Weaver's Week 2018-07-22

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Coming up, something hard from down under.


Pwy 'Di Bos y Gegin?!

Pwy 'Di Bos y Gegin?!

Rondo for S4C, 13 June – 17 July

A curious beast, this. "Who is the boss of the kitchen?!" has a very solid gimmick, but makes it less and less important as the contest progresses.

Let's start with the heats. Three families have come to the kitchens. In the first segment, we see the obligatory film clips and chat with the judges to introduce the characters. Three Welsh-speaking families who cook, just like yours. (If, indeed, you are in a family that cooks, and speaks Welsh.) All of the families have a nominated "Boss", their best cook, who will have special responsibilities during the series.

Pwy 'Di Bos y Gegin?! The families gather behind the hosts.

The first segment also explains what the competitors will be cooking. A starter will be judged after 30 minutes, a main course after an hour, and a dessert after 90 minutes. It's one continuous cooking effort, families can – and should! – start to prepare their mains early on.

Bos y Gegin follows the template established by the late Bake Off, it has a technical, a signature, and a showstopper. The technical starter follows a recipe given by the judges. The signature main course uses a small number of basic meats, which the families are free to accompany. The dessert is completely freestyle. Unlike every other cooking show, we're not going to have this distinction rammed down our throats, it's mentioned at the beginning and then ignored.

Pwy 'Di Bos y Gegin?! Ooh, carrots.

Before cooking begins, the teams get two minutes to raid the show's pantry, a supply of fresh ingredients and prepared basics. The Boss has the special responsibility, tell each person what they're to get, and the Boss must stand behind their own work counter. There's a lot of shouting, it's a confusing couple of minutes.

In part two, we see the teams cook their starters, and ultimately serve up their starters. On the way, we'll get to know the show's great gimmick, the Penalty Chair.

Every time someone breaks the rules, the team Boss must sit in the Penalty Chair. Forgotten something from the pantry? You can go and get it, but the Boss must sit down for a minute. Breaking the kitchen rules? The Boss must sit down for a minute – or more.

Pwy 'Di Bos y Gegin?! Sit down, and keep shouting.

Bos y Gegin is strict about hygiene, there's a colour-coded system of boards and utensils for chopping and preparing red meats, white meats, fish, and other foodstuffs. Use the wrong colour and that's a penalty for the Boss; the judges might assess a penalty if two different foods are too close.

The result is that there are a lot of penalties. The Boss will spend much of the show on the penalty chair, and almost every minute one of the horns goes off to say "Penalty for this team!" It got tiresome after a while, we're hearing things happen that we don't see, and perhaps need not care about.

As we say, there are three courses to be judged. Anything that's late, even by a few moments, will be marked down. While hearing the judges' feedback, the Boss will be away from their kitchen. Between this and the penalties, it's rare for the Boss to actually do any cooking, they just tell others what to do. It's a contest of resource management as much as cooking skill.

Pwy 'Di Bos y Gegin?! Fish starters for the judges to taste.

From the heats, three families enter, and two continue in the competition. The heats establish a clear point of difference, the Boss's naughty chair.

For the semi-final, a format change. Three teams again, the Boss and one cook from their team go to Coleg Menai for a masterclass in how to cook a certain starter. The teams will be judged against this high standard, no quarter is given. The main course features new meats, and the dessert is the technical test against a fixed recipe. There's still a raid on the pantry, and there's still some time on the chairs for the Boss. But with far fewer penalties, this feels more like a group Master Cook.

Another change for the grand final, where just two teams took part. The Boss of the team goes off on a special mission to Portmeirion, and recreates the dish they've been shown. A solo task for the team leader, extra responsibility for the captain. Then it's back to a cookery college, where the teams create 10 (ten) copies of their dishes against extended times. Penalties for the Bosses are pretty much forgotten.

Pwy 'Di Bos y Gegin?! Losers disappear with this chopping board. Winners get a holiday to Barcelona.

Cookery shows are ten-a-penny, though team cookery shows are rarer. Bos y Gegin has a decent twist – the boss has great responsibility, and their skills will be tested, but the boss will be restricted from cooking at points in the competition. As the knockout tournament progressed, the penalties grew less and less, and the responsibility moved to creating a particular dish to an exacting standard.

This shift in emphasis jars quite heavily, and makes the series less coherent than any individual show. We'd find it easier to see a solo round by the Boss right from the start, with penalties on the other courses. But how does one fit that into an S4C hour? Bos y Gegin got its pace absolutely right, never rushed and never lacking in action.

Overall, we reckon Bos y Gegin is about one tweak away from brilliance. And that's a fine place for any show to be.

Hard Quiz

Thinkative for ABC, March 2018

Epic Voiceover Man introduces today's four contestants. Their name, location, occupation, and their "expert subject". Their what? All will become clear.

