Weaver's Week 2001-07-31

Weaver's Week Index

31st July 2001

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


The People Versus, where it's the viewers that set the questions, featured the following questions Monday.

Q1: What is the highest capital city in the world?

Q2: Which musical features the song "Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

Sarah Dean went twice round the circuit on Wednesday, taking £6,350 home. Including this question, very familiar in Celador studios: Q: Which cricket team plays its home matches at Chester-le-Street [1].

This was the First UK Millionaire Question, back in January 2000. One that Sarah doesn't know is what war provided the setting for MASH [2]. The reason it's noteworthy: it's set by the UK Game Show page webmaster.

Ian Gretton of Brighton wins £223 on Friday's show, without setting foot in the studio. He trips up two consecutive contestants. Gretton was a contestant on Prime Time TPV last summer, though Kaye quietly kicks this into touch.


Hull was rather slaughtered in the first round in 1995 by Keble Oxford. Last season, the uni had narrow wins over Edinburgh and Sheffield, a somewhat more convincing win over Balliol Oxford, before losing in the semis to eventual champs Imperial London. It's Somerville's first appearance in the revival.

The early standard is high; the first fifteen questions are answered correctly. The lead yo-yos - Somerville always leads, and after the opening skirmish, they're never seriously challenged. Somerville wins, 300-185. That might be enough to come back as a high-scoring loser; we'll find out over the coming three months.

There's a new shot during the bonus phase, looking down the row of contestants. Simple, but a novelty.

From the bronze dish marked "Buzzes That Left Paxo Speechless But Are Actually Known Facts"... Paxo: "If you buzz in, you *must* answer straight away. What is the smallest integer that can be expressed as the sum of two cubes..." Filcher, Somerville: "1729". Paxo looks amazed.

[1] Durham. Sarah got it - John on Millionaire didn't.

[2] Korean


Survivor: The Reality Show That No-One's Watching moves into its penultimate episode Monday with four contestants and one pair of trousers still on the island. ITV has not committed to a second series, and its press office puts out the terse statement that "more people could have watched." Terse, but still one word too long.

The first challenge: Big Trousers asks the contestants to go orienteering round the islands. Checkpoints - in the form of questions - lead them to the mud pool and a personal plaque. Shortest time from start to finish wins. The contestants are staggered at five minute intervals, and Jackie staggers up the beach. Richard races to an early lead. The contestants face some very, very easy questions, and proceed to mess them up totally. This *is* the new Crystal Maze. Charlotte is beaten by her lack of knowledge, Mick feels he's too far behind to win. Jackie scores 35'22"; Richard 32'07", and he's safe for one more night.

Mick is certain he's off, and spends the best part of ten minutes on screen discussing this. When it comes to the voting, it's a surprise. Not. Mick 3, Jackie 1. He pays tribute to his colleagues.

Right, what's on these t-shirts?

White, Mic 20.7.91, gold star Black, "Respect the family." Red, a white pattern horizontal against the breast. Dark navy, no pattern. Yellow, a dark pattern, perhaps the same as on the red shirt.

The next day, Jackie and Richard expect to take each other through, Charlotte is plotting against Richard.

I am wondering what happened on July 20, 1991. It was a Saturday, Mauritania ratified a new constitution, there are flare-ups in Slovenia's war of independence against Yugoslavia, and Australian rock band INXS plays Wembley Stadium. Nothing of substance.

Speaking of nothing of substance, Charlotte tells Jackie of Richard's "betrayal" of Paul. Richard, apparently, leaked word of Paul's exit, he told Charlotte, and she kept it in her head for thirteen days. Might the producers have prompted her? Wouldn't put it past them.

Hence to council. We've an orange shirt, and a white one with green NYD lettering, and white-on-blue 2001 MFD 10K. Is this random? Is there no message on the shirts? Don't know, but it's more interesting than the show pro per.

There's a quiz going on about details from the island. Charlotte and Jackie move to the tiebreak, eventually to Charlotte. She's safe, and she will ditch ... Richard. He's the strongest competitor.

There's a voiceover from the network centre, rather than Big Trousers. He's been acceptable for the last 14,000 episodes, so why not tonight?

"The answers to all your questions" are promised for the finale. So, let's hear...

