Weaver's Week 2002-12-07

Weaver's Week Index

7th December 2002

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

This week, the head honchos of the BBC came to Birmingham, and managed to get locked in a disused custard factory. Custard is not a dish best served cold.


First round, match 14: Southampton -v- Edinburgh

Southampton's only appearance of the revival came two years ago, when the team was comprehensively beaten by Newnham Cambridge.

Edinburgh has been a regular visitor to these parts: 95 - beat UMIST, Keble Oxford, Robinson Cambridge, lost SF to New Oxford. 98 - beat Jesus Cambridge, Newnham Cambridge, lost QF to Birkbeck. 00 - lost 1R to Peterhouse Cambridge. 01 - lost to Hull and St John's Oxford. 02 - lost to Christ's Cambridge, beat Hull, Wadham Oxford, Newcastle, lost SF to Imperial London.

It's not the greatest start, the teams are tied at 25 going into the first picture round. 170 will qualify for the repecharge, but it looks like the teams are going for the win.

Edinburgh described themselves as science specialists, and their first two literary bonuses send 30 points begging. Both sides send starter after starter begging, and neither pulls out a significant lead.

Is it me, or does Shirley Matthews, the Southampton captain, look like Karrie Fox from MOLE 2? It's just me? Thought so.

Edinburgh goes 3/3 on a set of bonuses on quantum numbers. It's all Greek to me. Southampton goes 3/4 on parts of a bee's anatomy. None of the questions asked after its knees, thus rather spoiling the joke.

This knowledge, and that of the Euro, allows Southampton to make a beeline for the lead. A missignal, with Southampton picking up, makes it more of a one-sided contest, then Southampton gets four more starters, and it's all over. Southampton wins, 190-125.

Fast Start Of The Week: Published in 2002, "Momentum"...

Murray Peebles, Edinburgh: Mo Mowlam (It's her autobiography.)

Who are these politicians? Edinburgh knows Mr John Major's educational background, but not that of Mr James Callaghan. Southampton doesn't know the most famous MP for Putney, Mr David Mellor. No one asked about the leader of the opposition.

Blimey, That's A Long Starter Of The Week: "A Tyrannosaurus Is Jawing At My Head" and the followup, "Slaying Bigfoot" are travel books by which young woman? Born on Valentine's Day 1968 the daughter of a lord, she attended Wimbledon High School for Girls, Gordonston, and a Swiss finishing school before deciding on the occupation "adventurer." She has been described as "the icon of the digital age."

Simon Lindsay, Southampton: Lara Croft.

(Thumper took 20 seconds to read this question. He was going at a fair clip.)

Lindsay's 64 top scores for Southampton; Peebles and Niall Deacon's 41 are best for Edinburgh. Southampton 16/36 with two missignals; Edinburgh 10/24 with one missignal.

The Top Losers Board (four highest scores qualify):

185 Emmanuel Cambridge

180 York

165= UCL

165= UMIST

165= Brasenose Oxford

As last year, we have a tie. In the decision of the UC producers, Brasenose loses out. Thumper hasn't said this yet, and may explain further next week.

Next week: It's the Battle of 165 as UCL and UMIST battle it out.


Rather than seeding 1-14, I've split the teams up in to three groups, based on the quality of their performance in the opening round.


Worcester Oxford: Crushed Liverpool in the second half of Q04.
Manchester: Beat Middlesex in Q08 without breaking second gear.

Nottingham: Aberystwyth were totally outclassed in Q10.
Birkbeck: Took a strong Emmanuel Cambridge in Q11.
Warwick: A promising Wadham Oxford side was ruthlessly dissected in Q13.


Newcastle: Came from behind to beat a strong York side in Q01.
Merton Oxford: Powered away from Selwyn Cambridge in Q05.
Leeds: Not stretched by Liverpool John Moores in Q06.
Cranfield: Held to a 165 draw by Brasenose Oxford in Q07.

Durham: Beat Queens' Cambridge in the impossibly obscure Q12.


Clare Cambridge: Lucky to beat UMIST in Q02.
Jesus Cambridge: UCL beat themselves by ten in Q03.
Sheffield: Beat Homerton Cambridge in Q09's battle of who knows less.
Southampton: Not a particularly impressive win over Edinburgh in Q14.

Look for both finalists to come from this last group.

Two more teams will come through the repechage.


MILLIONAIRE 300 this week (not billed as Millionaire Live, so Celador can maintain the screen fiction that the regular show airs live.) It gets off to the worst possible start, when Martin Bradley is caught like a deer in the headlights of an oncoming car. He's clearly not at ease with the tension of answering questions live on network television, but it's a crying shame when he leaves with the grand non-total of nothing. It appears that Phone A Friend is taken in the usual way, rather than have someone pop up from the green room. The "flip" option is used once, traded for 50/50.

As an experiment, Millionaire Live made worthwhile viewing. I can see "Bring A Friend To The Green Room" being a worthwhile novelty for celebrity editions, and actually bringing the friend *out* of the green room and onto set would be fun, but "flip" seemed badly out of place on the show.

