Weaver's Week 2017-12-03

Last week | Weaver's Week Index | Next week

Something of a children's special this week. Later: who are the big winners from the Children's BAFTAs? And why is Dave Benson Phillips having a barney with Pat Sharp?

First, some good news. This year's Junior Eurovision Song Contest is guaranteed 100% Jedward-free! Experts? Who needs experts!


Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2017

Junior Eurovision Song Contest

GPB for Eurovision, 26 November

You missed it? Such a shame. Watch it on the interwebs (but the show may be geoblocked in some backwards territories).

Where would a Eurovision contest be without a prolix introduction? The best bits of last year (mostly people shouting "Georgia!"), Mariam Mamadashvili reprising her winning song, all of the competitors nipping out on stage, and the hosts explaining how the voting will work. We can kill fifteen minutes in no time at all.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Men hosts? Who needs men hosts!

GPB has learned from recent Eurovision programmes, particularly NTU's effort in May. The result is two women hosts. Helen Kalandadze is the main host, she'll handle the voting and introduce the acts. Lizi Japaridze will spend the evening in the green room, hanging out with children a little younger than her.

The opening competitor is determined by random draw. The producers might well have chosen "I wanna be a star", performed by Nicole Nicolaou representing CyBC (shown on screen as "Cyprus"). It's a tremendous song, aspirational and gritty and upbeat and masses of fun. There's a visual effect part-way through, where Nicole stands on stage and appears to sprout wings thanks to the magic of video projection. A dodgy performance in Saturday's jury final won't have helped.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Back projection tricks? Who needs... — actually, we do.

Something much slower, "Mój dom" is performed by Alicja Rega, representing TVP ("Poland"). A ballad in the Baltic tradition, showing Alicja's very strong vocal ability. The presentation included flowers and trees in the backdrop, and (to be frank) the song left us cold. But half of this year's marks will be awarded by online voting, and could this be an ethnic signal for those who will vote for the flag and not the song?

Junior Eurovision Song Contest A very polished performance.

Exported versions of Young Krypton are a bit different. Fource are the finalists in AVROTROS's version ("the Netherlands"), and they'll be graded on how well they sing "Love me" on stage. Max, Jannes, Niels, and Ian are dressed in some combination of red, green, yellow, and blue. Their song is upbeat and poppy, it would have fitted into any boy band of the last three decades. Perhaps closest in style to Justin Bieber circa 2010, and likely to inspire the same innocent devotion from audiences. Missed harmonies in the jury final, when it mattered, and not today.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Can you resist the fource?

"Boomerang" is next, performed by Misha. To make us feel really old, he's 9. Nine! The dry ice almost covers the boomerang-shaped skateboard he stands on, and there's a lot of spinning around to disorientate us. This is an epic song, with a very strong beat, and shows Misha's vocals well. Could they use this song again in May, when the old fogies get a chance to perform for AMPTV ("Armenia")?

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Nine! He's nine, for goodness' sake!

The Terry Wogan Memorial Drinks Interval is marked by co-host Lizi Japaridze in the green room, plugging what she's doing on "social media channels". That'll be channels other than the one we're using: if it doesn't turn up on Fun Kids' scrolling DAB text, it doesn't happen.

"I'm the one" has us asking one question: have we tuned into the Eurovision Goth Contest by mistake? Helena Meraai is dressed in black and silver with dark pink highlights. The backdrop is black apart from some stars exploding in the heat death of the universe, and the visual imagery is astounding. The song itself – representing BTRC ("Belarus") – allows Helena to belt out of the park, though it was underwhelming when we heard it on the wireless. The beats remind us of "Ne ver ne bosija" from the 2003 Senior contest; the performance is much more professional. Really nailed it in the jury final.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Astounding vocals from anyone of any age.

The prodigal child is back! RTP ("Portugal") send their first entry in ten years. "Youtuber" is performed by Mariana Venâncio, a gentle little song where Mariana sings about her tuba while emoji do their thing on the backdrop. Bright and colourful, but it feels derivative in the way "I wanna be a star" and "Love me" didn't.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest The stars of The Emoji Movie also took part.