Why didn't the producers know about JJ and Sarah's previous appearances on network television? How much of the show was re-shot, faked, or otherwise made up? What happened to the footage of Charlotte and Adrian bonking? What complaints have been received, about the on-screen murder of rats, people with eating problems, and the friends of small slugs? Why did the credits for Nigel and the senior producers suddenly shrink into the box, rather than be shown full-screen? Did they think their careers couldn't stand association with a failure? And finally, one that the producers want to ask us. "We know we've lost about 8 million viewers somewhere. Could you help us find them? Look under your bed, behind the sofa. We know they're there..."

6.9 million view this show, only slightly down on the record 7.1 million during the cold snap two weeks earlier.

John Leslie, host of the studio interviews, welcomes us LIVE to the Wednesday night studio, where someone will win ONE MILLION POUNDS, CASH! These will be recurring themes throughout the night.

We welcome the first seven, where JJ reckons that they're down to the worst two. The first seven are escorted off set in the first break, and we don't see them till the closing moments. The shrink (apparently they've had one, too) reckons 4-2 to one or other of them, with one vote too close to call.

The other seven evictees come on with about 30 minutes gone, and explain the t-shirts. A reminder that they were there, and send a message home. Bit of silliness, really. Still more interesting than the game proper.

Only 86 minutes to fill. Confessions of people on the island, a Pointless Phone Poll. At premium rates. With no bearing on the outcome. 0% Going to charity. You could call, influence the result, *and* donate 20% to homeless charities, but that's on Another Reality Show.

Back at council, both contestants portray themselves as outsiders who have struggled against the odds. Jackie expected to be first off on show 1, Charlotte thought she'd be off straight after they merged. Both pay tribute to their colleagues.

Then questioning from the jury. Zoë is particularly vicious, grilling both about rumours she's a thief. Eve is also nasty, on the subject of their honesty. Or otherwise.

Andy calls them leeches and limpets; Richard tells a fable of how an eagle carried a sparrow. Then he pulls the fact he's a psychiatrist out of the hat, and challenges both on their use of language demeaning to those with mental illnesses.

Under questioning from host John Leslie, Richard and Andy both deny they're suggesting the finalists freeloaded their way to the final. Both deny it, this is live television and not pay-to-view boxing, but it's clear both are fibbing.

The shrink *now* reckons Charlotte 4-3, a couple swinging away from Jackie. The phone vote goes to Charlotte, 58-42 on 350,000 votes. That's roughly one third as many as cast Paul out of BB last week, though lines were open for only 90 minutes.

Straight to the voting.

Andy - Charlotte (1-0)

James - Charlotte, calls Jackie a leech (2-0)

Commercials. There's a woman just behind John's shoulder fanning herself with her programme. She's more interesting than the host.

Pete - was only ever going to vote for Richard or Charlotte (3-0)

Zoe - Charlotte's grown on her. (4-0)

And we have a winner of ONE MILLION POUNDS! CASH! Everyone rises from their seats, swarms the stage, and it's total chaos. Live on national television. Much blubbing, and a word from the hubby. We do get to see the rest o f the votes.

Eve - Charlotte, who hasn't been carried.

Richard - Charlotte has coped well

Andy - Charlotte, voting with his heart. (7-0)

Charlotte finds it incredible, thrilling, incredible. Jackie would have hoped to have at least one friend on the island.

John saves the big surprise till the very end. In spite of all the problems, all the things that need fixing, Survivor II *is* taking applications. www.itv-suvivor.co.uk - don't all link at once. And there are no promises that the series will ever be filmed.

The grand finale attracted 7.7 million viewers (38%) - down on the James Bond movies that have run in this slot for the past month or so, but the highest ratings for the series.

Judith Keppel, First Millionaire on a UK Game Show, has positive words for Charlotte. Judith says that doors will open to her, perhaps more doors then opened for herself, as she's not young and blonde.

Next week: why Survivor failed, why Big Brother succeeded, and why there wasn't a lot Nigel Lythgoe could do about it.


As far as I know, Paul's exit guarantees a first in the worldwide Big Brother syndication. All the other BBs have been won by straight white males [Not quite true - Ed]. Dean is of Caribbean heritage, Brian is gay, Liz and Helen are women.

