Weaver's Week 2021-10-31

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We're still in the digital extension channels, with some studio-based panel shows. And – after last week – we promise to mention only one Cbeebies show. Later, we pop to pay-tv for Undeniable with Rob Beckett, but first it's a free-to-air show.

Question Team


Question Team

Interstellar for UKTV, shown on Dave, from 12 October

Three comedians gather to ask each other quiz questions.

Question Team Hello, if indeed you are.

The show's introduced by Richard Ayoade, who you might remember as one of the six best hosts of The Crystal Maze. For this show, he's sitting in his comfortable chair, and keeping a healthy distance from the other panellists. Question Team makes the distancing thing look effortless.

The show's introduced by some jaunty music, and a CGI animation that looks lovely. It has next-to-no relationship with anything we'll see in the show.

Question Team Panelists with screens by them, a large video wall, and a big space in the middle.

Richard briefly introduces the players. It's a high-quality panel, the opening show featured Bob Mortimer (from Big Night Out), Thanyia Moore (from various comedy shows), and Kerry Godliman (from Dave's other show Outsiders). In the world of celebrity bookings, these would be high-end bookings for House of Games (3), and some could make it on House of Games Night.

Each contestant has prepared a quiz round, and delivers it from a lectern. Some of the questions are fairly straight quiz standards. Some are more surreal – Bob Mortimer bought in some items from his DIY collection, and asked the teams to rank them as cheapest / heaviest / longest flex.

Question Team Bob Mortimer asks us to Play Your Tools Right.

The other contestants answer the questions and play along. They could use the catchphrase "Show me and tell me!", because each player has to write down their answer. In the modern style, answers get scribbled down on a tablet computer and displayed on a small screen by the player. Unlike certain other shows, there are no buzzers.

Question Team Thanyia Moore celebrates scoring a point.

We soon see that Question Team is a labour of love. Each contestant has thought long and hard about their quiz round, and has doubtless received some assistance from the producers. There's a bit of a budget, too: Thanyia presented her questions while making a parachute jump, which isn't something we see on every show.

Other rounds have had some sort of social message. Question Team is close in name to the BBC's long-running shoutfest Question Time. Unlike that Thursday night programme, Question Team serves its statements with a liberal dose of humour and comedy. So we get a Blankety Blank-style game, filling in the gaps of abusive messages sent at Katherine Ryan. So we see what sort of absolute nonsense Katherine has to put up with, and she has a platform to laugh at those little-minded blokes.

Question Team Don't get this on any old show, do ya?

What with one thing and another, there haven't been many shows using a studio audience recently. Question Team has a live crowd, and sometimes uses them in the quiz rounds.

There is previous art in this sort of setup, comedians inventing games to entertain their friends. It's Your Round on Radio 4 about ten years ago was hosted by Angus Deayton, and was quite anarchic for the top people's station. Question Team shoehorns its rounds into a particular format – all questions have a proper answer, and there are exactly five points available in each round.

Question Team Ooh, cross-promotion for another Dave show.

Richard takes part in the show, and his round is contracted out to a mystery guest. The opening lines of famous novels, or a round on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.

At the end of the show, Richard awards the winner a prize. It's quite decent: the first show's winner got to name a cat at Exmoor Zoo. The winner also gets a bomber jacket and reusable coffee cup.

Question Team Ah, but is it any good?

Based on the first three shows, we've enjoyed Question Team. The show will live and die by its guests, and (at least so far) they've picked some entertaining ones. It helps that the show has some budget, it's able to afford to erect some tents in the studio, or pay someone to jump out of a plane. It's a charming and light watch, the hour-long show flies by, but we have a nasty fear that a single bad guest will stink up the entire show.


Rob Beckett's Undeniable

Monkey Kingdom for Comedy Central, 29 September – 3 November

Let's start with the billing for this show. Our EPG said,

"Four comedians, armed with the most impressive facts and fascinating trivia they know, try to outsmart one another throughout a variety of rounds in a bid to get their knowledge onto the show's prestigious 'Wall of Facts'."

