Weaver's Week 2002-02-16

Weaver's Week Index

16th February 2002

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

This week:

- The hole in ITV's Saturday schedule

- And a good UCQF.


Antan Dec takes forever to introduce the Pap Panel, then there's footage of the two on their publicity tour in the first half of the week. Finally, nine minutes after the opening sponsor's announcement, William Young steps on the stage to perform one of the tunes on the single. What's first? Dull, bland, must be "Evergreen," the slow and dull Westlife album track. Young does a good job, but he's not going to make a silk purse out of this sow's ear of a tune. He could do far better if Judge Cowell had allowed him to take the tune down a few keys.

The film clips reckon Gareth Gates has had his stammer coached out of him. We shall see. He's performing the other tune of the single, Cathy Dennis' "Anything Is Possible." This is a slow-to-mid tempo ballad. More popped plosives, a key change of joy about half way through that Gates fluffs. I note that we're not being allowed to directly compare and contrast the performances.

Young is back to perform his second track, a cover of "Light My Fire" that owes more to the cheesy listening of The Mike Flowers Pops than The Doors. It's too darned short - I could happily have listened to that for a good five minutes. The Pap Panel:

Waterman - "I love you."

Fox - "See you in concert."

Chapman mentions the night's *real* winners, her management and record company - "True superstar."

Cowell - "Superstar."

Some *very* funny sketches from Antan Dec are followed by Cowell and Fox impersonating the presenters.

Gates' choice of tune is "Unchained Melody," which (for Dec's information) is by Alex North and Hy Jarret, *not* the Righteous Brothers. Oh, such a surprise, yet *another* slow song. This guy is like British trains; he can go slowly, slower, or to a standstill. Gates starts breathy, and does another very good performance. The tune cries out for a decent baritone, though, not the high tenor that Gates has.

Waterman - "You are #1 now."

Fox - "Can't really criticise."

Chapman - "I prefer your version to the original." Does she have the wax disk?

Cowell - "You're a fantastic singer." By comparison, the ten worst entrants from the original audition round. Blimey, they're rubbish.

Will's back to perform "Anything Is Possible." This time round, it swings, it rolls, and there's a perkiness that was missing when Gates sung earlier. The key change is so *clearly* joyful it's amazing. By far the better performance of that song. No sofa interview.

Gates performs "Evergreen." This is more in his register than it is in Young's. There's a hollered "moment" just after a quiet passage, and Gates slams this too hard. So hard it's painful, destroying the emotion of the song. That's the second elementary mistake he's made tonight. Honours just about even on that song.

The better performer on the night is Young, by a whisker. Certainly the more versatile performer is Young. But, for whom will the Great British Public vote? The Annoying One or William the Interloper?

The results show is a bit chaotic; a live interview with Young and Gates descends into stumbling, with Ant responsible for most of the slips. Dec doing a comedy Darius gets the loudest cheer of the night.

After the voting closes, we see the two contestants at a hotel bar during the week, performing "Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me." Readers may recall the version where George Michael performs the first verse, then introduces Elton John - and Elt proceeds to wipe the floor with a thundering performance. Well, in this version, Gates is at the piano and starts the singing; then Young enters. Once again, there are far fewer puddles on the floor.

4.6m to 4.1m votes is not *very* close, Dec. This is a higher total than BIG BROTHER managed over a week last summer. The most votes went to - no way! Amazing! Blimey! William Young. We play out with a reprise of "Evergreen," which is still a really rubbish song, and wouldn't show anyone's talents to their best advantage. The backing singers turn out to be most of the last 50.

To apply for Pop Idle II, write to PO Box 110, London W1A 6SH. Be young, foolish, and/or happy.

The winner will appear on a special in the regular Pop Idle slot next Saturday, Feb 23. There was footage of the worst performance from the initial auditions, a young lady performing "YMCA."

The single will be in stores on Feb 25. The album follows in early March. The book follows "soon." William Young's fifteen months of fame start now.

