Weaver's Week 2001-03-13
13th March 2001
Iain Weaver reviews the latest happenings in UK Game Show Land.
Imperial London, winners in 96, took out the title holders Durham last time out. Manchester has taken two convincing wins so far. My betting line: Manchester by 15.
A level first quarter turns into a one man match, Campbell versus Telford. Telford has all five Manchester starters at the half, Campbell four of Imperial's five. Imperial takes a slight lead, but logic gates and THE EXORCIST gives Manchester a slight lead. Manchester comes 2/3 on BLUE PETER, but Imperial is also doing well. Back and forth goes the lead. When the music winds down, three starters go a'begging, and Imperial has their largest lead of the game.
Box scores Person (starter) total
Hodgson (10) 34
Douglas (15) 41
Estcourt (25) 57
Campbell (60) 93
Quince (10) 28
Telford (70) 102
Bishop (30) 52
Beattie (-5) 13
IL 60 40 40 85 = 225
MA 45 60 45 45 = 195
Official ratings for week ending March 4 came out this week. This was the week when there was a major plot development in the BBC's soap EASTENDERS - for the benefit of anyone who watches the soap overseas, no further details here. To mark the event, the BBC ran an episode of (THE) WEAKEST LINK with members of the soap's cast immediately before the episode aired. Viewing figures of 13 million put (T)WL ahead of MILLIONAIRE by over 4 million, and the fifth most watched programme of the week.
You have to feel sorry for Channel 5, they really don't have much luck scheduling their big game shows. THE MOLE was overshadowed by itv's version of POPSTARS, and now TOUCH THE TRUCK has been completely ignored by the press thanks to CELEBRITY BIG BROTHER
TOUCH THE TRUCK is twenty people hanging around a shopping centre outside London to the East, trying to be the last person standing with contact on the 4x4. It's not a truck, but TOUCH THE OVERSIZED HATCHBACK didn't quite have the same ring to it. Dale Winton (TV's Mr Ubiquity 1995) hosts the show that tries to compress 24 hours of almost total inaction into 30 minutes of - er - almost total inaction.
The format is live interviews with the contestants, their supporter, the people who left the contest, an "expert" who has done this kind of thing a lot, the doctor, and - it appears - any muggins passing. Oh, and there are a lot of jokes based on the similarity of the word "truck" to an Anglo- Saxon expletive. Ha very ha. Intercut with the live interviews are short clips of what happened during the day. The footage concentrates on the way people leave, as that's the only interesting thing that happens.
Though there's not much of anything going on, Dale and the production crew do manage to make a viewable half hour's television. Characters are built up across the week, and the survivors through to the last couple of shows do become familiar to the viewers.
Personally, I found Winton's style a touch too laid back for the show - perhaps someone with the vivacious nature of Ray Cokes (WANTED series 2) or Tim Vine (WHITTLE, FLUKE) would have helped. It was certainly interesting as a social experiment, but it's only going to be remembered as a curiosity.
Footnote: eventual winner Jerry Middleton intends to sell the truck and put the money to his environmental campaigning, including a run in the forthcoming general election. Game show contestants for parliament... William G. Stewart for PM?
Chances of renewal: Slightly better than 50/50 - it's a cheap way of stripping a week's schedules. Chances of winning an award: Nil.
Series producers: Glenn Barden, Dave Hills. A Vascha Production for Channel 5
Hosted by Melanie Hill (4th placed contestant in BIG BROTHER last year) makes its belated debut on E4 next week. Will it be as implausibly brilliant as BANZAI? Or will it make TOUCH THE TRUCK seem exciting? Review next week.
Nick Bateman was asked for his comments on the next show. "What are these people doing in my house?" deadpanned the host, without a visible trace of irony.
The Comic Relief fun(d)raiser. Who were these people? (And, yes, *were* is the correct word.)
Chris Eubank, the former boxing champion, was in and out of the house in less than 36 hours. He got into a spat with Vanessa Feltz, and that's about it.
Vanessa Feltz, signed for a daytime show that got replaced by THE WEAKEST LINK, made one of *those* TV moments. When they compile 100 Greatest TV Moments II in a few years, expect to see Vanessa's Scrawl high up there. Given a blackboard and a piece of chalk, la Ness scrawls how depressed and unhappy she is in the house. It's an epic sulk amid tears of self-pity. Perhaps she realises her career in the public eye has finally come to an end. She's out by the end of the day.
Anthea Turner (TV's Ms Ubiquity 1996) published her autobiography last year. It sold almost 7 copies. Her wedding last year attracted scorn when the official photo pictured her eating a chocolate bar. Anthea survived at Chris' expense, but couldn't beat the knock on Wednesday.
Keith Duffy of Boyzone is boring. Thank goodness *he* wasn't hosting TTT.
Jack Dee broke out of the compound after someone left the garden gate open. He also staged a rooftop protest, trying to break the flimsy plywood construction. Bookmakers made him favourite to win, as he says how much he wants to leave.
Last competitor, and favourite for most of the week, is Claire Sweeney, an actress from Brookside. Neither Claire nor Frank have tried to be luvvies for the camera, and it's shown.
CBB has picked up massive ratings, and Comic Relief - an enterprise devoted to charity for the very poorest - has brought home the charitable message by displaying an extraordinary sight of someone who can think only of their own pain. Amazing viewing, on many levels.
A Bazal production for Channel 4 BBC Comic Relief.
CELEBRITY BIG BROTHER concludes as part of the COMIC RELIEF telethon tonight.