Weaver's Week 2016-07-31

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Well, the series has finished, and it's time to discuss

Big Brother


Everything We Learned from Big Brother This Year

Endemol for Channel 5, 7 June - 26 July

The "biggest series ever" was the shortest, lasting a mere seven weeks.

The first person to be voted out was a man. That's never happened before in the UK, and we see that the public will vote out a love rat.

Reaction to the announced winner was mixed.

  • "This show is a joke"
  • "Hughie's the people's champ"
  • "Jason and all his rich friends bet a tonne of money then spent a tonne of money rigging the vote so he would win"
  • "So glad that I stopped watching halfway through this year"

Right across social media {1}, we couldn't find a single person defending the champ.

{1} And by "social media", we mean "people who posted to Tumblr with the tag #bbuk on Wednesday afternoon". This is just as lazy as journalists who define "social media" as "people who post to Twitter while the show airs", except Tumblr users might speak honestly.


That's it.

Well, we seem to have quite some blank space to fill. We could adopt the Robert Kilroy-Silk tactic, and re-hash a Week from some months ago. But who remembers Money Pit now?

So we've looked for something better. A nominee for the Rose D'Or, perhaps. We've looked at Pick Me!, and loved it. We looked at The Getaway Car, and thought there's room for improvement. But what about this third nomination. What happens on Baking in the Dark?

Ultras Sorte Kageshow

DR Ultra, 2015

A word to the wise: our knowledge of Danish is very limited. "Lego", "pastries", "smorgasbord" (no, that's Swedish), "O. S. V. F. M." (oops, Norwegian), and that's about it. So we're going to have to judge mainly without dialogue, just on visuals and the sound.

The host (centre) prats about.

The first visual leaves us worried. Ooh eck. It's a "wakky" host, in dodgy check suit and he's jumping about a bit. On come tonight's contestants - two pairs, all video bloggers, all late teens or early twentysomethings.

The players introduce themselves through video diaries, and because they're all appearing solo, we assume the players don't know each other.

Wakky Host has a sidekick, she brings on a sample cake to demonstrate what we should get at the end of the show. And, within four minutes of the show beginning, it's the traditional cry of Danes everywhere, from Sandi Toksvig upwards.

Lights out!

Sensible co-host retires to a commentary booth, where she calls the first three ingredients to the players. Milk, flour, and cocoa. But the ingredients are in jars on the edge of the workbench. The players are not going to see what's milk and what's water; they'll have to smell or touch it. They're not even going to be able to see how much milk is 500ml.

We can, infra-red cameras allow us to see the entire proceedings. Such as the eggs, which are hidden in straw, and the straw is wheeled into the studio on a trolley. There's much squealing and shouting, one of the players is a bit scared, another throws straw around. You wouldn't catch Mary Berry putting up with this.

Paul Hollywood would find it a lark, though.

More milk is required, but Wakky Host has sneaked into the studio and nicked the jugs of fresh milk. In their place, stage hands put jugs of sour and smelly milk. Lovely.

The teams have been beating their mixture for a few minutes. The next step? Pour the concoction - milk, sugar, flour, eggs, cocoa - into a baking tray, and put it in the oven. And then try to do a high five in the dark. That'll work well...

You can't see us sniggering.

The mixing stage has taken 45 minutes of studio time, compressed to about ten minutes on the telly. It's intercut with reactions and commentary from the teams, filmed afterwards.

As a bit of sane relief, Sensible Co-host demonstrates how to make the week's cake - this time, it's a cake in a glass, it microwaves in three minutes flat. Baking in the Dark isn't just entertaining, it's educational as well.

Back to the dark studio, where Sensible Co-host gives instructions to help decorate the cake. Cut it into shape, then add water to a prepared mixture and make the liquid icing. And not, as one player does, add water to powdered chocolate to make liquid cocoa.

A contestant confuses icing with powdered chocolate.

Realising his mistake, the player sneaks across to the other team and nicks some of their liquid icing. Sprinkle some choccies on top, and it's time to plate up and judge the marvellous creations. Lights on!

The blue team, Rasmus and Julia Sofia, have looked the more competent team throughout: they made a sensible icing, added chocolate buttons, and it sounds as though their cake is rather lovely.

That actually looks rather nice.

Armin and Kristine, the gold team, have taken instruction from Penfold, offering a collection of crumbs. Their cake has fallen apart, an over-zealous transfer from the baking tray to presentation plate didn't help. But there's little icing, few chocolate sprinkles.

Wakky Host finds the cake too dry and inedible. This, sir, is what happens when you switch fresh milk for stale and curdled stuff. Our sympathy has no beginning.


To no-one's surprise, Rasmus and Julia Sofia are appointed winners. Rolling pins for the winners, dirty pinnies for the losers, and Wakky Host is left to fumble around the studio while the credits roll. Only here do we find Nikolaj Stokholm played "Wakky Host", and Mette Hassing was "Sensible Co-host".

Can we see why this was nominated for the Rose d'Or? Very much so. It's entertaining, it's got a bit of education. The humour is natural and subtle, the laughs come from people being given silly things to do. The joy comes from completing a little task: high fives for putting something in the over. If we squint a bit, we can see that Sorte Kageshow is in a similar vein of humour as reigning champion Wild Things.

Let's age the milk.

We understood about one word in ten, and still followed the show. Mix stuff together, put it in the oven, decorate it. Being in the dark adds some complication, and plenty of chance for things to go wrong. Having another team come along and nick your icing adds an extra difficulty.

