Weaver's Week 2002-03-30

Weaver's Week Index

30th March 2002

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

In the week when the other University Challenge took place, we also had:

- More former students competing

- More problems for Mr Machete

- And more news snippets than one can handle.


Merton 81 takes on Imperial 96. Merton was the side that beat comic Stephen Fry; Imperial didn't get their trophy for six months because Trinity Cambridge couldn't find it.

Unlike the regular series, the highest scoring teams will progress. I'm unclear if it's the highest scoring 8, 12, 16, or whatever teams.

In the contest proper, Merton gets off to a great start, thanks to three questions on Commons procedure to a local councillor. Imperial pulls level and takes the lead when this happens:

Hidden Graduate Indicator Of The Week: Imperial's Harrison is first to the buzzer on the Widdy Web, home page of politician Miss Anne Widdecombe.

Imperial are back into the groove, go 4/4 on pictures of German leaders, 2/3 on logarithms, and 130 ahead without drawing breath.

Imperial Totty of the week: After visiting Tutankhamun's tomb, the woman who decided to wear pink for the rest of her life was Barbara Cartland. This starter is correctly taken by Totty of Imperial.

The music round becomes the first set of bonuses where more questions are answered incorrectly than correctly.

Are You Watching, Anne Robinson? Moment: Thumper: Which Russian psychologist discovered the concept of conditioned reflexes after training dogs to salivate by associating the sound of a bell with food? Merton: Pavlov. This harks back to an episode of WEAKEST LINK where Anne clearly didn't know anything about this experiment.

Slowly but surely, Merton is pulling back. After the second picture round, the gap is down to just 20. With two minutes to go, an Imperial penalty brings the scores level, only for the London college to take the starter and a 20 point lead. Imperial gets the next starter, and the contest, 240-205.

Totty's 71 is the top score, one ahead of Bradshaw. For Merton, Gunn's 61 is the highest. All eight players contribute at least 40 points. No set of bonuses goes without at least one correct answer. Merton got 22/30, Imperial 26/35.

Merton finds that their reactions have slowed, and there were too many science questions. Imperial found too many Latin questions, including one set interpreting slogans from Spielberg movies.

If you were a member of a finalist team, the researchers would like to hear from you. Drop an email to university.challenge@bbc.co.uk

Next week: Bradford 80 -v- Lancaster 80 (runners-up)


Last week, Lee left South island, almost bearing out my prediction that he'd be first off. The trapped ten:

The Red team, North island

+ Alistair, 34, Motherwell. Running a harem, trained in survival.

+ Drew, 27, Abingdon, female. Reckons the nation thinks she's a cow.

+ David, 54, Newcastle. Token old bloke.

+ Helen, 22, Sheffield. Spare wheel for the team.

+ Meetah, 34. Missing home comforts.

+ Tayfun, 27, London. Thinks machetes float.

The Blue team, South island

+ Bridget, 42, Oxford. Blending into the background.

+ John, 32, Winchester. Also trained in survival. Can't hang around too long.

+ Jonny, 30, Edinburgh. Token affable Scot.

+ Susannah, 27, Wimbledon. Unable to jump over gates. Counted out by Bridget.

After starting 0/3, South is not a happy island, with Bridget showing her emotions. North is putting up a united front, feeling very positive - apart from Mr Machetes Float, who is hacked off with Alistair's fake romantic image. Bree spots the tide is high, and both sides have to make daily repairs to their shacks. North is lethargic about this task, especially Helen.

Reward Challenge. Inside the chest is a block of ice containing a flag and (er) a leg of lamb. There's fire on the raft in the sea. Melt the ice, hoist the flag, but smashing the ice is cheating. North side elect Dave and Tayfun to sit out the physical work, though they can advise. Sounds like they're being awfully cocky. South use some provided gloves to help melt the ice by friction. North don't cotton on as quickly as they might, and as surely as hot hands follow wearing gloves, it's a win for the South. A diver's knife, flippers, snorkel, and a second leg of lamb. John and Jonny are suitably pleased. Sheperdess Bree sees the irony. North is surprised that Lee left the other team, and Tay figures that they lost by a long shot. North cannot leave someone out of two challenges in a row.

Raw's Ed Hall uses the game as an excuse for some slightly risque comments. Oh, how we laughed. Also input from first evictee Sarah on the snobbery of Suze, whether Alistair and Helen are doing something we should know about (they are, but it may not be what Charlotte did last year) and whether Drew has had a Britney.

Dave reckons they've got the spirit on North, where Tayfun starts a game of charades after dark. Sound charades. We've already had John and Jonny rubbing their legs of lamb underwater, now we've a repercharge of Lionel Blair doing The Actress And The Bishop in under two minutes. By the morning high tide, North's camp is being washed away. Meeta moans that she "can't do anything constructive, like sunbathe." Dave finds Tayfun's attitude less manly than his own. And guess who brings up the subject of the floating machete. Drop it already, it's history. Quit brooding, fit in, or go.

