Weaver's Week 2001-04-03

Weaver's Week Index

3rd April 2001

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

Before the main attraction - the final of this year's University Challenge - some other brief notes.


A minor watershed in the progress of WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE away from event television came to light last week. Viewing figures for the week ending March 18 showed that Monday's regular episode attracted less than 10 million viewers, while CELEBRITY BIG BROTHER - airing in the same slot on Channel 4 - pulled 4.5 million to see Vanessa's Rant. Though Thursday's couples show made slightly more viewers, it still fell short of the magic 10 million. That's the first time WWTBAM has gone through a week without breaking eight digits of viewing figures.

Viewing figures for that week's TOUCH THE TRUCK were not available; we couldn't get time on the electron microscope.

Channel 5 has resorted to showing TREASURE ISLAND, an import from Australia. It owes more to SURVIVOR than TREASURE HUNT, as a group of people are cast away on an island near Tonga to try and find hidden treasure from clues.

It sounds a promising format, but is let down by three fatal flaws. 1) The voiceover is as dull as ditchwater. He brings no excitement to the proceedings, and has failed to learn Motty's First Law: don't say what the viewer can see. 2) The only interesting contestants left the show within the first half hour. 3) There's no pace to the show.

If SURVIVOR wants to succeed in the UK, it will need to bear some of the points above in mind. Especially #1.


Hidden away on Children's ITV is a show with a bigger budget than Touch The Truck. Nigel Mitchell hosts - he looks a bit like Dale Winton, but isn't anything like as camp. Two pairs of children are given silly things to do, in front of an excited audience.

There's a twist in that the team trailing after each game can choose to gamble some points on a 50/50 choice. Win, the scores swap; lose, the difference between the sides doubles. It's an excuse for the kids in the audience to shout.

The finale sees the winning team run through an obstacle course (OK, ladders and bridges) to release prizes against the clock.

The major draw is that this is a comparatively big budget exercise. It's the first kids' show I've seen in Dolby Surround Sound, while the set features a huge metallic construction that more to THE CRYSTAL MAZE.

The other major development is that there is no commentator to the games. It's the exact opposite to the overdone commentary of Treasure Island, and the lack of description doesn't hurt the show at all.

In finality, though, this owes a lot to STV's previous production FUN HOUSE and DOUBLE DARE, albeit on a far grander scale.

Host: Nigel Mitchell. Voice Of The Twister: Alan Woolf. Producer: Kim Binnie. Scottish Television for CITV

Enough, I hear you cry!


St John's, Oxford -v- Imperial, London

Let's give St John's (SJ) credit for three things. 1) None of the team is over 21. Two of Imperial are studying post graduate qualifications. 2) Their college has barely 400 students - 1% are on the platform tonight. 3) They managed to lose their first round match to Birkbeck, but have beaten Edinburgh in the eliminator, Queen's Cambridge, Bristol, and University Oxford.

Imperial (IC) boasting 9000 students, beat Cranfield, Durham, Manchester and Hull.

SJ gets a perfect start, only for an incorrect interruption to bring the scores level at 20 after the first two starters. Two more starters are split, IC leads 40-35. IC gets the first pictures on the subsequent starter rule, but just one bonus. After six starters, IC leads 55-50.

A good guess on the Queen's corgis gives SJ the lead; the side has guessed shrewdly throughout the contest. It's nip and tuck as IC gets the next starter but only one bonus. Two starters go to SJ, giving them the first distinct lead, 110-70 at the music. That's opera, and goes to IC, as do all three bonuses.

Another IC starter brings physics bonuses, a lot of egg on their face as they go 0/3, and a 5 point deficit. Not being able to tell the Jetsons from the Clangers brings the sides level, and knowing the difference gives IC a 20 point lead. Campbell is on fire again, getting two more starters - that's 4/5. IC's lead increases to 55. Another two for IC takes the lead to 90, it's becoming awfully one-sided.

And on it goes. IC get the second pictures, and another. It's four in a row for Estcourt. Finally, Laird gets one for SJ, but with barely 3 minutes, it's too late. Linham bags another starter, and they're not letting Jeremy finish the bonuses. Swap starters, the lead comes down by 5. Two more starters for SJ, but the run is just too late.

Andrew Motion, the Poet Laureate, presents the trophy. It's Imperial's second win in the last five years.

Box scores Person (starters) total

ST JOHN'S OXFORD (19 bonuses)

Bell (25) 48

Linham (40) 65

Finglass (20) 44

Laird (15) 38

IMPERIAL LONDON (22 bonuses)

Hodgson (20) 46

Douglas ( 0) 22

Estcourt (60) 92

Campbell (60) 90

SJ 35 75 -5 90 = 195

IC 40 30 120 55 = 250

Presenter: Jeremy Paxman. With the voice of: Jim Pope. Producer: Peter Gwyn. Produced by Richard Reid in association with the College Bowl Company. A Granada production for the BBC

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