. It leaves the Goldfingers ahead by 13-9.
Grids 230 and 231. The Fowls are first to the wall, and reckon there are "Lane" grounds for football. Then they have some buns, and in no time at all they're down to the three lives. They reckon the third group is Orders of the something. The fourth group does look like national symbols, but the team seem to be talking themselves away from the correct answer. Emblems of English monarchs is the fourth group, and that's good for a complete grid. Ten points!
What do the Goldfingers have? Some hymn writers, and then what looks like ways of cooking steak. Well done, and three other ways. Synonyms for "inexperienced" is another group to come out easier. What else do they have? Painters, no – poets seems to be their thought. It looks like a group of eight surnames, and the team spend two of their lives on a stab in the dark. Time is against them, and they slightly panic before their final – errant – guess. Victorian poets and Radio 4 announcers are the last two groups. Six points!
Which means we have a tie: 19-19 going into the Missing Vowels round, before which Victoria dons her ever-so-sensible ears. Inflammations of the body goes to the Fowls 2-1. Celebrities who were cartoonists ends in a 1-1 draw. The "50 Ways to Leave your Lover" is another of Richard's specialist subjects, he wins the round 4-0. Quotations from Hamlet stumps the mile-high fact tower, and everyone else, but he's won the show for his side, by 26-21.
Cheers for the winners, cheers to the losers, and normal quizzing impossibility resumes next week. If you can, do give something to Children in Need. Every little helps, including a slice of wedding cake to raffle off.
This Week And Next
A Cambridge derby in the second University Challenge repêchage match, with Homerton meeting King's – thanks to the delay in the summer, it's almost four months since we first saw the latter side. After a slow start, Thumper was clearly flabbergasted that anyone should know about electrical capacitance, because the words he read on the card made absolutely no sense at all. King's first four starters were answered by four different members, and we wondered if there was really, in Chinese history, a Tie Ping dynasty, and if they might have been pushed in the pool.
We'll leave the jokes to the experts. The teams suggested that the Welsh county of Denbeighshire contains Colchester and St Albans; according to the new Apple maps, those are both correct answers. King's had opened up a lead of fifty points, but by the second picture round, it had been reduced to nothing. With ten minutes to go, Voiceover Man was already getting far too excited. Mate, there's still ten minutes to go. Homerton took a lead, but King's were not to be denied; it helps to have a player called Ace on the team. "Oh, nominate ... er, him," said King's captain Fran Middleton, proving that in this game, you really can forget your own name. They've done enough: King's proved the winners by 205-160.
John Humphrys has asked some difficult questions this week; contender George Entwistle passed once too often and resigned his post. "Brought low by cowards and incompetents," was Jeremy Paxman's view; there's no love lost on BBC2's weekly Quiz Bookends. With regards to the director-general's job, may we recommend that the position is put to a job-share, where everyone is entitled to be DG Just For One Day?
- Thomas Grinyer (American Revolutionary War) was on University Challenge last year, and his round here stumbles a little early on. 8 (1) is a decent start, and after a slightly slow start his general knowledge stint finished on 23 (5). On another night, that would win.
- Colin Wilson (East German athletics 1976-88) had some detailed questions, including the precise score in a pentathlon event. Ow! 13 (0) his score. His second round is played at a very fast pace, but not to great achievement: the final is 23 (0).
- Peter Wharmby (RMS Titanic) came within one question of a perfect round, securing 14 (0). It's clear that the host doesn't know about Lady Gaga. Ask your son, sir. The contender ploughs on, and the final score is 27 (3).
- Rachael Neimann (John Peel's Festive Fifties) is another University Challenge veteran, familiar from the Manchester side of 2010. She had another near-perfect round, closing on 14 (0). Fourteen to win is enough to unsettle most contenders; Miss Neimann answers swiftly and Miss Neimann answers correctly, closing on 33 (0). Nineteen in her general knowledge round - that's a bit good!
A grand performance, and one that pushes Peter Wharmby firmly into the repêchage positions.
Ratings in the week to 4 November show Strictly Come Dancing is miles ahead – 10.95m against 8.3m for The X Factor. HIGNFY recorded 5.7m viewers, and Pointless Celebrities came fourth with 4.85m. All-Star Mr and Mrs had 4.55m, but there's no sign of Take Me Out in the ITV top thirty. 4.45m for Young The Apprentice, and 3.16m for ITV's The Chase. Compare that with 3.13m for University Challenge on BBC2, and 1.55m as Deal was the top game show on Channel 4.
BARB has been unable to publish ratings for ITV2 this week, so Only Connect (1.006m) is the top game show for which we have ratings. A League Of Their Own S1 was seen by 760,000, and Come Dine on More4 by 430,000. By comparison, CBBC's new series of Young Dracula began with 405,000 viewers.
Not a big week for new series – the only one we have is Battle of the Irish Bridesmaids on TV3 (9pm Wednesday) in Ireland only. We do have finals for Junior Masterchef, Round Britain Quiz, and Britain Unzipped. Strictly Come Pointless next Saturday (5.50, subject to the motor racing) with Strictly at 6.40, The X Factor at 8, and QI XL at 9.
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