Weaver's Week 2002-12-21

Weaver's Week Index

21st December 2002

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

This week, the CBBC channel premiered their new comedy skit. All about pantomime characters living in a house. Would that be DAME ACADEMY? Oh yes it is!


Repechage, match 2: Emmanuel Cambridge -v- York

York lost the season opener to a strong Newcastle recovery. Emmanuel scored well against a strong Birkbeck team. I reckon tonight's winners could make the last four with a kind draw.

Emmanuel gets off to the better start, briefly securing a 55 point lead after the first picture round. Helped by 45 points on natural sciences, York pulls back the gap to within a starter.

Emmanuel launches away later in the second quarter, and the gap has grown to three starters by the music round, some very rubbish Phil Collins covers. Paul Harvey of York gets the next starter, and half way through the contest, everyone has answered a starter correctly.

An error-strewn third quarter keeps the gap very much as it is, but the second picture is all about parts of a neuron, and two medics ensures Emmanuel is going 4/4. The next set of bonuses - also on anatomy - gives Emmanuel an unbeatable lead, and the final score 205-150 is pretty fair to both sides.

Silly question of the week: After Paul Cooper (Emmanuel) gets a starter about The Pirates Of Penzance, Thumper asks if he's a Gilbert and Sullivan fan. "No," is the dispiriting answer.

Harsh starter: Asking a question about chimpanzees advertising tea, Thumper declines the answer "monkeys." That, of course, was Monkeyvision (RIP).

Do these people know nothing about politics? Emmanuel combines to go 0/3 on questions about the poll tax.

Do these question writers really know nothing about maths? "To the nearest whole percent, in a Gaussian distribution, how much of the sample lies within two sigma of the mean" 68% is the required answer, not the 95% accepted by all good mathematicians (and your correspondent). That figure lies one sigma either side of the mean.

The sides combined to drop just ten points from a possible 110 on natural sciences. Sandy Douglas' 81 for Emmanuel is the stand-out performance, with two more contestants from each side scoring more than 40. Emmanuel made 19/36 bonuses with two missignals; York 14/30 with four missignals.

Next week: Newcastle -v- Worcester Oxford in the first Second Round match. Dec 30: Warwick -v- Southampton

Reviews of both these matches in two weeks. Don't believe Voiceover Man, UC airs on the 23rd.


It only seems like a few days since Annabel Croft ended the last run of TREASURE HUNT by picking a rubber duck out of a reservoir in Derbyshire. After almost fourteen years in abeyance, the format has been revived for the BBC.

Suzi Perry is the new skyrunner. They can't see her in the studio, but they can hear her, and follow her progress via GPS. Perhaps the most visible change is that there are a lot more shots from the helicopter. Gun cameras to show Suzi and Keith, and new cameraman Guy and soundman Simon get more angles than Frank and Graham got in seven years on C4, though there's still the obligatory following-from-behind shot. There's a funky split screen effect, showing what's happening in the studio, and what's happening in the chopper.

Dermot Murgnahan is the host, furthering his claims to be taken as the new Kenneth Kendall. He's in a studio with lots of reference books, and lots of good-looking but useless props - I don't think the show has time to stop for a nice hot cup of tea, but there are CD-ROMs and a multimedia computer. As well as trying to help out the contestants, Dermot also confirms the location of the clue - a role Kenneth took in the initial C4 series, which acted without an on-screen adjudicator. And we're assured that, no, Dermot *hasn't* been given the answers beforehand. He does have an earpiece so that the producers can shout out if the contestants are (literally) miles off course, but that's all.

Very usefully, bits of the clue disappear as they're solved, so to admire that handiwork, you've got to be watching carefully. The effect is similar to the way Pete McCarthy explains the clues on radio's X MARKS THE SPOT. And once Suzi has her hands on clues one and three, she gets to shout "Stop The Clock!" and use the break to reposition back at the helicopter. If the show makes it to BBC Prime, expect commercial breaks here. Those of us watching domestically wouldn't mind a brief fade to black, or a visible wipe, or something to indicate the lapse of time.

Clue one is worth £100, clue two another £200. £300 for the third, £400 for the fourth, and £1000 for the last clue. Hmm, that would be exactly double the prizes on the old C4 version.

In many ways, this is perhaps a stronger show than C4's. We tend to forget the long transits and transfers between clues that Anneka suffered. The game is now five minutes shorter, which means five minutes less travelling time, which means less time filling in or looking out of the window, and no chopper work between clues four and five. The clues are also far less absurdly cryptic than on the C4 version; there is a very good reason why they're in a similar style to X Marks The Spot.

The good news is that the sound problems between the studios and the skyrunner have mostly been ironed out, though that might be because the studio is within striking distance of the course. The bad news is that Zack Lawrence's memorable "Peak Performance" has vanished down the back of the BBC sofa, to be replaced by something far less memorable.

