Weaver's Week 2002-10-26

Weaver's Week Index

26th October 2002

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

This week, Derek Batey said how he plans to bring MR AND MRS back to national television. Didn't we try this all of three years ago?


First round, match 8: Manchester -v- Middlesex

Back in 97, it was Manchester who restricted Birkbeck to 40, scoring a mere 360 themselves. Imperial and Glamorgan fell in slightly less easy later rounds, before a nail-biting semi saw the side fall to eventual champions Magdalen Oxford. In 99, Manchester lost the series opener to Bristol, won the repechage against Harris Manchester Oxford, only to be beaten by eventual runners-up Oriel Oxford. Two years ago, Sidney Sussex Cambridge and UCL fell by the wayside, only for the Manchester express to come off the rails at Imperial.

Middlesex graced us in 96, winning their opener against Exeter, only to draw the second round match against Selwyn Cambridge and lose on the tie break.

Middlesex has three lawyers and a writer, one hat and two bow ties. It doesn't help them in the early exchanges, perhaps because the majority of the first questions are scientific. A bit of home court advantage helps Middlesex, identifying Exeter cathedral is simple to someone from Exmouth. David Dixon is the difference. He has five starters before the music round comes about, giving a healthy lead. Another point is that Middlesex cannot get bonuses right: by the second picture round, they have yet to pass one in any set.

With such a side, and Manchester not really stretching themselves, it's never going to be a particularly gripping contest. The final score, 200-70, is just about right. Manchester is asked a question about a nineteenth century German romantic poet. Their answer is, surprisingly, wrong. Rolf Harris? They later suggest a piece of classical music is called "Bohemian Rhapsody."

When In Doubt, Show Off: Which European capital city was destroyed by the most destructive earthquake in European history on All Saints' Day 1755?

Middlesex: Tirana. [1]

New Graduate: "Erised" is a mirror at Hogwart's school that shows the heart's desire of whoever looks into it. What did Harry Potter see when he looked into it?

Manchester: His mother and father.

Thumper Still Doesn't Know Maths: "A straight line, which apparently is a curve."

Interruption Of The Week: The computing language BASIC is so named because...

Anirudh Chari, Middlesex: Beginners' All-Purpose Symbolic Instruction Code.

When In Doubt, Guess: "Parkeh" is used by New Zealand Maori as a catchall word to refer to what?

Adam Raoof, Middlesex: Flooring. [2]

The Top 4 Losers Board:

180 York
165= Jesus Oxford
165= UMIST
165= Brasenose Oxford

A very scientific week, with 195 points available (over a third of the total). Dixon scored 101, Richard Selway's 27 led for Middlesex. Manchester made 16/36 bonuses, Middlesex only 2/21 with two missignals.

Obscure College Game: Team Bath, the football side from Bath University, takes on Horsham United at 1500 today in the final qualifying round of the FA Cup. If they win, Bath will be the first university in the First Round Proper since the 19th century.

Next week: Sheffield -v- Homerton Cambridge. Because next week's column will be a special retrospective, a full match report will appear in two weeks. Two weeks: Nottingham -v- Aberystwyth

SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE (C4, Sunday evenings)

In the beginning, there was ITV's Saturday evening schedule. As time drew on, it became increasingly filled with old tricks that had stopped entertaining the public. They were taken off the network and consigned to the scrap heap of history, along with such outmoded ideas as public service television, and regional announcements.

Other items on the scrap heap include old cars, old washing machines, old elastic bands, and other stuff that doesn't quite work. Robert Llewellyn spends a lot of time there, along with a lady friend. It does get a bit dull on a scrapheap, so Robert invites some people round to make use of the old stuff. And that's the show.

Robert sets the teams a challenge. Build a one-man vehicle capable of transporting someone around an off-road track, complete with water hazard. Or a wind-powered coffee grinder. Or something to keep a bucket of water on the level and not spill any. All they have is the seemingly limitless resources of the scrapheap, a technical consultant, and their own ingenuity.

It would be very easy to fix this show, and I'd be surprised and pleased if the technical consultants aren't briefed before the competition starts, and plan subtly different designs. Even if they're not, someone whose specialism is clockwork engines wouldn't exactly be expected to design a rocket motor out of an old lawnmower and two buckets with the bottoms knocked out. We reckon that some useful scrap is planted in the heap. It would also be easy to knock down a day's film to 40 minutes and present a slightly inaccurate picture of the contestants.

However, suggestions of this nature don't really detract from the programme. There's a ten hour design and construction stage, during which Robert and his co-presenter explain the mechanics behind the design, with the help of some simple but effective cartoons and skits. We see the design change, plans alter, bodges made, and the traditional race against time to the finish.

Later, the teams get an hour to tinker, before their contraption is put to the test. The winners progress to come back later in the series, with the ultimate champions getting the honour of being the winner, and a small trophy.

