Weaver's Week 2010-11-14

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Celebrity Juice


Celebrity Juice

Talkback for ITV2 since September 2008

(This review mostly based on the show of 7 October 2010)

Always alert for the next big thing, this column has completely missed the charms of Celebrity Juice. Not until it became more popular than The Xtra Factor did we think, "Actually, this show is actually a bit popular. Maybe we should watch it, and see if we can work out why."

Perhaps it's the host, Keith Lemon (actually Leigh Francis in a wig), previously best known for his impression of the ephemeral pop star Craig David (2000). Well, we say "impression", when actually we mean "caricature"; the act revolved around taking a moderately-familiar figure, and exaggerating his mannerisms for comedic effect. Mr. Lemon follows a similar path on Celebrity Juice, taking a familiar figure (the host of a comedy panel show) and emphasising some actions and traits so as to be funny.

The straight women in this show are the resident team captains, Holly Willoughby and Fearne Cotton. Best friends in real life, Fealy (er...) Hollearne (no...) (This portmanteau name thing just isn't going to work, is it?) Best friends in real life, Fearne and Holly are able to bring a genuine but affectionate rivalry to screen. They're both able to be funny in their own right, but are happy to let professional comedians take the limelight, as they do with resident floating guest Rufus Hound. You know, off of CBBC's Hounded.

Celebrity Juice Hands up if you're Keith Lemon.

Every celebrity panel show needs celebrity guests, and this one is no exception. Unlike many celebrity panel shows we could mention, Celebrity Juice has more people we have heard of than people we haven't. (UKTV Watch, we're thinking of you. But not watching you.) On the sample show we saw, the celebrities were Spice Girl and Channel 5 continuity announcer Melanie "Gulzar" Brown; professional hat-wearer and singer Paloma Faith; and the canteen chef at This Morning, Gino di Campo, who we must confess we've never heard of.

The show begins with Mr. Lemon talking to each of the guest panelists in turn; this is about as much contribution as Miss Faith will make to the next two-thirds of the programme. We found the introductions to be noticeably long, perhaps a little bit too long. We're here to watch a game show, for goodness' sake, not Keith Lemon Tells Mildly Funny Jokes About Minor Celebs We've Probably Heard Of, Just.

Eventually, round one hoves into view, and it's about celebrities. To be precise, what have the celebrities been doing to cause newspapers to write these headlines? "Spoofing Shazza goes ballistic; Kelly's man a grocer" is clearly the latest going on in the Osbourne family, where matriarch Mrs. Sharon Osbourne professed unhappiness with her daughter's latest beau, she believes Kelly shouldn't be dating a shop-keeper. But this turned out to be a) a hoaxer on the internet and b) something we've completely made up purely to jam the headline in. The reality seemed to revolve primarily around Wayne Rooney, and the teams missed no opportunity to put the boot in on his professional and private shortcomings.

But this is only a half-hour show, and there's a break looming. Afterwards, we'll be treated to Mel B trying to identify celebrities from animations and drawings put up on screen. For instance, one particular picture was of a man stroking a bundle of fur, and saying "This is my pet". The man turned out to be Mr. Jim Carrey, half-brother of the former Archbishop of Canterbury. The animal was a cat, and he was its owner. So there's Mr. Carrey, a cat, and owner. Miss B's apparent inability to gauge the correct answer had us shouting at our television set.

Celebrity Juice It's "snake charmer"! Obviously!

A later round sees the celebrities don oversized masks, so that they cannot see who they themselves have been disguised as. They must attempt to guess who they are by asking yes/no questions of the host, and monitoring the audience response to each question. Mild amusement when Miss Willoughby is dressed up as her Dancing on Ice co-host Phillip Schofield; greater giggles when Mr. Da Capo is unable to identify that he's been disguised as himself.

The final round is a buzzer round, after which a winning team is declared. By this time, the scores – which are only ever given by caption – are slightly superfluous, and we're wondering why this programme seems so familiar. Hmm. There are celebrities – some resident, some guest – being given strange tasks, based on familiar themes and tropes. How might this be improved?

At the piano, Colin Sell.

