Weaver's Week 2003-03-22
22nd March 2003
Iain Weaver reviews the latest happenings in UK Game Show Land.
When RI:SE is replaced by Krishnan Guru-Murphy, we know one of two things has happened. Either C4 has had technical problems and is airing an episode of NUMBER ONE they found lying around the studio, or there's an extended news bulletin. Regrettably, it's the latter, and it's for that reason that pickings will be fairly slim for the next few weeks.
NICKED! (Week Three)
This week, the biggest game show court case of the century (so far) has heard from:
Tecwen Whittock, confirming that he was the source of 19 suspicious coughs, and one probable "no".
Dr John French, the world's leading expert in cough analysis.
Charles Ingram, the man at the centre of the allegations, who denied meeting Mr Whittock before recording.
Unfortunate throat of the week: ITV network continuity, last Saturday. "Next, [clears throat] Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"
Elsewhere, Chris Evans has been in court, suing his former employers for squillions in share options and lost pay. Evans has accused his opponents, the Scottish Media Group, of unfair dismissal after he was fired from the Virgin Radio breakfast show in summer 2001. Evans accused SMG of launching a dirty tricks campaign against him.
In other news, Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan, of C4's RICHARD AND JUDY show, look set to appear in a celebrity version of C4's WIFE SWAP. The daytime duo, regularly beaten by Anne Robinson, could well co-star with Chris Evans and Ickle Billie Piper, according to press reports this week.
First Semi Final: Birkbeck -v- Sheffield
Birkbeck has accounted for Emannuel Cambridge, Clare Cambridge, and the UCL. Birkbeck has grown in confidence with every round. Very strong on history and geography, perhaps a little weak on the sciences.
Sheffield has done somewhat better than I indicated a few weeks ago: Homerton Cambridge fell in short order, Merton Oxford put up little more of a fight, and the strongly fancied Warwick side went last time. Perhaps more than any other side, Sheffield has benefited from the obscure questions in vogue this year. Strongest on the sciences.
Players to watch: Gillham and Gallivan are tied as Birkbeck's Best Buzzer; Grimshaw is head and shoulders ahead of his Sheffield colleagues, while Harborne has yet to correctly answer a single starter.
Game show to Game show:
In 2002, how did Latvia succeed Estonia, when Maria... Tait, Sheffield: Won the Eurovision Song Contest
Got an ology? Birkbeck goes 2/3 on remology, the study of things. The ologists have by far the better of the opening exchanges, taking a lead approaching 100 into the first picture round. A bunch of cartoons on medicine prompts Thumper to exclaim "Hogarth?" as if spitting out a very raw lemon.
Speaking of spitting out a very raw lemon, Birkbeck gets to mention Thumper's special friend, Michael Howard. The monkey elected mayor of Hartlepool gets a mention, and Sheffield gets its first bonus question ten minutes into the show, and at the ninth time of asking.
Birkbeck is on a roll tonight, and even a set of bonuses on quantum physics don't detain them for any longer than it takes to read out the question.
Sheffield takes a starter attributing Tetris to ancient Rome, where it was played by dropping large stone slabs from a great height onto out of tune bards.
Amazing sight of the week:
"From the Greek for stretched around.." Harborne, Sheffield: "Peritoneum"
Less than eight minutes before the end of the game, Harborne has her first starter, and with the Buzz Of The Week, too. The gap is 65 and closing, and could Sheffield pull off another amazing escape? Probably not, though winning the Fingers On Buzzers round to identify a picture of Hillary Clinton can only help.
Though this starts a run of four from five starters for Sheffield, only five bonuses follow. This is their killer, a mighty comeback comes through just a little late. Birkbeck wins, 190-155.
Walsh 27 Hallard 27 Gillham 84 Gallivan 52
BBK 100 50 10 30  18/33 bonuses, 2 missignals
SHE 20 35 35 65  11/31 bonuses, 2 missignals
Grimshaw 51 Tait 48 Paddon 31 Harborne 25
Neither Walsh nor Hallard answered a starter for Birkbeck.
Birkbeck picked 55/70 on science questions, an area where Sheffield went 45/55. Sheffield has a perfect 25 on history. Overall, Sheffield has been strongest on arts and pop culture; Birkbeck leads on arts and lits.
Sheffield correctly answered 39.57% of their bonuses, and an overall strike rate of 54.6%. Both these figures look set to be the lowest amongst the quarter finalists.
Next: Cranfield -v- Leeds
Then: Birkbeck meets the winners in The Final
HOUSE SITTERS (Weeks two through four)
It would be remiss not to briefly return to the second best new show of the year.
After Croatia, the remaining four global travellers moved on to Morocco, then Hong Kong, and finally Sri Lanka.
Though the exact challenges varied each week, there was a broad pattern. One challenge would test the ability to find one's way around an unfamiliar city, another would be cooking, another the creative skills, and yet another would be some sort of physical challenge.
Not only do these challenges test each competitor in a myriad of ways, but they're also laced with the local culture. We've seen authentic Hong Kong cuisine to a day with the Berbers of the Atlas mountains and a Ceylon tea plantation. And we've seen pressure for our visitors to fit in to the cultures, the exact antithesis of the Hedonomentuary.
Cutely, the final challenge was a real gem, and the winning came second to the taking part. I've really enjoyed the last four weeks, and hope the second series will be just as good.
BOYS AND GIRLS (Week Three)
Highlights were thin on the ground. The change from last week: the UP YOUR STREET feature did actually work, and there were no strippers to be seen. The endgame remains arbitrary and not the phone vote we were promised, and that seems to undermine the show on a more fundamental level that I can't put my finger on.
B&G also contained the Live Subtitle Of The Week: referring to two Biblical cities, presenter Monkey was captioned about "Sadaam and Gardener."
This week's viewing figure: 1.2m (-0.1) and fifth place amongst the five terrestrial channels.
THIS WEEK AND NEXT
[[Anthony Wilson|Tony Wilson], host of REMOTE CONTROL and TOPRANKO, was taken off air for a day following a tirade live on regional television. Mr Wilson, a presenter for GRANADA REPORTS in the northwest, was apparently unable to see which camera was live during the mid-afternoon bulletin. Though the camera wasn't live, the microphone was. Mr Wilson returned to work on Wednesday, and readers may construct their own headline to this story.
BBC1 launched its new spring and summer schedule this week. Highlights include I'D DO ANYTHING, where Ian Wright tests how far people will go to win prizes. Appearing in a studio with Mr Wright must surely count for something... THE MURDER GAME, which leaked last week, and begins with a preview on BBC3 this Friday... and TEST THE NATION has relationships this Saturday, and Britain's Brainiest Region later.
And finally, a piece of Eurovision news. The Russian habit of entering really good songs by groups you've never heard of, will never hear of again, but will rather want to hear more of, has been broken. Who can forget Alsou's barnstorming second place in 2000, Muimy Troll's bizarre appearance in 2001, or the ultimate word in boy bands last May? Russia reaches new heights in taking the michael this year, entering a song performed by her worldwide smash artistes Tatu.
Anyone for St Petersburg 2004?