This show aims to educate as much (if not more) than to entertain, and performs both tasks admirably. It's already spawned a US edition, JUNKYARD WARS.

SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE will feature in next week's Twenty Years Of Channel Four retrospective. There will be no space for red triangles, French soap operas, and only one mention of Danny Baker.


Wednesday was a busy day for the legal profession in Game Show Land. One man who cannot be named for legal reasons was consulting Messers Sue, Grabbit and Runne after being named on national television as allegedly responsible for a 1988 rape of a prime-time game show host. He may launch lawsuits against Channel 5 and local papers in Edinburgh and London. This one will run and run.

Over in Southwark, the "dream team" of Major and Mrs Ingram, and Tecwen Whittock, popped up in the final audition for the scheduled series. The three will face two charges: one of "conspiring to procure the execution of a valuable security by deception"; and one of "procuring a valuable security by deception on September 10, 2001."

According to the charge sheet, between January 1 and September 11, 2001, they "conspired together and with others with a view to gaining for themselves or intent to cause loss to another, dishonestly to procure Mr Christopher Tarrant to sign a cheque by deception, namely by falsely representing that Charles Ingram did not receive any assistance when answering questions on the television show WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE?".

The series proper will begin somewhere in the early part of the new year, and no later than March 3. A precise date will be fixed at a production meeting later.


Sophie Raworth may yet ditch The Six and take her game show to the US. The rights to JUDGEMENTAL, the BBC1 lunchtime quiz show fronted by Raworth, have been bought by The Gurin Company, the same outfit that took WEAKEST LINK to prime-time success stateside. THE ENEMY WITHIN remains available for export. Hint.

ITV launches a new corporate branding look this week, and it will involve slightly out-of-focus shots of some of their major celebrities. Sounds a lot like Channel 5 circa 1999. One of the featured people will be Antan Dec, who has signed another two year golden handcuffs deal with The Monkey.

Watch out, Gopherman's back! Phillip Schofield, the man still most famous for being the sidekick to a six-inch high squeaky Arizonan, will take over from John Leslie on ITV's struggling THIS MORNING programme next week. Mr Gopher declined to comment on his protogé's new role, but did order our representative a very pleasant cactus juice cordial.

The latest lack of viewing figures are in. 3.3 million saw Thursday's CANE ACADEMY, just 16% of the viewing. That's down 0.7 million since Tuesday. At this rate, the last viewer will tune out on November 3.


This is a Weaver's Week exclusive. In an attempt to boost the popularity of Fame Academy, the corporation will set the contestants different tasks each week. After the gardening challenge was something of a washout, it's back indoors this week. The remaining nine will be asked to develop potions, turn base metals into gold, and turn bored channel-hoppers into avid viewers. If they fail, the Beeb will bring in someone from a more entertaining and popular show: Classmaster Richard Park will be replaced by Dogsby from THE SHINY SHOW. That's BANE ACADEMY, and it will be all over the BBC. There's live coverage for much of the evening on BBC CHOICE, and all shows on all channels (including CBeebies) are subject to pre-emption for vital updates from the house in North London. Apart from those on commercial channels.

Assuming no one bursts into a tuneful song, the Saturday schedules: BBC1 - 1755 DOG EAT DOG, followed by Big Al; 1840 THE CHAIR; 1930 WINNING LINES; BBC2 - 1800 FLOG IT (Torquay); 2100 FAME SET AND MATCH (Tory Scandal, including contributions from Mrs Christine Hamilton); 2200 HIGNFY (including some more words on the host's "private" life). ITV - 1730 PLAY YOUR CARDS RIGHT, followed by Blind Date and Popstars; 2000 MILLIONAIRE.

Jungle King Tony Blackburn joins the team on NEVER MIND THE BUZZCOCKS, 2100 Monday BBC2.

ITV2 shows HAUNTED HOUSE from Monday night. People spend three days and nights in a haunted house in Galway, and are subject to cold, sleep depravation, being trapped under a bed with snakes, and having Darren Day visit. The prize: a jeep and 20,000 euro. Is this the first euro-denominated game show in the UK? 2330 Mo, 2250 Tu, 2330 We, 2230 Th.

Tuesday's WEAKEST LINK is a US Beauty Queen special. Thursday's is a Hallowe'en special. 1715 BBC2.

CHASING TIME sees people dropped off in places and given silly things to do. National Geographic, 2100 Wednesday and about a dozen repeats through the week.

The weekday primetime lineup on CHALLENGE?: 1705 Soap Addicts; 1740, 2235 The Price is Right; 1815, 2200 TV Scrabble; 1850 Fort Boyard; 1955 The Crystal Maze; 2100 *NEW* Play Along 100 Per Cent; 2130 Wheel Of Fortune; 2305 Sport Addicts

[1] Lisbon.

[2] Settlers.

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