Weaver's Week 2002-07-13

Weaver's Week Index

13th July 2002

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

In the week when Marcus Bentley's face appeared on television, this also happened:

- A doctor writes...

- Eamonn's misleading show

- Ribbit!


Trinity Oxford (72, runners up) -v- Sidney Sussex Cambridge 77

One vicar, one doctor, three lecturers, and an MP amongst the returning students this week.

Trinity buzzes first on the opening three starters, gets one right and two penalties. It's going to be one of those weeks. SSC picks up the errors for 45. Trinity goes 3/4 on a set of pictures depicting the tongue position that leads to consonants. This is as difficult as it sounds.

The doctor gets the question about a drug's brand name. Trinity get a set of bonuses about Newtonian particulate mechanics. They fluke 1/3, which helps them very briefly draw level just before the second pictures.

Trinity run it close, draw level a few more times, but never quite takes the lead. SSC make a late charge, but will it be enough to bring them into the top four? Indeed they can, a run of four starters and ten bonuses gives them the last place in the finals board with time for Trinity to get one last starter. 275-185 the final score.

Trinity 18/31, 3 penalties; SSC 26/39, 2 penalties. John Adams and Nicholas Graham both picked up 78 for SSC, Barry Morse led for Trinity with 61.

The top ten:

345 Somerville 02

340 Keele 69

285 Open 85

275 Sidney Sussex Ca 77

260 Jesus Ox 86

255 Dundee 84

240 Imperial 96

240 Univ Ox 73

225 Trinity Ca 95

225 Imperial 01


Better late than never... last week's result showed Kate finish last, with 1.09% of the vote. Jonny scored 1.13%. So a slight advantage to Kate, but this is a sample of around 33,000 die-hard enemies and nothing more.

After Adele's exit, a mild degree of paranoia set in to Chateau BIG BROTHER. Alex led the brooding on what the nation thought of him, while Jonny just brooded in silence. Salvation came on Saturday evening, when the contestants emerged from their bedrooms to find the bars had run their course, and been removed. Alex's first response was to take a shower. Never mind that the weekly task is due right now, he's going to wash himself clean.

The task: select two contestants to see a brief clip from their family, these will be the two up for eviction. Rather than decline the task and lose the £400 shopping budget (could anyone survive another week on chickpeas and pasta?) the six opted to draw lots. PJ and Kate found their paper was marked with chocolate, and went straight to the vote. Anyone would think C4 wanted extra voting revenue - we've had the all-up eviction in week 1, a three million phone poll last week, and an extra two days this time.

But wait, there's an envelope 2! What fun could be contained in this pert packet? Something to switch the nominations around, so that K and PJ are the two *not* nominated? News that Alex has been kidnapped by BB and is out of the game? Open the envelope! "The video messages will begin in one minute."

Jade's crossing to side A on Friday night's live broadcast has been dealt with by a "talking to from BB." Blue-blanket monster Jonny got a strike for nicking chocolate, Kate and Spencer for crossing on Sandy's last night, but Jade - nada.

Humourwatch: "Alex, BB does not expect you to be a professional chicken dryer. If the chickens are distressed in the morning, let us know." "But how will we know that the chicken is distressed. Is it something you can see in their eyes, or the way they walk?"

A night of drunken games culminates in a sight even worse than Adele and Alex's kiss last week. It's a strip literacy game, and results in full frontal nudity for at least one python. Kate steps in to say that this sketch has become far too silly, covers the blushes, and settles down for a long night on the couches discussing the mating habits of the Norwegian Blue with Jonny and PJ. With Jade becoming more two-faced and irritable by the hour, it's looking like she will be up for the chop next week.

Humourwatch: From the Daily Tabloid - "PJ accused [Jade] of sucking up to other contestants in a bid to stay in the house."

Tim's other half has left him because she didn't know he dyed his hair, according to reports in the Daily Tabloid. He broke down in tears in the Diary Room on Saturday night after being refused clarification of whether his lass was on the video message, accusing BB of being inhuman and treating the contestants like hamsters. Tim, with his late entry, knew what he was letting himself in for.

Humourwatch: A pillow fight culminates with one of the weapons bursting and spraying feathers all about the room. It's as old as film itself, but still raises a chortle.

Kate and PJ try on their eviction outfits. Kate's is a pair of horizontally-ripped jeans and a sports bra. The phrase "eyepopping" springs to mind, though not immediately. Surely the object is to remain *in* the house, not look yummy enough to be voted out. PJ wears a loud flowery shirt. The phrase "Oh look, I've thrown up a pattern just like that shirt" springs to mind, though not immediately.

