Weaver's Week 2012-12-16

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At the start of this year, we took the decision to spend a few Weeks on the history of game shows. Over the course of the year, we've looked at Backdate and Today's the Day, First Class and Four Square, and an obituary for The Weakest Link. And we found two from the Bob Monkhouse archive, huge in their day, but now barely remembered. The $64,000 Question, and a Christmas edition of Bob's Full House.

Then, in the summer, we learned that Challenge TV were going to repeat the whole series of Bob's Full House. The result is that, though the programme we're about to review is 28 years old, older than many of our readers, we must put out a SPOILER warning. If you don't want to know what happens on the Christmas edition, move right along to the Only Connect review.


Bob's Full House

BBC1, 26 December 1984

We'd be crackers not to provide spoiler space.

So, we've had Final Score, ten minutes of football and racing results, seeing if Tottenham Hotspur can remain top of League Division I. We've had the Plummeting News with Jan Lemming. And, at 5.15 on Boxing Day evening, it's time for Bob's Full House. "Four contestants compete for substantial prizes, and Bob Monkhouse exercises his gift for wisecrackery", according to The Times. "Your Boxing Day bingo boy," according to the announcer, and our Bob is straight into a discussion of the Christian feast of Leftover. Not that Bob's taking part: he had the in-laws around yesterday, and they took apart the turkey in three minutes. Saved his wife the bother of cooking it.

Bob's Full House The set is decorated in pinks, it complements the red and blue highlights.

Joining us this week are four people from the caring services. There Muff – Myfanwy to her mother, a nurse from Cardiff. Bob is from the London fire brigade, Angela is from the Order of St John – they run the voluntary ambulance service, and Clifton comes from the RNLI. Just for tonight's show, the competitors are going to get £10 per square lit, and that money's going to the causes they represent.

Bob's Full House Eyes down for the four corners.

Round one is upon us, the Four Corners round. Bob riffles a wodge of green cards, and prepares to ask them. All of these questions are on the buzzer, first to buzz in can answer. Get it right, and they can call out one of their four corners. By a curious coincidence, most of these corner numbers have a traditional bingo call attached. "Kelly's Eye!" "Brighton Line!" "Quack!"

An incorrect answer will mean the player can't buzz in for the next question. In the hip and trendy parlance of 1984, this is known as "being wallied", because "wally" was the fashionable thing to call someone who was wrong. Well, actually, hipsters of 1984 were more likely to be walking about wearing "Frankie Says .. You Wally" t-shirts, but this is prime family entertainment on BBC1.

Bob's Full House At this early stage, contender Bob leads, while Muff is wallied.

Many of the questions are interesting little true-or-false facts. "There are 10,000 germs in a drop of water." "It does a string of pearls good to be worn once in a while." Both of those are true, and allow Bob to jump in with little gags of the era – one about the quality of Spanish drinking water, one about the contemporary entertainer John Inman. In very little time, this round has been won, and the champion can take his pick of three better-than-usual prizes – a lamp, some towels, and a cassette-television player thingummy.

Bob's Full House High-quality prizes, most of which use cassette tape.

Straight into round two, where the prizes are a Sinclair QL, a hamper of beauty treatments, and a pre-programmed answering machine. For this round, we need the Monkhouse Master Card, a triumphant match between subjects and numbers. Choose a number from the middle line, it corresponds to a subject, which generates a question. Get it right, that number's lit. Get it wrong, and "it's open to the others" who can buzz in and choose a number to light from their own line.

Bob's Full House Time to take your pick of the six.

Just to add to the fun, some of the numbers are chosen as Lucky Numbers. We have a suspicion that tonight, these were arranged so that everyone would have a Lucky Number, hear the electronic whizzing, and the lush laidback orchestration of the show's theme. For Clifton, the mystery prize is Bonnie Langford and a pair of donkeys. She's clutching tickets to see her in pantomime in Wimbledon, have a good dinner, and meet her afterwards.

Bob's Full House No, you don't get to keep the donkeys.

After everyone's had a pick from the six, the subjects are mixed up. And the Lucky Numbers keep on coming. Bob the contestant wins some shredded carrot and lemon water: he'll collect it on a weekend on a health farm. Muff is rewarded with the aforementioned John Inman clutching a Sale sign; John is playing in Mother Goose in Bromley, and he's awarding a day in the sales with a Champagne lunch. Angela has a model of a gondola for her mantelpiece, and a meal for two in Little Venice.

