Weaver's Week 2004-07-03
3 July 2004
Iain Weaver reviews the latest happenings in UK Game Show Land.
"To this day, Big Brother means more than ten people sitting around and bickering on Channel Four." - Oneword's profile of George Orwell.
Michael Richards, Emma Hamilton. 14 points (0 passes) + 8 (3) = 22 (3)
Shaun Wallace, European Cup Finals since 1970. 17 (0) + 10 (2) = 27 (2)
Beth Maclure, Fiction Novels of Michael Crichton. 11 (2) + 10 (3) = 21 (5)
Eddie Thornley, Elvis Costello. 12 (0) + 6 (3) = 18 (3)
There's no doubt that the best contestant won, Shaun could probably have gone for 30 minutes on his specialist subject without error, and he made sensible guesses on most GK questions.
David Wilson, Wassily Kandinsky. 9 (0) + 11 (0) = 20 (0)
Anna Statham, "A Dance To The Music Of Time". 11 (1) + 11 (3) = 22 (4)
Peter Ediss, World Athletics Championships. 10 (2) + 7 (0) = 17 (2)
Francis McFaul, King David. 11 (0) + 8 (0) = 19 (0)
A strange show, with none of the contestants hitting their stride. Anna was the best contestant on the night, and we don't begrudge her a place in the next round.
Mark Howole, History of the European Union. 7 (6) + 6 (9) = 13 (15)
Ruth Newbury, "What Katy Did". 13 (0) + 13 (2) = 26 (2)
Doug Smith, "Star Trek: The Next Generation". 13 (1) + 7 (3) = 20 (4)
Derek Heyes, Manchester United. 11 (0) + 12 (2) = 23 (2)
A strong performance from Ruth, but not outstanding in terms of the contest overall. With twenty-four heats giving six second round matches, and six in the final, weak contestants won't get too far.
Brent Peeling, Essex Cricket Club. 15 (0) + 14 (1) = 29 (1)
Christopher Argyle, British Tank Development since 1915. 8 (2) + 8 (2) = 16 (4)
Jim Averill, Paul McCartney. 11 (1) + 8 (2) = 19 (3)
Primrose Wood, British Mammals. 9 (2) + 9 (3) = 18 (5)
It was as one-sided as that. Brent is a class contestant, and will challenge strongly for the final.
Derek Moody, Novels of Frederick Forsyth. 11 (0) + 9 (0) = 20 (0)
Penny Townsend, Marilyn Monroe. 11 (1) + 4 (3) = 15 (4)
Roland Marshall, Edward Elgar. 11 (0) + 12 (0) = 23 (0)
Tony Bell, The 1981 Ashes Test Series. 11 (0) + 7 (4) = 18 (4)
With all the specialist subjects cancelling each other out, we come down to a general knowledge shoot-out, which Roland wins at a canter.
This has actually been a successful example of stripping across the week, Mastermind has filled an awkward gap in the schedules, and done so with style and panache. It's also broken in the second series, we've now had ten of the 24 heats. The pace slackens to once a week from here on, so the second round isn't going to begin until October, with the final in late November or early December.
A record seven hundred grand is up for grabs tonight, and five ladies join Mel Sykes on what's going to be her last show before her child's born. Good luck, ma'am.
Contestant one doesn't guess any animals, or any composers, indeed, she gets nothing on her own. She gets stuck on 10cm and takes home £700. Contestant two has five on her own, buys five for £850 - including the final answer for just
£100 - and finishes on a respectable £6050.
Contestant three knows one golf tournament, no recording artists, and gets four on her own. We get our first outbreak of "guaranteed" on a wrong answer, which should surely be grounds for a home broker's removal from the game. Canny spending - negotiating down at every chance - means seven answers nets her £1200.
Contestant four doesn't know the prickly emblem of Scotland, or the ship on which Nelson was killed, and can't even guess any countries. If we're to believe this show from a few weeks ago, the new PM of India is Sonia Ghandi. After buying eight answers, and getting one himself, the name "Manmohand Singh" evades all thirteen players, and probably all but thirteen viewers. He has nine right, but on £400, is going home. It's a flaw the size of London. Contestant five gets three on her own, and makes no wrong guesses. She buys cheaply, but buys six, and finishes on £950.
