Weaver's Week 2003-11-15

Weaver's Week Index

15 November 2003

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


"A house husband who's between jobs."

WRIGHT AROUND THE WORLD (BBC, 1935-ish Saturdays)

Contrary to what you might have read in some listings services, this is not a remake of LOST where people called Wright are asked to circumnavigate the world on 100 euro and told not to hurry back. It's far more dull than that.

Wright Around The World is yet another Lottery Corp vehicle, and there's yet another tie-in with the Lottery Corp's products. Host Ian Wright has been around the country, and we see a five minute film of the man asking amazingly simple questions to people out shopping, or at their place of work, or somewhere else. Eventually, six people have given correct answers, and they are the players in the main show.

Winning Lines had the 49ers, because the number of possible selections in the Lottery Corp's most popular game is 49. Jet Set bases order of play on predicting whether the next number out was higher or lower than the previous. Innit Ter Winnit has a drawing machine like those used elsewhere. The Incredibly Rubbish Big Ticket was based on a specific Lottery Corp game, not that anyone wants to be reminded about that.

Wright Around has the Green Globes. They are four or twelve oversized Lottery Corp balls, dropped into a machine, which then mixes them up. Well, we're told that the balls are mixed up, but this process happens out of our sight, and for all we know the "green" effect is supplied by coloured lights beneath the machine.

The gameplay manages to be utterly trivial and gratuitously complex at the same time. Questions on the buzzers, person answering the question correctly gets to pick one of the twelve oversized balls. If it's one of the eight red balls, nothing happens, we play on. If it's one of the green balls, that player gets a second question; answer this second question correctly, the ball drops out of play, and they're through to the next phase. Answer it incorrectly, and the ball remains in play. It appears that some questions are edited out, in order that the show doesn't over-run horrendously. There's no danger of the crowd falling asleep during recording, as the applause is provided by the magic of Canned Crowd. There is every danger of the crew falling asleep at their posts, and during the pilot, they had to nip out for some strong coffee and fresh air after just seven minutes of recording.

In the finished transmission, the Lottery Corp will insert one of its commercials here. Back in the game, the remaining four suffer some torture, as they watch a video recording of some rubbish karaoke singers murdering a song, the sort of abysmal performance that would have Dogsby apologising to Ali Griffin. It's got to be a video, as the karaoke uses the same set as the players. During this clip, some pointless facts scroll along the bottom of the screen. It's as if The Chart Show had never been axed.

After this cruel and unusual punishment, the host asks some questions based on the pointless facts. Players giving a correct answer must pick two of the twelve globes, hoping they're both green. The first player has a (4/12)*(3/12)*(ways of picking 2 from 4) = (1/3)*(1/4)*6 = 1/2 chance of picking a pair of greens. Picking that pair gives a bonus question, correctly answering that question gives progression to the final.

[Actually, the correct probability is only (4x12)*(3/11) = 9.09%. No need to multiply by the number of ways of picking two from four as that's already taken into account. - Ed]

A further commercial from the Lottery Corp delays proceedings still further.

In the final, each player starts with two globes, there are 90 seconds on the clock, and all the answers are place names. Person with the more globes at the end of proceedings is the winner. In effect, this becomes a best of five shootout, one that shouldn't last beyond 30 seconds.

The show's credits play out without giving the provisional results from the Lottery Corp, certainly not how it's been done for recent years.

In summary, the game is smoke and mirrors - it looks complex, but that hides a simple format. Jet Set - from which this show has clearly drawn inspiration - looks appealing by comparison.

It would not be fair to review Saturday night television without mentioning HERE COMES THE SUN. Back in January, when the pilot aired, this column reckoned the show could be entertaining, but needed a new host. The full series has kept Claire Sweeney, who hosts the show as if it's a matter of life and death. It's not, it's a game show, the prize is a timeshare for life.

The show would work as a light-hearted game, in the lineage of It's a Knockout. But then Knockout doesn't have a huge prize at the end of the show, just [[Keith Chegwin]]. The show would also work, though not quite as well, as a mean 'n' nasty show, with a slightly camp, larger than life villainous host, such as the eponymous M Boyard.

As it stands, there's very little tension in the games themselves, and the final observation round isn't so much tense as tedious. This column just doesn't see the point.


Opening round, match 9: Durham -v- Bristol

Yes, the Bristol captain really is taking a PhD in the welfare of cats in rescue shelters. And yes, Thumper takes yet another opportunity to remind us that no side has ever run the title on three occasions. We don't need to be told for three weeks in succession.

The first picture round comes after just three starters, with no clear lead. We have another snappy starter: in Greek mythology, which mountain was the home of the centaurs.