"Suile Glasa" is performed by Muireann McDonnell, and it represents TG4 ("Ireland"). The turquoise backdrop is fast becoming their trademark. There's a touch of the Amy MacDonalds about this song, a single powerful voice over a lush guitar-and-instruments backing. Passed us by on first listen, the staging brought out the best of the song.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Double vision by the side of the stage.

Next is "Dancing Through Life", Mina Blažev performs on behalf of MKRTV (on screen as "Fyr Macedonia"). Lots of lyric painting with the backdrop, when Mina hits the chorus line, we see stick figures on the backdrop, dancing. And lots of video effects in the performance, funky angles and field-removed video. The song is a cheerful banger, arms aloft, and it would go down well in late-night clubs. Indeed, if a cash-strapped broadcaster wanted to re-use the song for another contest in six months or so...

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Arms aloft for a great performance.

Half-way through, and some broadcasters are taking commercials. We're casting our minds back to Lizi's performance at Junior Eurovision 2014, a song so bright it shone through the radio. On stage, a performance from The Virus, GPB's entry two years ago.

The postcards are footage from the areas loyal to Georgia, set to uptempo dance music. They end with the contestant saying hello, and introducing their own song. Then a cut to the stage, which has rays coming out of the edges like a rising sun.

GPB ("Georgia") has entered with "Voice of the heart", performed by Grigol Kipshidze. A jazzy number, it begins with Grigol in sepia tones, before pulling back to show his backing singers. Gentle enough to scare no-one, and with just enough power to evoke nights in the late 1980s. (Ask your parents.) Could be catnip for the juries, and gave one of the best performances on Saturday's jury final.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Back in the 1980s, they hadn't invented colour television.

Ana Kodra is next on stage, performing "Don't Touch My Tree (Mos Ma Prekni Pemen)" for RTSH ("Albania"). It's a powerful Balkan ballad about how it's important to protect the natural environment, because trees are all like children. Ana sells this idea with far more grace and ability than we manage. She looks awfully isolated alone on the stage, with just a CGI tree for company.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest All alone in the danger zone.

More trees as we move to "Don't stop", performed by Anastasiya Baginska. The singer begins sat in a prop tree, singing along while her guitarist gently strums. As the song develops, Anastasiya steps down and sings an upbeat song about believing in yourself. It's full of those lovely minor chords that won for NTU ("Ukraine")'s older entry recently.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest She and thee, in a tree, s-i-n-g-i-n-g.

"Dawra tond" is performed by Gianluca Cilia, and represents PBS ("Malta"). Let's lower expectations, it's no "Not my soul". Nothing is as good as "Not my soul", perhaps the greatest winner of any Eurovision Song Contest this decade. That said, it's an upbeat and fun song, reminds us of fairground music. The feeling of a 70s throwback is aided by vintage televisions on the backdrop, the use of a megaphone, and costume choices – Gianluca is in a waistcoat and tan trousers, his dancers in gymslips. Didn't appeal much to us, but that's our problem.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Strange stagings of our time.

Another brief respite as Lizi chats to some contestants in the green room. A bit of confusion as it wasn't clear who was meant to be talking – it's the most visible technical hitch of the night.

Polina Bogusevich takes to the stage to perform "Wings" for C1R ("Russia"). We didn't see the visuals until Monday, so missed the opening verse, where Polina is joined by two young dancers in a living room scene. Then – whoosh! – she takes off, and nails one of the greatest vocal performances of the night. Are her parents shown on the screen behind her?

Junior Eurovision Song Contest She's telling a whole story in three minutes.

The song benefits from being performed in Poplish, that dialect of English beloved of non-native speakers. "We are floating angels, reaching up the sky" is not standard English, we might prefer "reaching to the sky". But almost all Junior Eurovision viewers have English as an additional language, and "reaching up the sky" uses simple words – reach, up, sky – to reinforce the metaphor. That's the beauty of Poplish, it makes more sense by not being English.