In another show, we found that the bingo calls are written on the card in front of the contestant – 44 is "droopy draws", 27 is "my age". On this show, we see that Bob reads the question and turns over the card to reveal the answer. It means there's no chance that he'll give it away by accident, and can't get confused by anything else. Clifton wins this round, and we're sure he's still got the computer somewhere at home. Probably propping a door open.

Bob's Full House There is nothing like Dame John Inman.

We're into the final round, the full house, with prizes like a 22-inch colour television with teletext. Yeah, that's going to be future-proof. The final round is more questions on the buzzer, perhaps a little more difficult than in the opening round, though with this high quality of player it's difficult to tell. We don't her the wah-wah-wah time's up noise once. Unusually, some of the questions are very topical – "what's the best-selling record this Christmas?" and "which prime minister of Malta retired last weekend?". On the regular show, Bob had to emphasise that at the time of recording Elizabeth Taylor wasn't married.

Bob's Full House Still broadcasting on Ceefax page 984.

Bob's Full House is remembered for its trick questions, like "Is the Eiffel Tower taller in summer or winter?" This is not a trick question, and the answer "It's the same all year round" is not right. "What was the name of Elizabeth I's husband?" Ah, "she never married" will win the point. This is what happens when that great trickster Ian Messiter is writing for you. They never do this kind of stunt on Twenty One Questions Wrong.

After the light and frothy opening to the show, Bob is now powering ahead at a great rate of knots, but he does still have the time to drop in a few jokes, and keep score – "you only need three for a full house." The pace increases, the tension increases, and two contestants get to hear, "you only need one for a full house." Eventually, the winner is identified, and Bob recaps on the prizes everyone's won, because everyone has won something tonight.

Which brings us to the Golden Card Game, the grand final of the show. Fifteen questions, fifteen numbers on the board, one minute to answer them. The clock starts when Bob starts asking a question, and stops when the contestant gives a correct answer; if they get it wrong, the clock continues and so does the host. Hidden behind the numbers are either money or letters, and the contestant needs to reveal all the letters spelling out their holiday.

Bob's Full House Which number might spell out a holiday to HOLLA_D?

The show comes to an end – the winner has been helped to their holiday, over £800 has been raised for charity (now comfortably over £2000), and everyone has had a whirlwind of fun. More turkey sandwiches, there? Ah, go on.

Other highlights from Boxing Day 1984 include Junior Kick Start from Eaton Neston (BBC1, 12.35), That's Street Entertainment, performances from Covent Garden (C4, 6pm), and we can watch The Mike Yarwood Show (ITV, 7.15) secure in the knowledge that he will not be impersonating Cliff Richard.

Bob's Full House But from our stars and guests, goodnight!

Only Connect

Third Place Play-off: Footballers v Wordsmiths

"What do these things have in common? The DVLA in Swansea. The British Saddleback pig. The Albion pub in London. Alex Guttenplan. That's right: I'm not allowed within 100 yards of any of them. And it's solving riddles like that that's brought tonight's teams all the way to this glory." If you say so, Victoria. The Footballers hope to chalk up one, decent, last performance; the Wordsmiths reckon they're doomed.

Footballers are batting in the first two rounds, and have Jed Clampett 9.5, then Artemis Fowl II 13.5. Michael has this for the team: fictional characters and their worth in billions of dollars. That's according to Forbes magazine, who reckon Scrooge McDuck is worth 44.1 billion dollars. The prize for the Footballers: three points. For the Wordsmiths, it's the Combined English Universities, and they're considering going for it. But then they take Westminster Abbey, which throws them completely. Calais, then Kensington and Chelsea, gives the response "They're all cricket teams (apart from the last three)". No, these are all former Westminster parliament constituencies. Footballers ahead 3-0.

The Wick o'Twisted Flax o'Doom had the audio clue: a slow piano piece, some upbeat techno, some fast piano, and T Rex. It's "Children of the Revolution": they toss a mental coin and say "Revolution". Unlucky; the Wordsmiths to take the bonus with Children. Kinderzenen, Robert Miles' "Children", and the theme from "Children's Hour". For the Wordsmiths, it's the smell of bacon and egg ice cream, and the sound of the Five Point Klaxon. "Heston Blumenthal" the good but presumptuous answer: the other clues give away that they're things prepared at the table. That's "give away" in the sense of "revealed by the host". Footballers 3-1.

Only Connect (2) The Footballers, once more.