Undeniable The set is, again, bright and colourful.

Sounds a bit like QI, ask a bunch of erudite people who knows the most perspicacious and interesting facts on a particular subject. It's an intellectual conversation that may be a proper contest, or a panel game, or a panel show. Points might be awarded based on achievement, points might be awarded based on whim, points might not be awarded. Nobody would mind (except this site, because if there are no points, we won't list it).

The only trouble with the billing? It's not accurate. Almost every word can be disputed, and the synopsis doesn't describe the show. We'll offer a truthful billing at the end of the review.

Undeniable The host with the most.

Rob Beckett is the host, which is hardly the greatest novelty on the telly. You'll know him from such limited successes as All Together Now (two series), Head Hunters (one series), and Wedding Day Winners (half a series before they yanked it out of the schedules).

Guests on the show have been a curate's egg. This week had famous names Seann Walsh, Eamonn Holmes, AJ Odudu, and Larry Dean; last week featured Melvin Odoom and three people we'd not met before (and one we don't terribly want to meet again). This column recognises about one star each week, and one or two people who have been on House of Games (3). Very few guests would be considered for House of Games Night.

Undeniable This week's team is Joe Swash and Kae Kurd, separated in an unnatural manner.

As is required on shows like this, we start by meeting the teams. Who are you, what have you done with your lives? It's an excuse for the panel to introduce a little fact about themselves. Unlike the introductions on Only Connect (2), these facts are the subject of discussion amongst the teams. While it introduces the comedians to us, it gets the show off to a slow start.

Undeniable Rob Beckett and his wall of fact.

The most interesting facts will get put up on Rob's Wall, a big screen display that accumulates elements during the episode. Sadly, the display is as basic and functional as it's possible to get. There's no attempt to write the facts on little CGI sticky notes, or pin them to the wall with CGI nails, or spraypaint the fact onto the wall. The facts just sit there, white text on a blue background.

It is a comedy game show, and they do have some rounds to play. "Half Truths" is the first round. Rob shows the first half of a fact, and the panel supply a suitable conclusion. Points for wit? No, they give points for being right: the comedy discussion is stopped a bit too quickly, and closed down to three options. No danger of the panel being interesting in unscripted ways here.

Undeniable Kae Kurd tries to explain why exploding comestibles are not allowed as in-flight snacks.

After the break, it's Fact or Fib. Now, when this column used to set social quizzes, we'd always begin with a Fact or Fib round. Six silly statements, at least one is a fact, at least one is a fib. Good to see the idea has made it to network television, though here it's just two statements, precisely one is a fact. The two players on one team talk about their "facts", the other team come to a conclusion about which is the truth.

Again, this round feels like it could be so much better. The players are given the bare facts, and can't really improvise or extemporise around what's on the card. Call My Bluff had some preparation time, wordsmiths like Alan Coren and Gyles Brandreth were allowed a little while to think about what they were going to say, both to deceive the other team and to entertain the viewers at home. While the claims on Undeniable might deceive the other team, we found them stilted and poor viewing.

Undeniable Far too much of this show is spent reading text off a board. Fact.

All About comes next. A short film is shown, using archive footage and the recognisable voice of Jessica Knappett. Embedded in the commentary are eight claims, of which precisely three will be false (or true, depends which way they play the round). The teams' job is to sort out the piffle from the wheat, and identify the outliers.

This round generated some really long discussions. They go through all of the possibilities one by one, trying to make a joke or observation about each and every one. Even the spectacularly ludicrous ones. And this slow pace really doesn't help Undeniable at all. Rob Beckett is a sharp comedian, he thrives on speed. The panel, they're faster than this. But the format is thin, padded out to an hour with lots of Canned Crowd™.

