Weaver's Week 2002-02-23

Weaver's Week Index

23rd February 2002

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

This week:

- The last UCQF

- The BBC's new Saturday quiz: is it a class act?

- I'm sorry, I haven't a ticket


The quarterfinal draw as it stands:

[5] Edinburgh bt Newcastle [3]

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

[1] Somerville Oxford bt Downing Cambridge [8]

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

UCL have accounted for Cardiff and Trinity Cambridge. CCC dismissed Edinburgh and Keele.

UCL takes the best of the opening exchanges, suggesting that CCC is here more because they came up against a weak Keele side than because they're going all the way, though they did beat Edinburgh. Promise is showed when the enhanced assets of Jordan gives CCC the lead, and UCL seem to have been seduced to sleep.

Interruption of the week:

Thumper: In October 2001, a voice profile by...

Laura Emson, UCL: John Motson.

Thumper: ... perfect voice for commentary; correct.

Hidden student indicator of the week: CCC goes 1/3 on chatroom acronyms. DGUYDJ, because OTTOMH they need to WUASTC. {1} Is this evidence that the image of students spending all night tapping at their keyboards is incorrect?

UCL wakes up after the music round, and a medical question (answered by the team medic, natch) brings the gap down to 10. CCC pulls away, but UCL gets two starters in a row and suddenly we're set for a tense finish. Then David Marsh gets an incorrect interruption, CCC takes the bonuses, and it's as good as over.

Old boy of the week: A potted bio of Boris Johnson, who appeared for Broadsheets -v- Tabloids in a Christmas special some years ago. Thanks to the bouffant one's botched interruptions, the Tabs won.

Snigger of the week: Thumper asks a question about a bird closely related to the shag. It turns out to be the cormorant, and another piece of UMRA lore falls into place.

Louis Louis: CCC goes 3/4 when asked to give regnal numbers of French King Louis from their picture.

Revelation of the week: the link between Harold Bluetooth, who united Norse territories, and the new-fangled wireless system.

UCL 70 0 60 25 [155]

CCC 25 95 40 30 [190]

Note the very low scores in the final quarter. Oliver Lee top scored, 62 for CCC. Katie Bramall made 59 for UCL, Emson 56 and Joe Dhesi of CCC 55. UCL took 12/30 bonuses, CCC 18/30. There lies the difference.

{1} Don't give up your day job; Off the top of my head; Wake up and smell the coffee.

So, the semi final draw:

[5] Edinburgh -v- Imperial London [2]

[1] Somerville Oxford -v- Christ's Cambridge [4]

Stats for the eight quarter finalists only:

Top scorers: 281 Foster, EDI 263 Austen, SMO 256 Kitson, DWC 255 Walker, NWC 250 Kilford, ICL

Bottom scorers: 61 Ng, DWC 75 Lockley, NWC 92 Matthews, SHO 102 Gooding, DWC

Most points for their side: 46.97% Kitson, DWC 42.50% Walker, NWC 37.97% Foster, EDI 33.98% lee, CCC

Most egalitarian team: UCL (between 21.98% and 29.75%) Somerville Oxford (30.58% to 19.88%)


It's very nearly two years since Zoë Ball left the most heard show on British radio, and almost entirely retired from public life. In the intervening period, the BBC has run a successful recent nostalgia series I [heart] X, for values of X between 1970 and Last Tuesday Lunchtime. This quiz combines some of the more fun features of both, though not the scrumptious cheese sandwiches of the latter.

The concept is a school reunion. Four ladies and four gentlemen step forward to answer questions loosely based on the year their education ended. This week's first show saw 1984 tackled. The prize is pride, a cheap tin cup, 40 minutes of fame on national television, and tickets to a touring nostalgia concert. Clearly there's been no expense spent there. Nor has there been much expense on the opening titles, which are almost a rip-off of BACKDATE's tunnel effect. Thankfully, there's no ultra-cheesy synth solo, just some flying years and it's done.

The rounds are idiosyncratic, in the same style as REMOTE CONTROL or YOU DON'T KNOW JACK. There's a name the theme round, some pop music questions, and a name the sports lead from the newspaper front page. There are also challenges of the time: solve the Rubik's cube, or play Kerplunk. The mystery guest is played in 20 questions style, and there's a musical interlude half way through.

Pedants will no doubt be flooding the BBC with emails pointing out that the Sinclair C5 was launched in 1985, not 1984; and the Brit Awards didn't come into existence until 1988, they were the BPI awards in them days. This is, though, one of the more fun features of the I [heart] X series: the research was good in places, but there was no i dotter for the picky details.

There were a number of references to actual game shows, including brief clips of the opening titles to BLOCKBUSTERS and TREASURE HUNT - both using the titles that aired in 1984. There was also a clip from the opening show of THE PRICE IS RIGHT, and a commercial for Mike Read's Pop Quiz board game. Sadly, these clips suffer from the other fun feature of I [heart] X - clips are cropped top and bottom to fit a widescreen window, and viewers of analogue transmissions don't see the extreme edges of the picture. If you want to see the *full* opening titles to Treasure Hunt, watch Challenge TV.