Dermot is dressed in a black jumper, not quite the learned schoolmaster of Kenneth, but still smart. Suzi is loud and talks a bit too much, but is nowhere near as annoyingly squeaky as Annabel Croft, and we have to remember that it took Anneka two or three years to really get her teeth into the skyrunner role.

There are some cute set-pieces - Dermot leaning out of the window to wave at the passing helicopter wouldn't have happened on C4. There's also indisputable evidence that Suzi does have a brain, and can solve these clues on her own bat. Quite where the obsession with pigs comes from remains to be seen - twice this week, Suzi went in search of some good porkers bearing canisters of fun.

Another good feature is the occasional screen of information on the places they've been, though bbc.co.uk/treasurehunt redirects to Auntie's attempts to recover tapes she wiped in the 70s. I'm not quite as impressed with the canisters holding the clues, though they also clearly mark the treasure. Very poor is the signal to indicate time has expired - Dermot counting "three ... two ... one ... oh dear" doesn't have the crashing certainty of the trusty old gong.

Yes, this show has a lot of promise, and surely a full series is in order. Perhaps with some overseas specials, or even playing in Britain outside Kent.

Oh, and the role of Wincey Willis? It's been taken by technology in general, and a GPS link to the helicopter (G-ONTV) instead.


Julian Fell [Seed 1, 924 pts/8 wins] -v- Mike Brown [8, 584/5]

"Spectacular" is the only word to describe Julian Fell, who beat Mike Brown, of thecountdownpage.com, in the opening quarter. Julian had won eight games, and could well be the best talent since Scott Mearns at this stage in 1999. Besides, two attempts at recording this were thoroughly foiled by a temperamental video recorder, so all I can give is Richard's report: Julian blew open the game with WOMANISER half way through and won, 125-67.

Grace Page [2, 829/8] -v- David Nickeas [7, 756/7]

Though Grace hasn't been on screens since the middle of July, she's lost none of her touch, blanking David for the first two rounds with SOBERING and TEAPOT. Though GUIDERS allows David to halve the deficit, an error in the numbers game gives Grace a 14 point advantage at the end of the first period. The two match each other step-for-step in the second period, and Grace misses a chance to extend her lead when she doesn't offer SATANIZE at the start of the third. The 14 point therefore remains right through the game, until David turns WEECOLUMN into something far less friendly. He still loses, 92-88.

George Greenhough [3, 817/8] -v- Joe Zubaidi [6, 665/8]

Joe carved a precarious but entertaining path through his qualifying heats, but gets off to the better start, winning with GRIMACES in the opening period. His offer of OUTSLID is rejected in the second, but OUTSOLD would have been acceptable. The lead is cut to a single point, where it remains until George's ADMONISH puts him seven up in the third period. The contestants conspire to mess up a [how simple?] numbers game - Joe comes ten away, and narrows the gap to two. TUMBOURNE defies the contestants until 26 seconds, but Joe figures it out and wins, 94-86.

Danny Hamilton [4, 761/8] -v- Julia Wilkinson [5, 744/8]

Julia kicks off with the winner IMPOUND, but sees an extra letter in the next selection, allowing Danny to level the scores. Julia reopens a seven point gap before the break, thanks to FALTERS, but falters in the numbers game and Danny takes a three point advantage out of the first period. Julia falls further behind during the second period, with MANSIZED not yet in common currency, and Danny giving a PLUSHER word. The eighteen point gap persists until the last letters, when Danny's SPECIAL puts the game beyond doubt. Unravelling HELDSHORT carries Danny past the century, winning 105-70.

SF1: Julian Fell [1] -v- Danny Hamilton [4]

The show starts with a five and a six. It's the calm before the storm. SALMONOID is a fish of the salmon family, and gives our top seed full marks in round three. He's DEPORTING every contestant, and a perfect score on a very tough numbers game gives Julian 57 points by the end of the first period. That was a typical winning score in the old nine-round game. Danny risks TRAMLINED, but the tracks are only down as a noun, not a verb, and Julian's lead extends to 26. The simple COLOURS extends the lead further, and Julian's score after two periods - 94 - speaks for itself. And there's more. INGATHERS in round 11 means this is the second time Julian has made three nine letter words in one show. But like one of those advertorials, the nines keep on coming. DEFLATION pops up in round 12; PAREUS, a printed cotton cloth from Polynesia, in 13. The conundrum, THEIRCOPY, manages to defy all comers. Julian beats his own all-time highest score, winning 146-77.

SF2: Grace Page [2] -v- Joe Zubaidi [6]

It's first blood to Joe, thanks to winner MOULTED in round one. Grace shows her prowess by taking a full marks in a moderately tricky numbers game. TARRING and IMAGES extend Grace's lead, and the coup de grace is administered when she comes within two on a difficult final numbers game. The conundrum - ECQUICASE - is a fingers on buzzers jobbie, allowing Grace to make the winning score 104-71.

