Weaver's Week 2001-11-19

Weaver's Week Index

19th November 2001

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

This week:

- Mastermind returns. Is this a good thing?

- Hot Property, or cold stonework?

- And which game show isn't pulling the ratings any more?


Repercharge 2: Edinburgh -v- Hull

You can be forgiven for not remembering Hull's first appearance. It was the season opener, way back on July 23. They lost 300-185 to Somerville Oxford. Edinburgh appeared two weeks later, losing 190-150 to Christ's College Cambridge.

As happened in their last match, Edinburgh has a slight lead after the first five starters, leading 95-(-5). Though Hull got a starter and two bonuses, it's red faces for maths student Andrew Riley, who thinks the partial derivative with respect to y of (3x^2)y is 1. Mary-Ellen Foster, Edinburgh captain and a maths PhD student, sets him right as 3x^2.

But then Hull gets going, cutting the lead to 30 by the music round, and gets lucky correcting "Mike Waterman" to "Pete Waterman." The bonuses are no use, and Hull's buzzers then suffer another long period of inactivity, as the side falls 70 behind.

Student indicator of the week: Hull goes 0/3 on popular music producers, but 3/3 on the modern stage musical. This is clearly vital to any understanding of culture at modern British universities.

Honours are split in the final stages of the game, with Edinburgh winning 230-150.

Foster is Edinburgh's star, scoring 101. David Griffith didn't answer one starter for the second show running. For Hull, Paul Leaver scored 78. Edinburgh got 21/37 bonuses, Hull 14/27.

As promised two weeks ago, the final sixteen, in order of scores.

[ 1] 300 Somerville Oxford

[ 2] 250 Imperial London

[ 3] 235 Wadham Oxford

[ 4] 235 Christ Church Oxford

[ 5] 230 Edinburgh (on repercharge)

[ 6] 220 Downing Cambridge (from regular series)

[7=] 220 Newcastle

[7=] 220 St Hugh's Oxford

[ 9] 215 Churchill Cambridge

[10] 215 Keele

[11] 210 Trinity Cambridge

[12] 200 Durham

[13] 200 University College London

[14] 190 Christ's Cambridge

[15] 180 Bristol

[16] 155 Salford

Ties are broken by most starters, then fewest incorrect interruptions.

Next week sees the local side, #16 Salford, take on the raiders from #7 Newcastle.


The black chair has survived, but that's just about it. The genial Magnus Magnusson has gone, replaced by the more abrasive Clive Anderson, though the genteel touch remains on the show. The tour of British cathedrals, universities and other seats of intellectual standing has also gone, to be replaced by an anonymous coloured set. Also gone is the live audience, replaced by some Canned Crowd (TM). There's annoying music behind the walk to the chair, which Magnus always let happen with just his voice. And - horror of horrors - there's more annoying music behind the contestants.

It's the loss of the black background and silence during the questions that is the most obvious change. Depending on which account you believe, Mastermind was conceived after either an experience in a prisoner of war camp or a dream about the Spanish Inquisition. Either way, it involves just a chair and hostile questions. That sense of isolation, so clear on the original, has totally gone.

The rounds are significantly shorter, the specialist subject round lasts just 70 seconds, the general knowledge 75 seconds. They were two minutes on the BBC tv and radio versions.

There's a chance for viewers on digital satellite to guess who will be the highest scorer, and to play along in the GK round.

This is not the Mastermind we all grew up with. I have a theory that one should do a job properly, or not do it at all. It comes to mind here.


Back in 1995, ITV ran a short series called RAISE THE ROOF, in which Bob Holness tried to give away a house each week by answering general knowledge questions. Losers got a teapot in the shape of a house, and the final grid was perhaps an inspiration for the Wonderwall. Now Alice Beer is on Channel 5, trying to give away a house.

The format is simple: meet the contestants, and the local estate agent. See tapes of Alice and the estate agent looking round three houses. The contestants pick their preferred house without seeing round it, and guess to within £1000 of the asking price of the house. If they get it right, the house is theirs.

Hot Property began as a fly-on-the-wall documentary charting the progress of a couple each week, looking for their new house. Only after some years has it added the game show element, and the show is still more instruction on what to look for in a house than game show. But there is tension as the couple take a car trip to their potential shack.


