Weaver's Week 2018-12-16

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Let's escape.



Antena for S4C, 14 November – 19 December

The show begins with a long spiel about uncoupling from the modern world. Sorry, have we tuned into a piece of balderdash from Dave Arke and the Cyan Tracksuits? The good news: this patronising nonsense is mostly abandoned after the first minute, and we're left with a very different sort of treasure hunt.

Our contestants have been blindfolded and abandoned in an isolated location. When they hear the hooter, they can remove their blindfold and meet their fellow player. The two of them will be together for the next 24 hours.

Dianc Our players await the starting klaxon.

Near to the players is a bag containing essentials – water, sunscreen, rations. There's also a key, and a tablet computer. Through this tablet, the contestants will be given directions. Four different runs will comprise the programme, a full day in real life, edited to an hour of television.

The first run is, literally, just that. The tablet shows a location two or three miles away, and the players have about 38 minutes to make their destination. Dianc is a show about precision, it'll show us how far the players have to go to the metre, and their time to a minute.

Dianc An idea used well on Fort Boyard.

Reach their destination in time and they'll be able to open another locked box "safe", which contains something they'll find useful at the end of the show. Fail, and the contents of the safe will go up in smoke. Literally, the contents is flammable, and at the required moment it will go phoom in a most televisual manner.

During this initial yomp, we find out more about the players. Who they are, where they're from, their interests and abilities. And we begin to get an insight into their character, what they're like when marching through Welsh countryside with a stranger and a camera operator.

Dianc What's behind the tarpaulin?

The first safe is always in the back of a van cunningly concealed beneath a tarpaulin sheet. This van will be their transport for the rest of the show. It's been rigged up with tiny cameras inside, so we should never see anyone but the contestants. This is a key format point for Dianc: the show is two strangers against nature. Other people might as well not exist, the show gives us no social interaction at all. If we're to believe the opening spiel, it's two people isolating themselves from the rest of society.

So the show continues. The next location is some distance away, and the players drive there. When they arrive, there's a tough physical challenge to complete. In the opening episode it was completing a cave course, through a very narrow passage and along a flooded section. Later episodes had them swimming a flooded quarry, or wading and swimming along a coastal path. The time limit is tight, but possible – they'll never win or lose by more than a few minutes. And, to ensure safety, there are guides to help the pair. Er, doesn't this undermine the point of the opening narration, where other people don't exist?

Dianc Your reward for risking life and limb: a square of clear plastic.

A later challenge requires the pair to be honest with each other. Earlier in the day – and we didn't see this on screen – the competitors spoke about each other. The answers they gave are associated with numbers, and these form the code to a safe.

If everything has been done to time, the team should reach this third safe somewhere around nightfall. While they're away, the production team leave another safe, containing two individual tents.

Dianc Was the man...

After camping wherever they can, the players are given a final location. Somewhere in this area is a "safe" containing £1000. The area is subdivided, a little grid of squares. Inside each safe was a plastic overlay, which tells squares of the area where they don't need to look. A successful team can block off almost half of the map.

For the final hunt, they're playing as individuals. Hare off, and find all of the boxes hidden in all of the squares. Open them all, because one (and only one!) contains the grand. And it's against a time limit, if neither player opens the right safe in time, the prize is lost and the whole trip has been in vain.

Dianc Our players relax with a cup of coffee.

But the show doesn't end once the money's won. The winner has an option – to keep the whole £1000 for themself, or split it equally with their playing partner. Would the winner have won without their comrade? And was their assistance worth half of the prize? Leave your answer in the rucksack, then go sit in the van.

Drive off alone, or with a passenger? That's the final decision, pan out, credits roll.

Dianc The crossed-out squares don't contain the money.

Dianc doesn't live in isolation, it's the latest contribution to a long line of television shows. Some of them ring bells and feel similar. The strongest link we get is to Y Gemau Gwyllt, where children compete to excel in various outdoor pursuits. Both programmes display the Welsh countryside at its most rugged, and invite us to consider if we'd like to do what the folk on screen are doing.