Better than The Getaway Car? Yes. We'd sooner watch another episode of Sorte Kageshow than Dermot and the Stigs.

Better than Pick Me!? That's a difficult one. Possessed's programme was also natural humour, it also asked people to improvise. While Sorte Kageshow keeps its players in a no-light costume, Pick Me! puts them in fancy dress. There's a slight educational motif on both programmes. We know Pick Me! can do the absurd, sometimes to excess. Sorte Kageshow felt a little more restrained and sensible: silly, but not bonkers.

Could Baking in the Dark work in the UK? It would have to be a 30 minute slot, the game would get tiresome if it were stretched much longer. Strip out the recipe in the middle, replace it with a commercial break, and it's a 30 minute programme for a commercial channel. We could have seen it on BBC3. We'd now see it on E4 pre-watershed, perhaps with a late-night unbleeped repeat.

This Week and Next

Best of the web Tim Worthington pays tribute to Ask the Family, with special emphasis on the opening titles.

Vice Sports has a line on Ninja Warrior (NBC). "It is a maddeningly difficult side-scrolling video game." Does that make Rochelle Humes our own Sally Acorn?

Ninja Warrior UK Ben Shepherd as a new Dr. Robotnik? Chris Kamara as Dr Julian Snively??

On University Challenge, Liverpool (Nick Kurek, Guy Nicholls, Gethin Hopkin, Pauline Rowe) took on Warwick (Sophie Hobbs, Sophie Rudd, Giles Hutchings, Thomas Van). Both sides have history on the show - Warwick champions ten years ago, Liverpool semi-finalists just last year. Warwick pulled away in the second half of this week's match, backed by nine starters from Sophie Rudd, and won by 235-85.

One Countdown champion on UC, two Countdown victors on Only Connect. Giles Hutchings won in June 2013; after the break we see Tom Cappleman, winner in June 2015, and Graeme Cole, the champ in December 2011. The third member won six games in autumn 2011, not quite enough for the finals in a high-scoring series.

Wodehouse versus Countdown on Only Connect, as the Psmiths (Mark Smith, Nick Holland, Nick Reed) took on the Verbivores (Phyl Styles, Tom Cappleman, Graeme Cole). The Psmiths won, 24-22.

Looking back, there were three keys to this win. The Psmiths took "shortest-serving occupants" from John Bruton, two-and-a-half years as Taoiseach; and from Stephen II, Pope for two days in the year 792. That's three good points in a connections round the Verbivores almost blanked. The Verbivores might have rung for three on a sequence about Winston Churchill's cabinet positions, but took two. And while the Psmiths got a wall they know, the Verbivores were hamstrung by missing bays.

Even though the Verbivores won the missing vowels round 9-3 - we expect little else from Countdown geniuses - the gap was just too large.

One from the Matters Arising file. Elections expert David Boothroyd writes, "Churchill didn't lose his seat in Oldham in 1922. He moved from it in 1906. In 1922 he was defeated in Dundee."

We think we've worked out the structure of the series. It's depressingly simple.

  • Draw is done in two halves, each with 12 teams.
  • Winners of matches A1-A6 progress to round 2.
  • Four highest-scoring losers from A1-A6 have repêchage matches for two more main draw places in the top half.
  • Ditto for B1-B6.
  • Then a straight knockout round, still within Section A and Section B.
  • Then a "traditional" eight-team, 13 episode series: the double-elimination group phase, semis and final.

By a remarkable coincidence, it means Only Connect and that other show will be at the same place in their tournament for all but two episodes.

After three matches, the highest-scoring losers are sure to come back. That's the Verbivores.

Mastermind continues to run up the scores. Gill Taylor came across as someone who was happy just to be here, but then she showed steely determination to win this week's show, 27 (and 7 passes) from specialist subject The Honey Bee and Beekeeping. A pass after the buzzer was avoidable, but didn't cost the win.

Ed Kent scored 25 (1 pass) on John le Carré's Quest for Klara trilogy, and Gareth John made 24 (2 passes) from Mark E Smith and The Fall. Spare a thought for Jim Goldstraw, perfect on the Royal Navy in WWII, but 24 (4 passes) left him fourth in tonight's heat, and already out of the running as a high-scoring loser.

Mastermind returns to Friday next week. Even for viewers in Wales.

BARB ratings in the week to 17 July.

  1. Coronation Street returns to top the viewing tables, 8.15m saw Friday's episode. Top game was Celebrity Masterchef, seen by 4.3m on Friday.
  2. Catchphrase comes in second, with 3.1m on Saturday night. The Chase had two episodes tied on 2.7m viewers.
  3. "Quizzy Mondays" came back to BBC2: 2.55m for University Challenge, 2.1m for Only Connect.
  4. Pointless Celebrities was displaced to BBC2 on Wednesday, 1.6m made the trip. Big Brother that night? 1.7m, and 670,000 for Bit on the Side.
  5. Love Island finished, 1.55m viewers saw the final. Leading sports event was Chris Froome's uphill run in the Tour de France, 1.1m viewers. Taskmaster brought 680,000 to Dave, and 400,000 for Next Top Model on Living.

New this week: Cash Trapped (ITV, weekdays), a quiz show hosted by Bradley Walsh. There's also the final of Guitar Star 2016 (Artsworld, Tue).

Photo credits: Endemol, ACME Corp, DRTV, Potato.

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