Weaver's Week 2023-06-25

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Get Set Galactic

Experiment, explore, discover.

Get Set Galactic

Hello Halo Kids for Cbeebies, from 20 May

Opening titles set the scene for Get Set Galactic. It's an out-of-this-world show, animated through clear and obvious computer graphics. A rocket blasts off, zooms through space, and plonks itself down on a research station.

Get Set Galactic Welcome to our research station!

Three scientist figures, colour-coded for our convenience, wave from the loading hatch. A voice promises us that "discovering science is what it's about" and that we'll figure it all out. Not least why this theme tune sounds a bit like the theme from Have I Got News for You. Banks & Wag with this earworm of a tune.

Anyway, let's get on with the show. James, Ayo, and Sam introduce themselves to us. James is in a navy blue jumpsuit, Ayo in bright red, Sam in a dark green. It transpires that we're at the Space Technology And Research Station, or S.T.A.R.S. The players enter by sliding down a slide, covered in plastic tubes. We have two teams of two – one in a red to match Ayo, one in a green to match Sam.

Get Set Galactic Ayo and Sam, the grown-ups who work with the teams.

James also explains the point of the show. Our teams will take part in various scientific experiments. Whoever does the best in each experiment will win a STARS glowing test tube. It glows! It's shaped like a tube! Whichever team wins more test tubes gets the best prizes, but we're reminded that science is about trying and testing things to work them out. "Try it and test it", the gently inspiring catchphrase, shouted by the audience of eager young scientists.

Get Set Galactic James makes it clear what he thinks.

In our sample episode, we hear that they've installed an update to the centre's Supercomputer. What can possibly go wrong? Ah, it's thinks "fire the STARS rocket booster" is "show a picture of a rooster". Wonder if the update comes with some earwax remover.

Get Set Galactic Clear and simple graphics work with the verbal explanation.

Time for our first game, which is all about "mass". The graphics explain how mass is a measure of how heavy something is. Bigger things might be heavier than smaller things – or they might not, compare a balloon full of air to a banana full of – well, banana. Serious FX did the animations, and they're in a simple and uncomplicated style. The audience wants to concentrate on the concepts being explained, so the graphics need to be simple and not overload poor overworked brains.

The teams are challenged to guess if something is heavier or lighter than the previous item. Start with a guitar, and then consider an empty cardboard box. Will it be heavier or lighter than the guitar? A book, is that heavier or lighter than an empty cardboard box?

Get Set Galactic Cardboard box, guitar. Which is heavier?

This doesn't prove to be a terribly taxing game, both teams end up getting two out of two. They both get a test tube for the scoreboard, and everyone has earned their mass badge. Why, yes, it's not just the animation style – they are borrowing whole format ideas from the very popular Hey Duggee! and applying them to other shows on the network.

Get Set Galactic Woof woof woof. Woof woof woof! Woof.

Now, back to the supercomputer. Can it fire up the rocket boosters? Er, no. Ayo remembers what Ada Lovelace would have done: tell the computer exactly what to do, give it a list of precise instructions and make sure things happen properly. And, when it doesn't work, go through the supercomputer's code and fix it.

Get Set Galactic Part of your five-a-day.

Back to the challenges, where James introduces a segment on healthy eating. Questions about food groups are on the buzzer, and the buzzers are carefully hidden behind a rocket. They haven't just thrown this show together, you know. The teams get a piece of fruit or a vegetable for each correct answer, and the first team to grab their five-a-day wins the round and wins the test tube. Everyone gets their Healthy Eating badge.

Get Set Galactic Ada Lovelace, a hero for computer coders everywhere.

Great news! Sam and Ayo have fixed the supercomputer, by recoding it so it does what they want to do. Even better news, they've given us a very short history of Ada Lovelace, the original computer programmer.

James has the final game: it's a physical challenge, and it's for three test tubes! Reduce, reuse, recycle is the theme here. A conveyor belt has paper to recycle, and clothing to reuse. One member of the pair grabs items from the conveyor belt, and passes them to their team mate, who sorts the items into the correct bin.

Get Set Galactic Grab the items and sort them.

We've had a tribute to Ada Lovelace on this show, and now we have a tribute to someone even older. No conveyor belt is complete without a cuddly toy, and some teddy bears and fluffy ducks come down the belt. Bruce Forsyth would be pleased.

