Weaver's Week 2004-03-20

Weaver's Week Index

20 March 2004

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

Still Prejudiced?

"Boring c***s"

WITHOUT PREJUDICE? (12 Yard for C4, 1933 Friday)

This column's Best New Shows of 2001 (The Mole) and 2002 (The Enemy Within) didn't come back after their winning years. Without Prejudice has been renewed; is it third time lucky?

Last year's set was mainly red, with the panel of five set in a semicircle facing a large screen. This year, the set has turned a blue-grey shade, and the pictures are projected into a large oval above the panel. It looks like the media centre at Lords' cricket ground. There are still five in the panel, but this time moderator Liza Tarbuck is sat in the middle of the group. This has to influence the debate and discussion in some subtle ways.

The format of the game is similar to last year, but there are some subtle changes. The opening round was a simple name, age, and location to camera; this year, there's a short piece from the audition tapes in the mix. Though the panel's discussion remains between themselves, their voting - and reasoning - is carried out before the candidates. This has to influence the debate and discussion in some subtle ways.

In the opening episode, the panel drew conclusions from the body language of the candidates that wouldn't have been possible last year. In last night's second episode, the first candidate to be eliminated heckled the panel as she walked off stage, intimating that they were rather square and dull. This interaction wasn't possible last year, and made some members of the panel feel under personal attack. This influenced the debate and discussion in some not-so- subtle ways.

After the candidate is eliminated, they explain what they would have done with the money and give a reaction piece. Last year, that reaction went over the closing credits for all candidates; this year's change means the viewer doesn't have to remember someone they saw for ten seconds fifty minutes ago.

Round two used to be a pick of three from six filmed inserts. This year, the choice is made for the panel: background and lifestyle clips air before we vote off the next person. Then comes education and work, and some hidden filming of the usual talking points (immigration, marriage, drugs, yadda, yadda, yadda.) Some parts of the clips feature a voice-off from Keiron Elliott. This choice of clips, and their ordering, has to influence the debate and discussion in some unsubtle ways.

The interview of the final two is clearly edited down to run quickly. This doesn't influence the debate and discussion, but does alter the viewer's perception of the candidates, and hence of the panel's decision.

So, what can we make of these changes? The swifter reaction pieces are clearly for the better. The voice-off succinctly summarises parts of the candidate's history that don't need attention, and help to prevent the show from dragging a little. However, Keiron's introduction to each part sounds a little too jolly. Less convinced by having the voting unfold in front of the panel, it changes the dynamic of the show in a subtle way, and though it can be cheaply dramatic, it's not obviously for the better. Major discredit for showing clips from the panel's discussions out of context; major credit for showing the context and allowing the discussion to flow.

Overall, though, the three-cornered dynamic is still there. The viewer is still privy to the panel's discussions, and it's still the interaction between viewer and panel - not between panel and candidate - that is the crux of the show.


The quarter final draw.
Magdalen bt RNCM
St Andrews bt St Edmund's Cambridge
Gonville & Caius Cambridge -v- St John's Oxford

London Metropolitan -v- Jesus Cambridge

G&C beat a very competent Reading side in the first round, then dispatched a promising Strathclyde side in the second. St John's lost to London Met, but beat Hull and that competent Reading side to take the repechage QF place. Who wins the clash of the titans?

Unusually, G&C starts quickly, with the first two starters. St John's responds quickly, and has a clear lead by the time we hit the first - seemingly impossible - picture round.

The Let The Man Speak Bonus Of The Week:

Which English city is on the site of a Roman outpost, originally named after the deity Sul or Minerva (G&C collectively nods) and was the site of the crowning of Edgar, the first king of all England (captain Wallace opens his mouth to answer.) Much of the city's ancient centre (Wallace audibly sighs with frustration) was gutted by bombing in 1942. (Pause to make sure Thumper's finally shut up and will let his guests answer.) [1]

That long, long set of bonuses brings the sides level, but St John's pulls away at the next opportunity. The audio round begins with Thumper asking for the full name of someone being sung about. The song is "Abraham, Martin and John," and it's seventeen seconds before the name is given. During that time, the contestants can't buzz. It's seventeen seconds - a full bonus question, if not more - off the scores. Only the caution of the contestants stops this from being a Fingers On Buzzers round.

It must be sheer coincidence that we hear a bonus about Operation Uphold Democracy this week, barely a fortnight after Aristide was deposed (again.)

