Weaver's Week 2017-09-24

Last week | Weaver's Week Index | Next week

The death of William G. Stewart was announced this week. We will have a full tribute to the host of Fifteen-to-One next week.

This week, we look at television's laziest man. He only gets out of bed for 75 minutes a day, but does he pack a lot into that time!


Richard Osman's House of Games

House of Games (3)

Remarkable Television (part of EndemolShine) for BBC2, 4-22 September

Some shows have bizarre and confusing names. As we'll see soon, ITV's Cannonball doesn't actually involve any cannonballs. Channel 4's The Crystal Maze isn't actually a maze. BBC1's The Code isn't looking for a code, just a PIN.

Other shows have clear names, which accurately describe what happens in the show. On Channel 4, Fifteen-to-One takes fifteen contestants and reduces them to one. On ITV, Alphabetical asks questions about the alphabet. And on BBC2, Richard Osman's House of Games is presented by Richard Osman, is filmed under a roof, and has some games.

House of Games (3) The titular Richard Osman.

Most of the fun in House of Games comes from the games themselves. We're going to describe each of them in turn.

Fingers on the buzzers

Rhyme Time, two questions with answers that rhyme. Some of the "questions" may be pictures or music clips. These are inferior rhymes when compared to Partners in Rhyme, there's no effort to maintain metre or scansion. It's less "John Kettley (is a weatherman)" and more "Schnitzelbank". Your sample answer: "Taylor Swift / Continental drift".

House of Games (3) Buzz!, says Angela Scanlon.

Broken Karaoke, only the first letter of every word appears on screen. The machine keeps rhythm, and the contenders are given a year that may be associated with the song. House of Games is a mainstream show, and it's at its most mainstream with these music choices. And it has to be: this is difficult enough when played with massive hits, and the radio presenters aren't at a particular advantage.

What's In a Name, where the answer to the question is in the name of one of the celebs. Double points if you can get the answer in your name.

This Round Is In Code, a simple numeric substitution, with category provided. For our money, it's the weakest round on the show, we have nothing interesting to say about it.

Z-A. Three examples are filled in, with letters appearing from Z to A. Point for linking the groups, but nothing for the individual members.

House of Games (3) Here's a Z-A question. What links these phrases?

Games played in pairs

Distinctly Average, take the average of two responses to a question. This allows Richard to ask some very obscure questions (how many miles of road on Great Britain? How many cups of tea are drunk each day?) and pry into the celebs' assumptions.

Build Your Own Question, questions have been written at the intersection of two categories. Pick one category from the left, one from the right, and get the question correct.

House of Games (3) It's a sparse set: seats for all, and some lighting round the outside.

Dim Sums starts with four clues to numbers. Two of them can be used in an arithmetic operation to reach a given result. Pick both correct clues – and order them, if needed – for the point.

Solo rounds

All of these are assigned to one player, but will go on the buzzers if the original player gets it wrong.

Correction Centre, put right the one-word error in a statement.

Mouse of Games, change one letter in the title of a film or book; the revised plot (and original year) are given. Both of these rounds are written with a sharp wit, and can be enjoyed as entertainment in their own right.

The Answer's In the Question. A statement includes one or more words in capitals: rearrange these letters to make the answer. This only works because the statement clues the answer.

And the Answer Isn't. Richard can't be bothered to write wrong answers to the questions, so got the panellists to write their own. A point to the assigned player for getting the question right, a point to the player who wrote the selected wrong answer. Pick Me! doffs its hat.

House of Games (3) Parklife!

Cine-nyms, a quote from a film is mangled by synonyms. For instance, "phone home" could become "blower domain". Name the original film (not the quote) for the point.

Keep using the tablets

Games played on tablet computers.

Put Your Finger on It, identify the correct answer from a picture.

House of Games (3) When they sell this to UKTV, "top left" is also a correct answer.

Where is Kazakhstan?, find locations on a map, closest answer wins the point. A familiar game from Schlag den Raab.

The Rich List, write down an answer to match a given statement. Only unique correct answers score a point, and Richard Osman plays as a SPOILER! Oh. Why is this called "The rich list"? Because who dares, wins.


Is It Me?, players are given a card with a particular answer, raise it if their object matches Richard's description, lower it if it doesn't.

House of Games (3) From a round on puddings.

Answer Smash, where the answers to a picture clue and statement run into each other. For instance, "Floella Benjaminions". This is the final round every day, it's always on the buzzer, and it's the only round where a point is whipped off for an incorrect answer.

