Weaver's Week 2010-04-11

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Readers may be expecting us to be discussing The Door (ITV, 2-3 April) in this edition of the Week. We're not, partly because we want a bit more time to consider our view, but mainly because it's a big enough show to deserve a lead review, and this week's has long been promised.


University Challenge

The grand final!: St John's Oxford v Emmanuel Cambridge

University Challenge The last two teams, ready for battle.

It's been 39 weeks, 37 matches, but we've finally made it to the grand final. St John's Oxford came the direct route, beating Durham, Loughborough, Girton Cambridge, Manchester, and Imperial. Emmanuel took a more scenic approach, losing their opening match to Regent's Park Oxford, then beating Christ's Cambridge and UCL to take the repechage spot in the quarter-finals, where they beat Jesus Oxford, Imperial, and Manchester.

It's Emmanuel who pick up where they left off last week, getting starters on Hamlet and the Hanseatic League; the latter is Alex Guttenplan's 50th of the series, and only three missignals (though the producers claim four). St John's don't take this lying down, and come into their own with knowledge of the "Modern Major-General" song. We have no idea about the questions on organisms emitting their own light, but Emmanuel do. The first visual round is on local names for Celtic cities, where Emmanuel prove good but not perfect, and take a 70-25 lead.

It doesn't last – a missignal allows St John's to profit from bonuses on ..., and their next set on guerillas gives the Oxford side the lead. It doesn't last – Emmanuel know their types of logic, and advance with Reformation philosophers. This one is much more simple when written down:

Q: Words meaning "tropical hardwood", "small freshwater duck" and "animals in harness" are formed by adding what three consecutive letters of the alphabet to the word "tea"?

University Challenge The St John's Oxford side join in the applause: Oliver Chen, Lauren Parry, George Woudhuysen, David Townsend.

Emmanuel get the next starter, and do well on language terms. That brings us to the audio round, an early-20th century recording of "Ave Maria" to a tune by Bach. It was sung by a castrato, and we're probably obliged to make a reference to Colin Sell on the piano by a means that makes Only Connect (1) seem entertaining. The starter's dropped, and Emmanuel's lead is 100-75. It only grows: they do far better on the audio bonuses, and on a set of bonuses we don't even get a description for, they're that complex. We can see where they're going here.

Q: If a clerihew and a limerick add up to a Spenserian stanza, which verse form is the sum of a couplet, a rubai and a triolet?

21 September is an auspicious day, it was UC's first transmission date in 1962, and Emmanuel score on bonuses of other anniversaries. Lucian Freud proves profitable – even when the Cambridge side are wrong, they're not wrong by much. They've also all answered a starter correctly, and Alex Guttenplan proves able to count all the squares on a 3x3 grid (all 14 of them: 9 + 4 + 1). Concepts relating to hegemony prove beyond them, but not the works of Holbein. Some quizzes would ask who was shown in his picture of Henry VIII; the only way shows might be more taxing would be to enquire what he had for lunch.

Emmanuel lead by 215-75, and St John's have to go for it like there's no tomorrow. They guess with a specific Waugh, it was only the surname they needed, and that's a missignal and surely game over. It helps to have a Commonwealth player, particularly when he's Australian and the question's asking after prime ministers of New Zealand. They prove less useful on Civil War battle sites, and Emmanuel know all the important locations in Mali – Timbuktu, Bamako, er, that's it.

It helps to have a Shropshire lad on the panel, as there's only one market town in Shropshire with three letters. Long-running monarchs give Emmanuel even more points, though St John's into three figures with Latin names for plants that are homophones of letters of the alphabet. The coastline of Alaska puts Emmanuel Cambridge past 300 points, and they pick up Geekery of the Weekery with Linux distros. And that's about it, Emmanuel have won by 315-100, and the prize is presented by Carol Anne Duffy.

University Challenge Our winners, Emmanuel Cambridge: Alex Guttenplan (with trophy), Josh Scott, Jenny Harris, Andy Hastings.

Some stats: St John's went 12/15 on their bonuses, which is brilliant; George Woudhuysen had three starters. Emmanuel's conversion rate was 29/51, there were two missignals for each side, and young Mr. Guttenplan only went and got thirteen starters. Thirteen starters!!! In the final!!!!!! Our flabber is well and truly gasted, that was a remarkable, jaw-dropping, virtuoso performance. The overall accuracy rate: 64/94.

