Weaver's Week 2022-04-17

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"We don't have tactics! We just buzz when we know it!"

University Challenge


University Challenge

Granada for BBC2, 12 July 2021 – 4 April 2022

It all comes down to this. Two marvellous teams do battle in the final. It's a one-shot match, winner tonight wins the tournament.

Imperial College London: Max Zeng, Fatima Sheriff, Michael Mays, and Gilbert Jackson. versus Reading: Sylvian Jesudoss, Margaret Ounsley, Michael Hutchinson, and Kira Bishop.

These sides met in the group phase, Imperial beat Reading in the second half – the early exchanges had been even. It's Reading's only defeat, they'd previously defeated fast-buzzing Birmingham in a nailbiter. Imperial had never looked troubled in a serene passage to the final.

Ancient philosophy falls to Max Zeng of Imperial, then a set on poetry leaves teammate Fatima Sheriff putting two thumbs up. Michael Hutchinson of Reading recognises the disciplines of Modern Pentathlon, they score well on modes of music with geographical names.

University Challenge Fatima Sheriff is overjoyed to hear a question about AE Housman.

How difficult is it to define "point"? Paxman's speech takes forever and never gets to one – Imperial's captain Michael Mays shuts up the droning host. He's rewarded with early periodic tables. The first visual round is on wetlands of international importance, or "where is this river on a map"? Max Zeng has a reputation as the greatest geographer in UC history, he can recognise any place anywhere, and knocks out all four answers in no time at all. Imperial's lead is 65-25.

Gilbert Jackson claims the next starter for Imperial, but then the team get bogged down on Victorian philosophers, and they confer for a very long time before giving incorrect answers. That's most unlike them: Imperial have been fast-moving with their right answers, brisk in their errors and passes. Fatima Sheriff claims her starter, earning bonuses on neologisms from the early 1990s. "We're just too nice for this!" No points.

University Challenge The Imperial team.

Remember how people got confused in the Only Connect final with the geography of the periodic table? University Challenge hit back with its own tribute: drawing Greek letters on the periodic table! That brings Reading back into the game, and they hit 15 on the development of the motor engine.

The audio round is on 20th century opera, doc. Nobody recognises "Nixon in China", which should not be a surprise. Imperial lead by 90-50, and this grows when Reading's Margaret Ounsley gets an interruption penalty for misidentifying a Scots king. Gilbert Jackson is surprised to pick up the rebound, and the team adds one other character from the opera.

Reading pick up the next starter, but only get one bonus about Mohs. Every edition of University Challenge contains a question about Little Billy Shakespeare, and Margaret Ounsley recognises the quote about his Twelfth Night. Painters of nude pictures fail to trouble this innocent team.

The wife of the second US president? Abigail Adams, another starter for Michael Hutchinson. Questions about Prussia give ten more points, and suddenly Reading are within striking distance. Let's strike! Margaret Ounsley gets "green", and questions on 12th century learned figures draw the sides level at 105-105.

University Challenge The Reading team.

The second visual round – artists making mixed media portraits – evades both sides. Stokes' laws is another grab for Michael Hutchinson, and the visual round turns out to be the influences of Shonibare. Just the one bonus falls out. A question on the geography of Wales is (of course!) taken by Max Zeng, then missions to moons and minor planets give Imperial a five-point lead.

The drossera, found in Bolton fens? Nobody knows it's a carnivorous sundew. "Cantus Arcticus"? Not a work by Messian, as Hutchinson suggests, and that gives a five point penalty. It's Rautavaara, well enough known to appear on Classic FM.

University Challenge Andre Geim (right) wins Awkward Fist-Slash-Elbow Bump Of The Year.

And at the gong, Imperial have the victory, 125-115. The trophy is presented by the scientist Andre Geim, with an elbow bump to winning captain Michael Mays. The keys to success? Imperial were a well-rounded team – it's not just that they all got a starter, but that their skills complemented each other. They were selected as a team, not as four great individuals.