Vanwatch: This week's round of "Follow The Van" does make the C4 cut, though Alex never joins Kate under the duvet.

A net is slung over the garden, so that balls and other flying objects can't land in the garden. This doesn't stop shouts from getting in, adding to Tim's paranoia on Friday night. Nor does it stop Freddie and Freda, two frogs discovered in the garden on Thursday. After consulting the RSPCA, BB removes the frogs from the compound and sets them free. With any luck, they'll replace Richard and Judy next autumn.

Games That Don't Work In The BB House: Hide And Seek. "This is BB. Would Jonny please look behind the sofa. Behind the sofa. No. Just to the left."

The following section has been edited to avoid triggering email filters: the word "batch" should be edited to use the vowel "i".

Online gossip mill Popbatch suggests that someone is doing rather well out of this year's betting. According to Popbatch, the voting is being rigged by professional gamblers, using stolen mobiles and computerised sending of SMSs. As I suggested some weeks ago, a small outlay to win big is logically possible, but I'm still to see any decent evidence it's happening. Popbatch claims that this explains the 3 million poll last week, without pointing out that this was the first four-way contest ever, that it included two contestants who aroused very strong sentiment amongst the viewing public, or that viewing figures for this series are higher than ever and still growing.

Popbatch also claims "all the favourites are being voted out." When betting commenced on the evening the original 12 went in, Kate was the first-look favourite, and she's still in. Kate was replaced by Spencer atop the tree by day 2; he left early. Jonny briefly assumed the mantle of fave while Spencer and Alex slugged it out, with the victor claiming the shortest odds. Both Jonny and Alex were in the last time I looked. Some oddsmakers have rated Jonny ahead of Alex since midweek. Jade and Tim remain unbackable.

Perhaps they mean that the favourites for eviction haven't gone? Jade stayed in week 1, but that was the other contestants' choice. Alison's loss to Alex in week 2 remains highly suspicious, and it will cast a long shadow should he win the event. Lee in week 3 would have been no surprise had the bookies been paying attention; Spencer in week 4 still mystifies me; Sophie was a shoo-in; Adele wasn't favourite to leave last week, but the bookies over-estimated Jade's unpopularity; and this week's result was never in doubt.

Doubt has been cast on the ratings system after one report showed 5% of people in NE England watched a show seen by 61% in the NW. This week's BB ratings, for what they're worth, were around 55m / 134%.

Humourwatch: Tim in the diary room - "I've not done anything the public would vote me out for." Apart from a joke that would have been racist had he provided a punchline, apart from whining about being ticketed for parking in a disabled bay, apart from his offensive views to feminists (bagging Kate would be easy), animal rights activists (bagging a wildebeest and hanging the head on the wall), his inability to play both sides in this week's master and servant challenge, and his propensity to end sentences on a proposition. Tim has shown an ability to annoy just about everyone in the entire country. I really do fear that if he comes out in front of a crowd, even on the final night, he is going to be booed off stage. At least, by his own admission, "I'm not arrogant."

Humourwatch: Jade puts clingfilm round her belly in an attempt to lose weight.

Who goes? Earth Mother Davina reminds us that the only time a gent has been evicted over a lady in a two-up eviction was at the end of last year's series, when Helen survived at Paul's expense. We can double that list, PJ's going - it's a poll of barely 1.1 million, with PJ taking a 5-1 margin. Within five minutes, PJ has concluded that he's going to get booed, and Davina was almost crying when she made the announcement. Time shows that's two things he's wrong about - Davina was impartial, and he got a reception more appropriate to Tom Jones than someone who has just come sixth in a Constructed Reality Show.

This week's task involves all, some, or fewer of a telephone, those frogs, a pair of dice, and a bottle of black hair dye.


The introduction doesn't look too promising, robots jumping up and down and generally acting silly. Marvin had it bad when he was looking for someone to repair the pain in the diodes down his left side, but these robots have C-list celebs on their faces. Get the gag? Celebs acting like robots under someone else's command? This is going to be a long night.

Host Eamonn Holmes (no tie, white sofa, harsh white lighting, zippy and jolly fanfares) tells a few jokes that will be very funny when the punchlines turn up, then introduces the C-list celebs who will be "controlled" by the members of the public. There are ten challenges in the day, split into three parts, worth £50, £100, or £250. The money the C-list celeb earns goes to charity; the higher-scoring public contestant keeps their dough, but the other leaves with nothing.

Stripped of the competitive element, what do we have? Hidden cameras, someone feeding lines into the ear of a stooge in the scene, unsuspecting members of the public getting slightly humiliated on national television. OK, the stooge is slightly famous, if you know where you're looking, but everything else is CANDID CAMERA.

