Weaver's Week 2001-06-12

Weaver's Week Index

12th June 2001

Iain Weaver reviews the latest happenings in UK Game Show Land.

Spoilers, and exactly three references to this week's general election, lie ahead.


The blue-and-white ITV beach towel is lying ruined on the sand today, following the reduction in episodes of Survivor to one a week. The show, vying with the XFL for the dubious honour of Greatest Excess Of Hype Over Performance Of The Century, will air just once a week from this week. The interview show with the eliminated contestant will go out after the 2200 news, rather than at 2030. This means that, instead of all being over by the middle of July, the ruddy programme's going to drag to the end of August. The battle may be over, but the show goes own even longer than we feared.


Two weeks ago, I suggested that the winner of Channel 5's TOUCH THE TRUCK was not standing at this week's election. This was based on inaccurate information and inadequate research. Mr Middleton was, in fact, standing in the South West London seat of Kingston and Surbiton, where his Unrepresented People's Party polled 54 votes, 0.11% of the total poll. The seat was won by Edward Davey for the Liberal Democrat party, with 60.18% of the poll.


Last week, Penny and Helen were up for eviction. It was a hard decision, but I eventually voted to get rid of Penny. The time when she wouldn't shut up about the exam even though Narinder was telling her politely to shut up was the clincher.

Monday: Narinder and Brian swap dance moves. Narinder's Janet Jackson is good, but Brian's is better. Penny breaks the reverie by cleaning the table. And nervously brushing the carpet. Another four days of this. If not more. Brian goes round saying how much he likes everyone, to anyone who will listen. He's covering something up, acting too hard. Penny says she's OK, but it's a front. She breaks down in her bedroom, and Bubble comes to the rescue. "You got to meet me, that's worth far more than seventy f'n thousand pounds." Crude, but *very* effective. No-one could feel depressed after a burst of Bubble's sunshine.

Tuesday. Bubble is giving up smoking. And f'n and blinding all the way. Someone's queuing up for eviction Real Soon Now. Even Liz is worried for Bubble. Sympathetic, but worried.

Wednesday: The team are woken at 7am to carry out the first aid test, on which they've gambled 60% of their food budget. A meteor has landed in the garden, and four people are injured. Everyone pulls through, the task is won. Penny feels marginalized because she was asked to talk to a man in shock to keep him alert. Bubble removes his hat! He asks Dean to shave his head, leaving just a spike along the top. It's meant to be like David Beckham (a footballer for England). The hat goes back on afterwards.

BB has arranged postal votes. Penny and Helen go Labour. Liz and Bubble go Lib Dem. Stuart, who has voted by proxy, Paul and Narinder decline to comment. Dean, Amma, and Brian decline to vote. The house has a turnout of 70%, fully 11% above the national average. Only 12 real-world constituencies (Brecon and Radnorshire, Carmarthen East and Dinefwr, Devon W and Torridge, Hexham, Monmouth, Norfolk Mid, Norfolk North, Northavon, Somerton and Frome, Tyrone West, Ulster Mid, Winchester) scored a higher turnout. Voting in this week's eviction topped 1 million, Davina's claim that this is more votes than were cast in Scotland is false - working south, we run out of steam somewhere around Glasgow.

Thursday: Penny asks Narinder if they should discuss how shallow the rest of the group are. Pot, kettle... The rest of the lads hide Bubble's hats under his bed. He blows his top at everyone who is in the way, mainly Brian, and saying he's taking the blame for things other people have done. Bubble is 25 today, and his party has a blue theme. He's a Chelsea fan, and blue is their colour. Face paints, blue lemonade, foosball, cheerleaders. Penny over-acts, and is totally embarrassing. She's got to go. Paul, Stuart, Dean agree. "I'm letting go a bit more," she says. Penny thinks she's a bit alternative. No, she's so mainstream it's not fun.

Friday: Brian and Liz help Penny stage a dress rehearsal for her exit. Will anyone spot that high heels are impractical for live national television? Bubble snipes at Penny when she's called for a camera piece, and is slapped down by Dean and Paul. We have a result. Helen; 447,337; Penny; 624,786. Dean, from the other side of the table, leads the hug; "I so wanted to go!" is Helen's reaction. The housemates aren't allowed out of the house this year, so give Penny a guard of honour at the front door. Penny's met by her friend Peter, who assures her that she *is* a household name, and her job *is* safe. (I understand Penny spoke with her school's head today.) No-one spotted that high heels and fast walking don't go together, so we're treated to the comic sight of Penny slipping off her high heels, Peter dragging her case, and Penny being dragged barefoot by Davina to the studio complex. Penny felt slightly out of it, and didn't get to form a natural rapport. Penny sees: Amma - elusive. Bubble - direct. Dean - hidden. Liz - quiet. Stuart - poser. Penny didn't nominate Stuart after *that* row because she felt she was more to blame than him. Penny bonded well with Narinder in the end, and she's leading the down feeling in the house. Was Penny going to do it with Paul? "No. He isn't man enough for me, he's not a main course." Winner? Dean, or Brian. The studio audience is seeing Stuart as the pantomime villain, the new Nasty Nick. I don't see it myself, Stuart is anodyne, not nasty.

