Weaver's Week 2004-02-28

Weaver's Week Index

28 February 2004

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


"'I'm not a quitter,' said Uri Geller, as he quit," said Richard Bacon this week.


Second Round, Match 8: St Edmunds Cambridge -v- Warwick

St Edmunds' came through a dull opening round encounter against the LSE, Warwick took an easy win against an Edinburgh side that self-destructed early on.

Warwick looks to be self-destructing itself, picking up two missignals on the opening two questions. Indeed, going into the first picture round (artists' parents), St Edmund's lead is 80-(-10). Warwick's geography is so good that they reckon the Black Sea (on which lies Constantinople) is an arm of the Baltic. Ah, that explains how come they won last year's Eurovision!

To be exact, Warwick has five points at this stage. Some good work in the next minutes puts them to 30 at the audio round, a mere 85 behind their opposition. The side falls further behind after falling for what should be an obvious trick question:

Q: "Everyone seems to remember with great clarity what they were doing on
November 22nd, 1963..."
Warwick, Lyons: "The assassination of JFK"
Q: "...at the precise moment they heard President Kennedy was dead." These are
the opening words to which novel by Frederick Forsyth?
(The Odessa File)

A couple of errors crept into this week's show, with an assertion that Rolling Stone Brian Jones passed on in 1962, rather than the more accurate 1969. Thumper also confuses Radio Luxemburg's wavelength of 208 metres (it's a length, hence wavelength) with the frequency of 208 kHz (as almost used by Radio 4's pan-European transmissions.)

By the second picture round, the only question is how many points won't be scored tonight, St Edmund's leads 135-35. They're further helped by the Blimey, That's Good moment:

Q: Franny and Zooey...
St Edmund's, Conroy: J D Salinger

Blimey, that's good. St Edmund's aren't challenged at all this week, winning 180-80. The stats: Warwick's best buzzer performance comes from Dave Lyons, making 48.3 of his side's total, incurring all 5 missignals - the side made 7/21 bonuses. For St Edmund's, Brian Conroy led the way with 93.9, the side had 15/33 bonuses and one missignal.


As is traditional, the weekend between the second round and the quarter finals provides an excuse to profile the last eight sides.

In descending order of points scored:
1) Jesus College Cambridge 495
2) Gonville & Caius Cambridge 405

3) St Andrews 395
4) St John's Oxford 390
5) London Met 385
6) Magdalen Oxford 375
7) St Edmund's Cambridge 345
8) Royal Northern College of Music 330

In effect, we have one side scoring at will, two sides that haven't scored very much, and five sides in something of a clump.

Perhaps more telling are the Bonus Conversion rates. This is, quite simply, the percentage of bonus questions correctly answered.

1) Gonville & Caius Cambridge 67.7%

2) St John's Oxford 63.9%
3) London Met 58.7%
4) Magdalen Oxford 51.7%
5) St Andrews 48.5%
6) St Edmund's Cambridge 46.0%
7) Jesus College Cambridge 44.4%

8) Royal Northern College of Music 38.1%

Here, we see the strength in depth of G&C, and how Jesus profits from being very strong on the buzzers. The strength of both St John's and London Met was evident when they clashed in the opening round.

This year's experimental metric is the Strike Rate. It's a little complex, and the formula is (correct bonus answers + (correct starters * 1.5)) / (bonuses asked + (starters asked * 1.5) + missignals)

1) Gonville & Caius Cambridge 61.6%
2) Jesus College Cambridge 55.2%
3) St Andrews 55.0%
4) London Met 54.5%
5) St John's Oxford 53.6%

6) Magdalen Oxford 50.8%
7) St Edmund's Cambridge 50.2%
8) Royal Northern College of Music 47.1%

The raw stats - you'll probably need a fixed-width font for these to line up correctly. These are:
BC/BA: Bonuses correct/asked
SC/SA: Starters correct/asked

AC/AA: All questions correct/asked
X: Missignals.

MOX Magdalen Oxford 31/60 20/36 51/96 6
STA St Andrews Uni 33/68 24/37 57/105 2
GAC Gonville & Caius 44/65 22/38 66/103 3

SJO St John's Oxford 39/61 21/45 60/106 3
RNM Royal N C Music 24/63 21/36 45/99 0
JCC Jesus Cambridge 40/90 30/42 70/132 1
LMT London Metro'n 37/63 22/41 59/104 4
SEC St Edmund's Camb 29/63 21/37 50/100 2

The figure for Jesus is not an error, they really have faced 26 more questions than any other side, and managed just a single missignal. Only the RNCM have a clean sheet, while Magdalen's error rate must come back to haunt them sooner or later.

Margins of victory, by points and percentage of that game's score:

1) Jesus 295, 84.3%
2) St Andrews 215, 75.6%

3) St Edmund's 145, 54.3%
4) RNCM 100, 39.5%
5) G&C 125, 36.4%
6) Magdalen 85, 30.4%
7) London Met 70, 18%
8) St John's 40, 11.7%

St Andrew's has won both games by commanding margins, far larger than any side other than Jesus. London Met's wins were both close.

Overall, Jesus and G&C are clearly very good, St Andrews and London Met have risen to the challenges they've faced, St John's impressed in the repechage, St Edmund's hasn't yet been stretched, while Magdalen and the RNCM have ridden their luck to get this far. Bearing in mind this column's record on tipping winners (0/4 last year) a tip for Gonville & Caius is probably a tip of death.