Final: Julian Fell [1] -v- Grace Page [2]

Julian begins as he left off on Wednesday, with the nine-letter winner MANTICORE. When he offers LEOPARDS in round two, he leads 26-0. Grace holds her own for the rest of the show; Julian's winner ZODIAC is more than offset by Grace's KNITWEAR and full marks on a fairly easy numbers game. Julian brought down the curtain on the APIMOMENT with a winning score 112-88.

From the CoC season beginning January 6, there are even more rule changes. Mass nouns will, once again, be allowed to take a plural, but only under certain circumstances. Previously, mass nouns have only been pluralised if they're specifically listed as such under the headword. This change, along with July's rejection of listed American English spellings, renders the Official Countdown Dictionary almost entirely obsolete for verification of the televised game.

Those conundrum answers in alphabetical order: acquiesce, hypocrite, outnumber, pantomime, threshold, unwelcome.


Congrats also to David Good, a software developer from High Wycombe, who became the latest FIFTEEN TO ONE champion.

TV Cream reports how the BBC is to revive its Domesday project. Would this be a small compensation to Paul Coia?

For those of you planning a trip to the pantomime this festive season, watch out for these game show irregulars: Keith Chegwin is wearing clothes in Reading. Darren Day is Frank 'n' Furter in Halifax. Stu Francis is crackers, Jack, in Newcastle. Jade Goody is Heinstein in Gravesend. We know her agent told her to take low profile roles, but this is ridiculous. Paul Hendy is the travel bug in Wolverhampton. Melinda Messenger is getting the key in Birmingham. Craig Philips is asleep in Liverpool.

And the winner of Dame Academy (to be unveiled on CBBC next Monday) will be in Newport Pagwell. Where there's no theatre.

COMING ATTRACTIONS (December 25 - January 3)

Christmas Day Night is a gameshow fest on ITV, with Reality TV Show Loser BLIND DATE at 1810 and 2105, featuring Tara Lost-to-Blackburn and Alex Couldnt-beat-kate. Followed at 2135 by another CELEB MILLIONAIRE. There's nothing so interesting on the Beeb.

Boxing Day, and it's WEAKEST LINK HAIRDRESSERS at 1730 on 2. No, really, it is. December 28 sees more regular MILLIONAIRE at 2000. Dance Fanatics is Monday the 30th's WEAKEST LINK, and E4 repeats the daily summary shows from CELEB BIG BROTHER nightly from 2100. On BBC2, Arena traces the lineage of JUST A MINUTE at 2230.

The new series of ROUND BRITAIN QUIZ begins on Dec 30, Radio 4, 1330, repeated the following Saturday at 2302. Also on an intellectual tip, the MASTERMIND CELEBRITY SPECIAL pits Magnus against Janet Street-Porter, Adam Rice-Davies, and Vic Reeves-No-Hyphen. On C4 at 2215, TEN REALLY ANNOYING DISKS includes Antan Dec's Criminal Record.

December 31 has Entertainers WEAKEST LINK at 1725, and C4's TOP 100 TV TREATS OF 2002 from 2100.

We expect everyone to do better on the TEST THE NATION 2002 repeat at 1930 on BBC Choice on Jan 1. JUST A MINUTE has its 35th Birthday Party at 1204 on Radio 4.

More WEAKEST LINK frivolity: attractive male contestants on Jan 2, loud contestants on Jan 3. My money's on Richard Whiteley's jackets.

CHALLENGE ?'s cult box (2 and 9 daily) includes: Dec 25: New Faces, Opportunity Knocks, Golden Shot. Dec 26: Bullseye, Crackerjack, Knightmare, Blankety Blank. Dec 27: Family Fortunes, Going For Gold, 3-2-1, Name That Tune. Dec 28: We Are The Champions, Sale of the Century, Golden Shot, The Adventure Game. Dec 29: Opportunity Knocks, Grayson's Generation Game, Family Fortunes. Dec 30: 3-2-1, Crackerjack, New Faces. Dec 31: Going For Gold, We Are The Champions, Golden Shot, Blankety Blank. Jan 01: Viewer's vote winners.

And RAVEN continues to tread his fearsome way on the CBBC channel at 0830 and 1730 weekdays. This is very good indeed, with the review to follow in two weeks.

Next week, the review of the year. Until then, season's greetings from everyone at UKGS Towers to you all.

To have Weaver's Week emailed to you on publication day (usually Saturday), receive our exclusive TV roundup of the game shows in the week ahead, and chat to other ukgameshows.com readers sign up to our Yahoo! Group.

Back to Weaver's Week Index

A Labyrinth Games site.
Design by Thomas.
Printable version
Editors: Log in