Round two turns on two difficult decisions. Contestant two is asked about the department that replaced the Ministry of Agriculture. She's allowed to buy "Department for the Environment, Rural Affairs, and Food," when the (equally cumbersome) correct answer is "Department for Rural Affairs, Food, and Agriculture." Omitting the Ag surely makes the answer wrong. Much later, contestant three is asked about the Teenage Mutant Ninja (or Hero) Turtles, omits the Teenage, and doesn't get the point. With contestant two winning the round 9-5, these wouldn't have affected the outcome, but do leave a bit of a sour taste.
Q: Who preceded Tony Blair as elected leader of the Labour Party. (A carefully phrased question, to avoid the Beckett Trap.) A: Iain Duncan-Smith.
Q: What is the official residence of the President of France? A: Jacques Chirac. (Do the contestants see the questions written out?)
Q: Who commanded the New Model Army during the English Civil War? A: Wellington.
(John Smith, the Elysee Palace, and Thomas Fairfax are the answers you all knew.)
So, Marie goes through to equal the £700,000 jackpot record. Can she do it? Can she heck. She spends ages on question 2, and has just 30 seconds to get through the last five. Everyone's stumped by the PM's new director of communications. David Hill (for it is he) is scarcely a household name in his own household. She still leaves with a very good score, £15,550.
Home phone caller number 22 is Leon! A gentleman! This hasn't happened since the first episode of the last series, a zillion calls ago! He stumbles over one of the studio questions, and is completely stumped by which bird sang in Berkeley Square. Babs Windsor, wasn't it?
Eight Hundred Grand in the jackpot for next week. Three weeks from now, someone could be winning the most money ever given away on British television. Gabby Logan (the football commentator formerly known as Yorath) takes over the hot- seat next week.
THIS WEEK AND NEXT
Not since 1998 has a six-month series of Countdown passed without someone going for eight wins. The tradition continues, as David Thirlwall has become the first octochamp of the new series. Thanks to first the cricket, then the Finals Week interrupting his run, it took David from June 8 to July 1 to complete his eight wins. We've yet to analyse a couple of the shows, but it looks like he's finished at about +80 to par, and that's a larger score than most of last season's octochamps.
Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen have the front cover of this week's Radio Times, promoting their PASSPORT TO PARADISE at 1810 (+ tennis) tonight. Repeats of WITHOUT PREJUDICE? at 0235 Sunday morning (!), the return of LA CIBLE on TV5 at 1130 from Tuesday, HEAD JAM with Vernon Kay at 1900 weeknights on BBC2, and A QUESTION OF SPORT RELIEF raises money for a good cause from Wednesday.
Tonight also sees the final of STRICTLY COME DANCING, and we're impressed with the way the BBC has been cross-promoting the show everywhere. The two finalists have been interviewed by Nicky Campbell, Jeremy Vine, and praised by Broadcasting House's Patrick O'Connell. We can't but help contrast the final week of STAR ACADEMY, when there was very little no cross-promotion for the top three.
SCD host Bruce Forsyth has capitalised on his latest success by criticising his rivals. Speaking of situation games, Mr Forsyth said "I'm not a fan because sometimes it's so boring that you just flick over. Sometimes you watch it and you think, 'is this a programme?' As regards people eating insects and all that, I mean I can't get into that."
Speaking in Heat magazine, he reserved particular ire for chef Gordon Ramsay. "That is disgusting. And the trouble is, does that now mean that someone else will start doing that? Is that going to be in vogue? That's the generation we're in, that everyone's going to start swearing like that on every show. Whereas you know, when I was younger you couldn't say 'bloody'. If you said bloody on television you'd have to say sorry and it'd have to be cut out."
Why is Strictly Come Dancing not a sitgame? Bruce tries to explain. "This is an entertainment show. They're all professional people. We're not getting celebrities and sticking them in a jungle or putting them in a kitchen. Strictly Come Dancing is another Generation Game. It's a lovely package because it's an entertaining show."
Compare and contrast.
