Weaver's Week 2002-04-06

Weaver's Week Index

6th April 2002

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

In the week when we exclusively revealed Chris Tarrant won't be hosting US Daytime Millionaire, this also happened:

- A man, a plan, a canal, a yummy takeaway

- Nasty Nigel's new show

- And Anne Robinson's new job.


Bradford '80 -v- Lancaster '80 (runners-up)

Bradford's Maxwell Cooter explains how he grew a moustache between the semis and the best-of-three-final, then shaved it off between the first and second final. Many thought he wore a falsie. The final was Lancashire v Yorkshire, the ultimate rivalry in northern England. The announcer has the problem of a contestant for Bradford named Bradford. Just be glad he's not with Lancaster! Six mature students, and not a scientist amongst the eight.

I've figured out why they're having the slightly bizarre "highest scoring X" teams qualifying: at this stage, Granada doesn't know how many teams will be taking part and can't do a balanced draw.

Bradford gets the better start, but incurs two penalties in the first four starters. Thanks to their errors and some good work by Lancaster, the scores level after the first picture round.

CLASS (OF) ACT: Bradford goes 3/3 on culture questions about 1980. Lancaster goes 2/3.

A lot of bad interruptions this week, especially from Bradford. That gives Lancaster a chance to get the starter, then the bonuses, and the lead. It's 45 points shortly after the second picture round, and one-way traffic thereafter. Bradford makes a great late charge, but it's just too little too late.

WHO'S THAT MAN: Lancaster can't tell the difference between William Hague (former Conservative party leader) and the current holder of the post.

The final result: Bradford 180, Lancaster 200. Highest individual score was Lancaster's David Kenrick, making 73.5 points. Bradford was led by the clean shaven Cooter, making 50.5. All players got at least one starter correct. Bradford 19/32 bonuses, 5 penalties; Lancaster 21/33, 3 penalties.

Next week: New Oxford '64 -v- Trinity Cambridge '95


Last week, Tayfun's hopes were sunk faster than a machete in water, bearing out my epi 1 prediction that he'd be first off that team. The nefarious nine:

The Red team, North island

+ Alistair, 34, Motherwell. Completely incomprehensible.

+ Drew, 27, Abingdon, female. The island's Britney Spears?

+ David, 54, Newcastle. More manly than Tayfun.

+ Helen, 22, Sheffield. Bit of a dark horse?

+ Meetah, 34. Wants off. Now.

The Blue team, South island

+ Bridget, 42, Oxford. Cooked a little lamb.

+ John, 32, Winchester. Can't hang around too long.

+ Jonny, 30, Edinburgh. Ice melts in water.

+ Susannah, 27, Wimbledon. Unable to jump over gates, can swim.

The teams are asked to elect someone to go over to the other island and learn about them. Suze and Helen swap islands. Their aim is to learn as much as they can about the other tribe. They bring gifts, and swap experiences for the morning. Is this part of a challenge, or preparation for the merger, or just a red herring?

It's the reward challenge. Suze and Helen are asked questions, the first mistake loses. Helen figures that Johnny is younger than Suze, a costly mistake. South's reward is nibbles, booze, and a karaoke machine. North spend the night trying to open a can of beans. Alistair figures that the next day's immunity challenge is vital to the future of the tribe. South make an offering to the immunity idol.

This week's immunity challenge is a Delia Smith special. They have to eat all sorts of beetles, fish eyes, bull's balls, worms, and cups of BBC canteen tea. Bree is prepared to eat excrement, as she has been for the past weeks. Meeta's going to pretend to be less happy than she is when eating. Big Scarf will spin the wheel containing all sorts of edible yummies, and award points based on what gets eaten. No time limit. John will eat twice. Suze and Helen find that their worms move about on the plate, and off the plate. Everyone clears their plates.

Crab, locust, and white worm are on the tiebreak menu. Jonny and Meeta are picked as the opposition's weakest stomachs. Meeta smashes the crab with her shell, which seems a bit rich. Jonny finishes first anyway. Big Scarf reckons that South island is on a roll. Will the parade of bad puns never stop? South is on a high. North is worried that there's all this rubbish in their systems.

Which piece of rubbish will be weeded out of the North island ecosystem? It's pretty obvious that there's only one candidate. Council time. Meeta, Meeta, Helen, Meeta, Meeta.

Next week: merger.


Hmm. From Nasty Nigel's last project to his new one. Anyone would think this update was just thrown together...

Five contestants, arranged along two sides of a diamond. Nigel Lythgoe, for it is the nasty one, sits at the opposite corner. One of the contestants knows all the answers, and is The Enemy Within. Lythgoe claims none of them have met before, none of them have met him, nor the studio audience. I have no reason to doubt that. There is a studio audience, but we don't see them till after the final question.

The contestants do a piece to camera on the subject of cheating, and pointless factoids are typed up on screen. We don't need to know the contestant's ideal date, surely. There are some very awkward camera angles; I think they're meant to look like the views through a telescope, but just look annoying after about ten seconds.

The first question goes straight to the Dumb Britain feature:

Lythgoe: Which country's Euro coins feature an eagle in a laurel wreath?