Major embarrassment as Wednesday's WEAKEST LINK was more than slightly slaughtered by MILLIONAIRE. Annie pulled a woeful 3.8m viewers / 16% share, way behind Millionaire's 10.2m / 44%. The prime-time show even failed to top the 5m / 35% that the *daytime* edition attracts. With BBC1 ahead of ITV for the first time since - well, forever - there must be questions regarding the long-term viability of TWL.


Glenn's by a lake and some pine trees. "Words and tears of regret. The joker, the ultimate player. Perhaps the group will now see that only one can win. Jim the joker is gone, the only one laughing is the mole."

At the end of last week's episode, the prize pot stood at £51,500. Still in the game:

Paul Tregear, 29, firefighter, Westcliff on Sea Essex

Tanya Buck, 33, fitness instructor, Barnet Herts

Dafydd Williams, 27, event co-ordinator, Cardiff

Mel Brookes, 30, information associate, Fleet Hants

Karrie Fox, 50, artist, Truro Cornwall

Chris Lintern, 27, company director, Chapmanslade Wilts

Note: Chris has moved below Karrie from last week.

On the wall behind the team, some clocks. They read strange times. Montreal 5:45:40, Ottawa 1:50:43, Lake Erie 5:55:39, ? 7:00:40.

Glenn asks the team to choose the weakest mentally and physically. He's dressed in black, and will wink... now. Karrie and Tanya get the nod. They're off in a car. The gents and Mel take a back seat.

K&T, in the car, take digital pictures, following a route on a GPS. They'll send some of them back to the team. Tanya's driving. They take all their photos from inside the car. Tanya goes at quite a clip; Karrie has to warn her to slow down more than once. Finally, they run out of road and continue on foot. They find a phone and call Glenn. "Stop the clock." They've made it in 57:34. Sit tight, the friends will be there soon.

The photos go back via satellite phone, very similar to the technology used by all good news reporters in the last month.

The challenge is to find Karrie and Tanya from their 13 photos. They have 87:34 to find the twosome. Chris advises them to start the wrong way. Dafydd recognises the second photo, and settles into the Anneka Rice role, leaping out to ask people if they've seen the pictures. He takes the laptop with him, a fab comedy moment. Paul drives so fast he breaks the speed limit, suggesting we might have another instalment of the great non game show NICKED!

Time is ticking, but the team stops to look for things. Karrie can see them coming up the drive, and racing up the path. And up a step, or two, or 415.

They made it, and it took 88:34, missing by just one minute. The exact amount of time they took to loop round the park. What's worse, behind the sun visor were full instructions. And both teams were disqualified for going too fast.

Tanya was "steaming" that she's a weak link.

Dafydd credited Chris and Paul for the idea.

Weaver's thoughts: the photos were not brilliant, both sides broke the speed limit, Chris went the wrong way at the start, Paul volunteered early to drive. Suspect Tanya, Karrie, maybe Paul.

The website clue suggests the mole is in the back seat, arguing against Paul and Chris. Opinions are mixed as to the usefulness of the clocks.

The next day, Paul opens an envelope. He's to meet Glenn in reception, thence to Lake Okanagan. The other five will attempt to climb up a rock face to reach Paul, partly on ropes, partly on their own. He has to predict who will make it up, who won't, and who will fail partway up. If the two match, £5000 to the kitty.

Karrie should make the ropes, but not the top. She gets tired at the top of the ropes.

Dafydd: all the way, reckons Paul. And, somehow, up it is.

All the way for Mel, too, but she's off on the top half.

Chris expects to go all the way; Paul reckons he'll flunk at the free climb. He makes it all the way.

Tanya is to go up the rope, but no higher. She gets stuck on the free side.

Before climbing, Tanya is offered a free pass. If she can be helped across the line in the *next* challenge, she will cause the team to fail but get passage to the next episode.

Weaver's note: Compare to the zip line game in the first series. There could be no obvious plan for the mole; it relied on a nod from the producer. I suspect the mole got a nod and/or wink off camera as to whether they should make it or not. This rules out Mel, the first to fail. No one has suggested Chris has a fear of heights, and Mel is too short to be a great climber.

Straight to the next challenge. £20,000 at stake. The team has provisions, water, snakebite kit, and 18 eggs in an egg tray. These must be carried in the hand - not bags, not pockets - to the finish line, for £1000 each. £2000 if they get the lot.