We're doubtless going to get shot by fans of both shows for suggesting this, but we reckon Celebrity Juice owes a debt to Radio 4's I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue. Both are panel shows that aim to spoof other panel shows – in the case of ISIHAC, the over-earnest and not terribly amusing programmes of the late 60s; for Celebrity Juice, the likes of Have I Got Mock-Intelligent Arguments All Over. Both take concepts familiar to the audience and bend them into their own shape – Clue's world is of late arrivals at society balls, Juice has people going round Mr. Lemon's for drinks and nibbles.

Celebrity Juice The title sequence shows lots of minor celebs we might have heard of.

And both programmes live in a particular cultural niche. Celebrity Juice inhabits a world of accessible celebrity, the parallel world where Peter Andre is something other than a teenage regret, where regular guests John and Edward Grimes can be distinguished from a fire alarm, where (as we're reminded on screen throughout the programme) the only way is Essex, a statement that still baffles us a month on. I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue lives in its own cultural back yard, sifting through significant plot points from The Archers, re-using ideas from The Moral Maze and rounds from Just a Minute, and pointing out that Quote... Unquote passed its chuckle-by date about ten years before it was first commissioned.

So, that's why Celebrity Juice is so popular. It's got the cult appeal and some of the sensibilities of ISIHAC, with the extra visibility of being on a semi-mainstream television channel. And it's a particularly undemanding and entertaining way to spend a half-hour, plus adverts.

University Challenge

Second round, match 2: Oxford Brookes v University of the Arts, London

Oxford Brookes (who we'll be calling Brookes from now on) got here by beating Cardiff on a 220-all tie-break, back on 12 July. London University of the Arts (Arts from here) beat Imperial College by 215-95 on 27 September. Shall we start with Unexpected Reminder of Ben Duncan Off Of Big Brother?

Q1: Defined by Brewer's Phrase and Fable as meaning "persons of no note", what phrase might also refer jointly to the title character of a novel of 1876 and friend of Huckleberry Finn, George Bush's vice president, and the US president at the end of World War II?

Any Tom, Dick, or Harry on Brookes can get the first correct answer, but the side don't get much change from questions about coin of the realm. They do better at questions on composers, then Arts open their account with a question on the convergence properties of a mathematical series. We're already at the first visual round, military forces worldwide from their flags. It goes to Brookes, and they lead by 50-20.

We have a nasty feeling that the compilers have been reading their anagram dictionaries a little too hard, as one question asks the teams to unscramble a word from its letters in alphabetical order. We can see where "Machu Piccu" came from, on a question about a UNESCO site, but it's the wrong site, and the question wasn't heading there anyway. Arts do better on a question about poets, and get bonuses on the writings of a scientist. Brookes get a starter on the work of a scientist, and bonuses on the names of various rhyme schemes. That, as they say, is how the cookie crumbles.

The audio round is upon us, quickly identified as the works of Mendelsson, and Brookes have extended their lead to 130-25. Brookes press on with the works of "Fingers" Dickens, and then on Stephen Sondheim's musicals, the metal lead, and countries of Latin America from definitions of words formed by their first three letters. For instance, Chile begins with "chi", a Greek letter left homeless (along with ρ) by the Egyptian influence. Duterium helps Brooks further, and their lead has shot up to 175 points. That, we suspect, is Game Over.

As if to challenge our instinct, Arts are asked when "The Sun" comic printed various headlines, and the team are a little unlucky to pick the wrong option for one question. Brookes struggle with universities of the 13th century, and Arts pick up the second visual round, the subjects of paintings by de la Roche. Brookes have a convincing lead, 215-55. Brookes do remarkably well to remember the Helsinki conference of 1975, which we think ended about ten years later with the delegates stopping the clocks until they'd come up with an agreement.

University Challenge University of the Arts London was represented by Nigel Booth, Mary Vetisse, Adam Walker, and Cliff Andrade.

Brookes have three on obscure capitals of various US states, and make very light work of them. They get a laundry list of cities on the Danube, and scientific terms beginning with RH. It's all grist to the mill. Arts push up their scores with some work on cemeteries, but Brookes push past 300 with famous people who share a name, like Michael Collins the astronaut and Irish leader. Arts pick up a late starter and reach three figures, but it's never going to be enough; Brookes have won, 320-100.

Shut up, Thumper, we want you to stop. There's not time to tell us how Austin Sherlaw-Johnson got six starters in Brookes's name, nor how the side converted 32/45 bonuses, a remarkable tally. There isn't time to discuss Adam Walker's three starters for Arts, their 9/18 bonuses and one missignal. Not even the overall accuracy rate – a really good 63/90 – can get mention, because Victoria's already looming on screen.

