Weaver's Week 2002-12-28

Weaver's Week Index

28th December 2002

Iain Weaver reviews another year in UK Game Show Land.

Another year older, and what have we learned this year? What awards can we dish out? Who won, and who lost? And what caught my eye when reviewing the UK Gameshows Group posts this year?

The SCAVENGERS Award for Being Quietly Dropped Because it Wasn't As Popular As We Hoped It Would Be goes to MR RIGHT. This was an ITV show, fronted by Ulrika Jonsson, that aimed to match a rich man to an eligible spinster. The show started its six week run comfortably in prime time, but even the huge scandal surrounding Jonsson at the time failed to provide many viewers. By the end of its run, MR RIGHT was tucked away in the midnight slot, between rubbish drama Night and Day and the Regional Sports Special.

Last year's winner of the Scavengers Award, Shafted, has remained off our screens entirely. The similarly-dropped X-FIRE aired seven of its remaining eight shows during the summer, but one named "Star Wars" remains mysteriously absent. We have hope for a further series.

Prize Of The Year, on BRITAIN'S BRAINIEST WHATEVER: "A piece of broken pasta jar wedged into a chunk of wood." [Tim on the mailing list]

The NEWS AT TEN Award for Inconsistent Scheduling Even Within A Regular Timeslot goes to SURVIVOR II. According to the listings magazines, twelve episodes were scheduled to begin at 9:45 pm, directly after live football. Only two of them began bang on 9:45, seven were at least five minutes late, with the worst offender not beginning until 10:08. With ITV2's recap show still airing at 10:45, viewers to the supplementary show were able to see that week's result before it aired on the main show.

The Award for the Most Annoying Trend of the Year: the post-match interview. They fit into Weakest Link, allowing one final chance to stab the other players in the back. They fit into Big Brother, Survivor, and other Constructed Reality Shows, allowing the contestant to speak outside of the show's usual confines. But they have no place on Stake Out, Innit To Winnit, The Chair, or Raven. Congrats to Judgemental for eschewing this device, and to The Enemy Within for arranging the format to make these interviews an integral part of the show.

Things Anne Robinson Can't Say: She somehow manages to mispronounce "You did very well, well done" as "You're not very good really". [Nick G]


In January, Channel 5 dropped a number of shows, including DESERT FORGES, GREED, and last year's Best Show In Show, THE MOLE. We're still waiting for an intelligent broadcaster to come along and pick them up. In fact, we're still waiting for an intelligent broadcaster to come along. On the other hand, no one took TOUCH THE TRUCK, so there's hope for us yet.

What of the new shows they promised?

NEED TO KNOW: "Experts in contrasting fields take a crash course in the other's specialism before being quizzed on their new knowledge." Turned into SWAPHEADS, and filled for three less-than-stellar weeks in the summer.

WONDERWALL: "Celebrities from the past pose questions via a video wall. Contestants pick a year and find themselves being asked about new romantic pop by Phil Oakey." Not to be confused with The Best Three Minute Endgame On Television, because WINNING LINES is on telly, and this has vanished.

TOP RANKO: "A quick-fire quiz in which contestants must identify various 'top 10s'." Emerged as TOPRANKO (spot the difference!) in the summer and over Christmas.

INTERNATIONAL KING OF SPORTS: "Teams from around Europe compete in made-up sports such as Babbage - where contestants have to jump into a pool from increasingly heights without immersing their heads; and Tennis Whack - where they hit a ball as high as possible while keeping their feet on the ground." Aired as such over the autumn, and was more fun than the F1 season.

HOUSE OF ASTONISHMENT: "Introducing people with odd talents, such as a woman who crushes objects with her 57cm bust." Vanished without trace. Phew.

Hmm. No one mentioned their subtle daytime hit BRAINTEASER.