The solo scores: 10 points for each starter correctly answered, 1.4 points for each ensuing bonus answered by the team, the other team mates score 0.9 points. 5 points off for a missignal. It shows both who is the best buzzer on the show and who has the strongest team behind them.

1) Sam Urquhart, Jesus 212.6

2) Elliott Wilson, St Andrews 197.7
3) Andy Horton, London Met 171.3
4) Andrew Walkingshaw, Jesus 150.6
5) Brian Conroy, St Edmund's 149.9
6) Rosemary Warner, Gonville & Caius 137

7) Lameen Souag, Gonville & Caius 127
7) Stewart Manifold, RNMC 127

By this reckoning, Elliott Wilson is responsible for 50.1% of St Andrews' points, Andy Horton 44.5%, Brian Conroy 43.6%, and Sam Urquhart 43% of their sides'.


A search on Google News UK last June revealed around 2,600 mentions per week of the phrase "Big Brother." Not all were related to the television show of that name, but it's a reasonable bet that most were. A similar search last weekend, a week into Channel 5's situation game, showed exactly 20 articles about Back to Reality. Most of them have been negative; for instance, The Independent suggested: "The programme's failure suggests there is a limit to how much reality television British audiences can take."

Analysts have been blaming anything and everything for the latest flop sitgame. "The major, major flaw is the timing. People are completely realitied out (sic) after I'm a Celebrity. It takes a lot of commitment to watch these shows night after night and I think people want a break," said an Express Group mag editor. The Daily Moron blamed a lack of big-name contestants. "As far as our column is concerned these are just not the sort of people we would be writing about. Maureen from Driving School and someone who didn't even win Joe Millionaire. It's really, really tragic and that's reflected in the viewing figures." A C5 spokesbod said the channel hoped the show would take off. "We were up against EastEnders and Coronation Street and the Brit Awards. Since then it has grown. The contestants are starting to get on each other's nerves and it's getting more interesting."

Even while he spoke, Uri Geller (last, IBES1) and Nick Bateman (disq, BB1) were winding up their mutual paranoia. Mr Bateman briefly walked out of the back door, and Mr Geller left through the front door, and didn't come back, later in the night. Mr Bateman left the following night, the first time he's ever been voted off any show, followed by people we never bothered about much. Going the other way on Thursday was Jeff Brazier, also known as Mister TV's Jade Goody. Not that they're trying to force a winner on the public.


Previously, Dim Bauhaus infiltrated Yandermol's secretive 24 Hour Quiz torture centre, hoping to obtain vital information in the shady plot to fill the schedules with tedious and derivative programming.

Saturday: Less than a day into her residency in the Torture Pod, a strange note appeared at GSU headquarters. "There's no red button interactivity on this show." pointed out special agent Engates from the Cambridge office. Unit chief Albert Meyda set his best thinkers to investigate this question.

Sunday: Agent Antan Haladec files this cryptic message from Beiruit: "After the success of Pan-Arab Pop Idle, please welcome Pan-Arab Big Brother. Following the formula laid down by Pan-African BB last year, twelve housemates gather on Amwaj Island in Bahrain. The house has been modified to reflect Arabic customs - there are segregated sleeping quarters for men and women, a prayer room, a separate women's lounge with a mixed-sex communal area as well. Everything else remains the same, with nightly updates and weekly evictions and a bunch of over- excited people outside the house being yelled at by a shaven-head host."

Monday: After setting their charges the task of memorising all the capitals of all the countries in the world, the torturers ask questions on the most tedious subject this side of University Challenge.

Tuesday: The solo round against the chosen panellist has expanded to 90 seconds from last week's 60. One of the questions in the team round has gone missing. Yandermol said that his minions would be slightly altering the format each time.

Wednesday: Self-styled moral guardian Nigel Picknose wonders whether it's right that there are so many sponsored segments in the show. "In just one hour, I spotted plugs for three bingo halls, two suppliers of food, and one shameless self-publicist. Two, if you count me."

Thursday: Barbara's in with the latest viewing figures, and they're not good. Barely a million people are watching the ITV show, which probably explains how come no one at GSU has seen or heard from Dim Bauhaus since Monday. The show's being caned in the ratings by Anne Robinson, much to Jack Bauhaus's dismay.

Friday: Chief Albert Meyda receives the report from the red button question he posed earlier. "Many possibilities.
- They'll be using Press Red for other applications during the series run and don't want to start something they'll have to stop.

- The ITV Red uses the same transponder space as C5's Red, and they're using it for some show or other.
- They were being griped at for not allowing cable and Monkeyvision viewers access to their Red output and have held off until that's sorted.
- They didn't think of it.
- Most likely: there is a red button applet there, but we programmed it so it doesn't work."
Albert rolled his eyes at another useful report from Barry and Paul.


Lock up your daughters, the Eurovision Song Contest is coming! Terry and Gabby find out which of six singers who are a) better than Jemini and b) unsigned should represent the UK in the Baltic port city of Constantinople this May. Making Your Mind Up kicks off at 1835 tonight and runs for most of the evening.

There's a-nother chance to see Paul Darrow over-enunciate on MINI HERCULES, late night on BBC3 from Tuesday morning. The show's been chopped to 30 minutes, which is probably going to be a good thing.

"Alright, David, what's the answer to the question we haven't asked." The last X MARKS THE SPOT of the series is this Wednesday.

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