Weaver's Week 2003-03-29

Weaver's Week Index

29th March 2003

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

The first of a new series of BANZAI this week, with guest appearances from Simon Cowell and Helen From Big Brother 2. Your challenge: name all the BB2 housemates before the end of the column.

NICKED! (Week Four)

This week, the biggest game show court case of the century (so far) has heard from:

Diana Ingram, sister to two missing men, husband to the biggest risk-taker in history.

Tecwen Whittock, who compared the prosecution case to a box of chocolates.

Alan Morris, a professor of coughing, who confirmed Mr Whittock had a dodgy throat.

The trial moved into closing speeches on Thursday afternoon, and we expect the jury to begin considering their verdict on Monday or Tuesday. A special report will be posted to the ukgameshows.com website at the conclusion of the trial.


Second Semi Final: Cranfield -v- Leeds

Cranfield beat Brasenose Oxford on a tiebreaker, Manchester by a shave, and Durham on another tiebreaker. Cranfield has picked up exactly two thirds of the points available to date, and could be a decent dark horse.

Leeds took out Liverpool John Moores by a mile, Nottingham by a short nose, and Worcester Oxford by another mile. Ah, be fair Thumper, that wasn't a close match. Leeds kicked Oxford's butt. The Leeds side is great on pop culture, weak on history.

Previously, Marden had led the way for Cranfield, while the Leeds buzzes have been spread right across the team.

We begin with Starter Of The Week: Following the theft of billiard balls from a house in Denmark Hill, South London in June 1902, Henry Jackson became the first person to be convicted of a crime based on the strength of what sort of evidence?

I'd be tempted to buzz in after six words, and this would have fared very well in our recent Starter For Ten Pounds competition.

Not the fastest of starts, we're deadlocked at low scores going into the first picture round, a tricky set on the coats of arms of Commonwealth countries. In fact, only five of the first ten starters are correctly answered. Leeds manages to lose its rep as pop culture mavens, failing to spot quotes about the Beatles, the Stones, and (er) Boy George.

At one point, Leeds has a 60-25 lead, and in the context of a very difficult set of questions, this is a decent lead. It doesn't withstand Cranfield's knowledge of esoteric time signatures, only missing a piece written in 4/8 time.

That music round gives Cranfield a small lead, and the team builds on it relentlessly. They also get the bizarre answers of the week: Burma, George Bush Snr, Teletubbies

The link: Salween, Sununu, Noo-Noo.

Cranfield also gets the Historic Question Of The Week correct: What is the smallest piece of information a computer can store? This was, of course, the first Fastest Finger First question ever asked on [WHO WANTS TO BE A MILLIONAIRE.

By the second picture round, Cranfield's lead is heading towards a hundred. Neither team can work out the probability of two dice showing different numbers. It feels like their brains are shot, and they'd have trouble remembering their own name.

Leeds suddenly makes a huge surge, buzzing after about three syllables of the starter. Even if they were buzzing in correctly, I don't think they would quite have caught up, but it does make for a more thrilling climax than had looked possible.

Brennan 30 Arbuthnot 34 Marden 86 Corley 50
CRA 35 50 95 20 [200] 20/33 bonuses, 2 missignals
LEE 50 30 10 35 [125] 12/21 bonuses, 3 missignals
Tumber 27 Ryan 34 Webb 39 Kidd 25

This is Cranfield's biggest margin of victory, and means the side's overall record in UC reads: W2 D2 L3. I think they're the only side to have had two ties in the past nine years.

Webb becomes Leeds' top buzzer, but just 56 points covers the whole side. The team finished with a 54.9% strike rate, ahead of Sheffield. Pop culture and biology-chemistry remained the team's strong suits.

The overall Best Buzzer title will go right to the wire, with Marden leading Birkbeck's Gillham by just eight points, and Gallivan just 40 adrift. Cranfield's strike rate falls slightly, but is still a very impressive 65.8%.

Next: Birkbeck -v- Cranfield in The Final

Key stat: Birkbeck has picked up a total of 17 missignals. Cranfield has just four.