Also in the early months, C4 gave us EDEN, in which a bunch of young hopefuls were sent out to the middle of Australia, asked to survive on only one hour's internet connection and no mobile phones, and the winner wasn't so much determined as emerged. A sudden tropical downpour threatened to enliven the show, but even Thor tired of playing deity to this show, and it fizzled out. Many of the ideas - asking the viewers who should perform a ludicrous task, stringing the show all over the schedule - went to make up I'M A CELEBRITY GET ME OUT OF HERE, the show that rescued ITV's career. Lost in the mists were THE DEMOCRATIC FOOTBALL TEAM, in which C4 viewers would have taken the manager's role at Stevenage Borough - who to play, who to drop, that kind of thing.


The Iain Duncan Smith Award for the Running Joke of the Year goes to this extract from WEAKEST LINK, January 27:

Anne: "In September 2001, who was elected leader of the Conservative party?"
Politics student: [thinks] [looks down at his shoes] [thinks some more] 
[you can see the panic all over his face] [12 seconds later...] "Pass".

Honourable mention to Andy Collins' garden shed.

The Charles Windsor Award for Not Quite Believing One's Ears goes to Television's Mr X. In January, Mr X was still hosting THIS MORNING with Fern. Caprice was the guest, and she promoted her play, "Reclaiming Cant", only using a different vowel in the second word. By December, Mr X had been booted off the show, and was participating in a totally different quiz with Inspector Knacker.

Angus Deayton lost his job presenting HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU after allegations that he had been selling his brown suits to be turned into Cooper's Creosote. A bunch of guest hosts tried to fill his shoes; only John Sergeant succeeded. And the Major continued preparing for NICKED!, to be filmed early in the new year.

None of the above disappeared down the dumper when Rhona Cameron presented RUSSIAN ROULETTE in November.

The Mystic Mug Award for predicting the future goes to Nick Gates. In March, he said this of the nominees for Montreux Roses: "I'm pulling for The Waiting Game or Banzai. I have no doubt that Oblivious will win." It did win the game show category, ahead of the oh-so-different Make My Day. Only the latter show aired new episodes in 2002.

This Also Annoys Of The Year: Very long starters and bonuses on University Challenge. And the way the chairman of the Inland Revenue was made to look a plonker by questions on VAT, which - contrary to Thumper's sneers - is not the responsibility of the Revenue. Burgundy ties all round it is, then.

Burgundy ties also to the BANZAI team. For their royal episode, someone had the brilliant idea to clock the speed of the Queen Mother's hearse using a radar gun. Some eagle-eyed coppers spotted Mr Shoot At Dead Royal in the crowd and put a stop to the stunt.

Inspired Idea Of The Year: Antan Dec giving away the entire contents of the commercial breaks in some shows. The game mechanic wasn't up to much, but it's a fab idea.

E4 brought us many ideas. YOUR FACE OR MINE was perhaps the best, challenging couples to judge who the audience reckoned was the better looker. Simple, good-humoured, and fun.

JUDGEMENTAL offered a chance to predict how well other people would answer general knowledge questions based only on first impressions. Huge opportunity for tactical play all round, and perhaps the sleeper hit of the year.

Nick summed up THE CHAIR thus: "You too can watch people sit in chairs whilst ABSOLUTELY nothing happens for up to four minutes at a time as a person tries to control their heart! Great." The viewing public thought it more boring than C5's WHEN WET PAINT DRIES. "It's not what you do but how slickly you do it, POP IDOL being a good case in point," added the UKGS.com webmaster. FAME ACADEMY was still some months off.

Unresolved Controversy of the Year: So, was Alison's eviction in week 2 of BIG BROTHER kosher, or a betting scam, or both? 1027 votes in 1.5 million calls for close checking. C4 and Endemol never commented on the continued presence of a bookmaker's ad on the website. Nor have we heard the facts behind credible claims that an intruder penetrated the garden around the bank holiday weekend.

Celebrity Synergy of the Year: Tara Pretentious-Tompkintwaddle was the guest on BBLB. She was surprised that Sophie nominated Poppy, though she didn't. She also began a long and complex sentence making a potentially interesting point, but forgot what it was half way through.

