Weaver's Week 2019-06-09

Last week | Weaver's Week Index | Next week

Get your eggs ready, folks, it's time for


Got Talent – The Final

Britain's Got Talent

Thames / Syco for ITV, 2 June

The show begins with a recap of the series so far. Then there's a recap of the acts we'll see tonight. And then our hosts – the reunited Ant and Dec – introduce all of the finalists once more in a breathless runaround.

Britain's Got Talent The judges, same as ever.

Last time we watched a Got Talent final, six long years ago, the judging panel was Simon Cowell, David Walliams, Alesha Dixon, and Amanda Holden. Nothing has changed, except the location: they've moved to the Hammersmith Apollo, a theatre named after its location in west London.

Dave and Finn are the first performers. It's another performing dog act, folks. Tonight, we're going to see Finn's ability as a magician. David Walliams picks a card, and then we see footage of Finn backstage, picking a card. Guess what! It's the same card. Then Alesha picks a photo from the album, and Amanda picks a dog biscuit with a word on it. Then Dave asks Simon to read a note from a ball, predicting the photo and biscuit.

Britain's Got Talent Dave did the act, Finn sat there and looked cute.

Um, what? That was Dave doing some close magic, while making occasional references to a dog. Yes, it's all very nice, but this is entirely dull. The panel witter on about "Finn's law", which appears to be some sort of legislative initiative, and not a piece of ironic memeage.

Flakefleet Primary School are a primary school act, they begin with two children on a swing, perhaps borrowing staging from Junior Eurovision last year. But no, it's a performance of "Rule the world", with children dressed as stars and planets. There's a laugh-out-loud visual joke, depicting Dec as ET from the movie. They've thrown everything at this – papier-mache moons, giant squid, robots, a glitterfall.

Britain's Got Talent Joy unconfined from the young children.

It's charming, it's lovely, it's innocent. The children are tremendously excited to be here, they've got lots of energy and bounce – as Alesha notes. Best of the acts we've seen so far, and we're sorry to damn them with such faint praise.

Ben Hart eclipses the children at once. He tells us a story, an intimate little tale, about things getting smaller and smaller until they crumble into a handful of dust. And then he re-enacts it with playing cards, getting smaller and smaller until they crumble into a handful of dust.

Britain's Got Talent Get yer cards, mate.

Ben's talent is in the staging. He drew us into his little world, built it up from nothing and kept us there through just one camera shot. While he's not going to win tonight, this could prove to be the break Ben needed, and propel him into the next level of his career.

Libby and Charlie are a young dance couple, in the ballroom tradition. They perform a very vigorous routine around the stage, and do some of the turns on a platform in front of the judges.

Britain's Got Talent The future of dance.

This couple came in on a producers' wild card, the eleventh routine to liven up the show. Goodness, we needed that breath of fresh air. Energetic, fun, and brilliant choreography. They're still young – eleven or so – with a performance that wouldn't disgrace Strictly Come Dancing. The bar has been set in the past two acts.

4MG are the combination of magic tricks and boy bands. Four lads in their late teens, combining to turn tricks on stage. They talk about connections, dangle a key in front of Alesha, and it turns. They transfer a cross from a performer's hand into Amanda's closed fist, and Simon shatters a glass just by looking at it. David thinks of a name and spells it out. All of the tricks are themed around concentration, what you can do when you put your mind to it.

Britain's Got Talent Look like Westlife, except they do magic.

Simon is right, the group will be even better when they've got more experience. We can't help but think that David had been primed beforehand, but we have no idea how they did that trick with the key. If they stick together, 4MG could go far. Won't win because there are so many magicians tonight that they'll cancel each other out.

Mark McMullan is our first singer of the night. He's another young performer, the video says he wants to appear in musical theatre and to make his family proud. Even before he's sung a note of "She used to be mine", we sense that his ambitions are limited. He doesn't want to become the new Susan Boyle, he'll settle for the next R Ben.

Britain's Got Talent Mark has something to sing about.

The song is a tearjerker, primed to tap into the audience's emotions. He has a strong voice, nails the power in the final notes, and the soft beginning without growling – in that, he's chosen a better song than Michael Rice. With our Eurovision hat on, this has "jury fave" written over it, a technically perfect song that doesn't attract much of a televote.

Jonathan Goodwin promises "edge-of-your-seat" entertainment. "No danger act has ever won Got Talent," which is true. The eggs finished third. The stunt is introduced by his daughter Millie, a tactic to prove he's a family man, and perhaps make himself popular with the children.

Britain's Got Talent Don't try this at home, kids.