Contestant: USA. [1]


Lythgoe: Are you the enemy within?

Contestant: No, Nigel, I'm not.

It'll catch on, trust me. [2]

Lythgoe attempts to draw conclusions from the way people answer, but there are only three questions each, which isn't much to go on. Less chatter, more action. The lights go from white to dark blue for no adequately explored reason. Is this meant to add to the tension? The music is slow and plodding, but very tense. Fits its purpose well.

Only the viewers get to see the exact scores, but the contestants know who leads. After three questions each, and a buzzer round, the contestants get to badmouth each other. The viewer can call in on a Pointless Vote at Premium Rates. Well, pointless apart from £200 to five correct guessers.

Next: a random subject round. Three questions on a subject, but the producers choose them, not the contestants. Reward goes up from £25 to £75 per question. After this round, all the contestants are told their scores.

After an annoying break for tales of deceit, we move to the final round. On the buzzer, starts at £100 per question, that increases by £25 per correct answer. Give the scores, then comes the vote. The contestants cast their votes a la Weakest Link, with a majority vote being decisive. If there's a tie, a vote amongst the studio audience decides.

Finally, the denouement. Lythgoe invites the Enemy Within to stand up. If they were the person nominated, everyone wins the money they accumulated during the quiz. If the panel picked incorrectly, said Enemy pockets all the cash. That's somewhere in the vicinity of £3000, a decent payout on Daytime Weakest Link.

Lythgoe is a very suave - and rather chilling - host. If there's such a thing as a male Anne Robinson, this is the closest we've got to it. I don't go a bundle on the pacing of the game, it's a tad too plodding for comfort, especially with anecdotes being thrown into the mix. Get on with it already!

Overall, this is a good show. On first impressions, it's not quite a classic, but it is high quality and potentially moreish stuff. A faster pace, less chatter, or both would help. Could this be the next breakout hit to primetime? Wouldn't entirely rule it out; it feels like something that could be slotted into a gap in the schedules between May and August.

[1] Germany

[2] Well, maybe it won't.

Ratings: 1 million / 23% - not bad for the competitive midday slot.

The end credits give a couple of interesting points. The script is written by Will Ing, who has previously worked on all good radio comedy shows (and The News Quiz) yet isn't remotely funny. And the format was devised by Paul Coia, a name familiar for the following reasons:

First voice on Channel 4 proper

Domesday Detectives

Debbie Greenwood's husband



Shamed by their abysmally low score in last year's UC (a whopping 40 points) and looking for someone to attract potential students to the establishment, students at St Andrews University have nominated Anne Robinson to be their new Rector.

The Rector is the de facto head of the university, in whom ultimate power in all matters regarding the university is vested. The Rector delegates this power to the university staff. The previous rector, journalist Andrew Neil, will come to the end of his term of office in February, and elections are due at the start of the next academic year in October.

Robinson has been campaigning hard for the post, saying how much she appreciates having students from St Andrew's on THE WEAKEST LINK, and always asks them if they know a student called Will Windsor. "No," is the usual reply. Robinson promises to be an active Rector, putting the interests of the students first and doing all she can to promote the university as a place to study.

Other former Rectors include Learie Constantine, cricketer and Trinidad High Commissioner; Fridtjof Nansen, polar explorer and humanitarian; JM Barrie, author of "Peter Pan"; Rudyard Kipling, author and poet; Katharine Whitehorn, journalist; Andrew Carnegie, steelmaker and philanthropist; Nicholas Parsons, along in sixty seconds; and John Cleese, former Minister of Silly Walks.


A double page spread in this week's Heat magazine suggests we've six weeks till the start of BB3. After all the talk of double-header households and rules more complex than cricket, it seems that the basic format is unchanged. Lady Davina of the bump will host the main show, the knavish Dermot of Leary the intriguing Little Brother. The house has moved to Elstree, and apparently features a big staircase over the diary room. Still looking for a chair for the diary room, apparently; is there a good home fittings store near the new house?

No word on any chickens. No word on the exact format. And no word on how well C4 hopes to do against the football world cup, starting in eight weeks.


All schedules subject to change, especially around Tuesday. That lunchtime's shows are already off.

Another Saturday night, another BBC1 line up. This one might actually run to schedule. We'll try again with the second series of THE WAITING GAME at 6:55. Less quizzing and more Ruby Wax, claims Heat magazine.

INTERCEPTOR gains a second airing on Challenge at 2:30 weekends. No second airing for TREASURE HUNT during the week, but we do have a new show at 10 daily, TIMELIFE MUSIC.

CLASS OF... Saturday at 10:30. 1979 is the year.

MILLIONAIRE NEWLYWED at the regular times, except Sunday is at 7.

A narrative repeat of SURVIVOR at 11:45 Saturday night on ITV increases the glut to 14 hours across the channels.

THE RACE has the first of two weeks in Australia. Perhaps the best episode. 8 Sunday ITV2.

This week's Smart Alec is Simon Hoggart.

JET SET DEPARTURE LOUNGE moves to 9 Wednesday.

TREASURE ISLAND 2 begins at 10 Friday on UK Horizons.

The FIFTEEN TO ONE GRAND FINAL is at 3:30 Friday.

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