Weaver's Week 2002-08-31

Weaver's Week Index

31st August 2002

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

In the week when Magnus Magnusson confirmed he never wants to hear "Ah! Starter for ten!" again, this also happened:

- Rowing in Australia

- Courting in London

- Autumn schedules begin


For the benefit of those future researchers who will want to find this show by its screen name, it's I'M A CELEBRITY GET ME OUT OF HERE. The full list of contestants, slightly updated from two weeks ago:

+ Christine Hamilton - was once the wife of Tory MP Neil Hamilton, now best known as the wife of disgraced former Tory MP Neil Hamilton.

+ Darren Day - was once the host of rather good CBBC show CLOCKWISE, now best known for the touring version of CAROUSEL.

+ Nell McAndrew - was the hostess on C5's revival of KNOCKOUT, now best known as (er) the first to sign up for this game.

+ Nigel Benn - was once a champion boxer, now best known for leaving CELEB BIG BROTHER within a day. Oh, hang on, that was Chris Eubank...

+ Rhona Cameron - was once arrested for playing a Burt Bacharach record too loud, now known as a standup comedian on the UK circuit.

+ Tara Palmer-Tomkinson - was once not romantically linked with Bill Windsor, now best know as that posh bird with a name too long to type out. Call her "Tommers."

+ Tony Blackburn - was once the first DJ on National Radio 1, now best known for giving up a DJ residency in Ibiza for this lark.

+ Uri Geller - was once able to bend spoons by nothing more than the force of his fingers, now best known for his close friendship with USA Networks controller Michael Jackson.

Sunday: Before going to their jungle retreat, the celebs got a crash course in survival techniques. They each take two luxury items, though Day sneaks a third past the producers: a fake Cockney accent that he'll use when he remembers. Geller won't use his psychic powers during the contest, as it "wouldn't be ethical."

The camp is the same as seen on US SURVIVOR 2, give or take a few yards.

Monday: There's a daily Reward Challenge, in which two of the team have to go off and find a chest. In said box are two cases, one with something luxurious, and the other holding something else completely useless. The team can only open one, guided by the answer to a question.

Tuesday: Tommers gets the first Cruel Vote, sorry, Bush Tucker Challenge - to survive having eight loads of maggots and other creepy crawlies tipped over her. Antan Dec invades the camp to break the news to her, and she's ready to roll at once. Sadly, there are seconds left in the nightly transmission, and that doesn't tie in with the producers' plans. I'm left wondering: why the blazes not? Wouldn't it make sense to have the execution of the challenge the climax to the show? Look at the success BIG BROTHER had with its Saturday tasks live on national television. Anyway, Tommers takes all eight showers, so ingredients to feed eight are delivered to camp.

Day falls in the creek and gets soaking wet. Repeatedly. It looks as if some of the footage had to be reshot.

Ant's in the camp, and working his way along the log. The contestants want to remove Ant from the log, and suggest pouring boiling water over. This won't work: they need to either remove the log, or get a ten year old kid (or old age pensioner) to ask him questions about The Simpsons.

Hamilton spots that the ITV2 slot is live coverage of the camp, and suggests they all go back to sleep. Who's been watching C4's BB LIVE programmes? Given that this is the limit of ITV2's coverage, I'm slightly surprised that they've not provided footage through the night - after regular programming from 0230 to 0600, and those pictures of a camp asleep from 0925 to 1300. It would cost a bomb to send the pictures back by satellite, but E4 has proven that there's a market for selling ads into people sleeping.

Wednesday: Benn will handle snakes for food. Mister Benn does a quick change into a snake suit. As if by magic, Antan Dec appears. They have eight plastic stars in a glass tank, and add snakes. Each star out is worth one meal, four minutes to get the lot out, no eating the snakes. He gets five out, and two stings for his pains.

Geller tries to send a psychic message to his close friend and head of USA Networks, Michael Jackson, who is celebrating his birthday today. Isn't this the chap who said - oh, three nights ago - that he wouldn't use his psychic powers? Jackson's birthday isn't until, er, tomorrow. Antan Dec sends a card. Our host has had a top 5 hit this year with a cracking song.

Tommers is lamenting the perils of being an "it girl" with Day and Benn and how she totally couldn't handle it. Geller talks in hugely graphic detail about his eating disorder with Tommers. This doesn't strike me as a hugely constructive thing to do.