Whichever team gets the more items in their recycling baskets is the winner. And we have a nice bit of counting to find out the totals.

Get Set Galactic You've landed on Uranus! That's not painful at all!

Our runners-up take home some science books and a magnifying glass. The winning team gets to spin the solar system, and find out which prize they've won. Wow, a robot builder, more science books, and a magnet. The teams are beamed up back to their spaceship, and the resident scientists say goodbye.

Other episodes have other challenges, though we find that the "reduce, reuse, recycle" animation and game comes round quite a lot. Set designer Chris Webster is getting value from his work. Another show has a section on colours, making primary and secondary colours from paints. Structures, building a bridge from smaller segments; wasn't this a game on The Crystal Maze once upon a time?

Get Set Galactic A child of five could do this, you know.

There's energy, powering a rocket by riding a bicycle. Buoyancy, where gravity and upthrust meet, and the contestants consider Letterman's greatest question: will it float?

Whenever a game on the show is repeated, we see the same introduction animation, and James gives the same narration. This is not an accident: Get Set Galactic is education through fun, and one important aspect of education is repetition. Because one important aspect of education is repetition, the same lesson is given over and again, in the hope that it will sink in.

Get Set Galactic This counts as primetime entertainment on CBS.

Where do the potted biographies come in, because we only see them once? This is more to do with awareness; when the viewers hear someone talk about Ada Lovelace, or Alexander Fleming, they'll have a teeny-tiny little bit of knowledge. Enough to know Ada was a programmer, enough to know that Alexander jumped off high towers.

Get Set Galactic Another contender arrives by futureslide.

Although it often appears like it, this column is not actually written by a four-year-old. We're not in the target audience for Get Set Galactic. We do see that Sam McKaylin, Ayo Sokale, and James Stewart are all larger-than-life characters: they're a bit exaggerated, over-the-top, loud and gregarious. It's Cbeebies' house style, educate and entertain in roughly equal measure; that it has a few nuggets for the grown-ups is a bonus. Is this show going to last as long as Swashbuckle? We don't know: Sam hasn't done his "predict the future" badge yet. What we do know is that Get Set Galactic knows what it wants to do, and it achieves its goals with style and verve.

Well, that was fun, wasn't it.

In other news

Adele Roberts is to leave Radio 1 for fresh challenges. She's been at the network for eight years, and it's over two decades since her time as a contestant on Big Brother. Adele will continue to bring good vibes and a sunny disposition to other BBC channels.

We'll bring you news of changes at Radio 2 lunchtimes as soon as we get them.

Wisdom The one-word clue game Password came back to NBC last year. It met with modest reviews ("a fun word game played for appropriate levels of money", said Buzzerblog) and unremarkable ratings (3.9 million viewers, translated to .gb ratings puts it somewhere around Rise and Fall levels of okayishness). The programme has been sold here before, and appeared for one series on BBC1, and BBC2, and Channel 4, and a whole two series on HTV. Viewers preferred The Pyramid Game with Steve Jones, for goodness' sake.

Nevertheless, Fremantle Media have tried to sell the show back to broadcasters here, and ITV have gone for it – and in a big way. Stephen Mangan hosts, Alan Carr and Daisy May Cooper will be the resident panel, working with members of the public to win appropriate cash prizes up to £10,000. Seven episodes, which says to us "primetime series" and "Christmas special", apparently to begin next year.

Remember Ken Bruce's Popmaster? Missing from Radio 2 for the past few months, it's emerged on More4 (weeknights to 3 July). Let's hope all the questions are well written and properly researched, eh. Elsewhere, it's Countdown finals week (C4, weekdays), and the climax to Scotland's Home of the Year (BBC1 Scotland, Mon).

We're not publishing next week (let's watch all of Popmaster first), and the following week has the Wimbledon Rainwear and Umbrella Exposition (Incorporating Cagoule '23) right across the BBC. They even move Pointless for it! Not even Christmas moves Pointless! (If you ask us, the quality of product has really gone down since the glory days of John McIntosh and Sue Barkanorak. But we digress.)

Also in the first week of July, Channel 4 has Bake Off The Professionals (Tuesday), ITV goes with The Voice Kids (Saturday), and Cooking With the Stars (Tuesday). Radio 4 has the latest series of that new-fangled challenge for university students, The 3rd Degree (Monday).

Pictures: Hello Halo Kids.

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