A caller calls up BBLB to ask Paul who he would take to the proverbial desert island. "You don't want to do that, all the cameras. Desert islands are *so* over-rated," retorts host Dermot O'Leary, Big Brother's Big Brother. Listen to BBBB, he knows his stuff!

Big Brother sets the housemates a rolling task about how well they know each other. And how well they can model their housemates out of papier mache and clay. "Lumpen, heavy, ill-considered," says an art critic of Helen's sculpture of Dean. Dean's return gets a "wow" from AC, and an "is she very mysterious?" We can tell AC doesn't watch the show. There are no ears on either Dean or Brian's sculpture. Liz of Brian is "bold, opinionated." Dean's shows most potential, apparently.

Dean reckons Brian, or Helen's "shiny, uncomplicated goodness" will win. He's a little ambivalent about winning himself, and is clearly uneasy. Brian is reckoning Helen or Dean. He wouldn't like to take the publicity that would surround winning. Helen doesn't think she can win, and would be dangerous with all the money. Spending spree. She puts her hands literally in her mouth. Liz bites her lip, and moves in a defensive position. No one has given a straight answer to the question. Have I tuned into Newsnight by mistake?

"Amusing anecdotes,' what does that mean?" asks Helen. Brian went to convent school, Dean was a punk rocker, Liz was sporty, Helen is talking about Paul a lot. The shrink reckons she's lovesick, pining after Paul. She's revisiting the den, sleeping in his bed, absorbing his smell, and talking seventeen to the dozen - especially with Brian.

With no more nominations due, the housemates are allowed to talk about previous nominees. Brian reveals both his original nominees are still in - Helen figures she was one, and they reckon Liz was probably the other. Well done.

Liz spots that Helen's grown up a lot while in the house. She's that more independent, able to look after herself. Brian has two months of shopping to do.

BBLB has unearthed The Ultimate War Machine, as designed in 1990 by Paul, when he would have been about 14. A war robot that looks like something out of Dr Who. It leaves poor Paul speechless. "It fills you with fear just looking at it," claims Dermot, sarcastically. Paul dresses one of the show's researchers as the War Machine, to much silliness.

The team teaches each other their jobs and skills. So, Liz becomes an airline steward. Not a good career move - she's far too young to be cabin staff with the airlines I fly. Brian learns flamenco dancing, which could well be a good life skill.

Dean teaches Helen the guitar, she trains him in hairdressing. Braiding a doll's hair while wearing the tightest t-shirt. And neon pink trousers. This is a site for sore eyes. Or a cause of them. Dean protests loudly, reckoning that he didn't want to be dressed as a homosexual. "You don't have friends like me," says Dean. Yes, but at this rate you won't have *votes* come Thursday.

Helen plays her guitar. Liz delivers a very competent safety announcement, without reading from the script, and with Brian corpsing in the stalls. Dean cuts and braids a wig. Brian flamencos with style, panache, élan, and suspenders. Very silly. Can you tell it's the last week yet? Liz tells BB that she feels a lot more relaxed now that the pressure of nominations is over. It shows with all of them.

Helen goes on and on about Paul. On and on and on and on. She's drunk, Brian is drunk, and the two have a bit of an exaggerated row over Paul's values. Liz calmly points out that Paul said how it was more Helen than Paul. That quietens Helen down.

Tuesday is moral dilemma day in the house. The team has to discuss morality, politics, ethics, and the ilk. Dean talks a lot about sexual perversions, chocolate cakes in the nether regions. What *is* his past? He confirms these are topics they don't discuss, as part of Polite English Society. Anyone surprised?

BB asks Liz about foxhunting. Should it be banned? Yes or no? Liz prevaricates, hedges her answer, and probably delivers a lecture somewhat longer than the Survivor final. The answer is meaningless in the verbiage. Someone's thinking of her outside vote.

In the test, each player must get one of two questions correct. The housemates pretend Helen got both her questions wrong. For a moment. Then she jumps and shouts "You bleeps! You bleeps! Bleeps! Bleeps! You bleeps!" Well, she does on the 7pm BBLB. On the 10pm BB, she shouts about a'holes. Evidently the bleep machine expired during the interim.

Brian cleans the mirror behind the sink. He looks hard for cameras. BB viewers don't get to see his bizarre stepping across the room, as if he's aware of being filmed for the first time. It's almost like dancing.