As of Friday night, my nominations to leave are Bubble and Paul. Bubble has been annoying me big time, while Paul has still not made any sort of impression on me. I expect Bubble will be nominated, probably with Helen.

Guessing the finishing order, yet to factor in Josh: 1) Brian; 2) Liz; 3) Dean; 4) Narinder; 5) Amma; 6) Stuart; 7) Paul; 8) Helen; 9) Bubble

Saturday. Bubble is the new porridge king. Josh comes in, surprising everyone. Narinder and Brian are nearest to the diary room door, and are gobsmacked. Josh has been in Portugal, and has booze. He also sparks a big row with Brian over who sleeps where. Brian wants to move in with the girls, Josh is like "I don't mind." Passive-agressive. The Shrink reckons Dean is threatened by Josh. Helen is flirtatious, as is Narinder. The inevitable who's gayer than whom argument is settled in Josh's favour. And Narinder - who reckons both Brian and Josh are straight - is the loser. The other four original lads bonded by pulling pranks involving Brian's bed. It also gave the girls a sense of purpose, to get Brian in with them. They've won, but will the lads still unite? Brian is worried that people will assume he wants to umm Josh. The girls think he does. From the highlights, they may be right. Helen and Narinder have a blazing row. It starts over haircuts, but there are bottled emotions. Narinder reckons Helen is really dim and shallow; Helen is more conciliatory to Nas.

Sunday. Shopping day. The usual rows. The Shrinks spot that Stuart has been expressing his control by winking at people. It's a divide and rule method, but one that will work against Stuart if people start to doubt him. This week's task is to memorise 15 personal facts about the other housemates. 40% is the stake. What is your most treasured moment? Favourite part of your body? Part of your personality you most dislike? Who would you like to be? What part of a relationship do you most value? The gang discover the hot tub under the rockery. Helen leads the charge in, and her make-up goes all smeary. She later gives Brian a haircut, but blanks Nas's conversation. Then a long discussion about being gay. Stuart looks threatened. He spots that things are a lot more relaxed without Penny in the house.

This week, it's Paul and Stuart facing the axe. Which one will totter down the walkway in their high heels? Vote now.


I've usually been fixing a coffee at the start of the show, and hadn't noticed that the opening credits still feature all 16 original contestants. Five of whom have now been dispatched to the luxury hotel on the north shore that they're not mentioning. Honestly, they spend £10 million on a show and can't even update the titles part-way through? THE MOLE managed this, on less than 10% of the budget.

Straight into the reward challenge. Build a distress signal: the better, in the opinion of an air crew, wins. Which game show does this a rip-off? I can only think of NOW GET OUT OF THAT [it was also a challenge on the BBC pilot RIVER DEEP, MOUNTAIN HIGH - web site Ed]. Yellows have a big X and try to shine a mirror; blues have SOS in large and small letters. It's the winning package, but it lands a quarter of a mile out to sea. Yellows are p'd off. Twenty minutes of the show have passed without much happening. The blues have pillows, hammocks, a CD player, shades, and toilet roll. They're disappointed.

A hugely complex immunity challenge. Have the producers not learned that complex games don't work? Swim to a buoy, get a bottle from beneath it. Go to a boat and row back ashore. Open the bottle: inside are two maps. One locates a key in the jungle, the other a treasure chest on the beach. First open treasure chest wins. Lots of swimming, lots of scrabbling around in the sand. No drama, though. In fact, this is slightly less interesting than the election coverage. The blues win, and get to keep beer and fruit. And won't be voting after these commercials.

Who goes? Who stays? Charlotte, Adrian and John band together to get rid of James. Or so they think. It's James 2, Adrian 3. Adrian, you may have been great in bed, but you're clearly surplus to requirements. Get lost.

Like all ITN staff, Mark Austin was pressed into duty on Election night. He was sent to cover the post-results bash at Labour Party HQ, but couldn't get in. Host Johnathan Dimbleby spotted the tanned correspondent, resolutely stuck on the pavement outside. "Still surviving out there? Looks like the tribe has spoken, and they've cast you out." It's hard to tell at 3am, but I swear Austin positively *glowered* at Dimbleby. It shows what trouble a serious journalist gets into when he signs up to a frivolous show.

