Weaver's Week 2002-07-06
6th July 2002
Iain Weaver reviews the latest happenings in UK Game Show Land.
In the week when US-BB contestants found they'd have to take in all their tobacco, this also happened:
- Irony, puppetry, and literacy in BB
- Curry's no longer in the slurry
- Someone can't pronounce "Canberra"
Saturday's task asked the contestants how well they knew their house. Not very well was the answer. The tone was set when Jonny failed to listen to Jade counting the steps to the front door, got that question wrong, and it all went downhill from there. Adele didn't know how many rooms there were in the complex (9 ... that we know of) Alex didn't know how many trees were in the garden (five, it's where he hangs out the washing) and Jade was asked for two vegetables beginning with "S" Spinach and, er, strawberries, spuds, Sophie, celery. If BB hadn't put a 30 second limit on responses, she'd probably be in there sprouting off still.
Tim knew that chickpeas should be soaked for 12 hours, and Kate figured there were four mirrors in the side A bathroom. They qualified for side A, everyone else went to side AA. Kate took the Killer Question, and tried to put all 14 contestants in alphabetical order. She forgot Alison, Lee, and Lynne, and rather gave up after Spencer. Kate thus qualifies herself for a third week on side AA. Which means the divide is very balanced this week:
Side AA: Jonny, PJ, Alex, Adele, Jade, Kate
Side A: Tim
"Anyone wanna swap," asked the new boy, who now has a £400 budget to spend on himself. The C4 coverage ended...
Tim opened his welcome hamper; I hope it contained marshmallows. Side AA plotted to storm side A and assert their control over the game. At this late stage of the game, it would be farcical (albeit within the rules) to throw out the existing housemates and replace them with standby contestants, even if they could find that many replacements at short notice. Jade suggests they all leg it over the wall, following Sandy's lead some weeks ago. It's Alex and Adele who talk the group round into not toasting the production ideas, but that cost them the respect of Jade, and possibly of Tim. Probably a few more nominations, probably one of them leaving this week, and the other in great trouble. No housemate cannot be involved in the nominations on July 15, which sets a final date for entry of July 8, hence the last to go would have to go by now.
It struck me some hours later that if there was a will to defuse the situation, BB could have offered Tim the ability to unlock the divide for the week, at the cost of his entire shopping budget. This would allow the bars to stay in place, to be used again next week if needed.
Unlike the revolution the night before Sandy left, this week's spat makes great play on the C4 show. Perhaps this is because it doesn't show the producers losing control, as they did that night.
The housemates clearly heard some shouting at the end of the post-march eviction last Friday. They collectively figure it was something along the lines of "Get Jade Out," that she is very weak with the public, and she can safely be nominated. Will any of them have figured that this isn't going to change, she could remain in the house indefinitely without winning, and hence it's best to put someone else up for eviction.
BB In Irony Alert: "Would someone from side A please come to the diary room?"
An idea from the US: Fantasy BIG BROTHER! Pick a team of four housemates. Five points if your player avoids nomination. Ten points for nominating a person going to the public vote. Twenty points for landing on side A, two points for feeding the chickens, but one point deducted for being two faced. Ten for a sex act, 50 points if it's clearly shown on C4. All points on Wednesdays are doubled. The contestant with the most points when the series ends will win the top prize, a place in next year's BB show. The runner up wins a place in BB for the next two years.
Would that be Peter and his pet-ometer of swing? I believe it would.
ADELE, ALEX - Jade and Jonny
JONNY, PJ - Adele and Jade
JADE - Kate and Tim
KATE - Alex and Jade
TIM - Jade and Kate
There's symmetry in this week's votes. Adele, Alex, and Tim all send a second vote to people who have never joined them in Alex's harem; Jonny, PJ and Kate all send their second to members of the harem. Jade figures that she's up for it, and splits her vote between the weakest haremite and one of the others. She can't bring herself to vote for PJ. Many outside observers expected Tim to be in the running, but with so many votes piling up for Jade, that doesn't happen this week.