"Ceo svet je naš" is from Irina Brodic and Jana Paunovic, two very close friends. Some in the contest have compared them to Mel and Sue, and there's a familiar playfulness in their antics. They perform a funky number, rhythm and plinky-plonk, perhaps a little too insubstantial after the last entry. RTS ("Serbia") need not worry about hosting.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest On your marks, get set, sing!

Debutant time! ABC Me ("Australia") have sent an entry, "Speak up" is performed by Isabella Clarke. Junior Eurovision tends to be a home for talented girls, and this entry reflects a strong message of "I can do this", perhaps directly echoing "I wanna be a star" from an hour ago. There's a key change of joy, and if Kelly Clarkson were in the market for another empowering song, this is it. No surprise to find this was excellent in the jury final; it's excellent today, too.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Tonight's empowerment anthem.

And the final entry, "Scelgo (My choice)", performed by Maria Iside Fiore for RAI ("Italy"). We again end with a power ballad, Maria emotes with her hands and tells a coherent story – intriguing if you understand the words, enchanting for its beauty if you don't speak a word of Italian.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Looks and sounds Italian.

The contest might have sagged in the middle, but we've finished with three strong entries (and a Mel and Sue sorbet), so deciding what to vote for was tricky. This column got its vote in very early, going for "I'm the one", "Dancing through life", "Don't stop", and "Speak up". Had we seen the visuals, we'd have added "Wings" to that list.

Vote early, vote often

Voting had opened on Friday evening, based on footage from the second technical rehearsal. The performers had four opportunities on stage – a long rehearsal on Tuesday or Wednesday was not judged. A shorter run-through on Thursday or Friday provided footage for internet voting. Saturday's dress rehearsal was the jury final, and Sunday's performance completed the public vote. If they apply this idea to the Senior Eurovision Song Contest, rehearsals from the first Friday will be used – eight days before the final.

Complaints about the online voting were predictable, and no less depressing for being predictable. Even from voting in the first moments, this column got lucky. The online voting wasn't able to cope with the demand, and we saw a lot of people complain they'd timed out. Worse, the vote was "secured" by a relatively simple process. Use an "in private" browsing window, and you could submit many votes. We do know that the EBU is trying new technologies, some of them aren't yet ready for primetime. We don't know if independent scrutineers Digame picked up any dodgy voting, and they may never tell the facts.

Gladiators In one interview, ABC Me wanted to "make Shadow happen". He's on the right.

As much as this column loves Junior Eurovision, the Senior contest attracts all the publicity, it's the flagship Eurovision contest. Online voting needs to Just Work, we need to have utter and complete confidence in it. The EBU needs to demonstrate that it works perfectly, and we've seen enough to say, it's not yet ready for Graham Norton's primetime.

While we're smashing it up for democracy, the show continues with interval acts on stage, and a promotional film for the next Eurovision contest, Young Dancers, next month in Prague. 16 December is a rotten date for this column, and we may not be able to review the contest in a timely manner. (Reviews of 2017 and Raven keep us busy into January.) Next year's Junior Eurovision will take place in Minsk; bad news for dairy farmers who can't read.

All of these dance-based interval acts lost something on the radio. Digital station Fun Kids broadcast Junior Eurovision in stereo to most of Great Britain. The sound lost a certain something between the arena and our ears, going as it did from the stage through lines to Radio Six International to Fun Kids Towers and then on to the Sound Digital compressors, where it's broadcast in glorious AM-quality. Needs more bits, and that's a classic market failure, kids.

Any danger of a broadcaster from this territory deigning to enter? ITV could link Junior Eurovision with BBC The Voice Kids, but chooses not to because the shows are different. The BBC could link Junior Eurovision with writing-and-performing contest Got What It Takes?, but chooses not to. Channel 4 would rather show its motor racing, and we understand that decision. Channel 5 is not an EBU member. S4C and BBC Alba and STV are members, any one of those could put a young performer into the contest and see what happened.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Where's the best part of this show, Gert?