No reward challenge on Monday's show, it's time to merge the two tribes into one. Go to the other's beach, inspect, then row out to another island. The two camps are struck, and flags and t-shirts are thrown on to the fire. They don't burn. Honestly, they spend £10m on this show and they can't even afford a working fire. Caveman Ug managed this on a budget of two short sticks. Set up camp on the Blue's beach, where there's a barbecue and steak waiting.

The immunity challenge is the return of TOUCH THE TRUCK. Ten people, standing on a log, last one with a foot on the log wins. Two fall off in a minute the other eight get wobbling and singing "Bohemian Rhapsody." Out of tune. *This* is where the budget went, compensation to Queen. Gee whizz, this is dull. I never thought I'd say this, but it *really* needs a Dale Winton commentary. And are those jokes being cracked between the presenter and the two log losers? I think they might be. Dramatic music and pictures of the sun setting behind the six left standing. This is going to go on interminably, just like the series. During the break, the sun was replaced by a full moon. The producers reckoned six hours would end the challenge, but four still remain; three survive to dawn. Mark hasn't been drinking beer all night, they wouldn't let him in the bar. Andy, Richard, and Simon are still touching the log. Richard is drawing attention to himself.

The ex-blues are reckoning to oust Simon or Andy. Eve reckons the one that loses will go, the one that wins will be weak for the next challenges. Simon quits at 20 hours. Finally, at 22 hours 58, Richard gives in. Andy is through, but at what cost? He's badly sunburned. James has come up with a plan that involves voting for Eve, or Zoe, but most votes are headed for Simon.

So, straight to the voting. Tonight's evictee is the last person who won't be involved in the finale. The last two will be voted on by the seven who leave immediately before. We vote: Simon 6, Eve 1, Richard 1, Zoe 2. Simon leaves with no hard feelings in public. Jackie, Zoe, Richard all come in for stick afterwards.

My spies report that a soundtrack to Survivor is coming out on June 18. Hopefully it'll be the ethnic music, which *is* rather good. Possibly the best part of the show, but then we say that about Millionaire.

Love it? Journey to www.survivor-online.co.uk and join the show's other fan in a friendly discussion.

Bored stiff? Following a lead from the US, point your browser to www.survivor-sucks.co.uk. See a group of pensioners cast away on Canvey Island and given silly things to do. Humphrey Lyttelton may yet present the finale.


Mo 4: Survivor 5.2 million viewers / 25% share; Big Brother 4.2m/21%

Tu 5: Survivor interview 3.9m/19%; BB 4.1m/21%

We 6: BB 4.1m/20%; ITV News 3.6m/17%

Th 7: Survivor 5.1/28%; Big Brother 4.0m/16%. BB just beat the first half hour of ITV's election coverage.


Ian Wright takes over from Ant and Dec on FRIENDS LIKE THESE. There's been no change to the format of the show, and Wrighty does a perfectly competent job. He does seem to lack the natural, easy humour that the Geordie twosome brought to the format.

Phillip Schofield takes over from Simon Mayo on WINNING LINES. Everything else about the show has remained the same, except for the length. To fit in with the rest of the schedule, and to get the lottery draw element of the show in at exactly 8pm, there's an extra five minutes at the start of the show. This is padding, this is clear padding, this is working against the show. The Wonderwall remains *the* most exciting show finale on television. And, now, there's double the fun. The winner on Saturday comes back on Wednesday's lottery programme to play for cash. Hopefully, it'll be a nice, simple £200 per question, with none of the Bail Out Button malarkey that marred the US version.

Still WANTED? There's only one game show I can't see being remade on SURVIVOR, and that's WANTED. Partly because it would have given an unfair advantage to Sarah Odell, had she progressed, but mainly because there aren't *that* many telephone boxes away from the luxury hotel we're not seeing. Second series host Ray Cokes has been off our television screens since that night four years ago; but music channel VH1 has started promoting a Saturday afternoon show hosted by the madcap man. The series is modestly entitled RAY COKES: STILL WANTED? and starts June 23. It's mainly a reference to his main claim to fame, madcap host of MTV MOST WANTED during the early 90s.

Best wishes to the team behind DESERT FORGES, after one of the stuntmen testing a bungee jump finished up with two broken legs. The show, games played in the Jordan desert, begins on Channel 5 on June 23.


Wednesday 2020, BBC1: WINNING LINES. Play the Wonderwall for cash.

Friday 2000, C5: FORT BOYARD. Back for a side-splitting fourth series.


Readers who set their calendars by the appearance of this column are warned that the next edition will appear on this web page on Friday evening. The edition after that will be observations from my forthcoming trip to the US, and should be with you around July 3.

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