Weaver's Week 2017-03-05

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And the winner of the title is Hacker T Dog. No, wait....


Mastermind: The Final

BBC Studios for BBC2, 3 March (4 March in Wales, Northern Ireland)

They do make an effort for the grand final. Our final six contenders enter through the audience, like gladiators descending to the arena. John Humphrys, the chief lion, welcomes all six of them. And, as is now traditional, each has made a film about their specialist subject.

Lynn Edwards is our first contender, she's researching the Films of Alfred Hitchcock. Her journey takes her to the BFI archives in London, and to an actual set location in Covent Garden. If she were to win Mastermind, she would be "very surprised". Two minutes later, we would also be surprised – Lynn never quite looked on top of that round, and finished on 9 points.

Mastermind Lynn Edwards in the BFI archives.

Frances Slack has chosen the City of Leningrad 1924-1991. To research this topic, she's gone to St Petersburg, as the city is now known. She revisits a school trip from her childhood, and pays homage to those killed in the siege. "Nervous and excited" are the emotions ahead of the round. She takes it slowly, steadily, sensibly; for a minute, Frances is perfect, but then errors creep in. The total of 11 marks doesn't quite feel like a winning score.

Isabelle Heward will impress with her knowledge of the Life and Films of Billy Wilder. She's won the film contest, going all the way to Los Angeles for research, and eats at Billy Wilder's favourite table in Mr. Chow's restaurant. Isabelle is surprised to have come through a tie-break, and notes that this was her fourth semi-final – and first final. After 113 seconds, we have the first error of the round: 12 in the final might just be enough.

Mastermind Isabelle Heward at Billy Wilder's table in Mr. Chow.

Mohan Mudigonda has worked on the sitcom Seinfeld. He's gone to New York. The Westway Diner, where the writers came up with the show about nothing. Monk's Restaurant, where the cast hung out. Mohan has gone to New York; he's won already. He's excited, and he's put everything into the final. The contender goes at a clip, squeezed in a question more than the earlier rounds, and finishes on 13 (1 pass).

Steven Marc Rhodes has gone to The Queen's House in Greenwich, to look in awe at the work of Inigo Jones. We see clips of this contender representing King's London on University Challenge in the 80s, and says that the winner's bowl would be wonderful for trifle. An early error costs the perfect round, but the rest is not at all bad: 12 points.

Mastermind John Cockerill in the Laurel and Hardy museum.

John Cockerill lets us in on the Short Films of Laurel and Hardy. "As important to comedy as the Beatles are to music," claims John; sounds quite fair. Ulverston in Cumbria, a look round the house where Stan Laurel was born, and a trip to the Laurel and Hardy Museum. "If John asks the right questions, I'll get the right answers," says John. Two minutes later, we find that John has asked the right questions, and John got the right answers. All of them. All of them. That, folks, was a Perfect Round of 15 points.

Game on! Two-and-a-half minutes of general knowledge questions; passes will break ties, and if there's still a tie – like there was last year – there will be a five-question shootout.

Lynn Edwards is first back into the chair. In her heats, she took the Forsyte Saga; in the semi-final, Mary of Teck. The round starts strongly, fades away a bit, and finishes on 17 points. From the look on Lynn's face, she's relieved that it's over, and delighted to be here. Well done.

Mastermind Frances Slack in St Petersburg.

Frances Slack got here with the Musicals of Rodgers and Hammerstein, and the Films of William Goldman. This round also fades away, without the strong start, and finishes on 17 points. The great news: no-one will finish in sixth place tonight.

Isabelle Heward qualified with Rita Hayworth, and the Daughters of George III. In the general knowledge phase, there are a lot of correct answers. Ten in a row run up the score; there's a slight stumble, but nothing to put off this seasoned campaigner. The answers keep coming. A guess at cheese on the final question could be crucial – 29 points suddenly does feel like it could win.

Mastermind Steven Marc Rhodes on the balcony in Greenwich.

Steven Marc Rhodes made through the earlier rounds with biographies of Nicholas Hawksmoor and Herbert Howells. On many questions, the contender is close but not there – "Monet" and "Manet", that kind of thing. He knocks in the Ed Balls Memorial Question, but he's always behind the pace. 23 points, so hold the trifle.