Durham's getting a lot of starters, but doesn't get more than one of its first five bonus sets. Good starter of the week: "Hank Ballard, who died in 2003, devised which 50s and 60s dance, popularised by Chubby Checker." That's followed by another on definitions of "one gallon." Credit where it's due, the UC question setters can come up with quality starters.

By the second picture round, Durham has a fair old lead, but Bristol threatens to come up on the rails if given a chance. Durham doesn't give Bristol that chance, nor even an opportunity to crash the repechage.

The final score: Bristol 70, Durham 225. It's the fifth time this season we've had an aggregate below 300, though Durham's is the third highest winning score. Michael Weaver (no relation) top scored for Durham with 62.8, Bristol's best was Silas Humphreys on 32.3. This column had a poor week, and claims to score 195 points across the programme. Bristol made 9/12 bonuses and three missignals, Durham had 16/44 and one missignal.

Still no change in the high scoring losers: 175 St John's Oxford 160 Hull 150 St Hugh's Oxford 115 Edinburgh


With the Junior Eurovision final tonight, it's an opportune moment to review the situation for Byzantium 2004.

The open selection for songs has begun, details are on BASCA's website. They suggest that the traditional route (the one that gave us such classics as "Come Back" and, er, "Bye Bye Credibility") will not submit all the songs for the final stages.

For its part, the BBC is pulling out a few more stops to choose next year's British entry. Auntie has promised a big primetime "very sexy" event. It'll be an hour long, air at 7pm Saturday, and be hosted by Terry Wogan. Readers can judge the accuracy of the Beeb's claims. Viewers will be able to choose both the act and the song in separate votes.

The show has two working titles: "Making Your Mind Up," and "Nul Points Never Again." Germany has set her sights higher than hearing "L'allemagne, un point"

at least once, and the ZDF show is called "Douze Points 2004."

BBC4's decently intelligent brain power show MIND GAMES returned for a second series this week There's a new set, a celebrity puzzle, some running jokes, and more obvious scoring than in the spring. The puzzles themselves seem a little more tricky than earlier in the year, and they take longer to solve. We have a puzzle for the viewer, all we need now is puzzles sent in by the viewer, and Simon Singh exercising his vocal cords, and it's a television version of PUZZLE PANEL.

The opening quote to this week's column was how Charles Ingram described himself on 19 KEYS this week. (Review of this, and of EGGHEADS, next week.) Barely 90 minutes later, Channel 4 was subjecting us to some footage of a week Mr Ingram had spend with Miss Jade Goody, a mouth from Bermondsey. Mrs Diana Ingram spent the week with Mr Jeff Brazier, Miss Goody's live-in bloke.

The highlights of the show included a clearly staged for the cameras row between Mr Ingram and Miss Goody over absolutely nothing, and Mr Ingram bouncing up and down on a trampoline. Mrs Ingram and Mr Brazier bought a small dog, played a tediously obvious video game in the pub, and finished the week with a tour of the National Gallery.

This column has been thinking that perhaps Mr Ingram has suffered enough. This show has forced us to reconsider; we're now certain that all involved have suffered enough, not least the viewers.


You can tell it's been a quiet week when there's space for another animal-run- amuck story.

A baby llama named "Cupcake" broke out of its pen in Denver on Monday. The llama was upset about being away from its mother. It got somewhat madder when it saw the officers and animal control trying to get it back home and deny it the chance to be a wrong answer on a quiz show. According to reports, Cupcake was a bit stubborn and spat in the face of one of the Lakewood officers during the 20-minute wrangling session.

"You get a call of a llama at large, what do you do? I played football, I tackled him. I don't know what else to say," said Lakewood police officer Mark Hart. "I could not believe how strong that guy was considering he only weighs 300 pounds. He was taking those two adults males and throwing us around."

It may have seemed like an eternity for the llama-chasing officers, but after several moments of blood and sweat, Cupcake was back in his pen and safely reunited with his mother.

More of this some other time, perhaps.


An eagle-eyed viewer notes that TVE, the Spanish external channel, has joined the Astra 2 bouquet, and airs a number of game shows from that country, including that country's attempts to pick a Eurovision winner, OPERACION TRIUNFO. Should this channel gain widespread cable carriage, expect reviews and listings.

Meantime, it's JUNIOR EUROVISION all round the continent, and the first time we've seen an entry from Belarus. 1900 on ITV tonight. Minor celebs get their chance to go for a BARGAIN HUNT live all week, and it's the return of ISIHAC to Radio 4, with the last game of Mornington Crescent played under the traditional Northern Line rules.

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