Weaver's Week 2002-04-13

Weaver's Week Index

13th April 2002

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

In the week when C4 committed to BIG BROTHER until edition 6 in 2005, this also happened:

- The Fifteen To One Final

- Merger on Survivor

- Bad news for literate Americans


New Oxford 64 -v- Trinity Cambridge 95

Trinity was the first champion side of the Paxman Revival; New the second champs of the Gascoigne Original.

Once again, Thumper is stumped by simple mental arithmetic, working out the VAT due on £420. The man from the Inland Revenue is also stumped by this question, but helps the side go 3/4 on Euro designs. Trinity has a decent lead, but the sides draw level just after the picture round, and New goes ahead with the next question.

Class Of... New goes 3/6 on questions about 1994, when Trinity's campaign started; and 3/3 on '64. Trinity goes 1/3 on 1964.

Trinity gets 3/4 on pieces of classical music played backwards. The lead swaps hands a few times, but is extended when Trinity goes 3/3 on love potions. That would be the Hidden Graduate Indicator of the Week - how come Trinity 95 knows so much about aphrodisiacs? A penalty causes a slight murmur, but 2/3 on playwrights and a Kipling question to a Harvard professor of English seals Trinity's win, 225-175.

Eric Gray, the prof, scores 76 for Trinity, with Robin Battacharya making 70. Francis Lambert makes 58.5 for New. Trinity got 21/33 bonuses and one penalty; New 17/27 and no penalties. At least one of every bonus set was answered correctly.

Next week: Leicester 63 -v- Somerville Oxford 02

Nil points to Teletext, the text magazine for ITV. That service asserted that the man from the Inland Revenue should know everything about VAT, when (as any fool knows) it's Customs and Excise that handles this tax on sales. Burgundy ties all round for Teletext's reputation for accuracy, then.

And not many points for the BBC's equivalent, Ceefax. It ran a story this week about criticisms of WEAKEST LINK from Thailand. Readers of this column will have seen an extended version of the snippet back on February 23. I took that story from the BBC's own website.


While my attention was elsewhere, Matti Watton scored 412. This was not enough to beat Michael Penrice's 423, so the Mastermind champion takes the Cypriot jug for top of the finals board. Four ladies have made the final, and the fifteen have racked up 29 grand final appearances between them.

Blatant channel promotion (1): Who plays the president in THE WEST WING, shown on C4?

After the first round, it's one down, fourteen to go. Michael Penrice's first mistake of the series falls on the second question in round two.

Blatant channel promotion (2): After POPSTARS and POP IDLE, what is the name of C4's series that will find an opera performer and auditions begin soon?

Defending champion Daphne Fowler falls early in the second round, followed by Gareth McMullan and Mr Penrice.

Leader of the Conservative Party question: Vladimir Putin is President of Russia. Who is that country's Prime Minister?

Former champion Matti Watton, back for the first time in a year, is looking strong. So is newcomer Olav.

Geography question: The Equator crosses the west coast of Africa in Gabon. In which country does it cross the continent's east coast?

The second round finishes surprisingly quickly. The finalists: Matti Watton, an archivist from Birmingham Olav Bjortomt, a journalist from Littlehampton Nigel Jones, a computer programmer from Bath

Rhetorical: How come there are so many travel agents advertising in the central break?

Matti gets the first three, and seems to be running away with it.

Careful: What was the name of the computer that beat Garry Kaspar...

This is turning into a walkover.

Counting: Of the 15 member states, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and the UK have two EU commissioners each. The other members have one. How many commissioners are there?

Matti has an unassailable lead with 10 questions to spare. His final score of 222 with three lives intact would easily have made the final in its own right.

Those answers in full: Martin Sheen, OPERATUNITY (!), Iain Duncan Smith, Somalia, Deep Blue (not Big Blue, as Nigel said) 20.


Last week, Meeta got her wish, and left Panama for the comforts of home. Wherever that is. The emerging eight are in it for the long haul now, no one's leaving until the end.

The Red team, North island

+ Alistair, 34, Motherwell.

+ Drew, 27, Abingdon, female.

+ David, 54, Newcastle.

+ Helen, 22, Sheffield.

The Blue team, South island

+ Bridget, 42, Oxford.

+ John, 32, Winchester.

+ Jonny, 30, Edinburgh.

+ Susannah, 27, Wimbledon.

On the islands, the teams have been given video cameras to make some home movies. This allows the housemates to see themselves as the viewers are seeing them. Alistair gets Dave to present a documentary about the island's flood defences. Jonny shoots the females in their tops. The producers have nothing to show for the day before merger. This is almost as dull as last year's show. Or watching other people's home movies.

Day 15. Merger day. It's raining. Big Scarf has changed into a big black mac and huge trilby hat. He looks like The Grim Reaper. The ceremonial burning of the tribal insignia is off, due to the rain. They're trampled into the mud, which seems more fitting. Dr Death tells the tribe that they're individuals now - well, we see him appear to do that, but the audio is clearly added in post-production. At the camp, there are live chickens, a night's food, and a comfortable chair to give pieces to camera. The new tribal insignia bears more than a close resemblance to the flag of Panama.