Mohan Mudigonda came through from Kurt Cobain and Asterix. He knows Spongebob Squarepants, and virtual reality, but there are errors and passes throughout. By hook and by crook, he staggers to 22 points (and one more pass). It's an achievement to be here tonight, and he's written a piece for the Life After Mastermind blog http://lifeaftermastermind.blogspot.co.uk/2017/03/mastermind-finalist-ohan-mudigonda-on.html.

Mastermind Mohan Mudigonda in Times Square.

John Cockerill is last into the chair. He's already taken British racecorses and Captain James Cook. Three more correct answers, and then there's an error. The reredos, pop group Cream, Genghis Khan all provide right answers. He progresses quickly to 25 points, and then stalls. No recollection of the I'd Do Anything show, but he does know iridium is in smoke alarms. Time passes, the score does not increment.

And that is time, John has scored 26 points. Which means that, after thirty-four years of hard work, Isabelle Heward is the Mastermind champion. Hurrah!

Mastermind Isabelle collects the bowl from John Humphrys.

The winning doesn't stop there. Isabelle has put in for Brain of Britain, and has already won her heat. Only quiz greats – the likes of Kevin Ashman, Christopher Hughes, Ian Bayley – have won both Mastermind and Brain of Britain titles. No-one has held them both at the same time.

Let It Shine

Let It Shine: An Apology

Last week, we gave an honest opinion of Let It Shine. We have since learned that our opinion was based on incorrect assumptions. We must consider whether our opinion needs to change.

Last week's column implied that stage musical The Band would be a retelling of Take That's story. This is not the case: the plot will revolve around a group of fans, growing up with their favourite teen idols. In particular, the plot will not have irrevocable splits caused by dubious and potentially illegal tax dodging, nor will any character attempt to brown-nose the establishment. We regret our error.

This explains why "acting" was not considered on the show. The men will not be required to act, just sing and dance.

Barlow claims that "the prize was not specified". So far as it goes, this is a true statement: the prize was not spelled out in the broadcast. But there is a sin of omission: the show needed to make the facts clear, and it left us with a misleading impression.

From reaction online, it left many others with a misleading impression. We've been misled. We've been sold a pup. We've not seen the stars of the show, but a convoluted process to be part of the chorus line.

That so many people got it wrong tells us one thing: Let It Shine failed to communicate its central message. Television is a communications medium. A show that fails to get across its core values is the definition of bad television.

Let It Shine Gary Barlow and one of 4.5 million mugs.

The comparisons to CBBC's Taking The Next Step are now even more stark. Throughout, everyone involved in said that it was a small part on The Next Step, Khyrese would be on a few episodes, he wasn't going to be the star of the show. Let It Shine concealed the truth. It allowed – nay, encouraged – us to think we were voting on the leads.

And that's why we're annoyed. Not that the prize is small, but that the show has deceived us.

We'll revisit our conclusions from last week.

Let It Shine was always a promotion for Gary Barlow's new musical, and we now find it concealed a crucial fact. It was still a rare chance for the BBC to stage pop group performances on live television, and to experiment with different ways of filming. These experiments are now the only redeeming feature of the show.

We still have no plan to see The Band, and we now do regret some of the hours watching them choose their bit-part players.

Let It Shine It's not war, just the end of love.

Gary Barlow has taken a personal knock. We cannot trust him any longer. People – this column, and quite a few others – have watched your show on the assumption that we're voting for the show's lead actors. You had every chance to dispel this wrong idea. You did not do enough to dispel this wrong idea. You did *nothing* to dispel this wrong idea.

By his silence, Gary Barlow has misled us.

This Week and Next

Taking The Next Step More of this, please!

Far more pleasant talent show news: Taking The Next Step is back! CBBC's top-notch talent show will return for another all-dancing all-improvising series later this year. Lindsey Russell will once again prove she's as capable as Graham Norton and Mel Giedroyc combined.