University Challenge Michael Mays, the Imperial captain, with the trophy.



Hat Trick and Hindsight for BBC2, 23 August 2021 – 11 April 2022

It all comes down to this. Or up to this: the "Everest" of quizzing, according to new host Clive Myrie. It's his first final, and we really have to think hard to remember the last host. Clive Anderson, wasn't it?

Mastermind Clive Myrie has all the questions.

Ian Wang is first into the spotlight, taking the Film and TV Works of Steve McQueen. We see a clip of Ian on University Challenge a few years ago, and a potted history of McQueen. Actor, director, winner of an award called Oscar. There's a message from the BBC's flagship film critic Ali Plumb, and from Steve McQueen himself. Ian prepares with 700 flash cards, and hopes to break Jonathan Gibson's record as youngest winner. Enter, seat right, Jonathan Gibson. "Jaiyou", wishes Ian's mother, translating it as "Put more oil in". The round includes a few careful pauses, and Ian's a bit lucky not to lose a question on time. 13 questions, 13 right.

Alice Walker joins us with the Peak District national park. It's a home subject, quite literally – Alice lives on the park's doorstep, and has been reading guidebooks and histories and looking at maps, and exploring the area with her dog Leo. And there's some Morris dancing in clogs, as one does. Alice's TV quizzes include Fifteen-to-One and Eggheads. Alice does her homework, and answers all 14 correctly.

Mastermind Alice Walker, in the Peak District.

Eleanor Ayres tells us about Eleanor of Aquitaine. Notes up in the bedroom are Eleanor's style, with revision scribblings on almost every pad. Her quiz pedigree includes Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and there's a further nod with Judith Keppel remembering her big prize. Living near Cambridge, Eleanor goes into the city's famous university to discuss in a book-lined study – a far cry from her cosy home life. Some headroom for the others to tilt at, Eleanor finishes on 11 points – and 1 pass.

Anthony Fish has been watching Open All Hours, the classic sitcom with Ronnie Barker, David Jason, and Lynda Baron. It's set in a corner shop, and written by Roy Clarke. Anthony gets a good luck note from Granville himself, and from his wife and sons. The luck might run out on the third question, when Anthony can't quite remember how the sign on the door says "Groceries" and "Provisions". Score is – how much?! 11 points and 1 pass.

Mastermind Anthony Fish.

Patrick Buckingham qualified for the final last week, specialist questions then were on the acting talent Jean Harlow. Tonight, and after quite a tussle with the producers, it's Carole Lombard, another acting talent. Carole was the wife of Clark Gable, but a comedy and serious star in her own right. Patrick's done research in the BFI Library, and talks to playwright Bonnie Greer. He's done BBC Brain and Only Connect, having come to quizzes in the last few years. All the success came while wearing lucky cufflinks from his late father. A few slips near the end, 10 points and 1 pass.

Mastermind Patrick Buckingham, in the BFI Library.

Sarah Trevarthen offers Barbara Hepworth, the sculptor whose works are in every city and every nation. It's not just the big sculptures that make her stand out, but the way Hepworth was a woman sculptor in an age when this was rare. A trip to the Hepworth museum in lovely Wakefield, and a collection of the work. Sarah's game show career includes a Pointless jackpot and Counterpoint final. Perhaps a slight wobble at the start, but it finishes 13 out of 13.

You can't win the match on specialist subjects, and this time nobody's lost it. After two minutes on specialist subjects, there's two-and-a-half mins on general knowledge. Patrick Buckingham is first back, and knocks out seven answers before drawing breath. A couple of errors are almost inevitable, then he's back on the scoring trail. The final score is a remarkable one – 27 and that one pass from the first round.

Mastermind Eleanor Ayres, in a Cambridge University study.

Eleanor Ayres gets seven answers, then seems to run into a quicksand of error. Every answer is plausible, a decent guess – but it's not right. So many near misses: in another world, she's into the lead. Though the round does continue to pick up scores, it's not going to be a winner. 22 and that one pass from earlier.