Immunity Challenge. If South loses, Bridget expects to go. If North fails, Meeta wants off. Raw shows that they reckon Tayfun is a bigger liability. It's a water challenge - a relay swimming race. Swim under a beam, pick up a shell from the sea bed, come back by the same route. First to get all four back wins. Helen and Meeta sit out for the North. John beats Drew, Dave loses ground to Bree. Jonny and Tayfun are just about tied, leaving Suze a huge lead to defend against Alistair - who starts with the most lazy bellyflop of the series. "There can only be one winner," claims Big Scarf. And there is - Alistair runs it close, but South wins by three seconds. Wow! That really was exciting.

Raw moment of the week: Ed asks "What's a merger?" Weaver says "Brain up and stop acting daft."

Dave is worried by a cut on his foot. Tayfun is trying to work out a strategy to remain in the game, but Alistair says something that might suggest otherwise. I'm still trying to understand his syntax. Voting is still up in the air when the team leaves. Tayfun fingers Susanna as a threat from the other island.

The voting: Tayfun, Tayfun, Tayfun, Meeta, Tayfun, Tayfun. Proof that machetes do not float, and isolating oneself from the tribe tends not to pay off.

You know when a show's become good when you can start drawing parallels between events on the show and events in your daily life. So, this would now be A Good Show.

Next week, on SURVIVOR HONEY ROASTED: I have a feeling Meeta's not long for the game. The eight left after next week's show will take some part in the Million Pound Finale, either as contestants or jurists.


The end of the line appears nigh for ITV Digital, the commercial digital terrestrial broadcaster. There may or may not be scheduling changes for DTTV viewers as a result. This will not affect the BBC channels, C4/E4, C5, ITV, or ITV2. All will carry on regardless, as nothing has happened. The subscription channels - Sky1, UK*, MTV - face a more uncertain future.

ITV's teatime soap NIGHT AND DAY will vacate its 5:30 slot from April 11, and will reposition itself as a weekly late night drama. This *could* leave the way open for the return of THE PEOPLE VERSUS, but the initial replacement is repeats of the cheap video show NEW YOU'VE BEEN FRAMED.

Renee Zellwiger may play Anne Robinson in a book loosely based on the 2001 autobiography MEMOIRS OF AN UNFIT MOTHER. Expect a lot of the film to be devoted to Robinson's personal history, and little on her game show career from THE DIAMOND GAME to the other one. Robinson may also be making an As Herself on Frasier Crane's radio show.

A contestant on an NBC version of DOG EAT DOG was hospitalized Wednesday after a stunt in which he held his breath under water for two minutes. The 26-year-old man was alert and conscious when paramedics arrived at a downtown studio but was taken to hospital as a precaution. NBC said both the man and his competitor remained conscious during the stunt in which they were suspended by their ankles underwater. The episode was the first shot for DOG EAT DOG, which does not yet have an airdate. The AP press notice concluded: DOG EAT DOG is a production of NBC Studios and BBC Worldwide. It is loosely based on the British show of the same name. The American show combines stunts with strategy and trivia questions and contestants play for up to $25,000 in prize money.

At some point when my back was turned, Michael Penrice went and scored 423 on FIFTEEN TO ONE. With two weeks to go until the next Grand Final, and Daphne Fowler already on the board, it looks like this third highest score ever will add yet another antique to Penrice's Trophy Building.

Digital Spy reports that the wall-to-wall game show channel is to make some significant changes on May 20. Challenge TV will alter its name to "Challenge ?", and add interactive elements for digital satellite viewers. The first play at home show will be DEFECTORS III. The first competition on the bits between the shows - now called PLAY ON - will be to pronounce the channel's name.


Another Saturday night, another BBC1 line up. There's a Chef's Special WEAKEST LINK at 6:05 - to vote off the weakest chef, press Red. Followed at 6:55 by the second series of THE WAITING GAME - Ruby Wax still hosts. CLASS OF... moves to Monday night at 11:10 - the Saturday slot is filled by the first four episodes of "real time" drama 24, airing between 9 and midnight.

MILLIONAIRE airs on Tuesday at 8:30. MILLIONAIRE NEWLYWED goes out at 7 on Wednesday and 7:30 Thursday, marking perhaps a new level of pointlessness.

Note that Monday's FIFTEEN TO ONE airs at 1:15. Keith Barron is the Smart Alec this week. BBC1's regular daytime pairing - including the very good ENEMY WITHIN - return on Tuesday.

THE RACE heads from Thailand to Singapore, learning massage and going on a jog. 8:20 Sunday ITV2.

SURVIVOR:RAW airs Saturday at 7:10, Sunday at 2:15, Tuesday 9 and 11:50, Wednesday 11:35, Friday 8:30, with a repeat of SURVIVOR on Thursday at 8. That's 10 hours of Survivor on ITV2, not counting the 20 minute SURVIVOR:LIGHTLY SAUTEED, nor the 100 minutes SURVIVOR:MEDIUM RARE on ITV.

Two children's editions of THE CRYSTAL MAZE on Challenge at 1:50 and 7:55 Saturday and Sunday.

UK Horizons' ROBOT WARS special continues all day Saturday, and all day Sunday. THE QUIZ SHOW SCANDAL explores the 1955 deception behind THE $64,000 QUESTION. Horizons Monday at 11:30.

Wolf from GLADIATORS appears in WHEN MUSCLES RULED THE WORLD, BBC1 Wednesday at 10:35. Opposite Survivor. Now, which programme associated with Nigel Lythgoe should we watch? Answers to the BARB panel, please.

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