Weaver's Week 2001-05-01

Weaver's Week Index

1st May 2001

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

After last week's feast, more slim pickings this week.


NBC (syndicatees of TWL) ABC (who have Millionaire) and Fox (we've given them... er... cooties?) are apparently bidding on the latest BBC offering, DOG EAT DOG. Variety Daily describes this as a "Survivor"-style elimination contest involving physical and mental challenges. Personally, I'd put it more in the vein of a competitive version of THE CRYSTAL MAZE, albeit without Richard O'Brien hosting.

ABC and others are also taking a look at resurrecting CHALLENGE ANNEKA, a project that sends contestants on a mission to complete a charitable or socially beneficial task in a short period of time. In the British original, Anneka Rice - the runner from long-running helicopter game show TREASURE HUNT - pulls favours and strings to construct a children's hospital in two days flat. Or something along those lines.

CBS has acquired SHAFTED from Endemol. The show starts with a team of contestants and eventually whittles it down to two finalists who are asked separately if they want to "share" or "shaft." If they both share, they divide the money. If they both choose shaft, they go home with empty pockets, but if one says shaft and the other opts to share, the latter gets nothing, while the shafter keeps it all.

Leading up to the final round, players are eliminated on the basis of who has the lowest cash score. Players get a hint about what the category of questions will be and have to bid on how much money they will risk before hearing the question. Competitors can take a tough question and throw it to a rival in an attempt to knock them out of competition.

Hmm. The finale sounds rather familiar; indeed, it's the same mechanic as the finale to TRUST ME, Nick Bateman's successful return to Channel 4 game shows. And bidding on the category of question is a bit like FINAL JEOPARDY!

With all these European formats going for silly prices to the US - heck, they'll be bidding on DES CHIFFRES ET DES LETTRES next - I'm thinking of flogging a concept of my own. Invite members of the public to try and price everyday shopping items, with the person closest going for a huge prize. Or just a signed Dale Winton photograph.


The Sun brought us news of Sam the parrot, who was taught to say "You are the weakest link. Goodbye," by its owner Debra Bailey and her husband Wayne, of Chesterfield, Derbyshire.

Now Sam won't shut up. He constantly interrupts when Anne is on the television. And as we all know, Anne just won't tolerate that sort of behaviour. Even in a parrot. The African grey is now confined to the kitchen whenever the show is on.

Wayne complained: "He squawks the phrase all through the questions and answers. It ended up spoiling the programme. He even used to beat Anne Robinson to her own punchline."

If the US contestants continue to complain about Anne's accents, they may like to try a quiz hosted by a bird. Squark!


To confirm Nick Gates' post, the UK has the opportunity to see (T)WL (US) on Fridays. Not sure about starting next Friday, May 4, as the regular daily edition has been pre-empted for coverage of the World Snooker championships.

An interview with the host in this week's RADIO TIMES (the official organ of the BBC). Highlights...

Anne: "I always knew I'd do the American version. It's been the pattern of my career to break the rules."

Husband and manager John Penrose: "The Americans are staggered there's no scriptwriter - it's all Annie, off the cuff. The Aussies didn't realise this and blew a lot of their budget hiring six writers."

Editorial: "The studio audience [for the first day's taping] has been hired from a specialist agency."

Jill, a lawyer contestant on the opening show: "I wasn't sure whether it was part of the act or whether she was picking on me. Either way, I certainly wasn't going to be made a fool of on national television. I spend my days sitting in cells with guys that are accused of killing people and other terrible crimes, so I'll be damned if some little redhead from England is gonna scare me. But hey, it turns out that this is just her doing her job. It was fun. She was a good sport."

No mention of how late the second taping of the day ended, but the first didn't finish till 6.

Other stuff. We don't suffer a long intro for each contestant, just their name, age, job and locality. For instance: "I'm Anne, 56, a journalist from Liverpool."

And finally. My experience is that questions within a round are interchangable. Questions in round 1 are not the same as those in round 8.

Until next week, goodbye. Squark!

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