Weaver's Week 2001-04-17

Weaver's Week Index

17th April 2001

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


"One of these people could be winning £10,000. But to do so, they must eliminate all the others in a fight for survival." Metallic graphics, photos of the contestants. Blinkin' heck, it's (THE) WEAKEST LINK all over again.

Six contestants are packed away to a 24-hour "bonding" course, where the team is supposed to learn all about each others' strengths and weaknesses. We're shown a film introducing each contestant, a quick voice-piece from each, then into the studio games.

There's an opportunity lost here already - the day out seems to have been full of challenges, enough to make perhaps 90 minutes of action.

In each round, the contestants vote for someone else who they think will *fail* the test. The contestant picking up the most votes will take the test. Fail, they're out. Succeed, and they get to nominate one of the people who voted for them for elimination.

During the voting, we see more voice-pieces from the contestants, suggesting how they might vote. It seems these are shot at the time of the day out. Votes are cast on a scribble-board, similar to WL CHAMPIONS, or Final JEOPARDY!

The finale is a head-to-head game, with the first to complete the task gaining the *chance* to win the jackpot - GBP10,000. There are five questions to be split (one each) amongst the five losers, who count as a team. First team to get three correct wins; if it's the losers, they split the money between them. This feels out of place, a more random finish that is prone to be messy.

Ulrika tries her best to look like Anne Robinson, even down to the black outfit. However, she's not Anne. She's slightly nice, and is in an improbable position - being a bit bolshie to find out why contestants have voted for each other, but being friendly and encouraging to those taking the challenges. It's a very difficult role, but Ulrika does a decent job. She does have the annoying habit of stalling at moments of tension, as Anne Robinson did in early episodes of (T)WL. This doesn't build tension, it's just really annoying.

Ulrika's catchphrase: "Ladies and gentlemen, it's time to choose the loser."

The set is done in a blue-purple colour, which attempts to look like canine teeth, but looks more like a bunch of cones left lying around a roundabout.

Overall: it's a promising format, but there's something slightly missing, and I can't put my finger on it. Perhaps it's because the contestants know each other far better than we do; perhaps it's Ulrika's stalling when the game needs to flow. Perhaps it's the intrusive studio audience and OTT music; perhaps the asynchronous end game. There's a smidgeon of work to be done, but this is on the road to become a real hit.

For those interested, the rounds in the premiere show were a physical challenge, a word-play challenge, an observation challenge, a math and memory test, and a soft-stepping challenge.

Presenter: Ulrika Johnsson Format: Andy Culpin, Sarah Edwards, (Andrew?) Sloane Producer: Mike Agnew Executive Producer: David Young BBC, 2001


You join us here in the Elstree studio at the point where it begins to get exciting. Well, slightly. Richard Deeley, a late 20s single accountant from Nottingham (and there's not much wonder why), is at the £32,000 level. He's already used ATA.

"Here's the cheque. Hold it if you..." Richard takes it. Crumples it into a ball, and flings it somewhere in the direction of contestant 6.

£64,000: In which sport are white goose feathers an important feature, especially at international level? A) Darts B) Archery C) Fly-fishing D) Badminton "Can I have that cheque back?" Let's phone a friend. Andy. They decide on archery. B) Archery It's badminton.

"Do you want to go and get your cheque back?" Up come the studio lights.

There's always a reason to watch Millionaire...

Old questions from Millionaire are on the website, www.itv.co.uk. Plenty knocking around groups.google.com as well.


We've recently had cable installed here at chez Weaver, and one of the channels is the Irish expats channel, Tara. It shows the best of RTE television, and some home shopping filler. One of the filler programmes is CHALLENGING TIMES, which struck a few familiar notes. Teams of three students are given fairly easy general knowledge questions to answer, with series of bonuses and fines for incorrect interruptions. It's a knock-out format, building to a series champion.

Heck, it's UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE, without the credit to the College Bowl Company.

The main differences are that the host (whose name I didn't catch - Tara cuts off the credits early) is far nicer than Jeremy Paxman, and spends a long time consoling the losers. The standard of questions is also significantly lower than the UK equivalent, one picture starter being to identify a picture of former Texas governor George Bush Jr.

Weekdays, 1730.


A welcome return for the Greatest Game Show Of The Mid 90s, WANTED. This time round, viewers to digital terrestrial can see all 16 episodes, as they're airing over the weekend. The bad news is that they air at 0700 Saturday and Sunday.

Viewers should also note that the show has gained in-vision signing. This is at the bottom right-hand corner of the screen, and partially obscures the show clock. Cue ironic applause from Millionaire.


Conan O'Brien interviews Anne Robinson, and shows the briefest of clips from WEAKEST LINK (US) - our host is clear that the show has lost its definite article.

The clip comes from the pre-vote phase, where Annie is summing up the team's lack of performance. Banking $5000 from a potential $125,000 really is crap. She seems to dwell on each phrase, speaking significantly more slowly than on the UK version. The floor in the US also goes red during the voting. Eight contestants, following the format of the UK prime-time almost exactly - the daytime show has nine contestants and longer rounds.

I'm struck by the huge amount of promotion this show is getting in the US. When it launched here last August, it crept into the daytime schedules with barely a trail, only to enter the public consciousness through word of mouth following Nick Bateman's exit that week. ITV had launched the much-hyped THE PEOPLE VERSUS the previous night, and we still wait an airdate for the second series.

Until next week...

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