Weaver's Week 2022-10-16

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Are You the One? UK

Alright. Apart from the Spiteri water pump, Edward de Bono, Gozo the Great, the megalithic temples, Destiny Chukenyere, Cannonball, and all the pastizzi in the world, what has Malta ever done for us?


Are You the One?

Lime Pictures in association with Malta Film Commission for MTV, 8 August — 10 October

Take ten single gentlemen, and ten single ladies. Run through a meticulous matchmaking process, to find the best matches on paper. Put them into a large holiday villa on the sun-drenched island of Malta. Give them two weeks to replicate the matches selected by the producers. Dangle a large carrot in front of them – £10,000 each if they all get the right answer.

Are You the One? UK Valetta looks magical by night.

And sprinkle with some spectacularly pretty and warm pictures of Malta. Lots of pictures of Malta, the tourist board has part-funded this show and by gum they'll get value for their money. But we're not here for the pictures of Malta, all sunny and warm and subtropical. We're not there at all, being stuck on Rain Island on the other side of Europe.

So, yes. Twenty single young people have applied for this show, and had their best matches determined by the producers. There's only one problem: the dastardly producers haven't told anyone who the chosen matches are. What an oversight! The contestants will have to work out the pairs for themselves.

Are You the One? UK Olivia and Ismail are deemed a "perfect match".

With the arrogance of television producers, they refer to all of the pre-figured couples as "perfect matches". Perfect? Finished? Unimprovable? Top of the toppermost? The crème de la crème of the loveworld in a show with everything but Yul Brynner? Pull the other one, lads, it's got wedding bells on it.

Let's assume that the producers considered about 40 people in the closing stages, and picked ten of the strongest pairs. They'll also have cast for televisual appeal, a good mixture of characters and skin colours. They didn't cast for a good mixture of ages – contestants are aged from 20 to 28, no teenagers, nobody who remembers when MTV played music videos.

Are You the One? UK Cach cannot look at the scoreboard, Taofiqah can.

Nor, in this opening series, did they cast for varied sexualities. This decision doesn't represent the contestants' generation – a recent survey suggested that a mere 60% of millennials describe themselves as "heterosexual" – but it does simplify the programme down to its easiest form. One man, one woman, one chosen match.

Each episode falls into a similar routine. It begins with reaction to the end of the last episode: it's late at night, contestants are allowed to have some alcohol, there are sharp words and some recriminations. Bridges are mended, bridges are blown up with the emotional equivalent of nitro-9. Everyone goes to bed, there's a little pillow talk. Maybe one of the couples has gone into the "Boom Boom Room", where they practice their Basil Brush impressions, or something.

Are You the One? UK It's our host, Joelah Noble.

The new day brings the first visit from show host Joelah Noble. Vlogger, jobbing television presenter, occasional radio presenter. She's young enough to be confused with the contestants, experienced enough to radiate "I am the host, you are not" vibes. We don't get to see enough of Joelah's talent on this show, the contestants are the stars.

Joelah has come in with a way to choose the people going on a "date". The selection method could be sheer chance, drawing envelopes out at random. Or it could be a test of skill, or knowledge. We particularly enjoyed one challenge, where contestants threw water in the face of one suitor they disliked, gave another a peck on the cheek, and led their chosen date away – it's a very visual way to represent "snog, marry, avoid".

Are You the One? UK Just the snogging, for now.

However the dates are decided, two couples go off on their date. We're treated to footage of them outside the luxurious holiday villa, sampling some of the other delights Malta has to offer. Picnics on the grass, a boat trip in the bay, ziplining off a cliff. And they get to spend time together, apart from the others, even apart from the other couple on their date. A bit of alone time, see if they click, see how they get on.

While the dating couples are off having a good time, the remaining players in the villa are choosing between the couples. One of the couples is chosen to enter the "Truth Booth", a small cabin with lights that pretend to scan the couple, raise the tension, and eventually reveal whether this couple is a pre-determined match.

Are You the One? UK Cach and Thea support each other in the "Truth Booth".

Remember, the objective of all this shenanigans is to match every person to their producer-picked match. If the team can find a few matches early on, it helps to cut down the possibilities for everyone else. The matched couple do not get to take part in the remaining villa activities, they can go off and do whatever honeymooning couples do.

