Weaver's Week 2022-09-18

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This week, a show to bridge the generation gap.

Game on Grandparents


Game On, Grandparents!

Electric Robin (a Banijay company) for CBBC, 15-26 August

"Do you like gaming?"

"Do you like your grandparents?"

Game on Grandparents Then this is the show for you!

Julia Hardy's our host, and asks two vital questions in the first minute. And, let's be honest, if you don't like gaming, and you don't like your grandparents, this ain't the show for you.

The challenge is simple: beat everyone else at video games. Except you children aren't playing, it's your grandparents who will take part.

Game on Grandparents Drive faster, Granddad!

Yes! Children train their grandparents in a video game, it's the grandparents who actually mash the buttons and turn the wheels and do that strange move with the hand-held doo-dads. By the end of the show, they go head-to-head to find a winner, and make the series final.

For our sample heat, we're in Wakefield, where Finley and his grandpa Graham hope to be over the moon. And we're in Weston-super-Mare, where Elijah and granny Sue take the challenge together.

Game on Grandparents That's good, Granny!

The game for this episode is Mario Kart. You're driving normally, but you're also driving up cliffs, and with power ups, and stuff like that. Sue, it turns out, is a bus driver, so should be at home.

First problem is the controls. Push A to accelerate, B to brake, and to turn you've to push the two controllers to the same side. And there's a "use" button, for when you get power-ups. No, not what you do during the ad breaks in Countdown, a power-up is an advantage in the game. Like a turbo boost, or something to slow your opponent.

Game on Grandparents For Sue, it's more stop than go.

One team spends a lot of time selecting their character, and wins the first race. Beginner's luck. The other makes a presentation of all the power-ups in the game. Useful if you want to be as good as your grandchild, but perhaps not the skill to win the race. It's the difference between a look at the big picture (win the series, and before that win the race, and before that be as good as you can) and sharing what knowledge you know (it's a green turtle thingy). The difference takes maturity, thought, planning, skills these tweenagers have yet to develop.

So we have a good look at the training, skills the grandparents are picking up, and how they're improving their performance. Lots of together time for the grandparent and grandchild, and that feels like a bit of a rare treat. Grandchildren are busy with schools and gaming, and often don't have as much time as they'd like to spend with grandparents. Especially in the last couple of years.

Game on Grandparents There are chores to be done.

Although it may not be obvious, grandparents also have busy lives. It's not just tea with the girls and doing the garden... actually, yes, it is just tea with the girls and doing the garden. So the children are asked to make a cake, and serve tea, and ensure the plants are properly watered.

Share what you know works in both directions. Everyone on the show comes away with some sort of useful new skill. Granny gets to spend quality time with her grandson, learn how to play video games, and possibly win a prize. And Granny teaches how to make a proper slice of tea and a mugful of cake. It's a very useful social skill, especially if grandson wants a career in BBC catering.

Game on Grandparents Practice your racing skills... on a racetrack!

To get the teams out of the house, they're all going go-karting at Surbiton racetrack. Dressed, of course, as Mario from the video game. Practice for the game, but also for the young drivers to appreciate the knowledge their elders have built up from years driving on the roads.

And it's a chance for the teams to meet each other. See the opposition, size them up. Perhaps one of the teams might let the other win on this track, boost their confidence, then come back and smash 'em to smithereens in the main game.

Game on Grandparents And, er, wear some appropriate outfits.

Game On, Grandparents! leans into its video game roots. The show looks like a video game, with fast cut scenes, plenty of emoji flying around, and music playing throughout – original music is from Paul Farrer, a perpetual sign of quality. Julia uses their speed-up button when the driving turns out to be less Max Veryfaster and more Sidney Sloecoach. Julia also gives a witty and wry commentary to camera, linking the clips with style and making sure the story's told.

Game on Grandparents There's somebody at the door!

The teams have a message! "Who's that?" It's Dan TDM, a man with 26 million billion zillion subscribers, almost some of them human. He's played every game known to humanity, and he's great at Mario Kart. He gives a couple of tips to the teams, fills a similar role to Gamesmaster in the Consoletation zone. It's statements of the obvious, and from someone who has literally spent seconds recording their piece to camera. This little insert is worth its weight in gold – adds star power and it'll encourage some children to watch just to see their hero for a moment.

Soon enough, practice time is over, and both pairs go to the Game On, Grandparents! arena. There's walk-on music, gold capes, a massive audience of CBBC viewers. Julia gives an interview: the karting helped Elijah work out how Sue goes wrong on the corners, and a lot of confidence from Finley.