ITV's Yuletide lineup got its obligatory press release this week. Des Lynham of Grandstand will attempt to smooth his way to a million pounds, as will Radio 5 Live's Mary Nightingale and Madam Speaker Betty Boothroyd. Tara Palmer-Tompkinson and Alex From Big Brother 3 will be on a Celebrity Blind Date, though we're not sure whether they'll be looking for other partners. And Countdown's Carol Vorderman hosts the second final of Britain's Brainiest Child.

A piece of something yellow and almost solid has landed on my desk. I think it's a custard pie containing a hint to the Beeb's Christmas schedules. A festive edition of Bargain Hint (the pie's a bit wobbly there), and Angus Deayton hosts Before They Were Famous 6. Apparently negotiations are continuing for TV's Mr X to front After They Were Infamous.


C4 showed THE GREAT REALITY TELEVISION SWINDLE. Nikita Russian (no betting, it's not his real name) invites 30 people to spend a year travelling the globe in teams of ten. The object: earn a million pounds. The prize: £100,000 each. You do the maths. Sadly, Russian's contract to screen the shows on C4 had one slight flaw: it didn't actually exist. Two teams give up after a night, the last ten crash out in south London for a week, and make Thames News, before disbanding.

A couple of disjointed thoughts. This whole thing got sold on the credibility of Channel 4 buying the completed work. The commercial alternative channel has grown a reputation for this sort of off-the-wall programming. It also got sold on the current trend for everyone to have their fifteen minutes of television exposure. It all sounded perfectly plausible, though (Blatant Self Plug Alert) surely anyone worth their salt would advertise for contestants through ukgameshows.com

The format struck me as an inverse WANTED. There, people travelled the country, got paid for doing very little, but had to find their own accommodation. Here, people travel the world, have their lodgings found, but have to seek their own work. It could, conceivably, be the genesis of a viable format, though more in the highlights format of LOST! or THE RACE.

The show did provide what will surely be the last shot of an ITV Survivor crew t-shirt, plugging the still-active itv-survivor.co.uk. That website, still talking about Charlotte, sports an anachronistic "itv1" branding, not used on screen until three weeks after the first series ended.

Speaking of things out of time, we see footage from LONDON TONIGHT on June 13. I'm amazed that the story didn't get picked up by the national media, given that BIG BROTHER was in mid-run. Indeed, we see Sophie in the diary room. And we see footage of the contestants gathering in the middle of a rainstorm three days earlier, then one meeting Mr Russian in Waterloo station, where the floor is totally dry. Weather reports show that rain didn't start until late afternoon, the station clock shows it's a few minutes past 10am, and the results of the 12:30 kick off in the football world cup are displayed on screens.

Producers Caz Gorham and Frances Dickinson are perhaps best known for filming k d lang in concert in Sydney in 1997, and also made 99's sexuality discussion/quiz THE STAYING IN SHOW. But who are Christmas TV and Film Productions? Why do we only see one contestant's family name? How come a *trainee* cameraman had an ITV Survivor t-shirt? Didn't something similar happen a few years ago, when a Moscow television company making a constructed reality show went out of business days before the show started? Does anyone have old copies of The Stage, where an advert for this show was placed?

Enough unanswered questions to lead to strong suspicions of a double Beadle.


Game shows take a back seat on BBC1 ths week, making way for a very dodgy Robin Williams movie. EAMONN'S SATELLITE DELAY is at 1935. MILLIONAIRE returns to the old taped format for its 300th broadcast edition, but is at the later time of 2035, thanks to Antan Dec's RECORD OF THE YEAR party. The results show follows at 2135, and has previously deliberately rivalled Eurovision for complexity. I'm not sure that it'll survive ITV's push to centralised control, away from The Regions. Not even Channel announces its results in French, sadly.

There's a SCRAPHEAP CHAMPIONS' CHALLENGE at 1735, in which the last two winners compete to fling a car all over the shop. Winners get to sell their design to traffic wardens all over the country.

Andy Collins gets to start his yuletide break two weeks early, as the 1730 ITV slot has been taken over by BRITAIN'S BRAINIEST KIDS. Tess Daly weeds down the most intelligent goats prior to the Christmas final.

This week, Angus Deayton is played by Charles Kennedy, the leader of the opposition. Hmm. We've had a Tory (Boris The Menace) host, we've had a Lib Dem (Mr Kennedy) host. Any chance of a New Labourite? This week's Smart Alec is Pam Ayres, presiding over the first two quarter finals from Thursday.

Believe it or not, this is the final week of inaction from Witanhurst Manor. Watch Dogsby, Betcha, and the other people who we've not come to know or love on the ultimate Reality TV Swindle over the past ten years one last time. This week, everyone is discussing how they collectively managed to turn a perfectly good format into a major load of tosh, and trying to find the scapegoat for the errors. That's BLAME ACADEMY, all over the Beeb for one last week.

CHALLENGE? primetime includes: 1705 Play Your Cards Right (Played for cars), 1740 Bruce's Price Is Right, 1815 Wheel Of Fortune, Right (The Bradley Walsh era), 1850 Fort Boyard (They can beat the Fort, but can they crack the Vulcan?), 1955 The Crystal Maze (Sunday's team set new records in futility), 2100 100% (Still repeats of C5), 2130 Family Fortunes (Les Dennis).

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