The matched couple does return for every "match-up ceremony", where the gentlemen pick the lady they believe to be their destined mate. Or the ladies choose the gentleman they reckon to have been assigned by the mysterious algorithm.

Are You the One? UK There are times when the show loses itself in its own mythology.

All of this match-up gubbins is done with more pomp and self-importance than is humanly possible. Contestants put their hand-prints on a touchscreen to "lock-in" their coupledom, and massive spotlights swing into the dark sky with each correct match. One light for each couple, so ten lights means ten couples, and ten grand each.

Are You the One airs on MTV, which once played pop music. There's a music soundtrack featuring many recent hits, and some composed music by Rob Derbyshire and Rick Hanley.

This format was originally made by MTV's US channel, and features many echoes of its United Station heritage. Most notable: the way everyone claps and cheers at the drop of a hat. Whenever someone steps forward, or makes a choice, there's a-whoopin' and a-hollerin'.

Are You the One? UK Robyn and Vic chat in one of the corners.

More subtly, we can see that the producers have chosen a large villa, with plenty of nooks and crannies. There are many places for couples to slip away, and have a little quiet time. In the group conversations, it's often as if one of the group has been asked to "spontaneously" raise a particular topic, so as to give the editors something to structure their programme. We don't say that any of this is wrong per se. But it adds an extra layer of artificiality to what is already a very contrived situation. Once we saw what the producers were doing – and they're not particularly subtle about it – we couldn't stop seeing producer contrivances.

It eventually becomes clear that Are You the One was edited to foreground a small number of plotlines through the series. A messy group involving Josh, Joshy, Tasha, Robyn, Vic, and Livvy gave plenty for the show to work with. Cach also had a lot of suitors, Saffia and Taofiqah spent half of the series fighting over him, until they found out neither is his selected match.

Are You the One? UK Cach (right, towel on head) talks with suitors Shae and Saffia.

We've no tremendous problem with the main storylines being developed through the show, except that many of the group are reduced to supporting characters. We can forgive them for not spending time on Ismail and Olivia, who were confirmed as a match about four episodes in, and got about four minutes of screen time before that. But we constantly forgot that the likes of Jacob, Jordan, and Juan were still in the villa. They weren't involved in the big squabbly group, they weren't trying to get their hooks into Cach, so were left in the background.

One contestant wasn't left in the background, Jack exited the villa part-way through the series, and was represented by a cardboard cutout through the rest of the shows. Did that make it more difficult to complete the matches? Quite possibly: ten into nine is an awkward match, and someone was going to be a bit disappointed.

Are You the One? UK Therese, with a cardboard cutout of Jack.

Are You the One concentrated on the relationships, made it appear that everyone was going to rely on gut instinct, their "romantic side", use their straightdar. Through a few guarded comments, it sounds like at least one person used their brain, and tried to work out who could be a match, and who certainly wasn't.

By the final, we knew which pairs were certainly wrong (seven from the Truth Booth, nine from a "Match-Up Ceremony" that had no matches). We also knew how many were right in each episode. From that information, the correct pairings were not completely known, but it was possible to narrow down the 5040 possible combinations to about 12.

Are You the One? UK Unlike Ross and Rachel, we're on a date.

The show was much stronger for concentrating on the heart, rather than the head. MTV knows their audience, and a ten-dimensional chess match isn't what the MTV audience wants to see. (Though if Only Connect are looking for a new and even more impenetrable tournament structure...)

Back in 2018, we said, "ITV2's Love Island is everything Big Brother isn't: charming, sweet, honest, fun, and laidback." Are You the One? is made in the same universe as Love Island, it wants to attract the Love Island viewers, and uses language popularised by Love Island. Contestants talk about being "muggy", not in the sense of "humid" but "made a fool". Discussions of "snake" weren't about the local fauna, but of people acting in an underhand manner.

Are You the One? chose to work in the same space: people having fun, given the space to find themselves, and the task is a means to concentrate the mind. The result was watchable television, we could root for the group even though we didn't particularly care for any of the characters.

Are You the One? UK And they'll be dancing on the wooden tables of a villa in Malta tonight, Jeff.