Day and Tommers are off on the chest hunt, and fall down a bank together. The team agrees that a pint of semi-skimmed milk costs more than 35p, and wins (er) a Darren Day CD and video. The correct answer is within a penny of 30p. Reminds me of PERSONALITY OR PERSON on Cliff Evans' breakfast show, in which he asked celebs such trivia as the price of milk.

Thursday: Cameron will be buried alive for the third Cruel Vote. For every two minutes she stays down the hole, she wins a meal. Stay sixteen minutes, she's got the lot. The hole is almost long enough for Cameron to stretch out, and Antan Dec give updates every two minutes and talk to her. She sings "The Way You Look Tonight" and doesn't get arrested, possibly because she's already in the slammer. What Cameron doesn't know is that Classmaster is playing sounds into the coffin, and one of the production crew reaches in and touches our buried beauty. Cameron comes out with six of the available eight meals.

Day and Tommers reckon that they've fancied each other for about five years. When (riffles through CV) she was either out of her head on drugs, or was not dating minor royals, or both.

"I'm from the streets. I'm a street boy," claims Day. He's an alumnus of Sir Charles Lucas School, Colchester. The school's most recent report says that it serves an area of "significant social and economic disadvantage," which I think is Day's implication. Not an area where people naturally speak with a Cockney accent.

Cameron's patience with Day finally reaches a limit when he does a poor impression of comic creation Frank Spencer. A big row ensues, with Blackburn, Hamilton, and Geller intervening. The monkey operating the bleep machine allows Cameron to use the f-word. Twice. On live national television. Then Day uses it, followed by the bo-word. Where's Davina when we need her First Commandment? Cameron concludes a long, dramatic, rant about everyone's shortcomings by saying "sometimes, we're like that. All these stereotypes are us pushed into our corners."

Friday: Geller is invited to end thirty years of not eating meat, and consume some insects. Eat one insect from each plate, and one meal goes to camp. The mystic eats all eight, a bravura performance.

Cameron is hacked off about something, and wonders why Benn hasn't left yet. It escalates into a full scale row, one that makes Jade and Adele look like a quiet disagreement. Blackburn tries to play the peacemaker, but Benn won't speak to Cameron. Hamilton spells out the situation: if Day goes, Benn and Cameron remain; if Benn goes, Day and Cameron remain; if Cameron goes, it's a happy camp

By nightfall, Cameron and Geller have retreated to the Diary Cave. This is where the contestants receive instructions and water, but has become an overnight shelter for confused celebs. On his return, Geller leads the attack on Benn, for suggesting that Benn's not going to give Cameron one more chance. Hamilton wants to welcome her back, but Benn and Day don't want to hear of it. Geller and Tommers are hostile but can live with the idea.

By the time Antan Dec go into camp on Saturday morning, Cameron is still in the Diary Cave. The next Cruel Vote is to go furtling in a swamp, and it will be done by Day. Five Cruel Votes, five different winners. Anyone smell lightly fried rodent?

Each day, one contestant is completely ignored by the producers. They're just in the background, maybe muttering along with the others but without any lines. The winners of the John Major Of The Day Award were: Sunday, Monday: Day Tuesday, Wednesday: Blackburn Thursday, Friday: McAndrew

This isn't a bad series, though there are loose ends here and there. Perhaps because of the strange production values, the show lacks a certain something compared to BIG BROTHER, even compared to SURVIVOR. The tea-chest retrieval challenge slots in and out of the show without any apparent reason, we have to work out who the camp leader is on most days, and at times the show is as tedious as the opening rounds of WINNING LINES. The redeeming features: you're never more than five minutes away from Antan Dec taking the mick out of one or more contestant, and you're never more than half a show away from a massive row. This has made the series an absolute riot, and done something that SURVIVOR never did: become the watercooler talk of the nation.


Congrats to the West Yorkshire team, winners of Radio 4's MASTERTEAM.

Clips of early 60s shows on 40 YEARS OF UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE include Criss-Cross Quiz and Double Your Money. Yes, Bambi researched the questions the day before, and re-worded them to his style. As is the BBC's regrettable habit these days, most of the clips shown were cropped to fit the widescreen frame, losing the name of the bottom team. The show was long on the media hype stories (Aaronovitch and his team that said "Trotsky", St Hilda's magnificent 35, and Magdalen's brainy blonde) without delving into the other stories - Bayley the one-man quiz machine, the rise and fall of Open, and why the starters have doubled in length over the past few years. There's always going to be a better show to be made, and it's fair play that we've had a special series these last six months. The sheer predictability wore me down, sadly.