Game on Grandparents Sue and Graham do their best.

The race is simple. Three laps of the Mario Kart course, first to finish wins. Scores as defined by the game do not count: you can have as many power-ups and trickery as you want, but a high score will not help you. The only thing they count is speed. It was speed before style for First Class The Video Quiz (ask your parents), it's speed before style for Game On, Grandparents!.

Grandparents have the controllers, but their young relatives can stand behind and shout advice. This may or may not be helpful advice. There's a full race commentary from Miles Ross – broadcaster, e-sports commentator, knows a moss collector.

Game on Grandparents And Sue is the winner!

The winner is declared, and that's pretty much your show. Julia's back on stage to have a quick chat with the winners and a big cheer for the losers. "It's been a worthwhile experience, one we'll take away with us," says the losing grandparent.

...and the final?

Game on Grandparents Large and noisy, the arena crowd.

Fast forward through the series to the final episode, solely in the Game On, Grandparents! arena. Nine finalists means three heats with three players: each heat winner and the fastest runner-up progress to the semis, winners to the final, winners are the winners.

Everyone gets a second game to learn, Team Sonic Racing. Two weeks to practice, and we get some very – very! – short clips of how the finalists learned their games.

Game on Grandparents Three grandparents enter.

This is the final, it's different from the heats. Unlike the rest of the series, this episode's all about finding the winner, not the journey to become a winner. We only have time to see brief highlights of the heats and semi-finals – enough to report the result, not long enough to fully understand the story of the race. The post-race interviews talk more on "we tried, we had a lovely time together, so what that we didn't win".

Although the heats and semis have been whizzed through, they do make time for a brief recap of how the finalists got there. And we see the final race in full, the e-sports show ends by showing e-sports.

Game on Grandparents Support from one generation to another.

On the surface, Game On, Grandparents! is a competition about video games. Beneath the surface, there are a lot of strands. Family ties, sharing knowledge between generations. Good sports, how to lose with grace and humility. Appreciate what the other generation does all day – how much fun video games can be, and the benefits of a well-watered lawn.

This is what CBBC does. Viewers are challenged to share what they know, and to learn from other people in return. While Game On, Grandparents! emphasises the victories, there are honest lessons in growth – it's never easy, especially when you're starting from nothing.

Game on Grandparents Large and noisy, the arena crowd.

In this column's view, CBBC has three core aims. 1) Expand your horizons. 2) Build solidarity in your society. 3) Be creative. Game On, Grandparents! hits all three aims, and does so with joy across its face. Gently improve your audience while they're enjoying themselves, it's a perfect example of Rethian broadcasting. (Ask your grandparents.)

Game on Grandparents The series winners hoist their trophy.

In other news

Aii-ee-ya! Hee-hooie-yaa! Survivor is coming back next year, on the BBC. Competitors are cast away in a tropical location (rumoured to be the Dominican Republic). Tribes are assigned, people are voted out, there are challenges and – after sixteen programmes – a winner emerges.

Survivor traces its roots to a 1988 item on Network 7, where four celebrities of the day were cast away and asked to live for a week. It was turned into a competitive format in 1997, and become a massive hit right around the world – except here. ITV made two series of Survivor in 2001-2, it made the career of Zoe Lyons and absolutely nothing else. We were all about the day-to-day hit of Big Brother and didn't care for a slow-burn format.

Rights have flowed from Charlie Parsons to Planet 24, then kept as Castaway Television Productions, which was bought by the Banijay organisation in 2017. That's why Survivor is made by the same production imprint – Remarkable Television – as Pointless.

Eurovision Song Contest A great success story.

Why change an (almost) winning formula? The BBC will make an internal selection for Senior Eurovision, following the success of "Space man" performed by Sam Ryder. The song finished second on the night, was a critical and commercial success, and appears to be the second biggest global hit to emerge from this year's contest.

BAFTA Cymru award nominations are out. Am Dro! is nominated for Entertainment Programme, and The Great Big Tiny Design Challenge for Factual Series.

Schofield's Quid Game ITV morning show This Morning marked its 34th anniversary with a dash of controversy. Even after the 0898-gate scandal, This Morning still has a daily call-and-lose cash prize wheel spinny thing, where the lucky viewer can win money – £1000, £3000, maybe more. This month, some of the spaces have been marked "Energy bills". The price of electricity and gas has been soaring, owing to regulatory failures and market failures and sanctions following the invasion of Ukraine.

A sombre look.