One flounce out, one hop out, and two exits that owe a lot to highly dubious editing, we have a winner. She took the vacant Class Joker role just over half way through, and consolidated her position in the last weeks.

Nostalgia Trip of the Year: Zoe Ball's CLASS OF... series. A great memory-jogger, and some fun little ideas, but rather annoyingly incorrect on some of the finer details, and the habit of cropping old shows to fill the new-fangled widescreen sets just annoys. By the end of the year, Challenge? had filled the gap by showing full versions of old game shows, including THE ADVENTURE GAME, and (er) Crackerjack. Best we forget ITV's insipid effort, NEVER HAD IT SO GOOD.

SUPERSTARS came back for one night only, to mark the BBC's charity Sports Relief night. No one won the jackpot on MILLIONAIRE, and no one stayed awake through IN IT TO WIN IT. Gopherman continued to rule the roost, scoring with WINNING LINES 4 and working well with Anne Robinson on TEST ... THE NATION ... TWO ... THOUSAND ... AND ... TWO at both IQ and knowledge of the year's events.

Sky One's one contribution of the year was DIRTY MONEY, voiced by Marcus Bentley, and giving away three grand a day. There's nothing to the show, but it's surprisingly repeatable.

Earth Mother Davina combined her role in some house at Elstree with THE VAULT, where dead air was interrupted only by some frantic noises from the host. A perfectly decent show, but there's room for improvement. Perhaps not having straight Q&A would help.

PLAY YOUR CARDS RIGHT came back with enforced large stakes, and the Bit Of A Wasted Journey Draw. Tinkering at the margins of the familiar format.

Mark Curry tried and failed at CATCHPHRASE, Andy Collins did slightly better at FAMILY FORTUNES.

Rubbish Programme Of The Year: REMOTELY FUNNY. Please, no.

One-trick Programme Of The Year: LIAR. Who is telling more porkies than Lord Archer? Who wants to be demichaeled by Paul Kaye? Can the audience spot the sole truth-teller in a sea of bluff and guff? Entertaining, compelling, but surely the joke is now over.

Rising Programme Of The Year: BARGAIN HUNT. From daytime television to the most famous orange on prime-time in years. Cheap as chips, but oddly popular.

Worst Costume of the Year: While preparing for eviction, PJ wears a loud flowery shirt. The phrase "Oh look, I've thrown up a pattern just like that shirt" springs to mind, though not immediately.


"Your account is empty, and for you, it's game over" - Dirty Money

"Are you the enemy within?"
"No, Nigel, I'm not."

Alex rants about who finished the sugar on a cake for Lee's birthday and lads piddling on the floor and the dust under the rug and the state of the carpets and the furniture and having the nickname Poppy and people leaving their draws open and people getting annoyed when he swipes their blanket and someone using his toothpaste and someone mixing up the spoons and forks and juggling with the oranges and we gave up counting after two weeks... (Continued on e4)

"Gnn -- gnn -- gnn." - Davina McCall, as yet another phone contestant on The Vault proves incapable of simply watching the show.

Ed Hall: "What's a reward challenge?"
Charlotte: "A challenge for a reward." - Survivor Raw

"Count your shinies more and more, that's the way to find your score" - THE SHINY SHOW.

"Big Brother House, this is Davina. You are live on Channel Four, please do not swear!"

"Don't just watch the adverts ... Win 'em!" - Ant and/or Dec, Saturday Night Takeaway.

Thumper Lashes at the Producers: Which animated film of 2000 is about an arrogant young ruler who is transformed into a llama? [Selwyn passes] Why you should be expected to know this rubbish, I've no idea.

"Is there nothing in the news other than Z-list celebs having sex?" - Ian Hislop

"Alex, BB does not expect you to be a professional chicken dryer. If the chickens are distressed in the morning, let us know." "But how will we know that the chicken is distressed. Is it something you can see in their eyes, or the way they walk?"

"Start the clock!" Dermot Murgnahan on the very well received revival of TREASURE HUNT.