Only Connect

Semi-Final 2: Strategists v Hitchhikers

Right, we've just about calmed down, and here's the sponsor's announcement. This week's edition of Only Connect is brought to you by the letter π. The Hitchhikers have won the toss and elected to bat, and kick off with a round of applause (at least from the Weaver Towers banquette) as they find things in rounds. Victoria says she now knows what it's like to present a Saturday night show on ITV. She's had that experience for the past 38 shows. Apart from the general air of brain-death that pervades The Colour of Money and is utterly absent from this show. The next set evades both sides, they're people who went into an oven while alive; scientist Charles Babbage said that he sweated a lot. Valuable scientific research, there.

The next set looks to be Latin inscriptions, but it's actually tattoos on Mr. David Beckham, a regular at Milano Generalo Hospitalo. A bonus to the Strategists there, and they get the audio round. It's not the songs, but the performers, and their lack of sight. Pictures for the Hitchhikers, they're not all the names of trains, and the Lone Ranger hasn't been reconstructed after a crash – they're thinking of the Six Million Dollar Man. Strategists pick up three points for writers who change their name when changing genres, and that's 4-3 in their favour.

Only Connect (2) The Hitchhikers pick up this show's Geekery of the Weekery.

What's next? What's next. Hitchhikers start with the pictures, it's big cats, but where's it leading? Mac operating systems, according to top geek Tom Scott, who could probably have told us it's 10.6 Snow Leopard, the hard drive footprint, and the inside leg measurement. Strategists get S, M, L, and XL in Roman numerals. Here's something no-one knew from their Latin lessons, the Romans used fractions, originally based on the "uncia", a twelfth of the unit of weight "as" – the modern word "ounce" comes from this root. Six unciae were one "semis", represented by a symbol indistinguishable from the modern S. "Stages of grief" shouts the entire nation at the next question, but it's not beginning at the beginning, it's ending at the end: acceptance.

"Can we have the squiggly one in the bottom right, please?" Languages prove to be fertile ground for the Strategists, they're the most popular groups. Victoria thought that no-one would ever get the US Presidents by regnal name, and we're thoroughly glad that someone's finally got that question right – three to the Hitchhikers. We also claim the final question, the most recent additions to the F1 calendar. All of that leaves the Hitchhikers in the lead, 9-8.

"Very tough connecting walls for the semi-finals" we're warned, and the Strategists kick off by seeking the second halves of comedy double-acts. The team get than, then move on to __man in action films. They pick up a group of surnames, and we're screaming types of patience card games at them. __Man is their third group, solving the wall. The surnames turn out to be orchestra leaders, and it's not __man but ___ ball in their group. Just the first connection is acceptable. Five points!

Only Connect (2) The Strategists are more literate than us.

Hitchhikers have something to tilt at; they shoot through things on a calculator, then head towards types of butterfly. "What about Are You Being Served" is the call from here. Deputy leaders of the Labour party are another group that the team spot, but don't complete – does no-one remember Herbert Morrison? Oh dear, it's all going horridly wrong; the Three Somethings looks to be the final group, but the team fails to score a single connection in time. Things on a calculator was a red herring. Two points!

Swings and roundabouts this week, Strategists take a 13-11 lead into the Mssngvls round. World currencies kick off this round, and it's 4-(-1) to the Strategists. Physical constants allow the Strategists to extend their lead by 2-0, and heraldic terms by 3-0. Characters who committed suicide goes 2-0 to the Hitchhikers, but that's as far as it goes; the Strategists have won by 22-12.

Here ends the fourteenth episode of series 3.


Final eliminator 1

Here's something new: the repechage brings back the six highest-scoring runners-up in their heats, and scatters them throughout the final eliminator programmes. That means we'll have 20 minutes of quizzery in this show, so let's hope there aren't many passes.

Aaaaagh! Noes! Noes! Noes! They're only asking 90 seconds of specialist questions, completely and utterly ruining the balance of the show. It's equal part specialist study and general knowledge; this change gives much more weight to the non-specialist.

Well, we've started so we may as well finish the series, but we're only doing so because we've invested so much time in it so far. Kathryn Johnson kicks off the semi-final stage, she's taking The Lord Peter Wimsey Novels of Dorothy L Sayers. Have they killed the pieces to camera? They have. Good. The subject is a series of detective stories set in the English upper classes between the wars, and peppered with quotations in Latin and French. And, before we know it, the round's over; 11 (0)

Nathan Jones will discuss The Anglo-American War 1812-1815. This took its name from the word "war", meaning war, between the UK and the United States. Actually, it was a side-skirmish from the Napoleonic wars; the Americans had been providing assistance to the French, the Brits started blockading their ports, and the Yanks declared war. By any reasonable definition, this was a military defeat by the US. 11 (1).