Let not these minor quibbles spoil an entertaining show. It is designed as cheap nostalgia to pad out the schedules, and it does pad out the schedule in a cheap and entertaining way. Zoë Ball is something of a cultural icon to the target audience of thirtysomethings, and holds the show together well.


One of the questions on Jet Set asked about the names Antan Dec released their early records under. The contestant knew it was PJ and Duncan, but didn't admit to buying the discs in question. Will *anyone* admit buying an Antan Dec record? Someone did, they shifted nigh on a million singles in three years...

Another contestant is asked the name of the MP for Chingford and Woodford Green. The contestant doesn't know. It is, of course, the seat held by the leader of the Conservative Party. Doesn't help much, does it...

In researching the review of Class Of..., I came across one source that suggests the first person ever called by Leslie Crowther declined to Come On Down. Is this fact, or an urban legend? Discussion to ukgameshows@yahoogroups.com...

Pop Idle has been sold to the US, and will air as AMERICAN IDLE. The winner is already known: Simon Fuller will net an eight-figure sum.

The BBC reports how Thailand's government criticised its version of THE WEAKEST LINK as being bad for the nation's youth. Kamchad Jud Orn received a letter from the Thai National Youth Bureau expressing its concerns to the private TV station that shows the quiz, and asked for changes to the show. The state-sponsored bureau said, "The show is promoting fierce competition and selfishness among participants. This contravenes Thai generosity." Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra said he felt "stressed" after watching it. The Hong Kong version of The Weakest Link has also been criticized for its humiliating approach. Presenter Carol "Dodo" Cheng was forced to tone down her approach and adopt a style which she called "sarcasm, but with a smile". Readers are invited to insert their own Anne Robinson-style putdown here.


For those of you who don't read the UKGSP every day, these are the calls for contestants posted this week...

YORKSHIRE TELEVISION is making a documentary for ITV about television quizzes, and seeks people who have lost on a quiz show. "If you really know about the sort of pressure that comes from the nation watching you under hot studio lights then give us a call!" 020 7793 4117, leave your name and number and one of their researchers will call back.

THE MOLE series three is seeking contestants. Yay! Are you adventurous? Could you handle the challenge? Could you find The Mole? If you want to be considered and have a valid passport, apply now. Send your contact details and an explanation of why it should be you to: The Mole, PO Box 121, Manchester M60 1EX

ACTION TIME requests all applicants go to their website for an application form. http://www.action-time.com

We've had a near-overflowing mailbox from person asking how to see her favourite programmes being recorded. Here are details of the next run of I'M SORRY I HAVEN'T A CLUE:

Sunday 7 APRIL (Special 30th Anniversary Show) (Tickets go on Sale 25 February) Playhouse Theatre, Northumberland Avenue, London WC2N 5DE Box Office: 020 7839 4401 Ticket price: £10. For this recording - to book tickets either go to the theatre in person, or send a cheque in payment plus a stamped addressed envelope.

Sunday 28 APRIL Alhambra Theatre, Bradford Box Office Tel: 01274 752000 Ticket price: £8, £7 and £4

Sunday 12 MAY Haymarket Theatre, Leicester Box Office Tel: 0116 253 9797 Ticket price: £7.50 and £5.50

Sunday 9 JUNE White Rock Theatre, White Rock, Hastings Box Office: 01424 781000 Ticket price: £7.50 and £5.50

Whichever recording you make, it'll be a long journey, Mrs Trellis.

More ticketing details soon...


Saturday's BBC1 has GG, Dog, and Eamonn Holmes from 6. Class Of visits 1980 on 2 at 9. Sunday has Not Strictly Game Shows: Night Fever on 5 at 1:35, and My Kind Of Music on ITV at 6:30. Monday sees Family Fortunes appear at midday on most of the ITV network. ITV2's Survivor repeat moves to 5, making way for nothing but Will's Story. They're down to four - whether that's contestants or viewers is not clear. Friday has Catchphrase returning to the 5:30 slot on most of ITV. E4 has the silly but potentially worthwhile Fanorama at 6.

This week's Millionaire times: Sa 8:10 (35), Su 8 (30), Mo 8:30 (30), Tu 8:30 (30) Weakest Link: all weekdays 5:15, plus Celebrity Chefs on We at 8 on 1. The Smart Alec in Dictionary Corner: Jan Ravens.

Not Showing: THE RACE. Making way this week for a profile of William Young, the person who won the top prize of a recording contract on POP IDLE. Those desperate to revisit the journey from London to Constantinople may wish to know that this episode is scheduled for next week.

Not Game Show Of The Week: Bremner, Bird and Fortune (C4, 9 Su) has had some spoof game show formats, usually taking the mick out of Tony Blair. There may be one next week.

It's the last Round Britain Quiz, and Scotland takes on South England for the championship. The guests on Just A Minute: Graham Norton, Iain Duncan Smith, Jenny Eclair, Tim Rice.

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