Weaver's Week 2001-01-23

Weaver's Week Index

23rd January 2001

Iain Weaver reviews the latest happenings in UK Game Show Land.

The gloves are back off in the BBC -v- ITV scheduling war this week. We know this for two reasons: one, ITV's Nightly News moves back to 10pm from the 11pm slot it's occupied since March 1999. Two, Annie is back with Prime Time (The) Weakest Link, 8:30 Monday night. Monday Millionaire extends back to an hour, and runs at 9pm. Saturday Millionaire (ie tonight) is 75 minutes, from 7:55. Other old friends may well return before the week is out.

I owe two weeks' recaps of...


Jan 8: Queens' Cambridge took on runners-up St John's Oxford. Queens took an early lead, St J came back, and it was nip and tuck right the way through. The teams faced this absolute stinker of a question: "Twelve US states begin with a vowel; only four don't also end in one. Utah is one, what are the other three?" The teams thought. Some members gave up and sat back, the others continued to think. 30 seconds, if not longer, Jeremy called time and gave the answer, with at least one member of each team indicating that he had two-thirds of the answer. St J's captain didn't know the low-culture question regarding Mulder and Scully (the single by Catatonia, not directly the X-Files agents) and later pretended not to know of Elvis -- Presley? Notwithstanding this, Queen's couldn't quite complete their comeback. For those who couldn't figure out the answer that beat the teams, it's Oregon, Arkansas, Illinois. The final score: St John's Oxford 185, Queens' Cambridge 160.

Jan 15: Newnham Cambridge against the other runners-up, Bristol. The ladies of Newnham still have living proof that maths students are not geeks in the shape of their captain (:* Despite getting the opener wrong, Bristol takes an early lead, 120-60. Newnham pulls back well, but can never quite take the advantage back. Bristol wins an exciting, close contest 200-155, and looks set to go far.


Who's left?

Gloria Barnard, 47, project administrator, Farnborough

Paul Wallace-Sims, 35, teacher, Bognor Regis

Zi Khan, male, 32, restauranteur, Doncaster

Jennifer Waller, 37, medical rep, Darlington

John Church, company director, 53, London

Jo (Jo-Anna) Corlett, 34, artist, Isle of Man

David Buxton, 35, merchandising company, London

Sara Lee, 24, financial recruitment, Droitwich

Ollie (Oliver) Norman, 22, trainee lawyer, Glasgow

Gloria is ill on the morning of day 3, and takes no part in Challenges 4 and 5.

Nominate the best (Oliver) and worst (Sara) golf players in the group. They shoot off in a car. The remaining six split into pairs: artists (Jo, Jennifer), animal lovers (John, David), extroverts (Zi, Paul). Each pair goes to their car (well, jeep) where there's a mission CD. Listen to it and head to the beach.

Challenge 4: raise £150 across the teams in three hours for a good cause, with helpful stuff in the boot. Groups to work independently. Animal lovers: give donkey rides. Artists: face painting. Extroverts: a Punch and Judy show. And it's a British beach. And it's summer. And it's raining. Yuck.

Jo and Jennifer go on the prowl round the bars on the seafront to drum up trade. Zi and Paul put up their stall. John and David walk about with their donkeys, on a soaking wet day. Presenter Glen makes sandcastles before heading off to find an umbrella. No-one finds a little poster from The Mole.

David later remarks that John went off for little things for a long time - the act of the mole, or someone faking it.

People are being given silly things to do against the clock. It's the weekly bit of Wanted, with just an element of Treasure Hunt. Very silly, very good fun.

The results: Artists £55, Donkeys £70.58, Punch and Judy £90.93. The total: £216.51, far exceeding the target. That money gets doubled, goes to charity, and adds £5000 to the game kitty, which now totals £25,000.

Challenge 5: Oliver has three hours to teach Sara golf. The remaining six contestants roll up. The other six contestants are asked a question, get it right, Sara gets two more shots. She gets the par for the hole (4 shots) for free. Sink the ball, £5000 to the kitty. First shot goes well. Oliver advises Sara to use the putter, which puts her close to the green. Closer with the third. The fourth shoots past the pin, and lands about 30 feet beyond.

John is nominated for a question on Jersey. He flunks it. A pretty easy question - who founded the zoo - especially for someone who visits a lot. Paul gets a history question. Straight in there. Sara's first shot goes perhaps 12 feet to the right; second is awfully strong, runs over the hole and lands about 30 feet the other side. David on sport. Wrong. David knows nothing about sport. Film goes to Zi. He names six of the seven dwarves, but misses Bashful. Science - Jo. What *are* they thinking? Jennifer gets a music question. Which she doesn't get.

And the challenge is lost.

Challenge 6: Day 4, and Gloria is still ill. The remaining contestants split 3- 3-2 for a mini-rally - one navigator, two pit crew; one person must pit twice.

The teams (first named is navigator): A) John, Jenny, Zi B) Paul, Sara, David C) Ollie, Jo, Zi

Each car to complete a circuit; at the pits, half way round, the rear wheels must be swapped. All three circuits (one at a time) completed inside 20 minutes. The navigators ride the course in a Mini car; they'll be driving it in fast sports cars.

Paul's first, with team B, and makes it into the pits inside 90 seconds. Fast. They have to remove the wheels by hand, none of these motorised wheel nut thingies they have in F1 and Indy. A quick return to base completes the lap in 5'04, ahead of time.

That releases Ollie in team C. Zi is slow off the mark with his jack. Jo struggles to release her wheel, and breaks out the bleep machine. The wheel isn't on. It's agony to watch - the team offers advice but can't actually help. 10'47 for the lap surely leaves too much for the last side to do.

Less than five minutes for John in team A to complete his lap. Zi has experience this time, Jennifer finds it difficult. But Zi has trouble with his wrench. John finally gets released, and makes it back. He needs to go faster than light. 7'17.

Missed by 3'08. Jo got her apologies in early, but 3 minutes is a long time.

The voting goes like this, last week's in brackets: Gloria - The mole has to be up for everything Paul - Jo [Oliver] Zi - No nomination [John] Jennifer - herself John - Gloria Jo-anna - Paul [Paul] David - No nomination on camera [Paul] Sara - Zi [David] Oliver - No nomination [Jules]

Gloria is the person eliminated. Missing out on games, missing out on clues. The same eight players who played the nine-player games this week continue to next.

Clues and anti-clues on The Mole Hunt:

4) There isn't much to go on here. We saw about six minutes of footage from 9 hours of shot film. Jennifer kept her artistic bent under a bush, maybe she genuinely didn't think she was artistic. John's pulled another vanishing act. There's too much left on the cutting room floor to form a fair judgement.

5) A bit of a disaster. Poor advice from Oliver, taking a putter on the second shot was a bizarre move worthy of Jean van der Velde. Sara's sixth shot was a lot wilder than it needed to be, but it's the way Ollie and Sara handed out questions that confuses me. Strikes as evidence for Oliver, John (missing a simple general knowledge question about Jersey Zoo), or Sara.

6) The team misunderstood the game from the get-go. Navigation isn't important, especially compared with "a pit stop crew". Why were the navigators men? Why leave all four ladies to perform physical tasks? Strikes me as general incompetence.

Last week, I didn't have much of a suspicion. This week, John has done some daft things, possibly *too* daft for my theory that the mole will be subtle. Oliver and Sara become my prime suspects.

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