Pictures for the footballers: someone making something, a cockerel, some cookies, a Venetian blind. "Named after places they have nothing to do with" is the offer, but it's completely wrong. "They're all named after cities" has Victoria rolling her eyes and shouting "Come on!". "Er, in Italy". Is right for a bonus! Milliner from Milan, Leghorn chicken, Florentine biscuits. Derek McCulloch, Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation gives the Wordsmiths three, and the lead, 5-3. They're all Macs.

Connections for the Footballers. It's the DVLA. A pig. There's some laughter from the other side of the studio. The Albion pub. So, obviously, Alex Guttenplan is the answer for two points.

Only Connect (2) Whatever you do, don't be late.

Ahem. "Harder Better Faster Stronger" provides the link for the Wordsmiths, who think it's the sports organisation motto and not the Daft Punk song. Two points, a 7-5 lead.

Octonian and Quaternion are enough to have "Union" for the Footballers, but no. A complex number, so it's a real number next for a bonus. Multiply complex numbers together enough and you get corners of an eight-dimensional room. More on that in the Eight-Dimensional Octoconnect next year, when the Crossworders play three super-intelligent shades of blue. Cities that have held that summer sporting event for a second time goes over to the Footballers for a bonus, they trail 6-8.

For the Footballers, it's "Star = G" and "Are = P" and "High = V". "Say something, Jamie", the injunction from one of the team. "Planet = M" is not the answer. Nor is "Low = Z". It's "Sky = Z": a translation between "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" and the Alphabet Song from the likes of Sesame Street. Where's a video..? Woodrow Wilson and Calvin Coolidge and Herbert Hoover have the Wordsmiths looking for double letters amongst presidents, so Ronald Reagan for two points. It leaves the Wordsmiths ahead 10-6.

Walls 254 and 255 on the website, and the Wordsmiths begin with a bunch of effects. There's a bundle of songs, and what looks like the pre-marriage names of royal spouses. That comes out, and the team continues to cycle through various effects. Tyndall is a clue they've not looked at. Then they remember that "Domino" is a song, that gets them the group. Time is never on their side, and they're thinking about the final link. Some desperate jabbing doesn't bring in the group. The songs are number ones from the present decade, the physical effects include the Tyndall effect on blue light, and the last group – bushes – evades the team. Five points!

Only Connect (2) The Wordsmiths, still present and correct.

The Footballers have young versions of animals, and they have monsters in CBBC's Dr Who. Then the team spots there are some streets, and jab jab jab to get out the larvae. That doesn't work, so they take out the monsters. Looks at the final group. They're not! Please say they're not! Some of us have to document this on a Sunday morning!! Nor are they members of Goldie Looking Chain. Oh, thank goodness for that, these are actually fans of musical acts, like Miley Cyrus and Slipknot. Five points!

The Wordsmiths do take a lead into the final round this week, 15-11. Fictional languages is a toughie to begin with, won by the Footballers 2-0. Government information slogans ends in a 1-1 draw, and if you see Sid, tell him. Films with posthumous performances goes to the Footballers 2-1, and Artworks containing found objects is a no-score draw. All of which means the Footballers have advanced to 16, and in a really tight finish, the Wordsmiths have attained 17 points. You remember that "in Italy" they added earlier on? Or that coin toss for "Children of the Revolution"? Such little things.

Join us next week for the final. Don't be late.

This Week And Next

Bonnie Langford is appearing in the touring musical "9 to 5". Neither John Inman nor Bob Monkhouse are in pantomime this year, having moved to The Inn of the Afterlife. Proof that there's always room in the inn came with the death of Bob Graves, the co-creator of the Quantel special effects toolbox, without which video editors would still be hand-stencilling captions.

We also mark the passing of Patrick Moore, astronomer and eccentric. Other than the whole moon-mapping thing, and being a bright spark for inquiry on and off the telly, his roles included a memorable turn on Just a Minute, talking in a way that even Kenneth Williams could never hope to match. He was a pipeman of the year, played a mean xylophone, and knew how to find the hidden stash of 50 coins on level 4 of Chronic the Hedgehog.

Gamesmaster Gamesmaster offline.

We mourn Norman Woodland, inventor of the barcode. When you're at the supermarket and hear the beep, think of a one-dimensional visual representation of a cyclically-redundant code and everything it's reaped. And we salute Kenneth Kendall, announcer, style icon, president of the Queen's English Society, voice of the BBC Micro, and the suave host of Treasure Hunt. He was able to do the seemingly impossible, continue reading a news bulletin after spitting out a tooth, and getting Anneka Rice to keep still for a minute.

