Weaver's Week 2003-07-19

Weaver's Week Index

19th July 2003

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

With the temperatures scaling heights not seen in eight years, the heat's been getting to us all. So that's Ray and Cameron, plastering on nail polish, wearing matching dressing gowns, and lying on a double bed.


William G. Stewart has confirmed that this autumn's series of FIFTEEN TO ONE will be his last. This column hopes for an appropriate finish, running for at least two hours on Christmas Eve, bringing together as many series champions as possible for Fifteen To One Ultimate.


Graham Nash takes on Laura Richardson in the sixth First Round match. Graham Nash is the reigning Countdown Champion of Champions, and has come in his trademark loud shirt. Countdown is his only previous quiz outing. Laura Richardson won the top prize on Dog Eat Dog, and has appearances on Brainteaser, Weakest Link, Defectors, and Pass the Buck. James and Carol reckon Laura Richardson will do well in the knowledge rounds, numbers will be a tie, Graham Nash will do well on words. Graham Nash gets the kiss of death - he's James' prediction.

Round one, general knowledge. Graham Nash is in trouble straight away, switching away his third question only to see the game land back in his lap. Laura Richardson hits her own troublesome area, and the clocks are roughly level. Then Graham Nash gets stuck again, and only comes away with 0.44 seconds on the clock. Surely Laura Richardson will switch away forcing Graham Nash's clock to run down. Incredibly, she allows her clock to run down from 30 seconds to 8.5 seconds. Very, very poor play.

Round two, numbers. As we saw last week, Laura Richardson spots her opponent is distracted and switches a tricky question to him. Graham Nash runs the clock down heavily working out the penultimate question, and Laura Richardson sneaks the win by just 4.5 seconds. She has a slender lead, but no switches.

Contemporary knowledge is next, and the Circle of Hell known as Pass opens up and swallows Laura Richardson whole. Graham Nash gets his first two questions right in double quick time, Laura Richardson gets her one, then it's pass, incorrect, incorrect, pass, pass, incorrect. Then incorrect, pass, pass, game over. Graham Nash takes a whopping 50 seconds through. It's the first time that the lead has changed hands since the show began.

Words and letters, and it's slow progress for both players. Laura Richardson gets a run of questions wrong half way through her time, and Graham Nash wins the round by 31 seconds.

68 seconds is Graham Nash's advantage going into the final round, and a quick return to Pass Hell runs Laura Richardson's clock down. Graham Nash switches to his exhausted opponent, and wins by 1:42. The result puts him immediately behind Dee Voce and Olav Bjortomt, with a large gap to Clive Spate. According to the Channel 4 website, positions 3-6 will generate one finalist, so Dee will certainly lie in Graham's half of the draw.

Next: Duncan Bickley -v- Said Khan.


Lisa left on 82% of a 1.11 million vote poll. That's similar to the corresponding week last year, and ahead of the equivalent week in 2001 when Josh went and Helen stayed. It's the first time this year a single eviction has topped the million mark.

The return vote was open for slightly more than an hour, and achieved around 862,000 votes. 62% of those were for Jon; Lisa, Gos, and Fed picked up around 10%; Justine and Sissy the remaining 7%. Over half a million people voted Jon in, only slightly fewer than voted him out in three days some weeks previously. Under the official rules, Jon is not entitled to win the £70,000 prize, nor be deemed the Official Winner. The public may differ.

Some commentators suggest that voting for this year's BB has fallen because every show invites viewers to phone / email / SMS with their opinions. Others suggest that last year was a freak result, and comparisons should be made with the 2001 series; even there, voting in comparable weeks is down about 30%.

Before returning, Jon said that he would mess with the contestants' minds. That he did, quietly suggesting that Cameron is keeping something under wraps and concealing himself. And he hinted about things that might be happening in the outside world.

The Celebdaq dividends, again not comparable with previous weeks: Gos £1.76, Nush £1.75, Ray £1.49, Scott £1.26, Steph £1.02, Cameron 87p, Tania 46p. Jade made 54p, Kate 42p.

The reward challenge this week was a game of bingo. As is traditional in games of luck, Ray won, and had to choose one person to join him in the reward room. That person was Cameron. The reward room was done up as a luxury hotel, with a box of chocolates, champagne, a cordon bleu meal, make-up, and a double bed. Very appropriate for two macho gentlemen of the house.

Shock news from the US on Sunday, when Scott was thrown out of the house. The 33-year-old, who none of us could remember was in the building, was forcibly ejected after revealing he had an STD and threw chairs around the room. Under US BB rules, contestants are barred from discussing any sort of telephone dialling codes. Two contestants have now left the US BB complex in the first eight days of transmission. At this rate, they'll have exactly no contestants left for the final three days, thus saving on the prize.

And shock news from the UK, where there's another chance for someone to have some fun in the Reward Room. Scott wins the bingo game, and picks Nush to share a boys' night in. They watch a video, and sleep with pillows between them. Fascinating. And this man is the odds-on favourite to win because he's done what, exactly?

The ITC turns down 90 complaints that Davina's interview with Fed was unfair, mainly because the contestant hasn't himself complained. BB criticises Jon for mentioning the football transfer window, clearly forgetting that this scheme came into operation last year. Even the supine BBLB thought this was a duff decision.

This week's cash challenge: write and sing an opera. A challenge that's almost impossible to fail, and with Fed propping up the ratings on Big Brother Breakfast, the group passed without trouble. Afterwards, Ray got very drunk, insulted Steph, and was eventually hauled before BB for a dressing down.

