Weaver's Week 2002-03-02

Weaver's Week Index

2nd March 2002

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

C4 signs Big Brother contract through 2004; another three series loom. There's more reality game show news later, plus a review of the BBC's other Saturday shows and a future myth debunked. First...


The semi-final draw as it stands:

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

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

Much as I like the way Edinburgh has brought a lot of fun to this year's tournament, I fear this is the end of the road. Imperial has been - well - imperious in complete domination of the opposition. Once again, the Edinburgh gents are very snappily dressed; sadly for their cause, this is not Best Dressed Student Of The Year.

The teams swap penalties in the opening phase, but Imperial has the better of the exchanges. Edinburgh takes the lead just after the picture round, giving hope that they might pull off a surprise win. Until ICL gets some sciency bonuses, and the scores are level.

Smart question of the week:

Thumper: To the nearest metre, what is the distance travelled by light in one three hundred millionth of a second?

Mary-Ellen Foster (EDI): One.

Familiar question of the week:

Younger Thumper: To the nearest metre, what is the distance travelled by light in one three hundred millionth of a second?

Student from Heriott-Watt or Charing Cross in 95: One

Thanks to QuizGB's Stephen Pearson for that, and spotting some other familiar questions, including the sporting body with initials reading 1200 [1] (seen in the 95 final) and one asking about three creators of a form of transport (95, Imperial -v- St Andrews). I'm reminded of how FIFTEEN TO ONE would not be the same if William G. Stewart didn't get in at least one reference to the Elgin Marbles every month or so. Part of the fun there is wondering exactly how he'll do it next.

Hidden Student Indicator Of The Week: Imperial goes 3/3 on questions about nations that didn't want part of Monet's European dream. This says something about the politics of students.

Two errors from Foster, and a UCL starter gives a 30 point gap at once. Another Foster error is not as bad as a Lloyd Kilford clanger, giving the name of the prize that started the question. By the time UCL gets five points on the Just Say Ganymede principle (when one sees moons of Jupiter, she's bound to be one), they're assured of the win. Even Sumil Rao's blunder on Indian holy places (see epi 2 of THE RACE) is only embarrassing, not crucial.

Thumper Doesn't Understand Science of the week (I):

Thumper: Which French physicist devised the law that when a gas is under pressure...

Daruis Fidgett (UCL): Pascal

TDUSotw (II):

Thumper: What is 20 cubed minus 20 squared?

Rao: Seven thousand six, four, er, six hundred.

[Thumper allows this.]

The final score is a bit of a walkover, though Edinburgh recovers some honour in the closing minute.

EDI 35 45 5 35 (120)

ICL 50 75 60 85 (270)

Kilford makes 85 points, Paddy Hayes 83. All four ICL members outscore the best EDI player, Foster's 40. She did incur 20 penalty points but still finishes as the team's top scorer for the fourth time in five appearances.

[1] MCC - Marylebone Cricket Club


DOG EAT DOG is in its third season in less than a year. The challenges have fallen into a predictable, familiar routine: spatial awareness, physical, language, number, and stressor. Initially, I thought that the away day sounded more interesting than the show itself: it's not any more. The challenges are small and perfectly formed, with the pre-show bonding session providing information behind the votes cast.

I still think that the end game - pitting the eventual victor against the losers in a general knowledge quiz - is badly flawed, as the questions are little more than a crapshoot. Perhaps seeing the question in full before nominating (a la NO WIN NO FEE) would help. Alternatively, they could give a cash prize to anyone who wins a challenge - or the people who voted for a failure - leaving £6000 for the show winner.

JET SET is half way through its 24 week run. Set your calendars for the return of Gopherman at the end of May. The initial elimination round remains a clear case of filler, spending a minute to remove one contestant at a time based on the asking of a single question. I'm reminded of European super quiz GOING FOR GOLD, where Henry would ask of hapless Belgians "The category is history: select." That round could replace the tedious Red round, and shut up the annoyingly chirpy Eamonn Holmes.

The last two of these six play head-to-head in a game that is almost interchangeable with the finale of Dog Eat Dog. Best four of seven wins, and there's no changing of contestants, but it's still very much a crapshoot.

The end game requires contestants to pick one of six categories. Unlike every other show, these categories remain in play once they're chosen. Tactics would be *much* more fun were they to hold one question only.