Stop the clock. Stop all the clocks.

To University Challenge, where St George's London took on Lancaster in the latest second-round match. From the first six starters, we had as many missignals as correct bonus questions, and more dropped starters. Lancaster had the less bad start, and briefly opened up a 55-point lead. It's pegged back to 25 points by the audio round, in which we're forced to listen to an opera singer perform "Annie's Song". Aren't there laws against this sort of thing? (Fires off spoof complaint to fake regulator OffTheTelly.)

St George's continued to close the gap, and took the lead with about ten minutes to play. They powered ahead, but confused Thumper by mispronouncing the poet Rimbaud as the action figure Rambo. They're 65 points ahead when Lancaster gets their first starter since that audio travesty. They're only allowed the one, and we reckoned that the game was up when St George's derived the name of Stalingrad on the Paris metro. George Pinkerton did well for Lancaster, but St George's had Alexander Suebsaeng and Sam Mindel, all three gentlemen scoring six starters. St George's winning score was 230-140.

University Challenge is now on a break until 7 January. There will be a Celebrity series, running in the weeks of 17 and 31 December. Celebrity Mastermind returns on 27 December, and there's a proper edition next Friday.

But there's this week's proper Mastermind to get through first. It's a very high scoring week.

  • Jeff Lloyd (British number one singles, 1963-2000) had another subject this column might have taken, and again the contender beats us, scoring 11 (0). He makes solid progress through his second round, a little unlucky to see some guesses fail, and a final of 24 (1).
  • Colin Daffern (Michael Foot) has made a long journey, he's from Salford, and scores 13 (1) on the Labour politician. On his second trip to the chair, he piles on the points – more and more and more. The final score is a stonking 32 (1), enough to send the contenders past the Corridor of Uncertainty into the Alcove of Never Gonna Make It.
  • Kirsa Lombard Olsen (Alan Bennett's "Talking Heads") scooted through her questions on the radio and television monologues, scoring 14 (2). This contender starts well, but soon spirals off into the Vortex of Passes, concluding on 25 (9).
  • Roger Canwell (Kett's Rebellion of 1549), a subject we only know through a heat in 2007. The rebellion was an uprising in Norwich, this is an upscoring in Salford, ending on 15 (0). He knows he'll need to double that to win the night, and a dozen or so for the play-offs. This contender was a finalist in 2009 (Nancy Dickmann's series) and no-one gets there through luck. Anyone who remembers Countdown gets our support, as does someone who can work out the runners-up to Red Rum in the Grand National. He reaches the 28 points with some time to spare, the likely marker to be assured of a return; a number of passes may be good tactics, as it squeezes in an extra question. The Tuppenny Blue means he finishes on 33 (2).

After that remarkable win, Roger sits back in the chair and draws breath, just for a moment. They're saving the good shows for weeks when Mastermind is networked nationally! Opt-outs in Wales and NI next week, so we expect a winning score of about 4.

BARB ratings in the week to 2 December, and Strictly remains on top, with 10.95m seeing the performances. 9.25m for the I'm a Celebrity final, 8.2m for The X Factor Results, and 5.05m saw Pointless Celebrities. University Challenge topped on BBC2 with 3.25m, a sneeze ahead of Masterchef The Professionals, and both beat The Chase on 3.2m. I'm a Celebrity on ITV2 (1.56m) beat Channel 4's leader Deal or No Deal (1.5m), and we can mention Come Dine With Me (1.4m) in the same breath as The Only Way is Essex (1.32m) and their fans at Only Connect (a record 1.16m).

It's the week before Christmas, and celebrity specials rule the house. Eggheads and Pointless are joined by University Challenge (BBC2, all week), Sion a Sian (S4C, 8.25 Thu), and Come Dine with Me (C4, 5pm weekdays). It's the grand final of Only Connect (BBC4, 8.30 Mon) and Countdown (C4, 2.40 Friday), and – if the hype is to be believed – the final of the world as we know it. ITV is hedging its bets with Text Santa (Friday from 8), an entertainment gala (so if the world does end, it's with a smile) and charity appeal (so if it doesn't, some good will be done). Genius! If we're still here next Saturday, there's a children's television special of Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, 5.40), the Strictly Come Dancing final (6.30 and 8.50), and Show and Telly (ITV, 8pm).

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