And goodness, everyone's in bed for midnight. This is the first time it's happened ever.

Wednesday. The housemates dress up as cowboys and indians. Brian wonders how he can look gay in a cowboy outfit. Ah, he's too young to remember the Village People... Helen wonders if dove is a bird. On BBLB, Steve - Liz's 50something other half - says he'd be happy to see her pose for men's magazines.

All this takes us to 2019 Thursday, and Davina speaks. Helen frets about her hair. Davina explains what's happening. Helen still thinks her hair looks s't. Brian reckons he's going. So does Helen.

"The person with the least number of votes will be evicted. The eighth person to be evicted will be.. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. Liz."

Helen squeals. Liz remains quiet, hugs Dean forever, then squeals as she hugs Helen.

Mine was one of just 73,482 votes for Liz. That's just 2% of the total poll... but fully 1/4 of the poll on Survivor last night. In other words, over 3.5 million votes have been cast *already*.

During the intermission, Liz changes into quite a foxy outfit, and puts her hair up for the first time. Brian and Helen are shocked. Liz remembers it's a tv show, for perhaps the first time in nine weeks.

She comes down the catwalk at quite a gallop, into Steve's arms. Two-handed, arms aloft pictures. She's infectiously cheerful, and is mobbed by lots of female friends.

Davina, who I've cited for some time as earthy herself, welcomes Earth Mother Liz. Excited to be here, BB has been too nice, and there were clues with just one bottle of wine. Brian is at breaking point.

What is with *that* jumper? Purple and pink mohair number. Warm clothes, cold days, hiding a slight plump figure.

Liz found Helen hard to live with, but so does Helen's mother. Helen's loud, Liz isn't. Her role as mother was a slight imposition, but she coped with it, and it did help for the nominations. No chance of a film with Martha Stewart, thankfully.

Davina reckons this is the first time in the whole nine weeks she's opened up. Liz never felt comfortable in the diary room, preferring to talk with Dean or Amma.

Liz's photos in the buff emerge, Steve tries to say how nice she is... but he won't talk money. Liz is slightly horrified, but giggles. Cue the audition tape. On Edinburgh beach. In winter. Skinny-dipping.

She still refuses to name a winner. She learned not to be judgemental, give her best shot, and how to Double Dutch.

Back in the house, Dean pledges never to drink cider again. It'll bring back too many memories of tense evenings. Helen calls out to Paul in her sleep. Friday is just so much anxious pacing.

Bringing us to Friday, 1100 people outside the house, plus Davina in her black t-shirt with sparkly "Big Mutha" message. The person who has come third is announced at 2054. Coming out... Dean. He's smiling, clapping, hugs Brian, and kisses Helen. Drains his glass of wine and he's out in just one minute. To the strains of "I'd like to teach the world to sing." A slow walk down the catwalk, fiancée Vanessa meets him part way down. They're all over each other. The long shots remind me that this is the only person to leave the house in daylight.

Dean's not too surprised to finish third, and sees the other two rattling around the empty house. He did find some of the activities a tad childish, but certainly took the father role to heart.

Davina shows Dean some footage of the others revealing their lack of knowledge, and Dean not saying anything. He's surprised at how closely these things have been logged. The lack of reasons for nominating was genuine, but a little too infectious to the rest of the group.

The heart-to-heart with BB after losing the dog challenge did re-assure Dean that BB did care for them. He never felt like opening his heart to the diary room, preferring to confide in Liz.

Relinquishing control was very difficult, perhaps more difficult because he was older than the rest. Davina springs a pop-culture quiz on Dean - very Little Brother. Dean goes 5-for-5, and a place on TWL seems probable. As does a certificate for the world's highest sugar cube tower.

Brian has changed a lot, and for the better. He's willing to take advice. Helen is more confident, less sensitive, and grown up a lot. Dean still tips Helen in the public vote.

Brian is pleased to make the final two, and has expected to leave at just about every stage. He reckons the world thinks he's a fool, afraid of chickens and dogs. Brian thanks everyone, a bit like at the awards ceremonies .

Helen can't wait to get out, and is clearly excited. Shocked to be here. Looking back on the totality of the series, so am I. Loud, screamer, pink, glitter, girlie girl is the public perception.

