Weaver's Week 2003-06-07

Weaver's Week Index

7th June 2003

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


MARCH 8: "Britain's entry to the Eurovision Song Contest has been announced. 
"Cry Baby," performed by Jemini, is a pleasant uptempo number, and improved
markedly from the demo version played on the radio in January. I doubt it will win."


Observant readers will have noticed that the UK didn't appear in last week's review the top part of Eurovision. There is a very good reason for this: the UK put forward one of the worst songs, and certainly the worst performance of the night. Britain's representatives scored a resounding vote of nul point. Nothing. Nada. Viewing figures for BBC3. Not a sausage.

Britain treated the contest as though it were still 1983. The singers weren't the only ones to say "Key? We don't need to sing in any darned key!" but their stage presence was minimal-to-nil. It was atrocious, dire, rubbish, pants, preposterous, not at all good. Contrary to Mr Terry Wogan's and Mr Ken Bruce's protestations, this wasn't a vote of no confidence in the country. Spain and Poland both supported the recent conflict in the Persian Gulf region, and both finished in the top ten. The Berliner Zeitung put its finger on the button, pointing out that the typical British response to failure was to blame other people.

Instead, the nul point was more than ample reward for a performance that will appear in the hall of Eurovision Infamy, alongside "Mil Etter Mil" and the presenters who spoke in rhyming couplets throughout. Very unusually, this column is in wholehearted agreement with Carrie "Betcha" Grant in declaring the performance pointless.

Something good will come out of this debacle if the BBC is forced into reforming the comatose entry system. End-of-the-pier acts will no longer cut the mustard. Neither will the occasional songwriters who occasionally strike gold, but generally find iron pyrites.

Even Lord Wogan agrees that reform is overdue. Wogan, who (according to Het Grauniad) has presented every contest since it began, said a songwriter with a proven track record must be brought on board to boost the UK's hopes of success.

"We need someone to write four songs and get them to pick the singer as well, before allowing listeners to Radio 2 or wherever to pick their favourite. Whoever it is won't lose face if they don't win, and we would certainly secure a higher standard of entry. If we don't go about picking the song the right way, we will never win it."

This column reckons we may as well go for broke, send in the big guns, and generally cast caution to the winds. Get Gareth Gates to sing another Westlife castoff, or Daniel Be'ding'field do something quirky. Heck, if Switzerland can import Celine Dion, why can't we throw Michael Jackson into the mix? Get rid of the radio semi-final, and run eight or ten great songs on a primetime Saturday night show. BBC1 can clear its schedules for Gopherman and Annie to read out a womens' magazine quiz, so why not more space for Eurovision.

Alternately, say that the winner of Fame Academy 2 will represent the UK in Turkey. No option, they will go. And that the winner will compose their own song, or choose one that they think they'll perform best on the night.

Back in 2003, Jemini blamed "technical problems," along the lines of "we couldn't hear a darned thing" for their poor performance. They got lucky. With future contests restricted to 24 entries, the UK looks set to monopolise the #26 position forever.

If the proposals of a commentator in Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat are followed up, nul point may soon be a decent score. Britain's failure to trouble the scoreboard rather devalues the game of "going misère" - which, the paper claims, is what the Finns play for every time.

"The next time we are allowed to enter, we shall have to attempt to score negative points in order to stand out. All the more reason for the Finnish Broadcasting Company's Director-General Arne Wessberg to press his colleagues in the European Broadcasting Union for a rule change. Mr Wessberg can twist a few arms: he is currently Chairman of the EBU. He should urge the introduction of minus points for songs that really annoy the people slumped on their sofas with a beer and without anything else to watch. That's most of us."

Carlton will send a contestant to Junior Eurovision in Denmark, and air the show live on ITV. All songs must have been written by one of the performers, thus ensuring that there's some quality check. It also avoids the Star Academy problem, where viewers pick a singer, and pick a song, and the two don't really go together.

The duo performed on Top Of The Flops last night. In tune. Miming.

Finally, Jemini's amazing exploits didn't harm their home city's campaign. Liverpool was named the European City of Culture for 2008, and will be the logical choice should the UK win Eurovision the previous year.

YES! IT'S BIG BROTHER FOUR (C4 and E4, all week)

The remaining contestants, plus their Celebdaq dividends from week one:

Tania, £11.485
Nush, £5.195
Frederico, £4.727
Justine, £2.253
Sissy, £2.02

Jon, £1.714
Camron, £1.416
Gos, £1.40
Ray, £1.399
Scott, £1.199

Steph, 95.4 new pence

(For comparison: Heather Mills £5.788, Keanu Reeves £1.888, Jade Goody £1.017, Danniella Westbrook 3.1 new pence.)

Anouska left the house with a £20.233 dividend, and 272,690 votes. Less than 600,000 ballots were cast, with interactive television voting beating telephone and SMS as the most popular method. Researchers should note that interactive voting was not available on one cable network for week 1; it returned for the rest of the series.

A complete set of housemates would therefore earn £4,102, or around 8% of the total phone vote revenue.

The first reward challenge was a tug of war. Five people at one end of the rope, five people at the other end, heave. It's all done in less than 30 seconds, yet BB manages to drag the affair out to 35 minutes of television. The winning team is allowed to spend two and a half hours in what was bedroom 2, and has now been converted to a bar-slash-disco.