The clearing chosen by the producers is full of ants, but there's a clearer path about a quarter of a mile away. Alistair is the group's leader during their move, Bridget the thorn in the side. After moving camp, the team relaxes by drinking and swearing a lot. This has suddenly turned into Big Brother, hasn't it? Home movies, moving house, pointless physical challenges, booze, nocturnal activities. All we need is a Geordie voiceover and we're there.

Day 16, and Big Mac has a challenge. The underwater breath holding challenge. 1'42 for Alistair, 2'16 for Drew, 2'06 for Susannah. Drew and Suze go to the final: pull a log under the beam and hold it aloft. All underwater, naturally. Big Mac calls it a tie. A fresh set of clothes, and Big Mac's Laundry Service will wash the old stuff. Plus the luxury item they picked before leaving (a photo and the complete works of Shakespeare) and one each of the other's luxuries. They pick a hammock and a football. Big Mac leaves a tarpaulin to cover the inside of their shelter. That makes it more of a waterproof tent.

Day 17, and Big Mac has a surprise. Go to Council. Go directly to Council. Do not pass go. Do not collect immunity. Bree and Helen look favoured to go, until Suze lets one of the chickens escape. When it comes back, Drew and Bree lead the catching. Big Mac outlines the procedure from here on in. Ties will be broken by a re-vote, not last year's countback.

"And one more thing: there will be no vote tonight." All eight go through to next week, when it's goodbye to the chicken, and hello to the Standing Around On A Log Challenge.

Survivor has continued to attract low ratings. 4.8m / 26% this week, is barely half the inheritance from the football beforehand. This is the first week that Survivor has beaten the BBC news.

ITV can take some comfort that it's not the worst performing show on the schedule. That dishonour fell to the half hour from 3:30 on Saturday afternoon, when a mere 300,000 / 3% saw the channel. That was the lowest score registered by any of the five terrestrial networks. By that standard, Survivor is The Hit Reality Show Everyone's Watching.


Confirmation from producer Damian Eadie via the C4 forum that American spellings will not be allowed from the next series, starting in late June. The use of American spellings - COLOR, ODOR, LABOR and their ilk - has always been controversial. On the one hand, they *are* in the dictionary in their own right; on the other, they're not in conventional British English usage. Both arguments have merits; personally, I'd plump for the status quo, as the words are explicitly listed in the dictionary.

We've now had six champions retire undefeated with eight wins apiece. There's still two months before the final stages, and if only the top eight will be invited back, there's a chance that one or more of the octochamps won't make it back. I have a feeling that this is a combination of the six-month-long series - prior to 1998, there was a final after 13 weeks of competition, they are after 26 weeks. The extension to 15 rounds has also made upsets less likely, and favours letters whizzes over numbers stars even more than before.

To Richard Whiteley, I have just one thing to say: leotards.


Despite the fact that Tuesday's funeral was swarming with undercover and plain sight police officers, the BANZAI team decided to place their man in the front row of the crowd with a speed gun. His 'mission', which will not be aired, was to clock the QM's hearse for a bet. Some eagle-eyed coppers spotted him in the crowd and put a stop to the stunt. Which could have been good news, as a gun (even a speed gun) in the presence of armed officers tends to be unhealthy. Don't try this at home, readers.

The bet may yet appear, if (or when...) the producers time the hearse over a short distance from the videos, then go out and measure it. David Boothroyd had the original idea.


Crossed fingers, touch wood, this week's schedules will go as scheduled. Millionaire has finished for the summer, so there's a slight element of barrel-scraping here.

This Saturday's BBC1 lineup: 1730 Generation Game, 1825 outtakes, 1855 Waiting Game, 1935 Jet Set. There's a repeat of BULLSEYE on Granada + at 2330. If it all gets too much, Saturday is BANZAI night on E4 from 2200.

Sunday is UNDER OFFER morning on UK Style - the C5 show where people can win a house hasn't enough shows for a full day. BARE NECESSITIES returns to BBC Choice at 2000 - in tonight's repeat, the teams are stuck on the Azores with only a few essentials and Ed Hall (of X-FIRE and SURVIVOR RAW "fame") for company.

Monday has Sky One debut DIRTY MONEY at 1230. Six contestants use careful strategy and dirty tactics to steal money from their opponents. Marcus Bentley, the narrator to BIG BROTHER, hosts. Repeated at 0900 the following morning, it appears.

Fifteen To One is repeating a series from last year. This week's Smart Alec is Lionel Blair.

Note the earlier time for SURVIVOR - 2100 Wednesday. The last word is at 2220, following the News At Ten at ten.

The return of comedy quiz HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU at 2100 Friday on 1. This week's guests include 6Music host Phil Jupitus.

Also on the radio this week, a treat for fans of I'M SORRY I HAVEN'T A CLUE. The 30th anniversary of the show is celebrated at 1815 Saturday on Radio 4 FM. On 1500m long wave, Humph will give an abridged reading from the rules of Mornington Crescent. The full broadcast will begin after the midday Shipping Forecast on April 31.

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