Have we finished the vote? We've finished the vote. Helen has a chat with Gert, the EBU supervisor; he apologises for the problems with the online voting, but we have got the jury votes in. Should hope so, they've had a full day to get the votes in.

Can we have your votes, please?

The jury votes are announced in the traditional manner – the miniaturised Richard Osmans walk onto stage right, say "Hello in our Language, here are the votes from This Territory, the twelve points go to," and then walk off again. It's fast and frantic, each vote is done in a minute. As ever, we don't appreciate what's happening until we see the video a day later. But we do hear that GPB gets three blasts of 12 from the opening votes, C1R has a couple of twelves, ABC Me is getting decent points from everyone and is in a strong third place. GPB sends twelve to C1R, the reply is 12 in the other direction.

After all the jury votes are in, we see that the panels of three adults and two children have given the win to GPB. They finished 21 points – almost two clear jury ranks – ahead of C1R, with ABC Me and AMPTV a full 50 adrift.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest The stage is modelled on a sunburst.

But that's only half the story. Literally. 928 points have been awarded by the juries, and now 928 will be dished out by the internet vote. They'll be awarded in proportion to the strength of the online vote, so if a song got 5% of the online vote, it'll get 5% of the points (that rounds off to 46 points).

Small print. Any individual song is entitled to receive one-third of the possible points; any excess will be trimmed and re-allocated to the other songs. The maximum under this system is 309 points, under the old televote rules only 180 points were available. Roundings-off were not put elsewhere in the results, and the internet vote only awarded 927 points. The missing point will be donated to charity.

Votes were announced from the bottom up. 35 points to RTSH, they'll have got about 3.77% of the vote. Already – just from this first announcement – we can see that at least 56.6% of the votes will go to songs 2-16, and the cap hasn't been reached.

In twelfth place, with 42 points, the entry from GPB. Jury winner, almost bottom of the televote. Once we hear the points have clicked up to 66, we know GPB have lost. Those 66 go to C1R, and put them just three ahead of our hosts. Can anyone beat them?

"The country given the fourth highest score, with 69 points..." Helena's script was precise and controlled, there was no danger she was going to give away the result too soon. 79 points went to ABC Me, leaving them 16 off the lead. The webvote was won by AVROTROS's entry, perhaps because Fource have been active on social media since they were selected some months ago. Never underestimate the dedication of the Awesome Fource Fan.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Polina lifts the trophy, flanked by Lizi Pop and last year's champ Mariam Madashvili.

The final moments descend into the usual chaos, Helena is left alone as Polina Bogusevich is miked up, and the tradition is observed – all of the competitors join her for the winners' reprise.

So "Wings" won from being strong in both sectors of the vote, "Voice of the heart" was catnip for the adults but might have left children cold. "Speak up" appealed strongly, with "Love me" in fourth the best of the chasing pack. TG4's entry finished fifteenth, which – sad to say – feels about right for a complex song overshadowed on the night. A winning margin of three points is tight, particularly given the problems of the web vote. The contest may have been lost with Fource's dodgy harmonies in the jury final.

Are we comfortable with the result? Very much so. Any of those leading four would have been fine. For us, "Wings" took the nod from being right at the meeting point of pop culture and high art: it's a pop song, and it's a miniature opera, and it's something we can hum along to, and it's got a massive hook we've not been able to get out of our head.

Was it a better winner than "Amar pelos dois"? Ooh, sharp intake of breath. We're not going to make that call. Luisa Sobral's song was the clear winner for a strange contest in Kyiv back in May, "Wings" one of many great winners from an uplifting event in Tbilisi.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest

This Week and Next

The BAFTA Children's awards took place last Sunday. No winners for the shows we call game, but one result of wider significance. Channel of the Year went to Truetube. Who? Where? Exactly.