Starter We'd Like To Say Of The Week:

A rhetorical question drawing attention to a suspected lack of mental faculties
on the part of ones interlocutor, for what does the acronym AYSOS stand, used
in internet communications?
St John's Brims: Are you stupid or something?

Once again, we draw level; once again, St John's pulls away at the starter, and we've passed 250 before the second picture round, stills from films starring Carrie Grant. My, she's aged well.

Just Bad Starter Of The Week:

In music, a cantata is an extended work for voice, the word being derived from the Italian word meaning "sung." What is the literal meaning of "sonata," referring to a work for instruments? [2]

Would someone please explain how one can get that answer from the first phrase, "a cantata."

Level again shortly after the pictures, but this time the Cambridge side briefly pulls away, only to be topped by the Oxford side at the next bonuses, with Cambridge taking the lead in the next starter. This is going to be a complete toss-up for the win, and it ends in G&C's favour, 180-165. Only the vagaries of the draw mean the quality St John's side leave us, and the inferior Magdalen side progresses.

The box scores:

Souag 51.4 Warner 40 Wallace 41.4 Ashe 47.2

GCC 35 40 50 55 [180] 16/32, 2 missignals
SJO 65 35 45 20 [165] 15/27
Brims 40.5 Fletcher 59.1 Nicholls 37.7 Park 27.7

The top buzzer for St John's was Fletcher, but all four players earned 100 points in a team total of 555; the side made a 61.4% bonus conversion rate, and a 52.5% strike rate. Tonight's aggregate of 345 is the highest since St John's were last in action eight weeks ago.

[1] Bath [2] Sounded


If you missed Antan Dec's Takeaway last week, you missed ... the duo ridiculing people who can't tell which one's Ant and which one's Dec ... a cross-promo with Matthew Kelly's bad karaoke show, in which Antan Dec revived their pop career with a rubbish version of "Dancing In The Street" ... another cross- promo with Gopherman and Fern Britton's Nurse Of The Year awards featuring Kerry Katatonic from ASLEEP DOWN UNDER (originally hosted by Antan Dec) ... an interview with someone from movies ... someone in Glasgow who ordered a pizza winning three grand ... someone else winning twenty prizes from commercial breaks (including three packets of crisps) ... a performance from Will Young of POP IDLE (hosted by Antan Dec) ... the closing credits. Pleased to note there's no outside sponsorship within the show, merely promotion of at least three ITV shows.

The BBC has unveiled some big guns to spike the two-headed hydra of the commercial channels. Bruce Forsyth will host STRICTLY COME DANCING, in which celebrity couples do some ballroom dancing, a show that sounds even less exciting than REMOTELY FUNNY. Johnny Vaughan and Denise Van Outen will do a double-headed live comedy show, but will they be as entertaining as Antan Dec? Graham Norton and Cilla Black are both shooting pilots, but won't return to Saturday nights; The Doctor will be in the house for his 27th series, nine months after Grange Hill aired its 27th run.

Other news from the BBC1 press launch: there will be a second CELEBRITY STAR ACADEMY in aid of Comic Relief, but no news on a third proper run. This column politely suggests getting out now, before the format runs dry; even Pete Waterman knows that inferior rival POP IDLE has run its course. Contrary to previous reports, there will still be guest hosts on HAVE I GOT ANGUS DEAYTON FOR YOU.


1845 BBC1 Weakest Link
Anne Robinson is in a studio with a large number of men who play rugby. Just how nasty dare she be?

1910 ITV Antan Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway

This week, Richard Branson and Anasthetic. How can we shoe-horn in the required number of ITV cross-promotions?

2010 BBC1 Test the Nation: The National Test
Anne Robinson (again) and Gopherman ask some questions about Britain. Think they've done rugby players as a big group in the past, but you never know with this show. Test proper begins around 2030, results follow the news at 2200.


2100 BBC1 Bob Monkhouse: A BAFTA Tribute
Perhaps a little stilted, but any excuse to show Bob Monkhouse at primetime is a good excuse. Jimmy Tarbuck hosts, don't let that stop you.


2200 PPL Have I Got Very Old News For You
1991 this week, with Tony Banks, John Wells, Claire Short, Nick Hancock, and Trevor McDonald all popping up. Thursday's edition was the first not to risk a lawsuit from Cap'n Bob.

Forthcoming highlights: Liza Tarbuck to host a late-night version of WIN LOSE OR DRAW, which is an interesting move, because Bob Mills and Danny Baker are a very tough act to follow. SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE US pops up on C4's schedules next week, while Challenge continues its Vegas and gambling month.

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