Watch more

Lots of clips are available for free.

Full shows require payment to Paramount Plus, and may be restricted to some countries.

But Are You the One? certainly didn't get the viewers of Love Island. Stuck away on pay-tv channel MTV, the aggregate audience across all showings and across the website is no more than one episode of Love Island on free-to-air ITV2. And that is to be expected, it's a programme Viacom can repeat across its channels here, and in Europe, and across the world, and it'll still be as fresh in five or ten years time.

Did we enjoy watching the show? No: the antics of lovelorn twentysomethings are perhaps of interest only to other lovelorn twentysomethings. (If you are a lovelorn twentysomething, we reckon you'll be interested.) Did we regret watching the show? Again, no: sometimes people were daft, more often people were clever, and people were always honest to themselves. Even if the team hadn't won, the participants would have learned more about themselves in a supportive environment, and we learned something about them through the programme.

Are You the One? UK A line of lights measured success.

Was this show a success? Define success. It made it to air, and completed its run. The people who took part earned their prize money. There were next-to-no viewers, but then nobody watches MTV at the best of times. Are You the One? was always going to be an entertainment, a weekly drama of little consequence, and it filled that niche perfectly. Well done to them.

File:Square rose dor logo.jpg

Then you go give me roses

Finalists for the most important television awards of the year are out. The Roses d'Or will be presented on 28 November. Game shows up for the golden roses are:

  • Best Arts Programme
  • Best Children and Youth Programme
    • The Game Catchers (RAI – a pre-school animation demonstrating childhood games, and not a game show as this site understands it)

Question Team Going for gold.

  • Best Comedy Programme
  • Best Multiplatform Thingummy
  • Best Reality Programme
    • A Ponte [The Bridge Brazil] (HBO Max)
    • Last Family Standing (NPO3)
    • Lovestruck High (Amazon)
    • Rat in the Kitchen (TBS)
    • The Great Pottery Throw Down (C4)
    • Tunnel of Love (Multishow Brazil – groups of couples make memorable experiences for each other, and judge the efforts)
    • De Verraders [The Traitors] (RTL4 Netherlands)

Bridge of Lies Also going for gold.

  • Best Studio Entertainment
    • Bridge of Lies (BBC1)
    • Britain's Got Talent (ITV)
    • Holey Moley (ABC (Disney))
    • I Literally Just Told You (C4)
    • Last Singer Standing (RTÉ1)
    • Make Up Your Mind (RTL4 – celebrities become drag queens and lightly compete)
    • The Wheel (BBC1)
    • Stealing the Show (Pro7 Germany)
    • That's My Jam (NBC – competitive confituriers)
    • Huskestue [The Know Show] (TV2 Norway – celebs, easy questions, painful forfeits)
    • The Masked Singer Brazil (TV Globo)
    • Top Dog Germany (RTL)

And those are all the game-ish nominations. Good luck to everyone! And good luck to us, we'll review one of the shows in translation next week.

In other news

ITV Television Awards were finally presented this week, delayed from 15 September. Our winners were:

Strictly Come Dancing – most popular Talent Show

Beat the Chasers – most popular Quiz Game Show

Ant McPartlin and Declan Donnelly – the Ant and Dec Award for Most Popular Presenters Of The Century

I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here! – the Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award

Anton du Beke – most popular Talent Show Judge

The ITV Television Awards are entirely voted by the public, specifically viewers of ITV and people who buy The Sun.

Retiring, with honour.

Judith Keppel is to retire from Eggheads. She's been with the daily format since it started twenty years ago, and has already seen off one host. Judith is best known for her victory on Who Wants to be a Millionaire in November 2000, the very first person to scoop the jackpot. To our amazement, we learn that Judith is almost 80 years old, and says that her prodigious memory is beginning to fail her. We wish her a long and happy retirement.

The Ultimate Magician is this year's Got Talent spin-off, a two-hour special featuring lots of magicians from various national editions of the talent show. Penn Jillette is a special magic judge – he joins Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon, and David Walliams. Ant and Dec were down to host, but one of the first magic tricks saw them combined and turned into Stephen Mulhern.