Week two's main challenge was on skills associated with the Cub Scouts. Contestants were invited to tie knots, pitch tents, be quizzed on the Cub history, and perform the Grand Howl. Contestants also got to prance about live* on national television in outsized uniforms and woggles. The team failed, thanks to Federico confusing the law and promise. For the second week running, Fed's failure has cost the team.

Up for the vote this week: Jon (6 nominations) and Justine (4).

Erstwhile feature of this column Jade Goody gave birth to her child on Tuesday. Its name: Bobby Jack. Readers can devise their own jokes and claims to fame, initially.

Press watch: "boring" (one tabloid) "vote Jon" (another) "the dirty dozen" (another, before the group even went in). One very cheap tabloid reprinted extracts from Jon's postings to Usenet back in 1995, forgetting that Jon retains copyright in his works. That tabloid now owes the unsuspecting housemate a very large pile of wonga, to quote our lawyers.

Making books: Nush was the favourite to win on Saturday last; Ray briefly took the lead on Monday, but the money's been behind Scott. A 7/1 chance last weekend, under 4/1 by Tuesday night. Federico's errors in the challenge hit his prices, drifting from 11/1 to 22/1 over the week. Gos moved in the opposite direction, from 20/1 to 9/1, while Jon's price came tumbling from 75/1 to 14/1. Both gentlemen are worth punts at those odds. There was no real interest in the eviction: Jon remained stubbornly around 5/2, Justine closer to 5/7. Justine left the house, after losing the vote 57-43.

The Celebdaq prices of some housemates peaked over last weekend. Anouska and Nush posted solid gains through the week. Cameron, Fed, Jon, Justine, Scott, Sissy, Steph and Tania held on to their weekend prices, but the public seems to be bored of Gos and Ray. Both gentlemen lost value as the week progressed; two stocks were to be removed from the 'Daq this weekend, and these laggards seem to be the front-runners.

Based on all of this, it appears that the money (both real and celebdaq) is pointing to a Nush victory. Anything can happen in the shows we call game.


Reruns of Millionaire from 1998 began this week. On the very first show, we saw host Chris Tarrant - back when he looked like HIGNFY host Boris Johnson - leave a contestant hanging on an answer over a commercial break. He also used a cordless telephone on the Phone A Friend segment, a prop quietly thrown out of the window before the show returned the following night.

The first dubious wave appeared on show 3, offered by Frank Perry. That Sunday night show also saw the debut of the "If you had said foo - you'd have been wrong" spiel. An interesting up-and-down arpeggio served as the marker for final answer at question eleven and above, rather than the three notes we know and love. "Final answer" first popped up on show 4, but only the once.

Speaking to a tabloid, host Chris Tarrant said the show is "a cross section of humanity - random characters which makes it like a soap. You get the dullest bloke on earth followed by the most amazing woman. My favourite was when a window cleaner won £125,000. It's the beauty of it but a weakness as well. You do also get some monosyllabic grunting dorks on. But when it's good it's still the [gonads]."

According to the press report, the most famous contestant of them all still leaves Tarrant feeling bitter. "The Major should be in jail. He's found guilty of defrauding a million quid. His wife and Tecwen Whittock were found guilty of defrauding a million quid and it's public money.

"You just think surely he should be doing time. You've got this thing about them having children, but hang on, what about all the burglars, rapists and car thieves? If they've got children, do they not go to jail now? You mustn't think it was just a gameshow. It was a serious crime. They were found guilty but instead are doing chat shows."

Tarrant's other most memorable highlight involves accountant Richard Deeley in April 2001. The suave host looked surprised as Mr Deeley screwed up a cheque for £32,000 and hurled it across the studio - because he was sure he would double his money on the next question. But the wrong answer emerged, and our contestant had to scramble on the floor for the paper.

Tarrant said: "Normally I get on well with everyone but it's fair to say I wasn't in his fan club. After the show he went up to the producer and said: 'My cheque's scrumpled can I swap it for another one to hand to the bank?' He was told where to go."


The ITC has ruled that it's perfectly fine to eat small insects on national television, after complaints against CELEB TORTURE AND BICKERING. ITV is now looking for half of Ant and Dec, worried that one of the contestants ate the Geordie host.

Commiserations to GOING FOR GOLD host Henry Kelly. The genial Irishman will leave the Classic FM breakfast show shortly, to be replaced by former THE YEAR IN QUESTION host Simon Bates.

Speaking of the pan-European quiz show, last night's QUESTIONS POUR UN CHAMPION SPECIALE was the occasional international version. Contestants from ten foreign countries - including such francophone nations as Greece, Wales, and Belarus - competed in the traditional rounds. The final was an all-African affair, pitching a gentleman from Mali against a lady from Algeria. The lady was the supreme champion

A barren week for new series. It's a Bargain Hunt weekend on UK Style, all day, all weekend. The Weakest Link is set for tennis interruptions, and won't air on Monday or Friday. Dermot and Suzi appear on TERRY AND GABBY at 11am Wednesday on C5. And that's just about it.

In seven days, a review of GRAND SLAM, the show C4 is billing as the ultimate television quiz. A worthy warm-up act for Big Brother, more trivial pursuits, or both? That's in the next weekly Week, next week.

To have Weaver's Week emailed to you on publication day (usually Saturday), receive our exclusive TV roundup of the game shows in the week ahead, and chat to other ukgameshows.com readers sign up to our Yahoo! Group.

Back to Weaver's Week Index

A Labyrinth Games site.
Design by Thomas.
Printable version
Editors: Log in