Press coverage (as approximated by Celebdaq dividends) for the week ending June 24, covering most of the battle aftermath. No one should be surprised that Victor (yielding 195%) and Emma (175%) dominated the headlines. It's a long drop to Nadia and Jason's 80%, with no other housemate scoring more than 56%. The house average was 67%, with Kat and Ahmed returning nothing for the second week. Taking into account dividends and movements of the underlying price, Emma gained 223%, Victor 203%, and Stuart best of the rest on 96%. Ahmed rose 11%, Kat dropped a further 25%.
According to those who still watch the show, the crowd gave Vanessa some boos on the way out last week. The remaining nine contestants figured that there had to have been some strange editing going on; Dean from BB2 claims to have found only two contestants who don't think they were misedited at some point or other. Victor threatened to gob on anyone who booed him, while Jason said he wouldn't talk to Davina. Entertaining, especially as neither should still be in. Lines were open for 243 hours, but a mere 871,384 votes were cast. 3% more votes were cast in the week three eviction last year (Sissy over Fed and Jon), and that only ran for the usual 75 hours or so.
The Saturday Live task consisted of an anagram; human skittles; and the human buzzer, the last game was almost directly out of the CRYSTAL MAZE playbook. As challenges two and three were passed, the team added £7000 to their prize fund, which now stands at £14,000. Or £24,000. We're not sure.
At the end of the C4 live broadcast, Ahmed addressed the nation, and pointed out that his understanding of the contract would force Endemol to give the winner the full £100,000. He offered his services to take Endemol to court should they fail to give the winner their due. By one of those strange coincidences that spark off a million conspiracy theories, the E4 repeat was on a 15-minute delay commercial break at the time.
This column has criticised C4 for its refusal to allow cable companies to show live footage as a red button app, so will praise C4 for setting this situation straight, and letting the Week's cable company show the full feed, only four weeks late.
This week's was the very last Saturday Live task. Future tasks will take place on Saturday afternoons, during the period E4 is broadcasting other programming, and edited highlights will appear on the Sunday night show. Endemol and C4 are evidently worried that the housemates are going to embarrass them yet again live on national television, and wish to withdraw the only unmediated access to the viewing public that they have. Yet again, Endemol is showing that it cannot control its own creation. Would a sensible channel give any more business to this format?
An extra contestant entered the house on Sunday. Though it's difficult to work out with all the enforced comings and goings, the arrival of Becki Seddakki on Sunday means that the show was one contestant over schedule. Her opening statement confirmed that Becki would not nominate or be nominated this week.
Monday saw the publication of the fortnightly OFCOM Moaning Minnies bulletin. The most moaned about programme was the promotion campaign for Big Brother, attracting 27 complaints about tastelessness before anyone had even clapped eyes on Dermot O'Leary, never mind any of the contestants.
Tuesday saw the nominations announced live on national television. Marco, Michelle, and Nadia were up for it, and one didn't need to be a lip-reader to work out exactly what Michelle thought of the news. Marco and Nadia both received five votes, Jason four, while Dan, Michelle, and Stuart had the grand non-total of no votes. Michelle was chosen on Becki's nomination, and nothing else. If anyone can spot a scintilla of justice, honesty, or fair play in this plot, do please let us know.
BBLB has been obsessed with a cowboy hat. A fancy dress cowboy hat is, according to Dermot O'Leary and his co-producers, the single most pressing thing in the entire show. As ever, the programme - and its unwatchable black sheep cousin the E4um - has not allowed anyone who might be slightly critical of Endemol to speak. The producers have continued to define the show in a very narrow manner, and encourage the audience to think along the plot-lines they've selected, rather than make up their own minds.
On the betting markets, Dan has become a ludicrously hot favourite. He's 3.35 (that's 7/3 in old money), Stuart around 5, Shell around 5.5. Victor's come in from 30 to 20, and Any Other (Becki and any additional replacement) came in from 20 to 14. There's no specific eviction market on the exchange we're watching, but the win for Marco drifted from 10 to 30, while Michelle and Nadia held station at 15 and 20 respectively, indicating where the eviction money was going. No surprises to see the market won again.