Weaver's Week 2012-05-13
On Friday morning, our clock radio ran the quiz, "4% of the country will be doing what tonight?" The answer they wanted was sleeping with the lights on. The answer we thought, watching this:
BBC2 (except Wales), 11 May 2012
It's not been an easy watch, this series of Mastermind. The 31 programmes have been crammed into 27 weeks, including five fallow Fridays. Two weeks were lost to Christmas, one to The Great Sport Relief Bake Off, a Children in Need of Assistance special was inserted after programme one, and the final was delayed a week to allow for snooker. Nine weeks featured two editions back-to-back, an arrangement that we find entirely tiring.
But the quizzing has been of a consistently high quality, and we've eventually arrived at the final. Here are the six people competing for the great glass bowl.
- Mark Wyatt qualified with Nick Drake and "Band of Brothers".
- Maya Davis, who has had the Life and Work of Gerard Hoffnung and British Owls.
- David Love, who took The Life and Works of Ralph Vaughan Williams and British Birds of Prey as his specialist subjects.
- Nick Reed, with English Football League Grounds and Blandings Stories of PG Wodehouse.
- Gary Grant, Seven Wonders of the Ancient World and the History of the Monaco Grand Prix.
- Andy Tucker hopes to go from first to last; Robert Bruce Lockheart carried him to victory in heat one, the East Africa Campaign of World War I in the semi.
It's Mark Wyatt first into the chair, and he is taking the Life and Works of JMW Turner. As has become traditional, each of the finalists gets to make a short film about their chosen subject. He's at Tate Britain, looking at paintings from the career of his chosen artist. And he's going to share some tips with us: answer as quickly as possible, try not to confuse this chair with an office chair, and have a black coffee just before going into the studio. The contender promised that he would answer crisply, giving the correct answer (or, on occasion, a pass) with the minimum of delay. He's a little lucky to get a question starting on the buzzer, and the final score is 15 points (and 1 pass).
Maya Davis is the only woman in this year's final, and her specialist subject this time is Alchemy. The plot to turn base metals into gold has brought her to the Wellcome Institute, where there are many shots of bunsen burners and beakers and probably an elmo or two. She advises contenders to concentrate on what John Humphrys is saying, putting everything else out of her mind. Though getting the first two questions wrong, it soon becomes clear that the contender has been Answering The Question Two Ahead, as the incorrect answer turns up later. The round never quite recovers from this slow start, perhaps she was thrown by some off-the-wall questions, ending on 6 (2).
Contender number three, please! David Love is taking Tom Lehrer. For his film, and part of his research, David has gone to Storyville in Boston, the bar where the comedy singer Tom Lehrer first took the stage. That's the era of civil rights, nuclear proliferation, and elemental work, and Lehrer wrote songs about all of them, and Love has performed them. That'll be his link with Julian Huppert, then. According to one question, the secret of success is plagarism. Not in this show, it's just being able to reproduce the answer written on Humphrys' card before he can read it out, a trick the contender pulls off to almost every question. 14 (0).
Next up is Nick Reed, who is about to tell us all about The Diggers. These were a group emerging from the English Civil War, and they blame the Normans for absolutely everything. They invaded St Mary's Church, threw out the priest, and tried to turn the world upside down. Nick confesses that he knows little about the subject, and he's trying to learn something about them. This may be a profitable tactic, the question setters are likely to be doing something similar. The Diggers tried to liberate land for common use, and were only slightly less successful than the Levellers. So is this contender, finishing on 12 (0).
Gary Grant is in the final, and he's looking at Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises. For the film, he's gone to Cromarty, one of the most peaceful places in the country. That's apart from when dolphins are booming at 230 decibels, loud enough to stun fish until they can find their earplugs. Only now has Gary allowed his family into the studio, but he won't change his rules: answer quickly, don't pass, don't panic. True to his word, the contender answers quickly - so quickly that we can barely understand some of the answers, but then we don't understand the questions. The contender does, and he gives the right answer. Every. Single. Time. A perfect round: 19 (0).