The annoying thing about this show - well, one of the annoying things about this show - is that the controller feeds the C-list celeb their lines. All of them. There's no chance for the celeb to show any improvisational talent they might have, or to react in a way that follows the action on the ground. The upshot of this is that we hear the lines come out of the controller's mouth, then out of the mouth of the C-list celeb. This is as distracting as anything.

Host Eamonn Holmes just sits in his white sofa and passes anodyne comments about the skit we've just seen. He adds little to the proceedings, and the designers might have gone the whole hog with the robot motif and have a metal man, or a computer generated character, presenting the whole show.

On screen graphics are a robot holding up the challenge that's being shown, and the amount of money for which they're playing. These are not bad. The sound effect of a cash register and coins falling on a win is clichéd.

"These are selected highlights," alleges the robot on the white sofa. None of them make for gripping viewing; I dread to think about the quality of those left on the cutting room floor. The most interesting person featured on last week's edition was the woman who didn't know who the C-list celeb was, even though he had his name in six-inch letters on his shirt.

We've got the bizarre judging panel from the Montreux Awards to blame for this one, I fear. They rated hidden camera show surprising members of the public OBLIVIOUS the greatest game show on the planet last year, ahead of hidden camera show surprising members of the public MAKE MY DAY. Any show that dared put its cameras out on public view didn't stand a chance. The only thing that made OBLIVIOUS interesting last summer was the assertion that it was live, and people could ignore the Earth Mother's First Commandment: "Please Do Not Swear." This show is as taped as they come, and loses any spark of originality. On the upside, it will probably get a nomination as an entry for next year's Golden Rose contest.

The show is certainly a display of Remote control, so it lives up to half of its name. As for the Funny part, well, if you can't say anything good...


A Victoria Posh-Spice-Aadams-Beckham lookalike won last week's WEAKEST LINK Celeb Lookalikes special. Well, "won" in the sense of "failed to lose." The jackpot, £9300, represents less than 20% of the available total.

SURVIVOR turns full circle. LWT is in the final stages of putting together a series akin to the format of the hit constructed reality show that no one watched. The programme is provisionally entitled GET ME OUT OF HERE I'M A CELEBRITY, and will strand the usual suspects in a remote location, where they will have to survive together on only a handful of basic rations.

The show is expected to have a strong interactive element, with viewers voting to boot off their least favourite celeb. No details of who is taking part have been released, but rumours suggest Mel B (a former Spice Girl), Paul McKenna (a former television magician), Patsy Kensit (a former rock star's wife), and Lady Victoria Hervey (er, who?) as potential candidates.

SURVIVOR began as a series of inserts into seminal 80s youth magazine NETWORK 7, in which some C-list celebs (and Annabel Croft) were stuck on a desert island and told to survive for 14 days. Though no one was voted off, and hence it wasn't a game show, Charlie Parsons developed the idea and sold it to the Swedes. The rest is history. Rumours that more people watched the N7 originals than SURVIVOR 1 are fiction.


After the scathing review above, something's missing from the BBC1 Saturday lineup. BIG BREAK 1740, WEAKEST LINK Pinups 1810, then at 1900 the start of SPORT RELIEF, a night of comedy and challenges to raise money. Including a one-off return of SUPERSTARS and RUNAROUND. On ITV, Antan Dec gets under way at 1900 - it's their final run of the series.

Confusingly, another show called UNDER OFFER enters the fray this week. Yvette Fielding (another former BLUE PETER presenter) helps C-list celebs price unusual properties. Toyah Willcox and Fred Dinenage are regulars, 1100 on ITV. Fred pops back with NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD at 1200.


In Radio 4's JUST A MINUTE, Eclair, Brandreth, Neill and Freud do battle. Two former MPs in the lineup. Mr 10% returns on PARLIAMENTARY QUESTIONS at 1330 Wed, alongside Hattersley, Cormack, and Pienaar.

ITV2 debuts WUDJA? CUDJA? (which I believe is pronounced "Would you, could you") 2330 Thursday. People accept "outrageous" dares to win a cash prize, and must persuade passers-by to join in. A Golden Rose nomination is assured.

THE MACHINE bows on ITV at 0100 Thursday night / Friday morning. Seven contestants face an animated cyborg beauty to answer questions about entertainment. Highlights of POP IDLE are on ITV2 at 2030 Friday, in a frantic but futile Stop Davina campaign.

The real BIG BROTHER ratings were 5.8m / 30%.

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