Fed reveals Jon's not-so-secret-any-more plan to infiltrate the house. Speaking to Dermot on BBLB, Fed said, "Jon basically works for us, the British Nation. He's not one of them, he's a spy, reporting back to us. Talking to the cameras is completely thought out. He'll tell us what he thinks, he'll report back to us. He was hired by the nation to infiltrate them. You may not see the most sincere Jon Tickle here, but you'll see him play devil's advocate. He wants to expose Cameron. He sees Ray and Cameron as being the dominant forces now, so I'd look for a lot of concerted effort to wind them up. It doesn't take a lot to get Ray paranoid, but he's all shook up now."

Jon's return to Chateau BB has diluted the charming, somewhat remote geek we came to know and respect in the opening month of the show. It's not the same Jon, and this may do severe damage to his image.

Cameron and Nush were up for eviction this week. Jon noted that "whoever shouldn't have voted for Nush won't win," clear evidence that Jon had cracked the nominations. Ray, Nush, and Scott for Cameron; Cam, Steph, and Ray for Nush. Ray is the person who Jon thinks won't win, and that prophecy showed signs of being self-fulfilling. Ray verbally blasted Steph the following night, had the grace to apologise, but didn't have the maturity to change his behaviour. With this self-destructive behaviour sure to turn off the voters, Ray has lost his advantage.

Cameron has been viciously attacked on C4's Big Brother Breakfast. (What do they do for the other 43 weeks of the year? We've spent half the week trying to find someone who knows, but no one seems to be watching.) Nush's stepfather implored everyone to vote for Cameron. "If you want Ray or Scot to win, vote Cameron out, he's your man's biggest rival. If you want a week's partying with Steph spinning away from the group, vote Cameron out. If you want school assemblies and early nights, let Cameron stay in." Cameron's supporters were noticeable by their complete absence from the show.

Such is the power of BBB that the person out of the building this week was Nush. She won't win.

Who will top the poll? Steph seems to be there to make up the numbers, and is a sure-fire bet to finish fourth. Ray and Scott will be splitting the teenybopper vote, while Cameron's appeal seems to be more from the mature viewer. Voting history suggests that the mature choices - Craig, Brian, Jonny - do better than the youngsters' favourites, such as Anna and Jade. With the junior vote split, look for Cameron to come up the middle as a compromise winner, someone who has had a major voyage of self-discovery in the show.

One other historical factor plays into Cameron's hands: all three previous winners have hosted a regular television show. Craig did a DIY programme, Brian's done two years of Saturday morning television, Kate runs Big Brother Breakfast. Cameron would be the new face of religious broadcasting, and his celebrity might just be able to force that deeply unpopular genre back into primetime mainstream television.


A novel approach by one contestant in the opening round: quite literally, go for broke(r). Pass on any question you don't know straight off, throw the rest to the brokers, and hope that they'll work quickly enough to give you the £5000 bonus for 10 of 10 correct. Our contestant came within about ten seconds of that goal, and much of the delay can be attributed to Mel Sykes' waffling and talking over phone brokers, so the contestant left with a record low, £150.

Good play by one of the contestants in the second round, getting in guesses before Ms Sykes finishes stumbling her way through the questions.

And while we're flicking between ITV and C4 for the live Saturday task, Ms Sykes is asking a question about which bingo number is represented by "two fat ladies" [88]. We almost miss the moment when the live phone out proves that it really is live.

Mel: Hello caller!
Caller: Hello!
Mel: Who are you?
Caller: Nicola. [pause] Who are you?

It's not Nicola's lack of knowledge of ITV presenters that proves her downfall, but her lack of knowledge of ITV soaps.


In the second heat, we have:

Hamish Cameron, taking the life and times of Maximillian Robespierre. It's a blistering performance, and nets him 14 points. Peter Spyrides, who won half of the prize on Millionaire, offers Blackadder: The TV Series. The round starts with a question about the Millennium Doom film, but he still scores 15 points and one pass. David Smith, showing all he knows about Elvis Presley. He has a slight Pass Attack about 30 seconds in, but recovers to total 12 with three passes. Isabelle Heward, a regular in the early years of Fifteen To One, has the life and films of Audrey Hepburn. Only one pass spoils the round, for a total of 16.

In the general knowledge round, David Smith advances to 22, and another three passes. Hamish Cameron heads to 27, with two passes. Peter Spyrides moves on to 27, with four passes. He's one pass behind Hamish. Isabelle Heward needs 12 to win, and reaches her target with only a slight stumble. Her total is 32, with one more pass.


On Game Show Weakest Link, Jenni Powell (Wheel of Misfortune) thought that Irish tourist attractions included a barnacle. Jim Bowen reeled off his catchphrases in twenty seconds, and hid one answer behind a cough. Magnus Magnusson took the whole show sitting down in his black chair. Best at quizzing, as well as dealing with Snow White and the Seven Dwarves using only his hands in two minutes, is Lionel Blair.

The press launch for STAR ACADEMY II. Live shows will take place at Witanhurst Manor, rather than have the whole group troop off to Shepperton and then back each week. The shows begin on July 26, less than 24 hours after Big Brother ends. Pop Idle 2 is set to begin during August, and scheduling wars have begun already: the BBC's 1830 slot goes in direct competition with ITV's 1900 start. This column reckons it'll all be settled amicably - PI2 at 7pm, SA2 after 8, PI results around 9:30. The next edition of SA will air 8pm on the Wednesday: could the series work in this midweek slot?

Believe it or not, it's the Big Brother Final this Friday. Who wins? Will the viewing figures beat last year's? Will the voting ever pick up? Also: reality tv Weakest Link (1840 Saturday), the return of Winning Lines (1930 Saturday), and Celebdaq moves to 2000 Friday. Opposite Grand Slam.

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