The daily winner gets a prize from the House of Games Prize Carousel, the weekly winner lifts the House of Games Weekly Winners' Trophy. Everything is monogrammed with the show's logo, a stylised version of Richard Osman's hair and eyebrows and glasses.

House of Games (3) Lightshade, umbrella, shoehorn, binoculars, water bottle. No cuddly toy?

Is it any good?

Well, it wasn't quite what we expected. House of Games is half-an-hour of celebs sitting around, answering well-written questions. There's no test beyond brain power, we're not going to test physical abilities, or skills beyond pressing a buzzer. There's no observation round, no outdoors challenge, not even a game to make a cup of tea.

Nor is there a fil rouge, a solo challenge for one contestant to face each day. They could have built this up over the week, and reveal the final score on Friday. "Angela scored six on the fizz-buzz-bang-wire. How will Clive do? We'll find out tomorrow." As it stands, the shows are almost interchangeable.

We can build a perfect show: What's In a Name, Distinctly Average, And the Answer Isn't, The Rich List, Broken Karaoke.

And we can build a show we'd fast-forward throughout: Rhyme Time, This Round is in Code, Put Your Finger On It, Is it Me?, Answer Smash. We admire the writing in Answer Smash, but it's not strong enough to finish every single day.

House of Games (3) Rick Edwards knows where his towel is.

If one of the celebs annoys, if you cannot stand Chris Ramsey, it's going to be a difficult half-hour. Some celebs are competitive (Rick Edwards, we're looking at you), others are so laid-back as to be horizontal.

Fans of Taskmaster have spotted similarities, not least in the prize for each episode and the week as a whole. Over the week, position points are added together, and Friday's scores are doubled. This still hasn't stopped the Friday from being an anti-climax, often a straight fight between two of the celebs.

House of Games (3) Clive Myrie and Sara Pascoe have a slim lead.

Unlike Taskmaster, House of Games is filmed in a near-empty studio. The only laughter comes from the crew. The result is a flat show, it doesn't have much atmosphere. When it did have a sound, we found House of Games dangerously close to smug, sniggering at its own smartness.

The lack of audience also makes it obvious when Richard has re-dubbed his lines in post-production, the sound is very different. One reason why he does this: the questions aren't interrupted. This helps the audience solve the puzzles before the celebs, and lets them feel smarter than a Nish Kumar.

Energy was further sapped by the lockout system, there was some indication in the studio that buzzers are open, but we couldn't see it at home. "Jamie, you've nicked in," says Richard, but how are we to tell?

Now, this column has an unusual problem, as House of Games goes out at 6pm. It clashes with new Danger Mouse. Where are our loyalties? Xander (who voices DM) or Richard? High-energy laughs, or a milky brew of pleasant? An embossed football, or a herd of cute kittens? Finding Kazakhstan on the map (right next to Kyrgyzstan) or the romance between Penfold and Scarlett Johamster? Danger Moth or Anneka Rice?

We're with the Mouse. The hyper-intelligent jellyfish and the other brains can wait until late evening. We've found House of Games fits well as a 10pm wind-down.

House of Games (3) Mr. Bean's manifesto is happening: Anneka Rice sits still for a minute. Talk about a fidget!

Press packed

The press release for House of Games made a number of claims. Having seen the show, let's test the press release. It describes the show as,

"A succession of fast-paced entertaining rounds of knowledge based games."

Minus several for style, that's not a sentence. It's words thrown onto a fridge door and moved around by a two-year-old.

Were the rounds fast-paced? No; the pace never rose above a gentle stroll. This isn't a problem, a gentle stroll is right for this programme, but it's not what the press release claimed.

Were the rounds entertaining? As we've said, many were, a few were not, and on balance, maybe.

House of Games (3) Well done if...

Knowledge-based games? Well, yes, in the sense that any trivia question is based on what you know. This should have shaped our expectations a bit more, ruling out skill challenges.

Richard Osman is quoted, "The show is going to be great fun. Lots of great rounds, lots of competitive celebs, lots of surprises, and, most importantly, so much to play along with at home."

Great fun? Well, we enjoyed the shows, but we found something much more fun for the 6pm origination. Competitive celebs, we'll give them that.

Surprises? Only in a negative sense, we expected more than the show gave. Playalong factor is there, though it feels somewhat forced at times.

House of Games (3) ...you got that at home.