Focus for the week will clearly be on the person securing the most votes; while Jade couldn't hope to win a two horse race, it's just possible that she'll squeak through in a four horse contest. The really interesting race will be to finish last - should Kate beat Jonny to the bottom position, she will be in a very strong position, and could be the favourite to defeat Alex in the final. Alex's nightmare situation involves Adele leaving this week - losing the alpha female would almost scupper his plan totally. Alex would be isolated in the house, with no one to hide behind. Tim might stroke his ego, but only so that Tim could progress another week.
Reaction: Adele was horrified, fled to the garden, and started pointing fingers at Jade. And at BB, suggesting the whole thing was a "fix." Nope, it's caused by mass voting. If everyone else votes for Jade, there are only eight more votes to go round six people. Two enemies qualifies Adele for the vote, I'm surprised she didn't work that out.
Monday night saw Kate invited to spend four hours on the rich side, after Tim won this week's edition of Know Your Housemates. The other five got a picnic basket. After her brief outing, Kate joined Adele and Alex in a game of follow the yellow rubber lorry round Alex's body. The footage was fruity, in the same way as a fruit farm. None of it made the cut on C4. Either it's all being saved for the video, or after Alex and Adele's grotesque kiss the night before, perhaps the producers figured they couldn't air it before 11. Might frighten the kids.
Dr Cockup Is Not Leaving The House: BIG BROTHER's SMS voting system crashed on Tuesday. Viewers using mobile phones to vote for one of the contestants up for eviction were barraged with text messages confirming they had voted more than once, but not for their choice. According to BB's Big Brother, an unprecedented voting volume caused the glitch. The error was rectified by Tuesday evening, and every vote cast was registered correctly. All those affected were sent an apology by text message, and incorrect messages will be refunded.
BB sets the team a puppet show to perform. As well as providing something constructive to do for two days, it gives the opportunity for some ritualised bitching about other housemates. It also gives Kate the opportunity to step into the role as House Joker, which has been vacant since Jonny got serious on us about three weeks ago. Alex is the butt of most of the pranks and the nastiness in the play, and doesn't take it well. Adele compares PJ to Iago in HAMLET.
On the outside, there were massive media campaigns to remove one or other contestant. Two newspapers wanted Jade out, as did two national radio DJs; backing for Adele's exit came from the Graham Norton's late night chat show immediately after BIG BROTHER, and another national DJ. The hullabaloo was as loud as last year's final week, and threatened to drown out coverage of the tennis in South London.
3.2 million votes later (the highest ever poll for an eviction) it's goodbye to Adele. She got 2.17 million of the votes, somewhere around 70%. Jonny and Kate combined for about 3% of the poll, but I've seen a more accurate breakdown by press time. Jade breaks all sorts of rules when she helps Adele pack. The crowd breaks all sorts of rules of civilised behaviour when it boos Adele on the march. Adele may not have been the most likeable person in the house, but she's still managed to survive six weeks of round the clock surveillance and intrusion into her life, and she's come out knowing a lot more about herself. This level of disrespect leaves a very sour taste in my mouth.
Is it really only last week that I suggested Adele would have to go now for Alex to lose? He might have managed it on his own. Suddenly, Alex on side AA, shorn of his harem, has been dull and dowdy and isolated from the group and really quite depressed. Kate has brought some colour to the house, and may now be the Stop Alex candidate. Next week, voting is easy for Kate, Jonny, and PJ. Jade and/or Tim all the way will put that person on the chopping block.
The bars may come down following the next task, but the BB producers promise that the remaining contestants will have to do Something. Didn't PJ and Jade do that a month ago?
What's a presenter to do after leaving BLUE PETER? The children's programme that defines a nation has been going since 1958, and in that time has had more presenters than one can name. Some of them left the show to go on to bigger and better things; others returned to their farms. Valerie Singleton, presenter for much of the 60s and 70s, went on to host C4's history series BACKDATE in 1996. John Leslie moved to the WHEEL OF FORTUNE in the 90s. Janet Ellis went the other way, moving from Clive Doig's classic mix of madness, education, pterodactyls, anarchy, talking jigsaw pieces, and anagrams that was JIGSAW to the hallowed ship.