Tom Gleeson is the host, a man in a smart jacket and tie. He will waste no opportunity to snark at show. During the contestant chats, one says, "My eyes glaze over, stare at the screen." "Some of the viewers might be doing exactly that." Zinger!

Tom Gleeson.

There's quite a lot of contestant chat on this show, almost five minutes of the half hour. Eventually we get to the quiz bit of the Hard Quiz. Without it, this show would just be hard. The expert subject comes first. Five questions on each of the nominated topics – in this episode, St Mary McKillop, The Rolling Stones, Sachin Tendulkar, and Agatha Christie's Marple.

But there's a twist. Georgina won't be the only person answering questions on St Mary McKillop, they're open to all four contestants on the buzzers. Five points if the person who nominated the subject gets the question right, ten if someone else steals it, five away if you buzz in and are wrong. This is a television quiz, so every question is accompanied by a still image.

After all four contestants have had their expert rounds, Tom has his own expert round, this week on the circus. Multiple choice answers, and every contestant plays. Lowest score after this round leaves the contest, and is dismissed with the brief call, "Out!"

Tom faces today's four contenders.

Three remain to play The People's Round, a quickfire buzzer round. A quickfire buzzer round that doesn't end the programme? That's unusual! Ties are broken with a "Hard Off", a single buzzer question.

For the head-to-head final, two take part. It's a penalty shoot out, in the style of The Weakest Link. Harder questions on the contestants' expert subjects. The winner gets a limited edition Hard Quiz tankard, and does the sign-off.

Winners get this tankard. Losers get nothing.

Hard Quiz works because of Tom Gleeson. He relishes the name of the cricket stadium in Colombo, the Wankhede Stadium. He establishes ideas – Agatha Christie is for old people, contestant Theja is attractive – and riffs off these until they become running jokes. Tom establishes his own catchphrases – "Out!", "Correct!", doing an impression of an excited Muppet when there's a Hard Off.

It's a young show, contestants and host are mostly of a similar age, the style is brash, many of the references are to recent pop culture. Hard Quiz isn't afraid to take pops at the establishment, cracking jokes against politicians and treating religion with irreverence. At heart, though, Hard Quiz is a conventional quiz presented in an unconventional manner. That explains why it's become cult television down under.

And it's good night from the winner!

Is it "hard"? Not in the sense that Only Connect is hard, the questions are still accessible to the general audience – and at least one "specialist" question round falls under general knowledge. No, the "hard" comes from Tom Gleeson's uncompromising attitude.

Could it work on this side of the world? From what little we know, it feels like an RTÉ2 programme: young, consciously edgy, and mildly subversive. Channel 4 might like a look, we can see Hard Quiz fitting in the space vacated by 8 Out of 10 Cats. But the show we've seen is too young for ITV, too brash for BBC2, and too niche for BBC1.

This Week and Next

Very bad news for fans of daytime television, as Armchair Detectives will not return. The show, where Susan Calman tries to find the poisoner, has not been renewed by BBC1. A shame, it had "cult television" all over it.

Who has committed this dastardly crime?

ITV's Got the Pop Factor has announced its new panel of "expert" judges. Simon Hightrousers will be joined by two pop stars and a non-entity. Louis Tomlinson was once a performer with One Direction, the biggest thing from Pop Factor between Cher Lloyd and Little Mix. Ayda Field has acted on such shows as Power Monkeys and Fresh Meat. She's also a friend of Simon Hightrousers's wife from their shared school run.

Mrs. Field has brought along her husband, former Deal or No Deal researcher Robbie Williams. According to the press launch, Robbie will have to miss some episodes in the autumn, because he has commitments on the international Box Sealing and Prize Hiding Tour. For these episodes, Robbie will be replaced by Pop Factor judge Sharon Osborne.

BARB ratings in the week to 8 July.

  1. Mark Pougatch's The World Cup continued to dominate. 17.4m people saw Svenska Fotbollförbundet XI prosec The Football Association XI (BBC1, Sat), and that doesn't include people outside or in pubs. Love Island remains the top game show (ITV2, Sun, 4.45m).
  2. Next come teatime shows Stephen Mulhern's Catchphrase (ITV, Fri, 2.75m) and The Chase (ITV, Wed, 2.65m). Breadxit Crème de la Chequers finished (C4, Sun, 2.15m).
  3. 1.5m for Mock the Week (BBC2, Thu), 970,000 for The Crystal Maze Derry Girls (C4, Fri). Four in a Bed brought 310,000 to More4 (Sun), and Antiques Road Trip drove 220,000 to Really (Thu).

It's all kicking off next Saturday. Stephen Mulhern is the hotshot on ITV, in a show we can't name for embargo reasons. The last in the present series of Who Dares Wins (BBC1), and the return of Win Your Wish List (C5). Gino D'Acampo is to this programme as John Eccleston was to Run the Risk.

Photo credits: Rondo, Thinkative, Tiger Aspect.

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