Last into the chair is Andy Tucker, taking the History of Azerbaijan since 1917. He's managed to take the video camera to Baku, a city he knows well, having been British ambassador there for three years. It's the land of fire, an oil-producing country, and Andy wants to do his subject justice in the final. The round zig-zags between life under the USSR and independence, and name-checks the country's famous musician Rostrapovich, and the chess-player and politician Garry Kasparov. After what looks like some debate about the final answer has been edited out, the score is 14 (0).
So, the final leg begins here. Realistically, Maya Davis is out of contention, she needs fourteen just to take the lead. It's possible in these two-and-a-half-minute rounds, and she achieves the lead with the very last question, ending on 20 (4). In any game, that's a respectable score, and to do that well in the final is an achievement in itself.
Nick Reed begins with an ibble-dibble-dubble question, picking one of the Brontë sisters. He ibbles when he should have dibbled, and it seems to sap his confidence, making a number of errors in the next few moments. Indeed, the round seems to fall apart from here, which is a shame. The final score is 20 (6).
David Love is up next, and he knows how to score on a cribbage board, and the son of the commonwealth leader, and even remembers the Today newspaper. Yes, a tabloid featuring pieces by John Humphrys, a cross word by Jim Naughtie, a two-word weather forecast, and Garry Richardson with the sport. While we've been joshing, the contender's been scoring as freely as Colin Cowdrey, and finishes on 28 (0).
There's something for Andy Tucker to tilt at: fifteen will give him the lead. A blizzard of correct answers includes Androcles and Thomas More and Mussolini. He knows the man who solved Fermat's Last Theorem, but the scoreboard remains stuck on 24 points for an awfully long time. Serendipity and Wolfson and other answers soon change that, but will it allow in the other two? 30 (1) is the final score.
It's three-quarters of an hour since Mark Wyatt last took the chair, and he needs sixteen for the win. He manages to get the first couple of questions wrong, then scores some more, albeit slowly. Even this slow progress comes to an end some minutes before the round, with the score at 19 (8).
Which means that Gary Grant needs twelve to win. He shoots out "Stormont" and "Barcelona" and "Akela" almost without moving his lips, and seven more are required. The score sticks on 24 for a little while, and 26 for almost as long, but this contender is keeping the score ticking over. It's the only way to win. And, with the answer "Foo fighters", Dr. Grant does win, scoring his 31st point of the night.
The record for this format is the 37 scored by Jesse Honey in the Champion of Champions final of 2010, and equalled by Ian Bayley in the final last year, and there's a brief moment when we wonder if the contender might beat it. As it is, Dr. Grant has finished on 35 (0). He said in his film that winning Mastermind would complete one of his life's ambitions. We wish him well in the new hobby he wants to find.
Coming up at 8pm next Friday, a repeat of Coast. That's except for viewers in Northern Ireland, who will have something else to watch.
This Week And Next
"I'm the worst host Have I Got News for You has ever had!" was the gist of Jeremy Clarkson's opening to last week's show. We beg to differ: Mr. Clarkson is at least able to read the autocue and say what's on it, a feat beyond the powers of Ann Widdecombe. And he can make a joke against himself, which we do have to admire.
And speaking of former Have I Got News for You regulars, there was a contest between nineties regular Ken Livingstone and aughts host Boris Johnson. (And five other candidates who we're going to treat equally by ignoring them.) Bozza won, and might actually tuck his shirt in before boarding the cable car to open the Coe & Co show in the summer. Ken has announced that he's to retire from serious politics, so will we see him adjudicating this programme before the year's out?
Flowers in the meadow
With the clock rolling around to May, it must be Rose d'Or time. According to the judges, the top three game shows in the broadcasting world are: The Cube, The Million Pound Drop Live, and Israeli programme Still Standing, a trivia quiz that we'll try and find in the next few months.
There’s more success for the shows we call game but the Rose d'Or panel doesn't. The top three Live Event Shows were the Eurovision Song Contest, Canadian programme For One Night Only, and our very own Born to Shine. And there’s game interest in the Lifestyle category. Joining Canadian renovation programme Property Brothers are our own May the Best House Win and The Great British Bake Off.
These days, there's a separate Golden Rose for each category. Grade inflation in the television industry, which means The Million Pound Drop Live, the Eurovision Song Contest, and The Great British Bake Off are all golden television.