He explains the stunt: wrapped in chains, he'll be buried under a ton of gravel, and will free himself with nothing more than a pin. And all this is happening on live TV, folks. Tension music heightens the anticipation as Jonathan is positioned, and the crew ready themselves.

Jonathan vanishes into the gravel, leading us to wonder what's happened. For some long seconds, all we see is the overspill of the gravel as something happens inside, then a hand appears. Stage hands look worried, the crowd is confused. And then a hand on top, the trap door at the bottom is opened, and Jonathan is safe. That was certainly a ride, even watching on catchup knowing that he'll be fine doesn't take away anything from the spectacle.

Siobhan Phillips combines decent singing with great comedy talent. Bit like our hosts, to be honest. "I've never had any luck," she says in the introductory video, and at the start of her routine. Quickly, we're into the meat of the performance, jokes and a comedy song "If it's not one thing, it's your mother".

Britain's Got Talent Siobhan's the one act we might pay to see again.

There's a certain nostalgic quality to Siobhan's performance, we're getting vibes of Victoria Wood – a mixture of comedy and homeliness. It's an easy emotional connection, and if there's any nous, she'll surely have a special on ITV somewhere over Christmas. Whether that's the 21st or the 28th depends on the result.

X is another magician, dressed entirely in a black hoodie and wearing a white mask. Their introduction video is more like a new age presentation, wittering on about how everything is connected. Their performance appears to have a pre-recorded vocal. Ant and Dec are the stooges, and pick out a memory from a jar of memories. There's a forced choice on a grid of verbs, and then a video presentation on the verb: "hope". X finishes by removing his mask. It later emerges that he was Ant and Dec's "golden buzzer" act last year, the one they put through to the semi-finals, where he ended.

Britain's Got Talent The mystery powerbroker with X.

We're surprised to be uneasy about this performance. Got Talent manipulates its viewers. Got Talent always manipulates its viewers. In a few minutes, it leads us to think Susan Boyle is going to be comedy. In a show, the running order is manipulated to put the strongest performer last, and a sawtooth to keep similar acts apart.

But there's something worse, something indefinably wrong about X's performance. We get uncomfortable echoes of the outside world, about how we're being told what's important in a way that reminds us of liars and charlatans out there. Got Talent, like the Eurovision Song Contest, is not a political event, but that doesn't stop us from seeing parallels and reacting to them.

Kojo Anim is another comedian, and the only black performer on stage. He talks about the most dirty house he's ever been to, one so grubby they have a Marathon bar down the back of the sofa. There are tales of the friend who didn't collect him from Heathrow, and of the choir at his church that sing really slowly.

Britain's Got Talent Kojo's another one we would like to see again.

So we said that Got Talent is a sawtooth. That was entertaining, and different from Siobhan earlier. Kojo delivers stand-up comedy at a great pace, and every line is fun. There's a lot more to this talent, we expect that the full set will be on a comedy DVD before Christmas.

Colin Thackery is the final performer, and only the second singer of the night. He gives a rendition of "Love changes everything" from Aspects of Love. The obvious comparison is to Michael Ball, whose performance sold the musical thirty years ago. Colin is an OAP, he doesn't have the vocal power of Michael Ball. To be fair, Michael Ball probably doesn't have the vocal power of Michael Ball any more.

Britain's Got Talent Vote for the talent, folks, not the staging.

We're not being asked to vote for Colin on his merits, or his shortcomings, and there are many of both. We're being taken on an emotional ride, by the master manipulator Simon Cowell. Colin, a Chelsea Pensioner, appears in uniform, with poppy petals falling on the backdrop, and other soldiers in the audience. The underlying message: this is a patriotic vote, and Colin is by far the most patriotic competitor. The unspoken subtext: you'd be a traitor not to vote for Colin. It's a cliché to elide "the military" with "the country" and with "patriotism", and this is all rather disturbing. As we said for the first act, this column would rather concentrate on the talent than matters outside the hall.

For the interval act, we have a double performance – the dancers of Diversity, and the singing talent of Susan Boyle. They're two of the three biggest acts to have emerged from Got Talent, and it's cruel fate that both were in the 2009 final. (The third? Ashleigh Butler and Pudsey, a partnership split only by Pudsey's death.) Diversity are still as sleek and slick, Susan is performing "A million dreams" with Michael Ball; turns out he does still have the vocal power of Michael Ball. Diversity and Susan will be on this autumn's Got Talent The Champions, with stars from around the world. Not a new idea, they ran a similar contest on NBC earlier in the year, and now we know why it's not been shown here.

Britain's Got Talent Ball and Boyle: together through cash.

In the final result, we find that Ben Hart placed third, X was second, and Colin Thackery was the winner. Colin relied on the televote, and in a show that's 100% televote, that gives him the win.

