Weaver's Week 2003-07-05

Weaver's Week Index

5th July 2003

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

Last Saturday, ITV blamed Mr Henman's match at Wimbledon for their poor viewing figures. Two other reasons feature this week.

JUDGEMENT DAY (ITV, 1915 Saturday)

On the surface, this show looks like a bigger version of C4's surprise hit WITHOUT PREJUDICE. Five people lay open their lives, competing for a sizable prize. Surface appearances can be deceptive.

Brian Conley is the host. He's billed as a comedian, though in this column's dictionary, comedians tend to tell jokes. Just the odd one, just now and then, but they do tell jokes.

Enter, stage right, five contestants. They each say hello to the audience, stand on a coloured spot, and one of their number is voted off. Short, brutal, and as arbitrary as the opener for C4's show.

The comparison ends there. Each of the remaining four contestants enters in a pillar situated centre stage. This column revolves in a manner similar to the set of BLANKETY BLANK, and is probably the best thing on the show. When one of the best things on the show is a twenty five year old prop idea, it's in a bit of trouble.

Along with the contestants, there are four or five objects from home. This could be a chance for the players to relate stories of their lives, their heritage, or their work. But no, it's a chance for the host to make some remarks, and a cue for the audience to laugh. All four contestants present their items in a sequence that drags on. The host can't help but make a song and dance about every item, and this becomes very wearing. Another song and dance that becomes very wearing comes after the audience vote. The losing contestant is dispatched with a snatch from a popular song, to which the audience has been taught some choreographed routine. Like the BLOCKBUSTERS hand jive, only without the coolness factor and with added cringe.

Anyway, four become three by an audience vote, and we go through the keyhole for a look round each contestant's house. Again, this could be a useful insight into the player, but it's a foil for the host's jokes. Consequentially, the segment drags out, and it's a blessed relief when the votes are in.

The show picks up a little towards the end: each of the last two contestants faces four questions from the studio audience, and these help to sway floating voters for the final showdown.

Our winner dons a crash helmet with a large spike out the front, and kneels at a replica of the wheel from Wheel Of Fortune. The spike indicates which segment the wheel stops at, with the winner having the chance to win a car, a holiday, or a job completely at chance. Three people from the audience are up front. They have submitted their car, holiday, or salary as appropriate, and the one the winner picks is the one they go home with. If the chosen audience member drives a Rusti Skipp, then the winner will also go home with a Rusti Skipp. On the other hand, if the audience person is a £75,000 lawyer, the winner will go home with a cheque for £75,000. (Subject to top prize limit of £30,000.)

Ever the optimist, this column reckons that the format could yet be turned into a good television show. Pick up the pace early on - spending thirteen minutes making jokes about items from home is about twice as long as we need. If that reduces the show from a 60 minute slot to 45 minutes then so be it; padding out a show is a greater sin than having a show that fits an odd slot. The end game is very appropriate, bringing to mind the maxim "Judge not lest ye be judged," and the Pointer Hat is a slight work of genius.

Judgement Day isn't quite as good as it might be, but neither is it as much of a disaster as it could be.


The word of Earth Mother Davina counts for nothing. Last year, the Woman In Pepto Pink said that the next series would begin with a jackpot of £300,000. Evidently that money went on buying up a nifty telephone system, as the opening show's jackpot was (only) £100,000. It's the principle that irritates.

One minor change to the rules: four Players have the chance to win money in the opening round, not three. Two Players progress to the second round.

One major change: in addition to the four studio brokers, eight telephone brokers are available to sell answers to the Player. This helps to reduce, but not eliminate, dead air on the show. The eight brokers change in each round, which is very unfair to the brokers picked for round two. In that round, the player only has fifteen seconds to negotiate and answer the question, and will tend to prefer the studio players.

How to resolve this conundrum? Perhaps have different brokers for each player in the opening round, or the same eight on throughout the show, or some form of telephone indication that the broker wants to deal.

This column gets very irritated by brokers who offer the answer for "£200, guaranteed," and then proceed to say that the capital of Mongolia is Kazakhstan. If only there were some way of fining the cocksure broker, perhaps refunding 10% of the bid to the contestant if a "guaranteed" answer turns out wrong.

Anyway. Melanie Sykes, the new host, has strengths of her own. She coped well with the order of play in round two, a complex procedure that confused one of the contestants this week. On a slight downer, she doesn't seem to have the ability to whip up a crowd from nothing that Ms McCall had, and was clearly fazed by the long autocue job at the start of the show. She'll get better. Maybe we need someone with the effortless ease of Eamonn Holmes hosting the show.

The nation plays for £100,000 tonight, as Gemma from London took the jackpot from the comfort of her armchair last week.


Melanie Beaumont plays Peter Lee.

Melanie Beaumont has won Weakest Link, two games of Countdown, and Brainteaser. Ms Beaumont didn't debut until 1999, and might be something of an unknown quantity. During the introduction, analyst James Richardson confirms that the most recent Countdown Ultrachamp, Graham Nash, will be appearing later in the series.

Peter Lee's best known as the man who half won Millionaire, but lost at Durham cricket ground. He debuted on Winner Takes All in 1984, and won Runway, 100% Gold, Password, Cross Wits, and is making his tenth quiz show appearance, and will retire after exiting this tournament. He didn't do well on Fifteen To One.

There's a phenomenon in MASTERMIND circles known as Pass Hell. Contestants thus afflicted pass on questions to which they know the answer, and fall into a very bad position. This phenomenon afflicts Peter Lee in the opening round, ceding 39 seconds to Melanie Beaumont.