The dead tree press reached for the smelling salts. "The cost of living crisis is not a game, an opportunity for light entertainment [...] It is a desperate moment," wrote Scott Bryan of The New Statesman. "Our prizes are now the means for survival. It's nothing short of a dystopian nightmare, playing out before our eyes," said Emma Flint of The Independent.

We agree, it's a misjudgement from This Morning. The show can and does have deep and meaningful segments, proper consumer advice we can learn from. But there is also fun and frivolity, and the prize wheel is fun. Keep it light, folks, no need to add shade to the optimistic bits. Events have given This Morning a week to be more serious, and an excuse to drop the unpopular segments.

What did we learn this fortnight?

  • There are about 1800 babies born on any given day in the UK. So with a population of 67 million that makes the average life expectancy a snidge below 99 years. (House of Games)
  • Since 1750, China has given off more carbon dioxide than the UK, but less than the USA. (Unbeatable)
  • Dame Una Stubbs was the great-granddaughter of Evenezer Howard, who founded the Garden City movement. It's responsible for Welwyn Garden City, where she was born. (Only Connect)
  • "Say Please, Mr. Elton", a mnemonic for Jane Austen novels published during her lifetime. They are Sense and Sensibility, Pride and Prejudice, Mansfield Park, Emma; after her demise we got Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. At the time of broadcast, the phrase "Say Please, Mr. Elton" was not on the internets. (University Challenge)

Only Connect saw the Jillies beat the Road Runners 19-12. They've done the inevitable question about A Question of Sport hosts, cross that off your list. Loved the question about definitions of "on the ____" phrases – the answers went on the completion of the phrase. Didn't like the sequence naming 1, 2, 3, 4 seasons: it felt looser than usual.

Mothers Ruined beat the Peacocks by 21-17. The Peacocks had the run of the first two rounds, getting a very nice connection of homophones for French relatives. Mothers got three on states producing lots of US presidents, and were lucky to get a bonus on motorway service stations. Peacocks didn't quite get their wall, they'd have aced it with an extra 15 seconds.

University Challenge was won by Newcastle, 195-115 over Open. Open were unfortunate not to get any of their bonuses about the career of future primes minister, and we're very resistant to ask either side to work on electrical wiring – they guessed on a dull question. An unusually vanilla set on European football history was balanced by Nobel prizes in South Africa, and thinkers about autism.

University College Oxford beat London School of Economics, 175-110 the final score. We knew luck wasn't with LSE from the opening bonuses, when they talked themselves out of a correct answer. Ukulele music in cinema, the game Wingspan, and Maggie Hamblin's sculptures wouldn't have been asked when Paxo took the helm here. The "National Covenant" rebellion of 1639 would have fit into the start of Paxo's reign, he probably remembers the event from first time round. Enjoyed the question asking which planet orbits the sun in about 8760 hours; neither the teams nor this column could do the mental arithmetic quickly enough.

Both Monday quizzes have referred to Beyoncé Knowles without playing her music. Too expensive to clear for the shows' limited budget. University Challenge played clips of the songs sampled in the "Lemonade" album, Only Connect let the host sing the "Oh-oh, oh-oh" whoop.

This site endeavours to bring accurate and relevant information wherever possible. By keeping the tv guide up-to-date, we hope to have made your viewing a little easier, and to have eased frustration as schedules change faster than the weather. It's been a massive team effort, all of the UKGameshows editors have been tremendously helpful, and we hope to remain tremendously helpful in years to come.

Strictly Come Dancing BACK!!!

Dust off the glitterball, Strictly Come Dancing is back (BBC1, Fri). We're also graced by The Tournament with Alex Scott (BBC1, weekdays from Tue). Blankety Blank is due to return next Saturday (BBC1), and Mastermind returns (BBC2, Mon).

Later in the week, a Mel Giedroyc double with the return of Unforgivable (Dave, Tue) and woodworking contest Handmade (C4, Wed). Hire Me (BBC3, Wed) follows hopefuls looking for their dream job. Junior Eurovision (TG4, Sun) will give one young hopeful their dream trip.

We're not publishing next week, so watch out for I Literally Just Told You (C4, Mon 26th). It's straight after the football on Monday, and there's another episode on Friday. There's a new run of camping show The Perfect Pitch (C4, weekdays from 26th). Bad Chefs (ITV2) makes cookery compelling, that's now starting on the 26th. And if you're missing Taskmaster, it's back on Thu 29th (C4 again).

Pictures: Electric Robin, EBU / Corinne Cumming, ITV Studios, BBC Studios.

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