Riding the success of POP IDLE, ITV begins SURVIVOR II on Wednesday week. Mark Nicholas, previously best known for presenting Channel 4's coverage of cricket, is the host. Last year's winner, Charlotte "the harlot" Hobrough will present a companion show (SURVIVOR II 2?) on ITV2. And I promise not to use that nickname any more, it's *so* last year.

There are but twelve contestants, ensuring the series is off the schedule just in time for the World Cup on May 31. The main show will air on Wednesday evenings, with the ousted contestant interviewed by Nicholas after the diet of showbiz and sport that passes for ITV News.

The first four off the show will go home; the remaining six evictees will comprise the jury. In the event of a tie, the Pointless Phone Poll from last time's final will become the Crucial Phone Poll, deciding the winner. What if that's tied? Er, good question.

Claudia Rosencrantz, ITV's Head of Relaunches, said that the first episode will contain footage of the contestants at home. The Standing On A Log During A Moonless Night challenge is back by popular demand, but everything else from the first series is a goner. This means there's no space for John Leslie's studio interviews. What a loss.

SII has apparently been shot in a more "gritty and real" way, according to Rosencrantz, to counter criticism that the first series looked - well - too polished and not realistic enough. Whether this will result in a show that doesn't take itself too seriously remains to be seen. "A lot of the stuff that may have happened off camera last time will be on camera in this series. We'll show them going to the loo. If the doctor comes out, we'll show that. It's much more warts and all." Readers can insert their own lavatorial joke here.


The debut single from POP IDLE winner William Young went on sale on Monday. By the end of Thursday, it had sold over 700,000 copies. Readers are warned not to believe the hype that this is the biggest first week sale of all time.

In 1997, Elton John's "Something About The Way You Look Tonight" sold 658,000 copies on its first day of release (a Saturday) and another 1.1 million the following week. This suggests a first week sale of around 1.4 million copies.

Back in 1984, Band Aid's "Do They Know It's Christmas" sold 750,000 in two days (Friday and Saturday,) and had sold "almost 2 million" after eight days of sale. This suggests a first week sale in the region of 1.5 million. (In 1984, stores were not allowed to open on Sundays.)

Of the recent pop phenomena, Britney's "...Baby One More Time" sold 525,000 in its February 1999 opening week, going on to sell around 1.3 million. And one year ago, Herasey's "Pure And Simple" sold 540,000 in its first week, and 520,000 over the rest of the year. Young has the biggest opening week for a non-charity single.


No Generation Game this week; DOG EAT DOG is on at 7, followed by JET SET 35 minutes later. No CLASS OF "X" this week, BBC2 is simulcasting the launch night of BBC4. There are no intellectual pursuits, still less game shows, scheduled for this channel over the next fortnight.

We have a CELEBRITY MILLIONAIRE this week. Those competing include James Redmond (who?), Andy Gray (footballer), Richard Keys (got no knees), Dermot O'Leary (yoof presenter), Kaye Adams (of THE PEOPLE VERSUS II) and Davina McCall (whose game show connection escapes me at the moment.) Saturday 8:10, Sunday 8, Monday 8:30, Tuesday 8:30.

Amazing scenes on ITV2, where THE RACE is still scheduled to resume at 8:30. The teams now have to make their way to Istanbul, the destination having been renamed from Byzantium during the delay. That's not to say it'll actually air...

If you're broken-hearted by the loss of John Leslie from SURVIVOR, there's one last chance to see him in all his glory. The "MILLION POUNDS... CASH!" FINAL repeats on ITV2 next Monday at 6.

Daytime alert: WIPEOUT returns to BBC1 at noon, displacing CALL MY BLUFF to 12:30. The smart Alec this week is Dr Raj Persaud.

Regis Philbin's appearance on LETTERMAN is scheduled to air on ITV2 at 00:45 Thursday morning.

The desperate may be watching Men and Motors at 9 on Tuesday for ASKING PRICE, in which the contestants must guess the price of a car to walk away with the star prize. Which, reading between the lines of the blurb, may not actually be a car itself. Tee hee hee. The slightly funnier Mark and Lard attempt to devise a new quiz show format in HAVING A POP on UK Play at 9:45 Friday.

On the radio, JAMming will be Tony Hawks, Sue Perkins, Ross Noble and Wendy Richard. COUNTERPOINT, the wide-ranging music quiz, returns on Monday at 1:30. Ned Sherrin continues to host. Both Radio 4.

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