There's still a Golden Rose for the Best Television Programme In The Whole Darned World, and that went to Go Back to Where You Came From, an Australian production following young racists in Australia tracing the origins of immigrants. Other award winners included the Innovation Rose, which went to Stefan Raab, Germany's leading light entertainer. The music award went to Swiss group Yello. Oh yeah.
Britain's Got Trouble
We have to confess that we've not been watching Britain's Got Talent; we prefer our talent shows not to carry a pervasive whiff of exploitation. But, apparently, the programme has been on air, and has employed a Head of Interactive Media. The chief twit, as he's probably not called in the office, spoke to The Stage newspaper about why they're not promoting #bgt any more.
The piece was written before a technical problem hit the Britain's Got Talent voting application for the Pearphone. People cast votes, but they weren't counted or registered. ITV suspended the application voting, and offered a refund to anyone who could work out how to apply. Seeing as how they've buried the instructions miles down the site, here they are:
- "Those customers that have unused votes on their app account can obtain a full refund by sending your Vote Recovery ID number to firstname.lastname@example.org, along with your full name and postal address. The Vote Recovery ID number can be obtained in the app by tapping on the "Account" button in the top left hand corner on the buzzer screen and then on "Your vote details". We apologise for any inconvenience caused."
A couple of recurring items from the OFCOM complaints bulletin issued this week. The regulator has declined to investigate complaints about ageism on Rose d'Or winner The Million Pound Drop Live, and it's declined to investigate complaints that Heart FM's "More music variety" slogan is misleading.
This column believes both points do require further discussion. The producers of Million Pound Drop need to come out and say, "We're not interested in anyone over 35 appearing on the show, and our advertisers aren't terribly interested in anyone over 35 watching it." The producers of Heart FM really should have the honesty to say, "You're right, 'Less music variety' is accurate, because we want a predictable, safe, lowest-common-denominator station that brings as many ears as possible to advertisers." Or if we've misrepresented them, tell us the facts.
If, after hearing the arguments from all sides, society decides that's the best use of the very limited public airwaves, then fine. By closing down discussion at the earliest opportunity, we reckon OFCOM is failing in its civic duty to facilitate this debate. All that's going to happen is that people will make the same complaint, OFCOM will continue to knock back the points, and everyone gets increasingly unhappy and embittered.
Ratings in the final week of April show The Voice of Holland UK is back to number one, with 10.5m seeing Saturday's live show, and 9.2m the Sunday not-live results. Britain's Got Talent slots in with 10.1m for its recorded programme. Alan Sugar has 7.6m fans, HIGNFY 5.35m viewers, and Pointless Celebrities brought in 4.2m. Well done to everyone on The Chase, 2.56m on Wednesday makes them officially more popular than Celebrity Juice, which had a mere 2.52m. Both trail QI's 2.9m, and are well ahead of the 1.95m for Deal or No Deal.
Elsewhere on the digital tier, we've no score for The Satellite Channel's A League of Their Own. Britain's Got More Talent pulled a year-best 1.25m to ITV2, and Sunday's weather was so outstanding that 640,000 curled up to a Come Dine five-parter on More4. CBBC's Trade Your Way to the USA attracted 310,000. In the bottom of the ratings heap, we find Fun House on Challenge+1 (21,000), and Nigerian import Ultimate Search on HiTV. 5000 people saw this show, which attempts to associate a beer with fitness and courage and success.
Two performance series reach their finals: Maestro at the Opera (BBC2, 9pm Fri) and Young Musician of the Year (BBC2 and Radio 3, 6pm Sun). It feels like Just a Minute has been everywhere lately, and its third series of the year begins (Radio 4, 6.30 Mon); there's also a new series of So Wrong It's Right (Radio 4, 6.30 Wed). On the digital channels, Watch has Scream Extreme (8pm Sun), ITV2 has The Exclusives (9pm Thu), and Challenge features Blockbusters (8pm weekdays). Another week and another slot for The Voice UK, 6.30 on Saturday.
Links marked with a * help support the UKGameshows servers.
To have Weaver's Week emailed to you on publication day, receive our exclusive TV roundup of the game shows in the week ahead, and chat to other ukgameshows.com readers, sign up to our Yahoo! Group.