Recording of NICKED! started this week, with the introduction of Judge Fingret, our referee for the contest. The Persecution's case was stated as follows: "conspiring together with others, with a view to gain for yourselves or to cause loss to others; to procure Christopher Tarrant to sign a cheque by falsely representing that Major Charles Ingram did not have assistance in answering questions on WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?; and dishonestly procuring Christopher Tarrant to sign a cheque by deception on September 10, 2001". The next tape date is October 23, where pleas and directions will be swapped.

Up For Grabs: The BB house can now be rented out for corporate parties. An extra £5000 buys you Jade as a mingler. With an "L". Next week will see ITV Digital's surplus stock sold off at auction. We hope to see David Dickinson consoling the folk from Carlton 'n' Granada for their massive losses, while a signed photo of Jeremy Beadle might go for almost 1p.

The combined might of St Magnus and Babbage, the computer from Family Fortunes, couldn't help X MARKS THE SPOT when the tape snapped just before the climax to Wednesday's show. For those who missed the belated conclusion, the X was centred at Exeter, and the treasure was the end of the Fosse Way.

Amongst those appearing on the 30th anniversary ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW tour are Christine Hamilton, Nick Bateman, and Rhona Cameron. At least one of these luminaries has no claim to game shows.


New on The One tonight: THE CHAIR, in which John McEnroe asks contestants to keep their nerves under control. 1840, followed by WINNING LINES at 1930. At 1940, ITV launches MILLIONAIRE's new season, thus pitting Celador production against Celador production. The ITV2 rerun is at 2305, and isn't interactive.

This week's SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE is to make a transportable bridge. E4 Sa 1905 and Su 1620.

With the start of September comes a whole raft of new shows. BARGAIN HUNT LIVE Mo 1130 should do exactly what it says on the tin. Followed at 1230 by JUDGEMENTAL, in which Sophie Raworth leaves the newsroom and asks players to make decisions of knowledge based on superficial evidence. FAMILY FORTUNES moves into daytime, with Andy Collins hosting at 1730 daily on ITV.

Eyes down for another series of everyone's favourite student quiz, UNIVERSITY CHALLENGE. Back from its summer break of almost two weeks, this week sees Newcastle and York take the stage. 2000 BBC2 Monday, 30 minutes. And a new series of BRAIN OF BRITAIN kicks off at 1330 Mo on R4, repeated 2302 Sa.

Trouble's UNDERCOVER LOVERS asks four couples to hide their relationship to win £5000. Narinder from BB2 presents. ITV's JUNGLE RUN returns with Chris Jarvis hosting something not entirely unlike a childrens' CRYSTAL MAZE - 1605 Tu. YOUR FACE OR MINE is E4's teatime quiz, asking people how gorgeous or gruesome others will think them - 1730 and 2340.

Monday's WEAKEST LINK is a teenagers special. This week's LIAR slept with a star. Ed Sanders hosts FEAR FACTOR UK on Sky1 at 2000 Tu. Celebs are still in the jungle, and Richard and Carol will be eclipsed by the cricket from Thursday.

And Challenge? has a new schedule. TREASURE HUNT has left the schedule for the first time since 1982, but there are some fantastic new programmes. The primetime lineup: 1700 - Play Along TV Scrabble. Toby opens his big bag. 1740 - Family Fortunes. As seen on ITV. Right now. 1815 - Play Along Sport Addicts (starts Tu). It's an advance on Soap Addicts. 1850 - Fort Boyard. The French version of The Crystal Maze is Anglicized with Melinda and that bloke off of East Enders. 1955 - The Crystal Maze. An English version of top French show Fort Boyard. We're part way through season 2. 2100, 2130 - Family Fortunes. 2200 - Play Along TV Scrabble. Press Red Now. 2230 - Bruce's Price Is Right. The not so good versions. Now, if they'd got their hands on the Leslie Crowther originals, we'd be away. 2300 - Play Along Sport Addicts. Interactive only available on digital satellite. 2335 - Fort Boyard. With the Professor stuck away in the tower.

Challenge? is also looking for cult shows to pad out their Christmas ratings. Suggest shows on their website. They've already got THE GOLDEN SHOT and THE ADVENTURE GAME, so please don't suggest either.

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