Next match: Exeter v York

Only Connect

Series 4, quarter-final 2: Wrights v Bloggers

"Things are really hotting up, even though the heats are over," says our host, before making a crack about Channel 5. No-one's watching Channel 5, we established this in the last series. Pete, Rosa, and Liz are the Wrights, and they're hoping not to fight. Chris Rubery, Steve Perkins, and Ruth Deller are the low culture Bloggers.

Just for a change, we begin with round one, the Wrights begin play with Don Quixote, Cold Comfort Farm – are these all satires of another genre of fiction? Parodies is the word on Victoria's card, two points in the Wrights' bag. Bloggers start with "Unloose", then "Debone", and there's a lot of conversation. They're going to go for something, it's not right, and they're words that mean the same without the prefix. A bonus for the Wrights there, and their question begins with "Inchon" in gold, "Arkhangelsk" in silver, "Jeddah" in browny-red, and "Odessa" in black. They're all ports? Not enough; they're places on or near coloured seas – it's the White and Red seas. No points.

Wick o'twisted flax o'doom has the audio clue for the Bloggers, who have something unknown, "Dies Irae", "Lust for Life" from Trainspotting, and "Pride (in the name of love)", which makes the team think they're all about real people. It's four of the deadly sins, as the Wrights pick up. Their own question is four clues to a point – Greek for "laurel", author of "Rebecca", and a character in Ovid' "Metamorphoses", and that's enough for two. Bloggers have the picture clues, some coral, a chamber pot, a cream slice (yum!), and a centipede. "They're all to do with 1000, because we have to say something". It's the right answer; those are millipedes, mille-fiori, and so on. Wrights lead by 6-1.

What's fourth? Buried alive, encased in ice, standing on a pillar. Are these David Blaine's tricks, leading to the glass box? Two points, pulled out after the captain gave the link not the answer. Bloggers get prefixes: exo, thermo, meso. It's all to do with temperature, and their guess of "endo" is the end of time. No, these are spheres of the atmosphere, so stratosphere. Wick o'doom has the pictures: a goat's horn, Ascot racecorse, the Duke of Edinburgh. Oh! Mascot, Ascot, Scot, Cot. No points. We expect nothing less from the flax o'doom.

Bloggers get the formal names for solstices and equinoxes, and suggest that "Winterval" is the answer. Nor is it Bacchinalia. Nor Saturnalia, which is what we think the Wrights were getting at, but Hibernal. A rebus for the Wrights' question: 1B=2S, 1S=2M, 1M=2C. Is it breves, semi-breves, minims, crochets, so 1C=2Q as in quavers? Bonus for the Bloggers, who promptly get some times. Palindromic times on a digital clock are good for two points, and Wrights have their lead trimmed, 8-4.

Only Connect (2) Back to the lowculture for the Bloggers.

Bloggers are first to the wall, and what have we got here. Manchester United, Mr Benn, Oddjob. There's a set of people who wear bowler hats, and then there's a set of people and things with the nickname Red. They're quickly up to the last two, and think about what the connection for the last group could be – the one they know is cockerels in their logos. The last one is nasty – remove the last letter to reveal a currency. Seven points!

Wrights are a little slower to get going, and begin with things that have blades. Then they're working across two possibilities – internet top-level domains, and galaxies fall into place, leaving the Nasty One – not ox, not iron, but things that can be drawn. Never mind, a good go. Seven points!

Wrights lead by 15-11 going into Mss Ngvls, but not before we've filled with some chat about the ever-so-popular internet connecting walls. "I love Victoria Coren's patronising sneer", wrote someone on the interwebs recently. "That's me being welcoming". On with the show, and Film tag lines ends 1-1. 18th Century battles is a 3-1 win for the Wrights. Phrases abbreviated on the internet come next, that goes to the Bloggers by 4-0. Male and female animals goes to the Wrights 3-1, and Alcohols is theirs 3-0. Objects collected as antiques closes the show, with a final point to the Wrights, who have won by 26-18.

Next match (22 Nov): Radio Addicts v Brit Poppers
Next week: A celebrity special


Heat 13

Toughest test on television is this show? Oh. We thought that was balancing a goldfish bowl on top of these new ultra-slim flatscreens.