Anthony Fish suffers a couple of early errors, again giving very plausible but not accurate answers. He and Clive are talking over each other in eagerness to answer the next question, and that helps Anthony advance to 26, still with the early pass. Great that there are snappier questions than usual for the final, allows the scores to run up a little. And these are very accessible general knowledge questions, enough to play along at home, taxing in the middle to sort the best from the even better, and let the players shine.

Mastermind Ian Wang (right) with his mother.

Ian Wang has a nervous moment right at the start, almost fluffing the positive square root of 36. After seven correct answers, the round crashes into the wall of difficult questions, and finishes on 25 points. It would be impertinent for this column to offer advice to Mastermind finalists – we've never applied, still less sat in the chair – but it feels as though Ian will be back in a few years, and can go even further.

Sarah Trevarthen answers quickly and briskly, giving just the surname when appropriate. Whatever the grouching letterwriter in the TV Times says, It's a valid and legal technique, and helps squeeze in one last question. Sarah pushes through, to finish on 27 – and no passes. Winner – so far!

Mastermind Sarah Trevarthen, in the Hepworth museum.

Alice Walker scores half of the points she needs from the opening questions, then runs into a little trouble. Slowly, the round comes together, picking off points here and there. The score rises, and rises, and with the answer "Tom Hiddleston", passes all other contenders. The final score – the highest of the series! – is 33 points.

Mastermind Alice Walker collects her prize.

So Alice Walker from Macclesfield is the 2022 Mastermind. She calls her daughter Laura – who we saw earlier – with the good news. Well done to Alice, well done to all the finalists.

In other news

We're strictly in celebration and good cheer mode this Easter weekend, so we'll talk about the greater broadcasting landscape in a future week.

Pointless He's leaving home.

Richard Osman is stepping back from daily Pointless. The taller half of the Armstrong-and-Osman partnership wants to return behind the camera and focus on his writing career. "A series of guest Friends" will provide witty factoids and helpful banter to Alexander Armstrong.

Three thoughts on this. First: blimey! Very best of luck to Richard, who is a great bloke and we'll miss him terribly.

Second: this could be a natural way to refresh the Pointless format. Xander and Richard are like two peas in the pod, both were born in the early 1970s, both have had a certain middle-class upbringing, and blokeish outlook. The diversity on Pointless comes from the contestants. We hope for a very varied range of Pointless Friends For a Fortnight – Maggie Aderin-Pocock, Lesley Brewis from The Code, Leah Boleto from Newsround, Hannah Woods from UC. Or people who we'd never have thought of because they've never been on telly before – like Richard Osman was.

Third: there's inevitable speculation about what will come next on BBC1 at 5.15. We'll come back to that topic next week.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest There's a party going on, and you're invited.

Start your Christmas the Junior Eurovision way! AMPTV invite you (yes, you) to the Karen Demirchyan hall in Yerevan, where this year's contest of wonderfulness takes place on Sunday 11 December. There's no blokeish sportsball scheduled that day.

The BBC has picked up an imported show, Effboy Island. It's about the sort of sad loser who sleeps with women, but has no intention of a long-term relationship – or even walking them to the front door. Expected to see this sort of behaviour on channel 232, not channel 7 (BBC3, Wed, Thu).

Also, Romeo & Duet (ITV, Sat 16th) is a dating show with an audience vote. Young Dancer 2022 begins on BBC4 (Sun). Stitch, Please! (BBC3, Tue) is competitive costume design. Got Talent returns (VM1 and ITV, Sat and Sun).

Fifty years of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue – Greg James has the clips (Radio 4, Sat 16th), and there are archive episodes all week (Radio 4 Extra). Radio 4 also has a new series of The News Quiz (Fri), and Paul Sinha's Pub Quiz explores the anatomy of a good question (Thu).

Pictures: Granada, Hindsight and Hat Trick, Remarkable Television, EBU/France Télévisions.

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