According to Mel from BB 1, there was an 18% swing between the two editions last time round. Never enough to remotely threaten Craig's lead, and I don't see Brian losing this one. But then I saw Paul going some weeks back, when he was up against Bubble.

A one-hour gap in transmission, then another 24 minutes to wait. Davina asks the housemates to feed the fish, make sure no taps are running, and to turn the stove off. Is she going to have the trash left in there? Gah!

Further chatter with the families of the remaining contestants, and someone called Paul. He looks familiar from somewhere. Helen's mother is wearing a "porridge princess" shirt, Paul is dressed like a pop star. Not a well -dressed one, mind.

Filmed inserts from hometown. How Brian danced round the restaurant in Ruthangen with a mop and bucket. How Cwmbran Classy Cutz deals with their ditzy worker. Then to commercial.

7 million votes already, and still 12 minutes to go. Over half those votes have come since Liz got her marching orders, something like 26 hours ago. Cue recaps of Brian and Helen's time in the house.

In walks Penny and Stuart, he's sorry for his purple suit, as he should be, she's in a spangled frock. Then Amma and Bubble, she's wearing a dressless evening strap, he's in smart jeans and a hat. Liz, Dean, and Josh enter, in one arty dress, one pair of leather pants, and one hasn't changed since he left the house. And Narinder and Paul, she's in a dress with the pound symbol, he's wearing exactly the same shirt as he was five minutes ago. Call now, during the commercials.

22:55. The lines are now closed. Quiet please. The voting: 2,680,000 to 4,230,000, which suggests Dean got something around 150,000, and he can't have been that far ahead of Liz when the axe fell.

Brian and Helen are standing toe to toe by the couch, holding hands. The winner is .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. .. "Come on Davina," shouts Brian. .. .. .. .. Brian. Arms aloft, then bouncing around the house. "Calm down," shouts Davina. He's not calm! Helen's out in 30 seconds.

Runs out, shouts "Oh my gawd!" screams at Paul, and enquires after Davina and her bump. She knows all Brian's sisters' names, fitted into her dress, and the hair's better than last night. Eventually to the studio and all her mates.

Straight away, sit down, interview. Brian's alone in the house, talking to BB in the diary room. Davina brings up Big G, says how he doesn't want to see her. She's cool about it. "Yeah, don't bother me." The tabloid front pages, the history as shown last week. Over on E4, Brian's playing with the cameraman.

Looks like Helen and Paul are going to see if they can see the stuff. And the bizarre moments, and the lack of table manners. Brian wanders aimlessly, in total silence. An amazing contrast to the lively interview on C4. Helen's happy that Brian's won. Kind, funny guy, lovely chap.

Paul has something special, something he bought himself. Gucci handbag and shoes, the ones she turned down to have the birthday party way back when. Helen squeals and screams, and the gift makes Davina jealous.

Brian's singing "Lean On Me." Walking around the lounge counter-clockwise in his white shirt. Bit more deodorant. Helen steps out to salute her crowd. To commercial on C4. Brian's getting really ratty. Brian opens the pat io windows a crack, it's quite the hot night.

Finally, Davina ends the man's suffering. He leaves his bag in the house. A slow walk down the runway, sparklers going off behind him. Then a huge fireworks display from the house. "Don't even ask how I feel." He's shocked, in tears. Over the bridge, pausing to watch the fireworks. We can't hear a word Davina says. We don't really care. Narinder and Penny step up to greet him.

This interview is brief, and on the platform, not in the studio. He feels like Janet Jackson. He never expected ... never expected ... never expected ... a pair of knickers arrives on stage. He never tells us what he never expected to happen. Happy his family is in tow.

The demons and the chickens are all left behind. The crowd is here, cheering for him. High point - being accepted for what he is. Low - missing sister, family, friends.

Bubble steps forward, with two old friends. Mr Cow and Mr Bear. They were borrowed by BB for his party, and now return with a quick waltz from Bubble.

Brian's off out with his family. What's he gonna do with the £70,000? Dunno. Spend it, suggests Davina.

And that is that. The shows may be over, and these games are too. Close with a montage of the lights going out, and voices of some of the most memorable moments.

No word on viewing figures yet, that - and further reaction - comes next week.

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