A BBC commissioner calls it "the ultimate feel good quiz for BBC Two", but it doesn't have the emotional payoff of a solo player taking down the Eggheads.

Our lesson from this: don't trust the press releases, they are about half-false, and we never quite know which half.

This Week and Next

Well, Bigheads won the Rose d'Or for Best Game Show. We don't particularly rate the show, it's a one-trick pony without the depth of Wild Things (2015 winner), the variety of Pick Me! (2016 champ), or the endless repeatability of Pointless (2014). Still, the Eurovision jury has spoken, and we give their result the due respect.

Other winners included Stasera CasaMika, the best entertainment show is hosted by a pop star who used to sing about Grace Kelly. We look forward to ITV scheduling The Jovanotti Hour, starring the Italian-language pop sensation.

As we expected, The Enemy won in the new Virtual Reality category. And a special award went to the entertainment performances of BBC3's James Cordon. The Eurovision jury has spoken, and we give their result the due respect.

House of Games (3) They stand as Chas and Dave! They taught Ant and Dec all they know!!

On University Challenge, Leicester (Graham Aldred, Stan French, Pip Brown, Jamie Byrne) played The Blokes of Fitzwilliam Cambridge (Theo Tindall, Theo Howe, Hugh Oxlade, Jack Maloney). The good news is that Gary Lineker can keep his underpants on, Fitzwilliam won by 200-105.

High scores on Mastermind, won by Ailsa Watson with 28 points. She took Coronation Street, and blasted 18 correct answers in her general knowledge section. That's three more than any other contender has managed this year.

Scoring 15 on general knowledge this week, Jonathan Wright (Tour de France) finished with 27, and is the top-scoring runner-up. Andrew Teale (Thomas Beckett) is fourth on the runner-up board with 23. Terence Saunders reached 22 points, a winning score last week.

On Only Connect, Disparates (Steve Hubbard, Huw Meredith, Ruth Ellis) played Beaks (Rob Cromarty, Dan Sproat-Clements, Aidan Sproat-Clements). A set of teachers and a set of quiz app fans. A game of two halves: the Disparates did well on Sequences, the Beaks pulled it back on Walls and won it on Missing Vowels. 20-13 to the Beaks.

"More great music later, but first here's Black Lace," said Gary Davis in 1984. Many years later, his snark on Top of the Pops got repeated on BBC4. Within an hour, a question on Only Connect rewarded old pop fans. Push pineapple, shake a tree, push pineapple, grind coffee. Next week, we expect the clue "Howard Jones (accident compensation)".

BARB ratings for the week to 10 September.

  1. Strictly Come Dancing is back. The Launch Show (BBC1, Sat) topped the ratings, with 10.3m viewers. Straight into The Ten Million Club.
  2. Silver for Breadxit Burn Off (C4, Tue, 8.6m) and bronze for The X Factor (ITV, Sun, 7m). Saturday's show was down by half-a-million, viewers who went to Strictly and never came back.
  3. Celebrity Masterchef (BBC1, Wed, 5.05m) ran up a great score. Then we're into ITV's schedule: Tipping Point Lucky Stars (Sun) and The Chase (Thu) both scored 2.8m and The Family Chase (Sat) 2.6m.
  4. On BBC2, Dragons' Den (Sun, 2.45m), University Challenge (Mon, 2.2m), and Mock the Week (Fri, 1.85m) did well. Richard Osman's House of Games peaked on Mon (1.2m). Three episodes rated above a million, and it beat Eggheads most nights.
  5. Over on Channel 4, Lego Masters (Thu) chipped down to 1.6m, Burn Off More Ashes (Thu) 1.4m, and The Crystal Maze (Fri) 1.35m.
  6. On the digital tiers, Four in a Bed (More4, Sun, 300,000), Would I Lie to You (Dave, Tue, 290,000), Masterchef Down Under (W, Fri, 270,000). This column is amongst the 245,000 who spend 6pm with Danger Mouse (CBBC).

With the performance shows back, Strictly It Takes Two returns (BBC2, from Mon). Channel 4 kicks off a new series of My Kitchen Rules (from Mon).

Some new shows to RTE1: lottery tie-in Winning Streak (Sat) and arts show Painting the Nation (Sun). It's the Counterpoint final (R4, Mon).

House of Games (3) Crème caramel Giedroyc, indeed.

Photo credits: Remarkable (part of EndemolShine).

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.

Last week | Weaver's Week Index | Next week

A Labyrinth Games site.
Design by Thomas.
Printable version
Editors: Log in