Weaver's Week 2003-01-25

Weaver's Week Index

25th January 2003

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

This week, we looked on amazed as Phillip Schofield totally forgot about the show he used to link into, RUN THE RISK.


Tom Hargreaves -v- Ben Wilson

Ben's coming into the game after winning 12 of 12, but this is looking like the end for him. Tom takes an early lead with PALINODE, a poem in which the poet retracts a previous work. Both players spot the niner FACETIOUS, but Tom pulls further ahead with SEAMING. Fifteen points ahead and still in the first period. In the second, Tom takes another eight - UNSALTED - as Ben's OUTLANDS is disallowed. With no change in the third's letters, Tom's win is assured, 131-98.

Julian Fell -v- Graham Nash

MENDMEDOC. Julian and Graham are both undefeated in 12 coming into this match, and you just know it's going to be a crucial conundrum, decided on the split second of who hit their buzzer first. The two offered the same word and anagrams of each other in the first three rounds, but Graham submits FORMICA in the fourth. No, says lexicographer Susie Dent, it's a proper noun. Julian takes a six point lead. The nines - ORGANISED and GRANDIOSE - come out in the second period. Julian hopes GAMBIERS is now allowable under the mass noun rule. It's an extract of an Asian plant, but there's no similar sort of extract from that plant, and it's not going to get past Susie. The intervention seems to have muddied further the water of what is acceptable and what is not. Graham's safe MIRAGES gives him a one point lead; that one point remains right to the conundrum, which lasts two seconds. The winner of what is surely the match of the championship, the highly decorated, surely favourite for Friday, winning 120-109, Graham Nash.


Chris Wills -v- John Rawnsley

A clear sense of After the Lord Mayor's Show today. John offers the invalid FRONTERS, but Chris's anagram - FORESTER - gives him the first lead. Chris goes for DECAGONAL, pertaining to a ten side figure, and it's valid, and his lead is 26, and the contest is as good as over. Invocations to Yorkshire's finest host, Ted Rodgers, don't so much enliven as confuse. Chris pulls further away in the third period, thanks to some gambles from John, with the final score 120-88 in Chris's favour.

Tom Hargreaves -v- Graham Nash

The aggregate age of our semi finalists today: 40. That's younger than any other person in the studio, apart from Dame Dent. Only a half inch splits them in height, and the match promises to be as close. Graham uses his powers of logic to deduce that a seven-sided figure should be a SEPTAGON, but it's actually a heptagon, and Tom has a heptalead. Ninepoint of the day is CLEARINGS, offered by Graham; nonpoint is Tom's offering RESCALING. Can Graham say BASTARD on national teatime television? I think he just did. Our tall twosome think about OUTFILL and OUTLIFE, but offering them is a gesture FUTILELY pointless. TOWERED from Graham increases his lead to a towering 18, but Tom responds with AMNIOTE, reducing the gap to 11. Yet another easy numbers game means we have our winner, Graham coming through to take the conundrum and win 104-83.


Chris Wills -v- Graham Nash

Both gentlemen have 14 wins. GAMBADE breaks the deadlock in Chris's favour late in the first, but CECIL punishes his inverted Y with an impossible numbers game. The Countdown gods smile on Graham, with PENSIVE at the start of the second, and the deadlock carries forward. Chris's MISTLE is towed away, it only comes with a thrush, and a lead of six for Graham. Neither player is on particularly sparkling form, but the letters are particularly evil - three eight letter words are all we have, and the contestants get but one. Only one numbers game was solved on the show, another was impossible by one, the third could not approach closer than 123 away. So, as ever, we're down to a conundrum, OVERSPADE. Tick. Tick. Tickety tickety tick. The drummy bit, no one has overheard the answer, Graham celebrates, shakes Richard's hand, then Chris's, mass cheering from the audience. 79-73 the final score, glass trophies the prize, and we'll do it all again in a few years.


Second Round, Match 5: Birkbeck -v- Clare Cambridge

Thumper points out that these are the two lowest-scoring first round winners, defeating UMIST and Emannuel Cambridge irrespectively. Both those sides came back in the repechage.

Gee whizz, we must be getting old. Clare doesn't know about Ian MacDonald, British spokesperson during the 1982 Falklands conflict. The all-male Birkbeck team doesn't know about women's bicycle saddles, and absolutely no one knows about Schrodinger's Wave Equation.