Like Ellis, Mark Curry hosted BLUE PETER in the mid 80s. Unlike Ellis, he never really left television after leaving the hallowed galleon, making an uncomfortable home on makeover programmes. He's now turned up on the daytime version on ITV's long running CATCHPHRASE.
If you've never seen the show before, it really is quite simple. Two contestants compete on the buzzer to resolve some clues, indicated by some high-quality Amiga computer animations. Roy Walker hosted the show for over a decade, contributing the catchphrase "It's good ... but it's not right" to the language. Highest score goes on to the Finals Board, where five correct answers can win the star prize.
Very little has changed in the transition to daytime. The animations are still superb, the rules have scarcely changed, and only the prizes are smaller. The game is now played for points, not prizes, but there are still the bonus rounds, the clues from the host, the exasperation when the contestants can't get the answer, and the slightly bizarre Points Countdown round. It helps to avoid ties, I suppose. A live audience seems to have been lost in the wash, but that doesn't stop CannedCrowd (TM) from whooping and hollering in a manner that does rather distract from the real business of the day. Prize for the Final Catchphrase is now a holiday to a destination in Europe, rather than a round-the-world jaunt.
I've never particularly liked Catchphrase, but neither have I ever particularly disliked it. It seems to fit slightly better as a daytime show than a primetime one, as this version has a cosy feeling that's never been present in the primetime edition.
How to make Davina's head hit the wall (part 8): "What's the capital of Australia?" "Cannonberra, Canaberra, Canananaberrea..."
In ITV's new hit reality talent search game show that no one's watching, ace* weather forecaster Sian Lloyd threatens to shock the viewer of SEARCH FOR A WEATHER GIRL. She is determined to produce short blustery showers on the faces of aspiring meteorologists, and become known as Television's Ms Mildly Inconvenient. The prediction lassie, an anagram of Nisa Dolly, berates one wannabe for wearing a short dress. The show will air in 45 second bursts after the News At Ten. Past Eleven.
The BBC and Initial (part of Endemol UK) will put on FAME ACADEMY. Twelve students will go through intense training to reach the level of Leading Talent, with the series following the trials and tribulations of the group as they live together, rehearse together and experience success and failure. Each week, those who aren't making the grade will be ejected from the Academy. The show will run across BBC1, BBC3, BBCi, and BBC Radio One and involve viewer participation by voting and "other interactive features." A BBC press release said: "The series will climax with what is being billed as the biggest prize in showbiz history."
A Spanish series, OPERATION TRIUNFO, combined wannabe stars living in close proximity with a public vote to determine the winner. She went on to perform for Spain at this year's Eurovision Song Contest, was let down by a poor song, but still finished a very creditable seventh. I may or may not provide summaries in this space.
The sports departments are just toying with us. They'll be back in force later in the month, ITV2's schedules are dominated by the Tour de France, and there's some fun and games just next week.
ITV Saturday loses THE VAULT and FAMILY FORTUNES, but still has BLANKETY BLANK at 1720, and the TAKEAWAY at 1915. I think we come out behind, especially as the gap is filled by children getting to redecorate their parents home as Ulrikakakakaka Jonsson sneers her way through the commentary. She can't do nasty. She just can't.
Tennis permitting, BBC1 schedules BIG BREAK at 1735, followed by WEAKEST LINK Celebrity Lookalikes 1805, REMOTELY FUNNY 1855 and INIT 1930. One of these shows features Chris Tarrant, the Queen, Marilyn Monroe, and Mr Tony Blair. Another lives up to its title.
On last week's BANZAI, Dean from BB2 managed to be insulting 29 times, without touching his guitar. This week's episode is at 2305 Sunday C4.
BBC1 daytime loses old Newses, in favour of THROUGH THE KEYHOLE at 1230. We're certainly losing there. BBC2 has WEAKEST LINK USA at 1715 daily until Wednesday.
In this week's UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE REUNITED, Trinity Oxford, the 72 runners-up, take on Sidney Sussex Cambridge, winners in 79.
Discovery Home and Leisure makes its first appearance in this listing, as it airs LOST! at 2130 Monday, repeated 0400. I believe this to be the version shown on C4 last autumn.
It's the X FIRE final.