Truetube is a project of CTVC, a charity founded by film impresario J Arthur Rank. Originally a studio for religious films, and then the "Centre for Television and Communication", CTVC now makes educational films without an overt religious message.

Truetube makes drama for the younger teenager. This fact alone distinguishes it from the BBC (nothing for over-12s) and CITV (little for over-8s). The BAFTA panel was particularly smitten with "Screwball!", giving awards to writer Adam Tyler and actor Alhaji Fofana. The film is about sex, and it's aimed at young people of 14 and older.

The significance of this award? Truetube operates on the internet. You won't find it on your EPG, it's nowhere in the sky, it won't be on your DTTV decoder. For the first time, an internet channel has taken on the big guys and won. BAFTA shows that the internet is a mainstream way to deliver high-quality shows to viewers.

Dave Benson Phillips Still getting his own back.

Which brings us to Getting Back with Dave Benson Phillips. The quondam star of Get Your Own Back is managing new talent, including troublesome vlogger Ryano. What is the secret of the gunge? Will the superfan catch up with him? Where did Pat Sharp's beef come from? Will there be a fight, and will it involve fists or flying flans? Four episodes of this comedy-drama-nostalgia-trip at gettingbackdbp.com, with the finale due next Sunday.

Back to the senior quizzes. University Challenge saw Ulster beat Warwick by 170-140. Warwick had impressed against York, Ulster came through the repêchage. The extra match practice looks like it helped Ulster work the buzzers, and that made the difference.

On Mastermind, Ian Jack won an even match. He had 23 points; Ikenna Oguguo, Cathy Elder, and Julian Aldridge all had 22. Ian scored well of the Alexandria Quartet, but his general knowledge round had lots of passes; his GK score (10 points) is the lowest by a show winner this series.

Ikenna took the round on the UEFA (Men's) Champions' League, and we found the questions poor – too much on individual players and achievements in single matches, almost nothing on achievements sustained over the contest's history. Cathy forced the host to name a burial site, and he couldn't be polite for "Wadi Sikkat Taka ez-Zeida, or something". Julian had House of Cards (Netflix), and with questions about the plot, no mention for that show's abusive frontsman.

No Only Connect, they showed men's football on BBC2 this week. Victoria and the Hieroglyphs will return next week.

BARB ratings in the week to 19 November.

  1. Blue Planet II remains the top show (BBC1, Sun, 13.1m). A new top game show, I'm a Celebrity returned with a bang (ITV, Sun, 12.2m).
  2. What of Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1)? Close behind: 12.05m on Saturday, 11.4m for Sunday's results. The X Factor (ITV, Sat, 5.25m) is in grave danger of being caught by Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, Sat, 5.1m).
  3. The Weakest Link Celebrity Special for Children in Need was BBC2's biggest show (Fri, 3.45m). Masterchef The Professionals (Wed, 3.35m) and University Challenge (Mon, 3m) also posted big numbers.
  4. Big on the diginets: Celebrity Juice (ITV2, Thu, 1.28m), I'm a Celebrity Extra Camp (ITV2, Sun, 985,000), and Four In a Bed (More4, Sun, 365,000).
  5. We've no data for UKTV Dave, nor for Lifetime, so the Next Three New Shows may have a top-model sized hole. Your Face or Mine (Comedy Central, Wed, 215,000), Landscape Artist of the Year (Artsworld, Wed, 190,000), and Bigg Boss (Colors, Thu, 125,000).

Young warriors, ready, as Raven is back (CBBC, weekdays). Dickinson's Real Deal tarnishes weekday afternoons (ITV). Clann Feirm Factor finds the best Irish-speaking family of farmers (TG4, Fri).

Advent Sunday is finals day for The X Factor (ITV and TV3, Sun). Also finding their winners: Taking The Next Step (CBBC, Mon), Landscape Artist of the Year (Artsworld, Wed).

Photo credits: EBU / GBP, LWT, ClickMyFace Productions.

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