Weaver's Week 2002-01-12

Weaver's Week Index

12th January 2002

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

It's that awkward time of year; the calendar has changed, there are plenty of good shows on the horizon, but nothing really coming to the boil just yet. This week's column, therefore, looks forward to some of the returning gems. First, though, back comes the old stager that is


  1. 6 seed Downing Cambridge came through the repercharge, defeating Leeds after losing a tiebreak to Newcastle. Bristol beat the LSE in the second match, way back at the end of July; their winning score was higher only than Salford's, giving them #15 seed.

It's a slow start; just one of the first nine bonus questions is answered correctly. It's an error-strewn show, with four penalties being picked up by one-third distance. Bristol takes a 75 point lead by the music round, but it feels as though Downing is keeping something in reserve. Just when we think it's going downhill, the gap is closed, reversed, and extended to the final score, 180-155. Bristol took two late penalties in a desperate effort to take the win.

Hidden student indicator of the week: Bristol can identify Les Dawson from his potted biography, but confuses Liberace and Barry Manilow. This fact is essential to understanding the British student's mind: Weaver has no idea what it means.

Rotten question of the week:

Thumper: The ability of metal to be bent into shape is...
Dan Reynolds, Downing: Malleability
Thumper: Wrong, five point fine. [Continues question] ...malleability. What is the
name given to the ability of metal to be drawn into shape?
David Bowers, Bristol: Ductility.

Overall, a very bitty contest, though Downing's late surge improved the show a lot. I can't see Somerville Oxford facing too much difficulty in the quarterfinals.

Downing made 14/39 bonus questions and four penalties; Bristol 18/30 and seven penalties.

Next: Trinity Cambridge -v- University College London


Starting next week on C4 is EDEN, an "interactive" "reality" show. According to the blurb, we the viewers will be able to shape the lives of six guinea pigs in Australia via thrice-weekly shows. Slightly further down the line is YOU'RE THE MANAGER, in which viewers will decide which football players to drop. The experiment is being run with Stevenage Borough, a semi-pro side, and will be also feature on E4 and the C4 website.

We have a second series of SURVIVOR, The Hit Reality Show That People Might Actually Watch This Time Around. Panama is the venue this time, though I don't think the location will matter so much as the pace of the show. Faster is better. No word yet on whether Mark "Big Trousers" Austin has been engaged as presenter; he may still be too busy hunting down Osama "Big Bin" Laden.

BIG BROTHER III has also been commissioned; it's rumoured to feature 20 contestants, split into a Luxurious house and a Poor house, with one leaving each house each week. This sounds complicated. Lady Davina of McCall may not be presenting the studio segments; can the show survive without her?

Carol Vorderman won't be presenting BBIII, as she's exclusively contracted to ITV for everything except COUNTDOWN. La Vord will be a regular feature in this column as she hosts BRITAIN'S BRAINIEST... - we've already had CHILDREN and TEACHERS.

The voice of Big Brother, Marcus Bentley, will host his own game show on Sky1. DIRTY MONEY appears on the daytime schedule during the spring. Also look out for a BBC school reunion quiz show, CLASS OF... It's just possible this will be a reincarnation of FIRST CLASS, the video quiz starring Debbie Greenwood and Eugene the computer. But probably not.

The BBC has picked up rights to Fox's MURDER IN SMALL TOWN X, the mystery show that (apparently) makes THE MOLE look like child's play. I hope we get a third series of The Mole, but I have grave doubts that the viewers are out there.


Discussing the format over new year drew out the conclusion that this was something different from the hackneyed Australian format. As the hook line when the show premiered (back in October) put it: This time, you decide. After a documentary phase weeded the thousands of applicants down to 50, a series of viewers' phone polls brought them down to ten. Six remain in competition tonight, not including the hosts Ant and Dec. Mercifully.

Those who have a suspicion that the whole contest is rigged might wish to say in favour of whom it's tilted. I'll be looking at both sides of the evidence.


Congratulations to Jo and Dominic, who were (I think) worthy winners of ITV2's THE RACE last week. They won the short step from Edinburgh to London by just four minutes.

DISCOVERY MASTERMIND moves inexorably towards a conclusion, with the semi finals and finals this week. FIFTEEN TO ONE regulars David Cowan, Eric Kilby, Michael Penrice, Brian Thomas, and Geoff Thomas all progressed to the semi. Polychamp Anthony Martin fell in the final 12, but still managed to beat all the female entrants.


We have another GENERATION GAME on BBC1 at 5:45. Followed at 6:40 by the last FRIENDS LIKE THESE of the run, and at 7:35 by JET SET.

ITV has POP IDLE at 6:10; transferring to ITV2 at 7:05, MILLIONAIRE on both channels at 8:10, then back to PI at 8:50 on 2, 9:10 on the main channel.

The highly recommended WEAKEST LINK: DRAG QUEENS is repeated on Choice at 8.

FEAR FACTOR is back on Sky1 at 9. Those who were annoyed by the channel's sudden drop of THE AMAZING RACE will be pleased to learn that it's back in a prime time slot. That's Central prime time, 02:15 Sunday morning in the UK.

FAMILY FORTUNES on ITV at 6:45 Sunday, and more MILLIONAIRE at 8:05. The probably-not game show SHOOTING STARS returns to Choice at 9.

UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE on 2 clashes with MASTERMIND on Discovery at 8. Yet more MILLIONAIRE on ITV at 8:30. Fans of SURVIVOR, The Hit Reality Show That No One's Watching Because No One Watches ITV2 Anyway will be watching ITV2 at 7.

According to my rusty Radio Times, the Smart Alec in Countdown's Dictionary Corner this week is Don Black. Observant viewers will notice that Don was SA this week, which leads me to suspect Monty Don will appear.

EDEN runs C4 at 6 on Tu, Th, Fr. Second semi of MASTERMIND at 8, while OBLIVIOUS airs to huge* ratings on ITV2 at 5. More MILLIONAIRE at 8.

It's all buses at 8 on Wednesday. On BBC1, WEAKEST LINK and JET SET. On ITV, BRITAIN'S BRAINIEST TAXI DRIVER is Fred Housego. On Discovery, the MASTERMIND final runs for 50 minutes. You wait all day for a decent quiz show then three come along at once...

Thursday sees MASTERMIND: THE VIEWERS FINAL for smart alec viewers to KYTV. Readers can insert their own joke here. That's at 8.

Light relief on Friday, as Discovery repeats the Mastermind finals from 8, ITV shows CATCHPHRASE at 5:30, and BBC2 has WEAKEST LINK all week.

On Radio 4: Mon 1:30 - ROUND BRITAIN QUIZ. The South of England plays Scotland.

Mon 6:30 - JUST A MINUTE. Merton, Hesketh-Harvey, Smith, and Chris Neil.

Wed 1:30 - PUZZLE PANEL. "More puzzles from Chris Maslanka and the panel as they try to baffle each other with brainteasers based on words, numbers and logic. On this week's panel are puzzle setter David Bodycombe, magician Geoffrey Durham, and mathematician Rob Eastaway."

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