We'll begin with Keith Nickless, and he's answering questions on the rock band Mott the Hoople (1969-74). This was a group known for their raucous live performances – their performance at the Royal Albert Hall in 1971 led to a ban on rock 'n' roll performances at the venue. The band suffered from underwhelming sales throughout their lifetime, and is best known for the songs "All the young dudes" and "Roll away the stone". and inspiring more successful bands in their footsteps. History does not note if their over-eager fanbase caused a radio presenter to show his extreme cultural conservatism after playing one of their records. History does note the contender's score, a full house, a perfect 18 (EIGHTEEN) (0).

Gillian Clissold has the unenviable task of following that, with the Life of Robert Baden-Powell (1857-1941). Born in Paddington, B-P was educated at Charterhouse, and had a distinguished army career, where he used small independent groups to carry out reconnaissance rather than large groups under central control. His book on the concept, "Aids to Scouting" was re-written as "Scouting for Boys", and that inspired young people around the country to set up small units and follow the concepts. What this contender doesn't know, she passes, and ends on 10 (7).

Thomas Zugic has picked a big topic, the geography of South America. You know, the continent in the southern hemisphere, inhabited by people who speak Spanish and Portugese, and the winter home of Orinoco Womble. Yes, there's a city called Fray Bentos, there's inspiration for Conan Doyle's "The Lost World", and an awful lot of places we've never heard of. The contender has, and he finishes on 11 (2).

Nick Mills will discuss Rameses II (c.1314 – 1224BC), a Pharaoh of ancient Egypt. He led expeditions into land east of Suez, and south into the Nubian region; his reign also included the foundation of cities such as Pi-Rameses and a temple complex known as the Ramaseum. This Rameses is not the one who adopted Moses from the bullrushes. The round almost ends with a question about Rameses' tomb, and the contender's a bit lucky to get a question as the buzzer goes. He had time to get one wrong, and finishes on 18 (0).

Gillian Clissold knows how to get to Narnia: go to the back of the wardrobe and turn right at the lamp-post. She doesn't remember The Referendum Party of 1997 (but then who does?) and does remembers which topical news quiz Angus Deayton once hosted. There's another really difficult television challenge: find the joke in HIGNFY. 22 (10) is the contender's final score. Mr. Zugic can find Minsk on a map, and is absolutely in order to guess "Frankie Dettori" when asked for a jockey. Even the guesses count if they're right, and he ends on 24 (4).

It's Mr. Nickless we're waiting for. Seven to take the lead, nine may get him on the repechage board, eleven should bring him back. There's an impressive run of early answers – the defibrillator, Cecil Day Lewis, and Wembley Stadium, and an even more impressive run of early guesses, including that well-known Nordic goddess Bettje. A haggis lifts him past 30 points, the Calgary stampede, and the New Orleans Saints allow him to finish on a stonking 34 (1).

That repechage board:

  • Nick Mills 34 (4)
  • Hamish Cameron 30 (2)
  • Ann Skillen 30 (7)
  • James Collenette 29 (2)
  • Duncan Byrne 27 (2)
  • Ian Packham 27 (4)

He'll be back. Nick Mills is a familiar name, having made strong progress in Brain of Britain, University Challenge, and Only Connect. We expect big things of him, and are slightly surprised when he misses the first couple of questions. Then he kicks into life, with February as the cruellest month, the Shia branch of Islam, the Negev desert, and the Coventry arch. He remembers Bagpuss, which is good news for our friends at TV Cream. Remember when the police used rattles to communicate? Us neither. The final score is 34 (4).

It's not a winning score, but if Mr. Mills doesn't come back in next year's semi-finals, we will eat our hat. He's now top of the repechage board, and Chris Harrison can apply again in a year or two.

Mastermind Nick Mills (r) offers congratulations to Keith Nickless.

Next week's Mastermind is a celebrity special to support the Children in Need of Assistance appeal, and will go out at 10pm across the nation. As is this column's standard approach to celebrity editions of Mastermind, we won't be providing a commentary.

This Week And Next

And now for some cryptic messages. To Simon Lott, thank you v. much, your contribution has been noted and should be published early next month. And to Gideon in Yorkshire — hmm, a message that we really can't publish on a Sunday. Or any other day, as it's more than a bit rudey.