It's a low scoring week, only 90 points on the board after the first picture round, and just one bonus has had two parts correctly answered.

"Oh, please stop saying 'we don't know'!" Thumper gets a bit antsy after Clare has failed to provide any sort of answer to nine bonuses in a row. There's a set of questions loosely based on argon, but no one thinks to include those alien testers of wit and perspicacity.

Speaking of testing, the music bonus is missed by both sides. As is the next starter, the next starter, and (just for good measure) the starter after that. It really is one of those weeks, especially when the music round turns out to be "How many people are playing," a poor - and only slightly less arbitrary - derivative of Argonds Round the Pond.

By the second picture round, Birkbeck's lead is pushing a hundred, and even though Clare's Richard Flower knows more perfect numbers than Thumper, the result isn't in doubt.

Or isn't it? Two more starters, a missignal from Birkbeck, and the gap's down to 25. Is the game going to spring to life? Only until Birkbeck gets the next starter. They run out the winners, 190-130.

Tony Gillham top scores for Birkbeck with 61, Richard Flower's 49 leads for Clare. Birkbeck made 21/32 bonuses and five missignals; Clare 9/27 with one missignal. The teams dropped just one physics and mathematics question all night.

Next: Cranfield -v- Manchester.


According to Becky Jago (ex Newsround, now alongside Chris Final Answer at Capital Radio) one should read fireworks instructions by matchlight. Don't try this at home, kids. The other contestants on Childrens' Television WEAKEST LINK took the rise out of the puppet, but Anne's worst mauling came at the hands of Mr Roland Rat. The winner is Kirsten O'Brien, beating Sir Johnny Ball in extra time.

We await the Unintelligable Characters Weakest Link, starring Gordon the Gopher, Scrappy Doo, Nero from Dangermouse, Ed the Duck, Robin Cook, Major Clanger, Muttley, Noseybonk, and the Rangdo of Arg.

Back in the real world, C4's WITHOUT PREJUDICE? goes from strength to strength. The panelists are cropping up from week to week, and we're able to know what will wind them up, and anticipate fireworks accurately.

"It's good to be able to talk without anyone watching" - Sue Perkins to fellow Celeb BB inmate Mark Owen on this week's RI:SE.

Plans are afoot for a CELEBRITY SQUARES revival on C5. Bob Monkhouse will be played by Richard Blackwood, Willie Rushton in the centre square will be played by London DJ Tom Binns, and guests will include Tess Daly, Melan Sue, and Anneka Rice.

The BBC has finally announced the early shows on BBC3, its last new television channel for the time being. Game show related highlights include...

CELEBDAQ - Following the virtual celebrity stock market based on how much press coverage they receive. (That's national dead wood press only: this column's obsession with Antan Dec will not increase your chances of winning.) More: http://www.bbc.co.uk/celebdaq

And, er, that's it. BBC3 slips into the void left by the demise of BBC Choice in 1999, and launches on February 9.

Remember the million quid left over from the FAME ACADEMY phone lines? It's not going into the BBC's pocket, but is being donated to found a charity for aspiring and up and coming singers. Those on the board will include current #1 star David Sneddon, who apparently won the show. The work of the charity may well end up on primetime Auntie.

Anyone noticed how Anthea Turner has been noticeable by her absence lately? The Celeb BB 1 loser this week fired her manager for not getting any decent roles ever. We venture a slight difference of opinion here, Geoffrey.

Maybe she could follow the lead of Jerry Springer. The onetime host of GREED is considering running for the US Senate in 2004's elections. Springer, whose commentary on the British election in 2001 caused jaws to drop around the world, would become the first game show host in US politics since Mr Washington beat Mr Jefferson in the finals of NAME THAT CAPITAL.


Weeknights at 1900 on C5, it's Double Cross. Five play for five grand. No questions, no tasks, just the voting show. A psychologist and an adman provide commentary, while we think about offering them the Concordet method and solving the show at the first vote.

Weeknights at 0150 on UK Horizons, more repeats of Wanted. Richard Littlejohn's finest hour, or eight.

Those who must watch AMERICAN IDLE 2 need to know the series begins at 2030 Friday on ITV2. Those who want to avoid it need this info as well. Simon Cowell will be promoting himself with Antan Dec tonight.

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