We got a whiff of Interceptor (start by walking, then taking transport to tasks). And there's almost a trail back to early Treasure Hunt, where Anneka would go around the area to visit strange places. But then they figured that Treasure Hunt is at its best when Anneka has to meet people and work through a small crowd. Dianc doesn't do crowds, it's the Richard Ayoade of countryside-and-challenge shows when Treasure Hunt was the Richard O'Brien.

We'd like to like Dianc. Two things act against it; one is that all the episodes are fundamentally the same. Not just in terms of what challenges they're doing, but the order they're happening, and the emotional notes the producers want to hit. The only points of difference are the contestants, and the big outdoorsy challenge in segment two. But we're not going to spot this from the first episode.

Dianc Our players drive, and navigate by satellite.

We are going to spot the conceit of the opening narration. "Prove your ability to live. Switch off the phone, break free from the monotony of life." And yet the players are guided by a modern tablet computer, they use GPS navigation, a van with an internal combustion engine, they're wearing plastic trainers and carrying backpacks. Dianc starts the show by railing against modern technology, but it's only a superficial protest. It's not a sincere framing, and we think it hurts the programme. Frankly, the challenge is strong enough to hold the show, it doesn't need this extra layer, this aggressive posturing.

Dianc He's found the golden safe.

Dianc does a lot of things very well. The format forces us to listen to the contestants, most of the time they're the only ones talking to us. It's one of those shows where ordinary people are put in extraordinary situations, and good television is the result. File alongside Take the Tower and Wild Things.

We were reminded of Now Get Out of That from the early 1980s. They could have provided a sardonic voiceover, a new Bernard Falk to point out what the players were doing wrong. They chose not to, and it leads to a very different programme. There is no omnipotent narrator, just two people bumbling through the day. Let them point out their own mistakes.

And we're impressed with the endgame. Scattered across the site are dozens of small metal boxes and chests, each of them locked. The contestants have the keys to open the chests, but not the time to reach them all. A lucky contestant might chance upon the one true box, there's no rule that the most worthy will find the golden snitch.

Dianc Abandoning his conspirator, he drives off with a grand.

All things considered, we're going to class Dianc as a decent idea, but one that didn't work on screen. Remember how we thought the opening narration was patronising and almost had us turning off? If we hadn't wanted to review the show, we might well have abandoned straightaway. Seems that lots of viewers did, the show hasn't been received well by the viewing public, and has shifted later and later in the evening. The opening episode went out at 9.30, straight after the news; this week's edition was pushed back to 10.55.

Only Connect (2) Update

Match 5 saw the Birdwatchers (Chris Grandison, Keli Richards, Lauren Hamer) take on the Dicers (George Corfield, Joey Goldman, Hugh Binnie). Injuries on The Jump could keep us here all night, as could things to do with a drunken sailor. The Dicers got the best of the Sequences round, thanks to the prepositions for hours, days, months, years. With high scores for both sides in the other rounds, the Dicers won 29-22.

Brews (Andy Christley, James Buchanan, Daniel Foskett) met the Forrests (Jenny Forrest, Belinda Weir, Oliver Forrest) next time out. Very much a match of two halves, the Brews raced away with Connections, making the tremendous spot of words that end with what's defined in the rest of the clue. The Forrests caught up a little in a low-scoring Sequences round, and overturned the deficit with a tremendous wall as their opponents were blocked off. Extending their lead in the last round, the Forrests won by 24-16.

Ancient Alumni (Lindsay McBryan, Ailsa Watson, Dave McBryan) beat the Three Peaks (Lauren Probert, Peter Dawson, Ross Drayton) by 29-15. Ancient Alumni have the general knowledge, and two Fifteen-to-One winners' cheques, and the swift wits to connect pictures of Sean Bean and Galileo Galilei. We know the Crossworders are a perfect blend of knowledge and wit; are the Alumni the next great team?

Dragons (Niall Williams, Ian Welham, Lawrence Cook) and Westenders (Tom Chisholm, Abbas Panjwani, Megan Stodel) went at it this week. A strong start by the Dragons, with Tom and Jerrys and prizes awarded just the once. There was also an interesting offer for Cluedo characters. The lead remained through Connections, with venues for the men's FA Cup final, and the initial letters of sounded-out letters. Walls proved crucial, and the Dragons mixed up their boats with their makeup, to fall behind in the match. A solid Missing Vowels cemented the Westenders' win, 24-17.