Nominations are out for the Royal Television Society's annual Craft and Design awards. Unusually, there's some game show interest – in the Special Effects category, James Morgn, Chris Reynolds, Millennium FX & Nick Hopkin are nominated for their work on Mission 2110. Dave Davey of Dancing on Ice is up in the Lighting for Multi Camera, and Paul Kirrage is nominated in Multi Camera Work for the same show. The awards, a black tie event, will be presented on 24 November by Richard McCourt and Dominic Wood.

OFCOM's fortnightly report into substandard television has discussed Channel 5's Family Food Fight. The objection was that there was too close an association between the funding sponsor's product and the show's campaigning for healthy eating. In particular, the script in five of the six episodes discussed how a low-fat spread rather than butter could reduce cholesterol levels; this was also the thrust of the sponsorship arrangement. OFCOM reckoned that this would confuse viewers, who might think that the show had been influenced by the sponsors, even though it hadn't. Not adduced in evidence was the Week's review, which said "Family Food Fight is funded by a very large margarine company. In order to redress the somewhat fatty nature of their product, they've had a strategy of making their product appear healthy [..] This is another outlet for the corporate PR machine, and it's very hard to forget it."

The Million Pound Drop Live

Two weeks ago, we wrote that The Million Pound Drop Live had offered a question with no incorrect answer. This week, we find that they're not learning from their mistakes. The question was about children's television: "Who played Doctor Who for the longest time?"; the possible answers were Sylvester McCoy, Paul McGann, Christopher Eccleston, or David Tennant. In terms of time between first and last appearances, McCoy played the role from 1987 to 1996, McGann in 1996, Eccleston in 2005, and Tennant from 2005 to 2010. In terms of screen time, Tennant had more minutes than any other; in terms of time between the actor's first appearance and the first appearance of his successor, the winner is McGann.

In short, it's another imprecise question. Accuracy is everything. In this case, the contestants have been invited back to pick up where they would have left off had they given the answer the producers were expecting (McCoy).

In the ratings for the last week of October, the usual suspects held the top three positions, Hallowe'en Night with Simon Cowell (13.75m), Saturday with Brucie (10.9m), and Wednesday with Alan Sugar (6.5m). HIGNFY just keeps fourth place ahead of The Cube – 5.35m to 5.2m – and we can't help but wonder if the positions might be reversed if The Cube aired in Ulster. Masterchef The Professionals (3.8m) heads up BBC2's long list of game shows – editions of that, The Apprentice You're Fired (3.65m), UC (3.3m), Dancing on Two (2.75m) and Eggheads (2.35m) combine to occupy the channel's top eleven positions. Back on ITV, Family Fortunes crused towards cancellation and the inevitable revival in 2015, just 3.55m viewers there. 71 Degrees North found the only way is up, 3.45m, and Monte Carlo or Bust headed in on 3.25m. Top on Channel 4 was The Million Pound Drop Live featuring Davina; 2.7m people tuned in on Friday hoping to see Useless Bloke's career go the same way as lots of dosh. Come Dine With Me had 2.5m on Tuesday teatime, and Deal or No Deal 2.2m that afternoon.

On the HD channels, The X Factor had 925,000 viewers, The Apprentice 475,000, Strictly 405,000, and QI secured 110,000. The main show remains absent from BBC1's top thirty. Our main review this week, Celebrity Juice, remains popular – 35,000 on HD, 1.45m on SD, and another quarter of a million on the +1 channel. Xtra Factor has 1.285m. No More4 ratings this week, so we don't know if A League of Their Own (660,000) or The Only Connect (655,000) beat Come Dine With Me. QI XL on Dave recorded 540,000, and CBBC had a Total Wipeout Celebrity Special – 410,000 viewers can't be wrong.

Coming up this week, there's a new run of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! (ITV and TV3, from 9pm Sunday). Elsewhere, Copycats goes high-definition (BBC-HD, 3.35 Sunday), and E4 invites us to Meet the Parents (9.30 Thursday). In slightly less compelling viewing, Wayne Rooney looks for a Street Striker (The Satellite Channel, 7pm Sunday). Next weekend's talent timings: Strictly In Blackpool (Sat 6.30 – 7.45), Cowell in London (8 – 9.20).

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