Got More Talent?

This column lives in prolific times. There are so many game shows around that we can concentrate on shows with merit. We like to be positive, we like to say "This is a good show, for these reasons, and you might enjoy watching it." Even where we didn't enjoy the show, we like to point out the good features it does have, and offer constructive ideas for improvement.

Got Talent tests our positivity to the limit. What good can we say about it? It's good to see Ant back. It's really good to see Ant back, let's not do this again. The show is slick and well-oiled, it has mastered the art of the sawtooth. Note how the four magic acts were split, how the young dancers were close together but not adjacent, how the comedians were close but not adjacent. All of this helps us to decide for ourselves: which was the best magic act, which was the better comedian, the better young performer.

Britain's Got Talent Ant and Dec: reunited at last.

We've noted that there is a lot of emotional manipulation. Dave and Finn, we got no idea from the show what their campaign is for, only that Got Talent has chosen to involve itself with a political campaign, and apparently to endorse it. We're uncomfortable with a light entertainment show doing that. X's piece also left us feeling manipulated, designed to bring about a certain set of emotions: he made it so very clear that we could spot it a mile off, and be slightly repulsed.

Colin Thackery didn't design emotional manipulation into his act, the producers did it for him. Based on his limited singing ability, he could have been the five-minute wonder, he could have been politely rebuffed between auditions and semi-finals. It would have been crass to turn him into a joke act – the guy can hold a tune – but we had him as one of the weakest acts in the final. The producers – including Simon Cowell – had other ideas. Poppy leaves, men in uniform. It was about as subtle as being hit over the head with a housebrick.

The key to a successful talent show is in the talent available. For our money, this year's final demonstrates that they've mined this seam as far as it can go. By not watching Got Talent every year, we're able to see the gulf between the 2013 show and this week's. Ben and Kojo were up with the best, but they're not quite as impressive as comedian Jack Carroll, or shadow dancers Attraction. The high places this week have an opportunity to push their act onto a bigger arena, all will have to improve to make that step up.

Our abiding memories of Got Talent are weird. From this year, we'll remember being repulsed by manipulation from producers and performers. From the last episode we saw, a woman throwing eggs.

Britain's Got Talent

Mastermind Update

Semi-final 6

Alan Keys has the Life of Charles II. Plots, rules, a cameo appearance by Samuel Pepys, and a strong round leaving just a little for the others to tilt at. 10 points.

Helen O'Connell offers The Plant Hunters, a group of botanists who went in search of exotic flora. One was gored by a bull, one was swallowed by an arboretum, one gave his name to Vancouver. 11 points.

Sean Climo tells us about Delta Blues music – tunes from the Mississippi delta. This would have been good for the final, the contender could have wangled a trip to research in the Clarkston museum. Some long questions in there, and the score only reaches 8.

Lena Gazey offers Lillie Langtry. The famous actress had a dalliance with the then-Prince of Wales, but never married him. Grace Kelly might have taken notes. 11 marks and 1 pass.

Derek Caudwell is our last semi-finalist, talking about Robert Fitzroy. Named after his favourite shipping forecast area, the inventor of the synoptic weather chart worked with Samuel Beaufort-Scale and Charles Darwin. On the scoreboard, a violent storm 11.

For Sean, it's answer quickly or pass. His responses are mostly right, but we fear that 19 (4 passes) won't quite win. Alan tries to remember the shortest book of the Old Testament, but on Obadiah, draws a blank. The round has as much wrong as right, sadly, and closes on 17.

Helen remembers Dr. Bunsen Burner, knows where to find the Petronas Towers, and the rise to fame of Leonard Bernstein. And much, much more. The round throws down the gauntlet to the others, it's almost quizzing perfection. That glove on the floor says "25 points and no passes!"

Lena tries to fight back – and the other contenders don't know she had a pass in the first round, so the one here isn't as fatal as that. The Coveted Pointless Trophy is one answer, but it comes after a few errors, and we're not going to see Lena again next week: 21 (3 passes) the final.

Derek has the Iditarod dog race, the turret, and on a very long question that gives almost a complete biography of some historical feature, a pass. By the second pass, there have been two errors, the jig is up, and the round is collapsing. 21 (3 passes) is, again, the final.

Helen O'Connell, a gardener, is our final finalist. The winner of television's Quiz Bowl will be named next Friday.

Countdown Update

We left with Sandra Pilson in the champion's chair. She won six games, but lost a scorcher to Arran Cleminson. He looked set for a long run, but after two wins ran into Elliott Mellor.