The commentators reckon that Melanie Beaumont will do well on the numbers round. She does, utilising the unusual Switch - Switch - Switch gambit, and winning the round by 30 seconds. Both contestants got the grand total of one question correct.

Contemporary knowledge goes to Melanie Beaumont by 20 seconds, thanks to a run of very difficult questions - and some fairly soft balls as well. The pair combine to go 4/16 in this round, which suggests some opportunity for the next opponent.

By the time we get to words and letters, it's like watching a car crash. Peter Lee has two seconds left on his clock when he gets his first correct answer, and Melanie Beaumont takes over 55 seconds through.

Drawing something of a veil over the final round, Melanie progresses with 2:51 remaining, and the top seeding. At the moment, that suggests she'll meet Clive Spate in the second round, and it does feel as if Mr Spate would take that game at a canter.

Next week: Gavin Fuller -v- David Stainer


Celebdaq divvies for June 27: Nush £3.06, Cam £2.96, Tania £2.54, Fed £1.36, Gos 22.2p, Steph 13.6p. Ray and Scott appeared in no papers, got no magazine coverage, and hence get a grand Celebdaq dividend non-total of nothing. We know that Scott wants to lie low and come out of nowhere, but this is taking the tactic a little too far!

Tania went out with 72% of a poll of 676,000 votes. After five weeks and six removals, the aggregate votes cast is just over 4.5 million, well under half the total cast at this stage last year. Best estimates suggest that six votes equates an income of £1 to C4 / Endemol, with a similar profit made from SMS messages displayed on the main E4 screen.

More bad press this week for Earth Mother Davina, regarding her post-march interviews. After getting her kecks in a twist with Fed, the Friday hostess gave Tania quite the grilling over her boyfriend, a gentleman she clearly didn't want to talk about. She's not John Humphrys questioning the Minister for the Today Programme today, and this sudden conversion to aggressive interviewing is bringing the show a bad press. Best to quit while ahead, perhaps.

Hats have to be taken off to the scribblers of the Daily Tabloid. The News Unintentional organ claims: "Bosses wanted people to have sex on TV and get £50,000 from the Tab, but things have gone pear-shaped." The Tab still clings to the belief that BB is a show populated by morons and watched by voyeurs; if that view ever held any water, this year's show has rendered it impossibly wrong.

Amongst the pranks and japes, BBIV has already seen a discussion of stochastic queuing theory, a failed attempt to crack a temponic code, and further confirmation that people are the same right across the planet. None of these things make sense to the average tabloid editor, who prefers bust-ups, bonks, and other things that require very little thought indeed. It's no wonder that the tabs have gone off and found less intellectually demanding stories. BBIV requires brains.

On one page, the Daily Tab reports that Anouska, the first contestant to leave, will return to the house on Sunday; on another, it reports that someone new will enter during the Saturday reward challenge.

That Saturday challenge was perhaps the most intellectually demanding yet. The contestants had to pick straws. After each pair of straws, the contestant who had drawn the longer straw got to enter the reward room. All six straws were the same length. Hiding in the reward room this week:

#61: Lisa, Cardiff, former model.

The Tab went 1-for-2, we have a new contestant. She's older than anyone else in the house, and promises to bring some chaos into the house, so there's hope for the Ultimate Cash Loss Stratagem yet. Assuming, that is, that she doesn't get kicked out at the first opportunity. Judging by the amount of talking she did in the first 24 hours in the house, she could talk the hind legs off a donkey. Anouska, meanwhile, has entered a BB house, but it's the Australian house. C4 doesn't mention this trip down under, which must clearly indicate something.

The cash challenge this week: prance about while dressed up as a horse. The group bet 100%, and passed.

Three nominations put people up for eviction this week. Gos, Nush, and Ray are raking in the dough for C4 / Endemol. This week's nominee is - well, yet to be confirmed. A bomb scare (thankfully, more scare than bomb) forced the Elstree compound to be evacuated just before the scheduled Friday night evictions show. The eviction will now take place tonight (Saturday) at 2100 and 2200, with the Reward Challenge presumably moving back to Sunday.


A brief review of ITV's last Saturday stunner: Drop the Celebrity. Put E-list celebs in a plane, chuck 'em out at 12,000 feet, rinse, repeat until there are no viewers or celebs left.

After five weeks, RTE finally slipped out their Eurovision televote results last week. The Irish public gave nothing to Turkey, nothing to Russia, and just two points to Belgium. The Turks therefore would have won by three points from Russia, with Belgium ten points off the pace. Ireland would still beat the Netherlands for the last automatic qualification pace, while both Latvia (5 points, doubling their total) and Estonia (1 point, new total 7) would have saved a little more face. While the Irish showed they were completely adrift from the rest of Europe's taste at the top of the tree, some things don't change: the UK still scored nothing. British entrants Jemini will be appearing at a nightclub in Luton on July 11. Don't forget to miss it.

An intriguing rule change comes into effect on US Daytime Millionaire. Winners of $500,000 or $1 million will be paid $125,000 within a month, and the remainder as an annuity over 20 years. Alternatively, they may take a reduced payout at once. Will this rule have any effect on tactics; would people stop at $250,000 and take more money now? We shall see.

No such tactical dilemmas on the new series of MASTERMIND, BBC2 2000 Monday, where John Humphrys invites four more contestants to get as many questions right in four minutes as they can.

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