If we understand the format correctly, show 16 will see the Alumni and Westenders meet, and that might just be a preview of the final. The one-and-a-halfth round follows next, the eight losing teams battle to survive into the later stages. That begins on Monday at 8, and watch out for some festive specials over the holiday period.

This Week and Next

We were going to take our annual look at the albums chart, but there's nothing of interest to the game show fan. Olly Murs (Deal or No Deal) and Little Mix (The X Factor) continue to churn out the hits, but Bradley Walsh and Alexander Armstrong have been too busy to record new songs.

BARB ratings in the week to 2 December.

  1. I'm a Celebrity remains atop the television tree (ITV, Mon, 12.65m).
  2. Strictly Come Dancing continues to pile on the viewers (BBC1, Sat, 11.7m), and The X Factor finished to its strongest ratings since opening weekend (ITV, Sun, 6.15m).
  3. A Pointless Celebrities repeat soared on Saturday (BBC1, 5.5m). Also over 4 million: a Celebrity Chase repeat (ITV, Sun), Have I Got News for You (BBC1, Fri), and Chase daytime (ITV, Tue).
  4. Masterchef The Professionals continues to rule BBC2 (Tue, 3.45m), as Only Connect just holds off University Challenge (Mon, 2.47m to 2.46m). Lego Masters is Channel 4's top game (Tue, 1.38m), and Strongest Man hits for Channel 5 (Tue, 735,000).
  5. Other digital shows: I'm a Celebrity Extra Camp (ITV2, Fri, 930,000), Four in a Bed repeats (More4, Sun, 370,000), Christmas University Challenge repeats (BBC4, Tue, 315,000).
  6. High-scoring digital commissions: Landscape Artist of the Year (Artsworld, Tue, 305,000), the Got What it Takes? final (CBBC, Wed, 160,000), and Match of the Day Can You Kick It? (CBBC, Fri, 125,000).

Previews for this week. First in a new series of Insert Name Here (BBC2, Wed) and of Sam and Mark's Big Friday Windup (CBBC, Fri), both confusing with a Christmas episode. WIQ is a one-off quiz for the Women's Institute (R4, Mon). It's the final of Masterchef The Professionals (BBC2, Thu), Countdown and Fifteen-to-One (both C4, Fri)

Christmas specials are in full flow, with Love Island (ITV2, Mon), Only Connect (2) (BBC2, Tue-Thu), Portrait Artist of the Year (Artsworld, Tue), Top Class (CBBC, Wed), A League of Their Own (The Satellite Channel, Thu), The Big Quiz (2) (ITV, Fri), and Mock the Week (BBC2, Fri). Celebrity Mastermind kicks off its season (BBC1, Fri).

Eyes down for Christmas week. Saturday has all the festive specials – Pointless Celebrities (BBC1), Blind Date and Win Your Wish List (both Channel 5, and continuing the next week). Sunday gives us family entertainment What Would Your Kid Do?, bloopers from The Chase (both ITV), and comedy from 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown (Channel 4) and Have I Got 2018 For You (BBC1).

Christmas Eve includes All Together Now Celebrities (BBC1), and more highbrow entertainment from Christmas University Challenge (BBC2).

All the favourites are present on Christmas Day, including Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1), The Great Christmas Bake Off (Channel 4). It's pantomime season, as heard on Oh Yes It Is, Oh No It Isn't (Radio Scotland).

Richard Ayoade fans will circle Boxing Day night, as it's The Crystal Maze and he's on The Big Fat Quiz of the Year (both Channel 4). There's also a Celwydd Noeth celebrity special (S4C).

World's Strongest Man starts on Thursday (Channel 5), and there's a Masterchef The Professionals rematch involving past finalists (BBC2). Friday has A Question of Sport Quizmas (BBC1), and the year's events reviewed in The News Quiz (Radio 4) and Re-Play 2018 With Richard Osman (ITV). Tipping Point Lucky Stars gets a Christmas special on Saturday the 29th (ITV), and Celebrity Game Night comes to Channel 5.

There will be no edition of the Week next week, we'll return with the Week of the Year on 30 December. Until then, we wish you a very happy and enjoyable season, with the people you care about most. Good games to you!

Photo credits: Antena

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