Dafydd and Paul suggest that some of the provisions (say, a tablecloth) are a red herring. Chris will take them all. Some of the provisions were a saucepan and water, to hard-boil the eggs.

About half way through the time, Tanya feigns a sprained ankle. Chris helps her over. Three eggs each, all £20,000. But then Glenn reveals the double-cross. Someone's going to get pelted with eggs here. Amazingly, it's the lake. I really thought that Glenn's jacket would be a goner.

Let the warfare begin. And how it begins. Chris feels shafted. Dafydd forgets about being the gentleman again, and says he wouldn't for £15,000. Karrie is shocked, especially given the money. Mel would have taken it. Paul remembers he's an individual. Tanya dreads tonight.

Website clue: "Which came first?" The chicken or the egg... Point to the chicken. Point to Tanya. Weaver suspects: Chris, again, tries to follow the rules to the letter. Tanya's betrayal is obvious.

Nominations corner:

Mel: Not convinced she knows [Paul, Tanya]

Dafydd: His candidate has changed, but sticks with Tanya. [Tanya]

Paul: Karrie [Karrie]

Karrie: Not Paul, he can't remember anything [Paul, Chris, Dafydd]

Chris: Karrie. [Karrie]

Tanya: does not make a nomination on camera. [Chris]

Weaver nominates: Chris continues to have this habit of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, but Tanya is still arousing suspicion. The screen is linked up to a projector, and a ring of flaming torches. This would be the bit they've borrowed from SURVIVOR, then.

Mel: goodbye!

This is not a shock from here. Much blubbing from Mel, but no surprise. Paul is shocked, Chris believes Mel didn't know who the mole was. Mel spots that there are double crossings aplenty.

Next week: going to the dogs, and off to the schoolroom.


SHAFTED turned into a damp squib, with our first shafting of the series, and no sign of sportsmanship. Maybe the stakes are too high after all. Reviewing tapes of TRUST ME, I'm reminded that the contestants on Nick's show cast their votes, then received a sealed box, which they opened to reveal their winnings, not seeing the votes till much later. On Bob's show, we see the votes and the result and the reaction all at the same time, and it's far less dramatic.

THE RACE is now reduced to one airing a week, and with a messy DOG smudging the top left corner - may yet turn into something half worth watching. This week, we're in Australia, going from Perth via one of two mining towns and Border Village to Kangaroo Island, near Adelaide. We have one team claiming the free ride another team has sorted, bitching amongst the teams, overnight travel, and one team getting in with a rich millionaire who drives them most of the way there, and charters a flight the rest of the way. Jammy. Next week, we're off to Sydney.


Pay attention, we *will* be asking questions later. MILLIONAIRE is on for 45 minutes on Saturday at 8:10, 11 on ITV2. Then Millionaire goes interactive (but only for those with an OnDigital box) on Tuesday at 8. The logic is that the ITV2 show airs at the same time as the one on ITV, except that this is only true in London. The rest of the country is watching a football game, and sees this episode on Wednesday at 8:30, when London gets to see a (presumably different) match.

Saturday night on BBC1 saw C-list celebrity FRIENDS LIKE THESE, as Changing Rooms (interior decorators) do battle with Ready Steady Cook (guess). 5:50. Followed by THE WAITING GAME, in which Ruby Wax and some couples wonder if the train will ever come. 6:45. Followed by WINNING LINES. 7:25.

UNDER PRESSURE moves from 5 to Challenge, still at 5pm Saturday and Sunday. FORT BOYARD continues on 5 at 6. THE MOLE continues 9:25 and 8 Sunday.

Challenge also started airing STAKE OUT last week. 5:35 and 11:30 weeknights.

More new BANZAI E4 10:35 Tuesday, MAKE MY DAY 9pm Wednesday.

There was never going to be a WEAKEST LINK next Wednesday, it's pre-empted for the BBC's latest nature documentary. With last week's ratings, that may be a good idea.

The other viewer of THE RACE will need to know that the Saturday and Wednesday repeats have vanished into the ether, and it only airs at 10 Thursday. In other words, you've missed it.

All the viewers to HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU will be pleased to learn that the usual jokes will be cracked at the usual times next week: 9pm Friday and an unpredictable time the following Sunday.

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