Inevitably, the show ends with the Quickfire Buzzer Round. It's a panel game in 2021, it ends with a quickfire buzzer round. Rob reads out a statement: is it true or false? There's enough digression and waffle to make this a Fire Buzzer Round.

And, with a final look at the information contained on "Rob's Wall", we say goodnight to the show.

Undeniable Love the show, Rob.

We're really not sure where Undeniable is going. It's not as entertaining as QI (an opinion offered within three minutes of the start of the series). It's not as rigorous as Only Connect, and it's not as entertaining as Gigglequiz. It's mildly diverting viewing, and the collection of facts at the end of the show leave us nonplussed. It's all a bit Steve Wright in the Afternoon, mildly distracting while it's on, but we're really waiting for something more interesting to come along.

Earlier, we promised a more honest billing for the show, one to put in the EPG and set people's expectations. How's about:

"Four comedians try to find the facts from the fibs, and get what they know – or they don't know – onto the Wall of Facts."

In other news

Good news, bad news from Radio 1. Adele Roberts reports she's taking treatment for bowel cancer. The Big Brother contestant has been with The Nation's Former Favourite since 2012; she's also competed on I'm a Celebrity and Celebrity Coach Trip.

Scott Mills He's off the market, folks.

In more pleasant news, Scott Mills announces his betrothal to Sam Vaughan. Scott is responsible for Innuendo Bingo, narrated Dating in the Dark, finished midtable in Strictly Come Dancing, stands in as host on Popmaster The Tiebreaks, and is the host of BBC3's Eurovision Song Contest semi-finals.

Quizzy Mondays Mastermind went to Eleanor Ayres, the very last contestant cast in the series. Catherine de Medici was available for a specialist subject, but it's the general knowledge that clinched Eleanor's place in the spring semi-finals.

Only Connect saw the Data Wizards take their place in the quarter-final, beating the Ramblers. A low-scoring second round ended 0-0, so extended highlights on Match of the Day 2 next weekend. Question of the night? The picture connection: a fish, an integral, a white owl, John Thomson and Emma Thompson.

University Challenge had another ding-dong affair, close in three quarters, though Emmanuel Cambridge aced the third period to beat the Northern College of Music by 180-115. Buzz of the night was "Also called handedness, what phenomenon in chemistry..." Roman emperors, Chadwick Boseman, Indian festivals, and English geography all rubbed shoulders this week.

BBC Brain went to Karl Whelan, winner of a high-scoring match – he made 15, John Payne and Alan Burns broke double figures and would be back as high-scoring losers except they don't have high-scoring losers in the semis.

Tipping Point had its own Quizzy Monday moment. "In his epic poems, Homer described nectar as the drink of the gods. What was the food of the gods?" Both contestants agreed on the same answer: doughnuts.

We're not going to publish next week – the review we're working on is Murder Island, which finishes on 9 November. Let's wait for the finale before we publish.

By then, we'll have a lot of other new shows to look at. ITV began Moneyball with Ian Wright last night. Sitting on a Fortune begins on ITV next Sunday (7 November), BBC1 daytime gets The Tournament, and Channel 4 opens its Moneybags (both 8 November). All four should get reviews here before the end of the year.

Elsewhere, there's a spooky special of Celebrity Juice (ITV2, Sun). Strongest Man 2021 begins on C5 (Mon), and there's the Welsh edition Cymro Cryfa' (S4C, Fri).

New episodes of Celebrity Antiques Road Trip (BBC2, from Tue), and Ultimate Goal seeks a new football team (BT Sport 2, Tue). Mock the Week is back (BBC2, Thu), and The Chase with Celebrities has new editions (ITV, Sat).

Also on 8 November, Lingo begins its second daytime series (ITV), Masterchef The Professionals returns (BBC1), and with Blankety Blank ending next weekend, might something else roll around in its place?

Pictures: Interstellar, Monkey Kingdom, BBC.

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