"Warrior, you have fought bravely, and leave us with honour." - Raven, RAVEN.

"Which researcher booked monks who have taken a vow of silence?" - Jan Ravens as Anne Robinson, DEAD RINGERS


In the opening episode of Survivor, Tayfun finds that, no, machetes do not float.

In University Challenge, Edinburgh's sartorial elegance.

In Big Brother, Alison and Kate jumping on the picnic table, and finishing with two half picnic tables.

Also in Survivor, the tribal merger takes place by a waterfall, during a tropical rainstorm, with Mark Nicholas looking like Dr Death. The previous tribal t-shirts are discarded and trampled into the mud. This is an amazingly evocative shot.

Jade and Adele argued after Jade had discovered a veruca on her foot. The BBLB segment concentrating on this was followed by a commercial for wart removal cream. It pays to pay attention to the ads.

From the Eurovision Song Contest: Oh my word, what are the Greeks wearing? SAGAPO, obviously.

The Incredible Blue Chocolate Monster.

Two from the opening SATURDAY NIGHT TAKEAWAY: Which vitamin is bread rich in? A. B B. C C. A Which one's Ant and which one's Dec?

IACeleb's perpetual and unceasing rows. Nigel, Rhona, and Uri; Tara and Darren and the "love" notes.

Various minor celebs disappearing through the floor.

FAME ACADEMY trying to end the show on a sing-song after someone's been voted out.

Davina's pepto pink dress.


Discovery Mastermind: Michael Penrice

Cruel Winter: Kirsty
Cruel Summer: Jemma

Pop Idle (joint): William Young and Simon Fuller

American Idle (joint): Kelly Clarkson and Simon Fuller

University Challenge: Somerville Oxford
University Challenge Reunited: Sidney Sussex Cambridge 1979

Fifteen To One: Matti Watton, David Good

The Great Survivor Standing On A Log Game: Jonny Gibb, 1d 0h 6m. Jonny also won the series.

The Eurovision Song Contest: Latvia

Countdown: Chris Wills, Julian Fell

Big Brother: Kate Lawler, Mark Owen

I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!: Tony Blackburn

Have I Got News For You: Sue Perkins

Fame Academy: David

Scrapheap Challenge: The farmers from Devon

Brain Of Britain: Dr David Jones


The PEOPLE VERSUS Award for Most Improved Show of the Year: SURVIVOR 2. It didn't have a from-the-ground-up remake, but it did have That Chap From The Cricket, a refreshing lack of formality, a really annoying sheep farmer, and no field-removed video that makes the viewer's eyes hurt after half an hour. It also had the slightly less intelligent Raw show, featuring the incomparable Ed Hall.

New Show Of The Year: THE ENEMY WITHIN. In which five contestants gather to compete for surprisingly large amounts of money. Only there's a catch: one of them has been given all the answers beforehand. If the gathered contestants can spot the cheat, they will walk away with their hard-earned winnings. If they can't, the mole wins everything. Nigel Lythgoe lost his POPSTARS tag and became a thoroughly decent host, while deviser Paul Coia looked set to make a transition to primetime. Thanks to the unique way in which the BBC is funded, the show will not even return to its lunchtime slot, and that's just terrible.


Next year, we can look forward to all, some, or fewer of the following:

+ A new format that becomes the talk of the nation.

+ Rain in Norfolk.

+ Challenge? repeating more cult shows, and developing a few of their own.

+ England will not win the world cup.

+ An airdate for NICKED!

+ Henry Kelly and Robin Cook will be the new hosts of HAVE I GOT NEWS FOR YOU.

+ There will be a new series of SCAVENGERS.

+ BBC2 will pick up TREASURE HUNT and THE MOLE for new series.

+ ONE AGAINST ONE HUNDRED for a prime time slot.

+ The best new format of 2003 will not air in 2004.

+ Reviews of RAVEN, Cult Christmas, and two University Challenges in this column one week hence.

Until then, very warm wishes for a happy new year to you all.

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