University Challenge

Slightly delayed news We regret to have missed an important milestone in University Challenge history. Last month, Kwasi Kwarteng was appointed to head the finance ministry. A member of the Trinity Cambridge team which won UC in 1995, Dr. Kwarteng went on to write a PhD about devaluing a national currency, and has been in the Commons since 2010. Again, we apologise for being a month late with this news. We will, of course, point out all the successes in Dr. Kwarteng's new job.

More dated news Last week, the dates for the Senior Eurovision Song Contest were confirmed as 9-11-13 May. This isn't a brilliant date – it clashes with the first legs of the European football semi-finals, as seen on many EBU member stations – but might help to avoid a clash with Mr. HRH Sir King Prince Charles' enqueening ceremony. The old man has never been able to take a hint, and he will have his big parade through London on 6 May. Right in the middle of Eurovision fortnight, and clashing with the local elections in much of England. Some people, eh.

This week we learned

  • Swizzle is a cocktail from Bermuda, featuring rum and fruit juice. It's mixed by a pointing device, unless it's a general knowledge question. (House of Games)
  • There are exactly twice as many members of the Commonwealth as of the EU. (University Challenge)
  • On an aircraft, there really is a part called a Spoiler. Oh. (Pointless)
  • When asked to name a Simply Red single, four out of five celebrities will say "Money's too tight to mention". Not sure what UC winners would say. (House of Games)

Quizzy Mondays began with the best bit, a really fun episode of BBC Brain on Radio 4. There were loads and loads of correct answers, which always makes for great listening. The contestants had marvellous fun reeling off monarchs of the late mediaeval period, and the concept of royalty became a running joke for the second half of the show.

A close game on Mastermind. Sam Swift (specialist: Elton John) got off to a horrid start in his general knowledge round, giving lots of answers in the right area but not very close, then getting one right and suddenly everything clicked into place. He beat Pete Wescott (UK politics in the 1960s) by one point and pass count.

The Life After Mastermind blog notes that the round on a fictional topic concentrate on events in the books, and gave scant attention to the man who wrote them. Now, it's possible that the contender specifically asked for "the Alice in Wonderland books and NOT Lewis Carroll", in which case we'd rather hope to hear this noted on screen. But this does feel like an unnatural restriction in what's already a very small topic. Two books compared with an entire decade's news?

Only Connect was won by the Crustaceans, a superb opening round showed their knowledge of Friends characters, people married to Mary, and anti-drugs songs. Their rivals, Scrummagers, pulled it back in the sequences, and took advantage of their rivals' weakness on the wall. 25-21 the final score, both teams could go far.

A low-scoring University Challenge, where St Andrews beat Gonville & Caius Cambridge by 140-120. It all came down to a one-question shootout, about the length of an attaparsec; Simon Gibbons had already shown his knowledge of scientific units. St Andrews took a long time to get bonus questions wrong, though a hat-tip to Sofya Anisimova who forced through the right answer on semi-autobiographical comedies.

Scheduling note Owing to live sport and Autumnwatch, Quizzy Monday will be all over the schedules in the coming weeks. OC and UC on Tuesday 25 October, Mastermind on Wednesday 26. The following week is yet to be confirmed, and may follow the same pattern. Normal service is due to resume on Monday 7 November.

Dr. Kwarteng leaves office After 5½ weeks, Kwasi Kwarteng was resigned as finance minister on Friday. He had proposed a fairytale policy, completely out of touch with political and economic reality, and financial traders had concluded that he was unsuited for his exalted position.

Swashbuckle Just another day at the office.

This week, Come Dine with Me returns on C4 (weekdays). They won't be using the food from Aldi's Next Big Thing (C4, Thu). Strongest Man returns (C5, Sun). The very last Mock the Week (BBC2, Fri) – until the inevitable revival on Dave in 2026.

The Wheel returns to BBC1 next Saturday, with Anton du Beke, Tony Blackburn, The Fabulous Iain Stirling, and Josie Gibson. It's finals week for ITV's The Masked Dancer, and semi-finals on The Voice of ITV.

Pictures: Lime Pictures, Interstellar, BBC Studios Digital Originals, Love Productions, STV, Expectation and Richard Bacon Media, Hungry McBear, 12 Yard, Granada, BBC.

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