Another Eurovision contest, another BBC defeat. Eurovision Choir of the Year is go, it will take place in Riga on 22 July. Each competitor broadcaster will perform a six-minute unaccompanied piece, in any genre, with no limits on the number of singers. The BBC has no plans to enter, so is certain to be defeated.

Over on The Satellite Channel, The Big Spell concluded, with Alex taking home the trophy.

The Big Spell Alex (centre) with hosts Joe Lycett and Sue Perkins.

The Big Family Cooking Showdown will come to BBC2 later in the year. Teams of relatives invite Giorgio Locatelli and Rosemary Shrager into their homes, and serve them food cooked to family recipes. Nadiya Hussain and Zoe Ball host. The tabloids reckon that this is a showdown with Bake Off. This column actually watches telly, and reckons it's more similar to My Kitchen Rules.

University Challenge continued its group phase. Edinburgh beat Wolfson 195-160. Both sides took 10 starters, the bonuses fell better for Edinburgh (19/30) than Wolfson (14/30). People who watch the show reckon that this has been coming, Wolfson have won their games on the buzzer without testing their bonus knowledge: it's come up short.

Note that Emmanuel Cambridge are the last side in the tournament to have won all their games: Edinburgh have three wins and a draw, and all the others have one loss.

Some incorrigible xenophobes don't believe any foreigners should be allowed into the universities. By their standards, Wolfson didn't make the group phase, replaced by SOAS. We reckon SOAS would have beaten Balliol Oxford last time out, and might have given Edinburgh a tighter match. But little was going to stop Edinburgh; our alternative history allows them to progress.

Only Connect was graced by Isabelle Heward earlier in the series, but not any more. Tonight, it's the Psmiths and Cosmopolitans. Psmiths were put together by the producers after applying as individuals. Cosmopolitans won the match, 25-14.

The Cosmopolitans shone on their own connection questions. Countries and capital cities without their first letters, and the earldoms taken by former prime ministers. A couple of bonuses showed the Psmiths weren't so fortunate, and it was 7-1 after the round. In Sequences, the Psmiths spotted philosophers with initials going backwards in the alphabet, the Cosmopolitans hit with major sports teams from California.

Perfection on the wall allowed the Cosmopolitans to double their lead, the Psmiths couldn't figure out that four items all have scales. Missing Vowels was an extra point on the Cosmo's lead. They will go straight to the semi-finals, Psmiths have a Last-Chance match in two weeks.

BARB ratings in the week to 19 February.

  1. Call the Midwife (BBC1, Sun) is the top show with 10.65m viewers. BBC The Voice (ITV, Sat) the top game on 6.1m.
  2. Let It Shine (BBC1, Sat) had 4.8m for its semi-final. Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, Sat) had 4.25m, The Big Painting Challenge (BBC1, Sun) 3.9m.
  3. On ITV: Ninja Warrior (Sat) reached its final, and 3.65m saw there was no winner. The Chase (Tue) had 3.6m, and at least they get more than one winner every four years. Through the Keyhole (Sat) finished with 3.2m.
  4. On BBC2: University Challenge (Mon) topped the channel with 2.85m viewers. Dragons' Den (Sun) 2.65m, and The Great Pottery Throw Down (Thu) 2.35m. The Jump (C4, Sun) had 2.15m, Catsdown (C4, Fri) 1.5m.
  5. On the digital nets, Release the Hounds (490,000 ITV2, Thu) the top game, ahead of a repeat of Celebrity Juice (470,000 ITV2, Tue) and Four in a Bed (415,000 More4, Sun)

Ireland's ratings for this week. Dancing With the Stars still the top game, 450,000 on Sunday. Winning Streak had 300,000 on Saturday. Repeats of The Cube on TV3 were as popular as live BBC The Voice of This Territory with around 115,000.

New this week: 5 Gold Rings needs pinpoint precision (ITV, Sun). Fans of Bruce Forsyth, his Story is on C5 (Sun). Fans of mechanised combat, there's Robot Wars (BBC2, Sun) and Battlebots (Spike, Wed). And fans of rugby, there's Jonathan's Six Nations Quiz (BBC1 Wales, Thu).

Photo credits: BBC Studios, BBC / Temple Street, Remarkable Television.

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