And what of The Anointed One, last seen pacing the floor looking at his shoes? Don't be so sad, Gareth Gates has been signed by the same record company as the winner. His fifteen weeks of fame start now.

For Darius Danesh, dropped last week? Signed to Cowell's 19 Records, alongside Young and Gates.

And for the worst performers on the show? Antan Dec have been approached by the English Football Association to record a tune to promote the forthcoming World Cup. Meanwhile their latest album, "The Cult Of Antan Dec," can be found in a bargain bin near you.

This show drew a huge audience to ITV: 13.4 million saw the show, 11.7 million the result, including a whopping 79% share in the 15-34 bracket. ITV2's post match analysis drew 2.5 million, the best results in the channel's three year history.


The quarterfinal draw as it stands:

[5] Edinburgh* bt Newcastle [3]

[2] Imperial London* bt St Hugh's Oxford [7]

[1] *Somerville Oxford -v- Downing Cambridge [8]

[6] *University College London -v- Christ's Cambridge [4]

Somerville has accounted for Hull and Durham; Downing lost to Newcastle, but beat Leeds and Bristol to get here. Captain Peter Kitson's Variable PhD is in 17th century fornicating peasants.

Somerville gets off to the better start, but there's not much in it. The team gets questions on dubious religious cults, Mussolini, Nixon and Hildegaard of Bingen. Downing gets the red squirrel, 2/3 on happiness and identifies Viagra from its chemical formula.

Work it out of the week... Thumper: Some moon rocks were given the name KREEP because they contained high levels of rare earth elements, potassium and which other element? [Everyone thinks.] Luke Pitcher, Somerville: Phosphorous [1]

Hidden student indicators of the week: Downing goes 3/3 on native small birds. Somerville goes 3/3 on the Ionian islands. Neither side can identify the Poisson distribution.

Interruption of the week: Thumper: "The trouble with Freud is that he never had to play the Glasgow..." Pitcher: Ken Dodd. Thumper's eyebrows are interfering with the lighting.

Downing keeps the match close, but never comes within a starter of the lead. This is faster moving than last week, with both sides keeping the scoreboard ticking over. The sides combined to fail entirely on just one set of bonuses.

SMO 55 75 55 85 [270]

DWC 40 35 50 20 [145]

Top scorer is Pilcher, with 109. Kitson leads for Downing on 63. Somerville got 26/42 bonuses, Downing 15/21. Somerville's captain Tim Austen still leads his team with 263 points; Kitson's 256 represents a shade under 47% of Downing's total points.

[1] Think chemical symbols...


Listeners to Puzzle Panel may have found Raymond Keene's puzzle rather familiar. It's the one from The Mole in Jersey, with the light bulbs turning on and off. They all come back in the end.

Apologies to everyone who tuned into ITV2 last Sunday night. Special apologies to anyone who tuned in expecting to see THE RACE, only to find yet another plug for Heraset, the channel's house band (and they should be). No Race was ever scheduled this week; it's a plug for the channel's popular music awards. Constantinople will get a visit, though carry on at this rate and it'll have changed its name by the time the teams get there.


New this week: CLASS OF ... in which Zoe Ball quizzes people who left school in a given year about that year. 9 Saturday on BBC2. Season two of FEAR FACTOR pops on to SKY ONE at 8 Tu.

Millionaire is on ITV at 9 Sat (not interactive) 8 Su, 8:30 Mo, 8 Tu. WEAKEST LINK USA on Monday, with Hollywood actors on Tuesday, but nothing after. That'll be the Olympics kicking in.

It's Northern Ireland versus Wales in RBQ; Merton, Smith, Hesketh-Harvey, and Neill are in a JAM. WHO GOES THERE moves into the Wednesday lunchtime slot: it's a biographical quiz, chaired by Martin Young, with Francis Wheen, Fred Housego, Antonia Fraser and Mr Ten Percent himself, Gyles Brandreth.

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