Elliott's record can only be shouted from the rooftops, or whispered in hushed reverence. 13-max, highest ever debut score. 13-max, highest ever score. Two more 13-max, two 14-max games – both just one point from perfection. A total of 1061 points, the greatest aggregate score in an octorun – and only eight behind the total of last series' winner Mike Daysley.

Chris Smith inherited the vacant chair, making a win. Clea Knight was good value in her three wins, and Harry Clark looked set for a long run, but lost after two to Kevin Sewell. In turn, he fell to Adrian McDermott. He now has two wins.

Finals Week begins on 20 June, just a week and a half away. We expect Elliott Mellor and Dinos Sfyris to be untroubled through their quarters and semi-finals, but one of them must play Sandra Pilson, and that could be a danger match. Maggie Barlow and Fiona Titcombe are currently scheduled to meet in the last quarter-final, and that looks like a close game. We'll have reports in three weeks.

This Week and Next

TV Highlight of the Week: University Challenge in Lego. Lovingly recreated by Weevil888.

A surprise on Jeopardy!, where James Holzhauer lost his 33rd game to Emma Boettcher. The luck was with Emma, she found both doubles in the Double Jeopardy round, thus preventing James from taking his usual unassailable lead. James's final winning total, $2,462,216, is second on the Jeopardy! all-time winning list, behind Ken Jennings' $2,520,700.

The death of Martine Bijl, singer and actress and latterly host of Heel Holland Bakt, the Dutch Bake Off version. The death also of Paul Darrow, best known as Avon from sci-fi drama Blake's Seven, and host of ultimate hard man contest Hercules. He also appeared on The Adventure Game, losing to The Rangdo in suspicious circumstances, as we chronicled in two ancient Weeks.

The Crystal Maze What's American for "Would you start the fans, please"?

An overseas sale for The Crystal Maze. Nickelodeon has ordered ten one-hour episodes, to be filmed on Channel 4's set in Bristol. The show, to be played by family teams, will give us further chances to shout, "For cryin' out loud, a child of ten could do this!" We hope to see it in due course, just as we hope to see Nick's take on Keep It Spotless.

Popmaster is going out on tour. Ken Bruce will take the Radio 2 Roadshow to a few venues at the end of July. The bad news for fans: all dates will be in people's workplaces. We won't get an assembly of ten thousand people by the beach, chanting in one voice at the distant pierhead: "One! Year! Out!".

A slew of announcements from Channel 4.

  • Comedians claim to have completed impossible, dangerous, or unwise stunts, and convince others that they're succeeded: Pants On Fire (Fulwell 73 for E4), hosted by Emma Willis.
  • A studio audience passes judgement on how strangers are bringing up their children, in what looks to be a cross between Wife Swap and What Would Your Kid Do. That's in The Best Parent (Monkey for Channel 4).
  • Celebrities learn to swim, and potentially swim across the Channel, and there's some connection to the perpetual Stand Up For Cancer appeal. Sink or Swim (TwoFour for Channel 4).
  • Harry Hill tries and fails to be the new Sam and Mark as Junior Bake Off returns. The judges are Prue Leith and Liam Charles – the latter was a contestant on civilian Bake Off. (Love Productions for Channel 4).
  • The Circle returns for a second series, from a new block of flats in Manchester. Emma Willis is the new host, with more live shows promised. (Studio Lambert for Channel 4).

BARB ratings in the week to 26 May:

The bank holiday weekend depressed television viewing figures: people stop watching in May and go away until September. Got Talent remained top of the pile (ITV, Sat, 8.05m), with Coronation Street the biggest non-game show (ITV, Mon, 6.9m).

Have I Got News for You was next biggest game (BBC1, Fri, 4.1m), and Ninja Warrior the bronze medallist (ITV, Sat, 3.15m).

BBC1's new Saturday show The Hit List opened with 2.85m, ahead of Pointless Celebrities (2.45m) and only a little behind In for a Penny (ITV, 2.95m).

Channel 4's leading game was Bake Off The Professionals (Tue, 2.15m); BBC2's leader was Mock the Week (Thu, 1.55m).

New channel leader is Taskmaster (Dave, Wed, 1.3m), ahead of Celebrity Juice (ITV2, Thu, 600,000) and Stephen Mulhern's Got More Talent with Stephen Mulhern (ITV2, Sat, 535,000). Got Talent Ireland went out on 5star (best: Tue, 165,000).

Channel 4 has a proper finals week for Bake Off The Professionals (weeknights from Tu). We're interested in Groundhog Date (ITVBe, Th), the same date with different people. For the traditionalists, it's the Mastermind final (BBC2, Fr).

Photo credits: Thames / SyCo, Baninjay.

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