The ITC has been flexing its teeth again this week. The regulatory body publishes a code of what is unacceptable to see on television, and interprets it according to the views of "the general viewer." Like end credits on CITV, "the general viewer" is something of a mythical creature, rumoured to exist but without any hard evidence to back that up.

Anyway, General Viewer has ruminated on a scene in Challenge ?'s repeat of FORT BOYARD. It's the game where a contestant finds a word from a woman who sits in one of the cells. She's wearing only a G-string, and has the word 'whip' painted on the side of her body. One viewer complained that this level of nudity was unacceptable for the time of day it was broadcast, 1850.

General Viewer said that the fact that the woman's breasts were prominently shown, that the sequence was set in a cell amongst the catacombs, that the clue was 'whip', and that the woman appeared bound or restrained in some way, created a sexual setting. General Viewer also noted that any nudity before the watershed should be in a relevant context, and the context of a game-show does not justify this level of female nudity, which could have been avoided without any loss to editorial requirements.

General Viewer also pointed out that he had ruled on this very point before, when the programme was first transmitted on Channel 5, in an 8pm slot in November 1998, and found that channel wanting.

Another channel finding its shows wanting is Channel 4. BOYS AND GIRLS will shift to a late night slot - circa 2230 - from April 5. The show hasn't moved past 1.1 million viewers since its opening night at the start of the month, and hasn't been helped by having a different show every week, yet once you've seen one, you've seen them all.

"We are moving it to 10.30pm because we think a later slot will help it get the audience it deserves," said a Channel 4 spokey, who didn't say exactly what audience the show actually deserves. Nor did the spokey say how scheduling B&G opposite the football highlights on ITV will help attract that audience.

Anne and Phillip hosted the third interactive TEST THE NATION last Saturday night. The first one told us how well we did at IQ tests. The second one told us how well we remembered the events of 2002, and most people scored higher on the Dec 23 original broadcast than on the Jan 1 repeat.

This week's third show was about a Women's Magazine Test On National Telly. Pick up any edition of "Gal Monthly" and you'll find zillions of questions purporting to show how emotionally compatible you are against some mythical ideal. TTN3 was one of these tests. Completely useless for those not in a stable relationship, and not particularly enlightening for those who are.

Will the next show be TEST THE NATION: THE NATIONAL TEACHING GRANNY TO SUCK EGGS edition? Don't hold your breath.


And speaking of don't hold your breath, Rhona Cameron hosts another hopefully exciting edition of RUSSIAN ROULETTE this Tuesday evening. It'll follow the News At Ten At Nine at 2115 or thereabouts. Apparently, there's a whole series looming.

Alarming Audience Vote Of The Week: On MILLIONAIRE, 16% of the studio audience reckoned that the Rogers and Hart musical "Carousel" [Rodgers and Hammerstein, actually - Ed] featured the song made famous by Chelsea FC, "Blue Is The Colour." Rubbish as this song may be, it's still better than this year's UK entry to Eurovision ... hang on, no, it's even worse.

Idle thought of the week. Reading a French article about a large television festival in Cannes, I mistranslated a piece and thought it said "the European final of STAR ACADEMY." Well, why not? Let David Sneddon (UK) and Melanie Martins (BE) and all the other national winners compete in a week-long series of sing-offs, with some sort of Eurovision-style voting, and see who comes out as Europe's Star. This could be a winner, or it could be even more of a flop than SHAFTED. [I believe there *is* a European final of Star/Fame Academy but the BBC refused to buy the show - Ed]

Carlton has announced plans to send a contestant to a Junior Eurovision Song Contest. The EBU show, open to those aged under sixteen, will be held in the autumn.

Next week should be the busiest we've seen in ages. NICKED comes to its natural conclusion, there's a special WEAKEST LINK scheduled for Tuesday - whether it airs is another matter. And BBC1 kicks off THE MURDER GAME at 2115 tonight. The Corp's reworking of MURDER IN SMALL TOWN X asks us to solve a particularly deadly series of slayings.

And those BB2 contestants? Penny, Stuart, Narinder, Bubble, Amma, Josh, Paul, Elizabeth, Dean, Helen, Brian.

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