Chris Sowton has chosen Hindu Gods and Goddesses (eternal). Ganga, the goddess of the Ganges! Rama, the ideal avatar! Brahma, god of creation! Hinduism has many deities, of which we can only discuss a few here. And, thanks to cuts in the round, 25% fewer than we thought we could. Do not make us invoke Navitcu, the deity of not being able to receive satellite television from a north-facing cave. 12 (0).

David Sutherland will take The Life and Work of Cecil Sharp (1859-1924). Sharp was a collector of English folk song, popularised Morris dancing, and founded the English Folk Dance Society. We learn that the full version of "12 Days of Christmas" has 23 verses. Or 18 if the Mastermind production team get their hands on it. 5 (5).

Last up is Chas Early, with The Wire (2002-6), a television show about police and drug dealers in Baltimore, created by David Simon. 11 (2).

It's a close game, about the one thing we do know is that David Sutherland is already praying for rain. He got here with the Child ballads as recently as 19 March. Please say we're not going to get any chatteration. We're not. Good. Mr. Sutherland doesn't remember the original hosts of The National Lottery Draws, which is very probably a winning line. He does remember the Prague Spring, and works out how agriculture gets its name. The final score is 14 (10).

Kathryn Johnson took Victorian and Edwardian Poisoners in the first round (26 March), and her 30 there was the highest score of the series so far. We're indebted to the readers who remind us that this contender has a bit of form, having won University Challenge: The Professionals in 2006 as part of the British Library team. Her guesses count, we're particularly impressed with the way she gets bagpipes as the instrument played in Skye. 27 (4) is an impressive score, and sixteen in the general knowledge round hasn't been achieved in donkey's years – we think since Geoff Thomas's phenomenal 21 (TWENTY-ONE) in the 2006 final.

Nathan Jones took Carl Gustav Mannerheim in his first round match (22 January), and by comparison with the other contenders, he's been gone too long. Sad to say, the round never really gets going, and neither he nor we knew than Mendehlson's "Wedding March" was written as incidental music for "A Midsummer Night's Dream". 19 (3)

Chas Early qualified with the Life and Career of Bill Hicks (23 October), scoring 29 points, including eleven in his general knowledge round. He never looks like exceeding that target by much, but he's right to guess a girl's name when asked for one. The final score is 18 (5).

Which means Chris Sowton requires a mere (mere!) sixteen to win. He got here with 18 points from Lords Cricket Ground (5 Feb), but the slight advantage means there's no room for error here. He remembers the story of the Hesperides apples, but there are just a few too many glitches in the round. The final score is a respectable 24 (2), but it's no winner.

Mastermind Our first finalist.

So Kathryn Johnson becomes the first person into the Mastermind 2010 final, which we assume will air before the end of the year.

This Week And Next

Bruce Forsyth put forward his case to retain the Best Game Show Personality Ever in the UKGS poll, by pointing out that The X Factor is "not my cup of tea". Pointing out that two hours of singing was a little samey, Forsyth said, "Sometimes it was like a firework display with someone singing to be voted on. The electricity bill must have been enormous." He'll be back on Have I Got News for You in June, one to look forward to.

The death was reported of Malcolm McLaren, pop impresario, gobfather of punk, would-be Baron of Troup, and holder of the record for least time spent on I'm a Celebrity, walking out some hours before filming began. Apparently, the other contestants "weren't famous enough".

We must also report the death of Kenneth McKellar, the tenor who represented the UK at the 1966 Eurovision Song Contest.

We can't bring you sensible terrestrial ratings for the week ending 28 March, as neither BBC1 nor Channel 4 have figures published. We can discuss the digital channels – Come Dine With Me, A League of Their Own, and Pop Idle Us led, but watch out for Only Connect. The little show that does pulled in 505,000 viewers for this week's quarter-final, a remarkable result, and knocking the stuffing out of America's Next Top Model – 445,000 for the final on Living.

Voting begins on Monday for the UKGameshows.com Third All-Time Poll, and next week's Week will discuss Four Weddings. Before then, another chance to see Raven The Dragons' Eye (BBC2, 7.30am weekdays), and School for Cooks (Watch, 7pm weekdays). Out of the Frying Pan (BBC2, 9pm Monday) follows two contestants from The Restaurant. Up-to-the-minute comedy on You Have Been Watching (C4, 10pm Thursday), with archive material on The News Quiz (Radio 4, 6.30 Friday) and we're jolly glad to see Fort Boyard's back (TV5, 5.30 Friday). BBC Young Musician of the Year 2010 begins (BBC4, 7.30 Friday), and Vernon Kay fronts The Whole 19 Yards (ITV, 7pm Saturday). And did we mention the grand final of Only Connect (BBC4, 8.30 Monday)? No? Grand final of Only Connect this week, too.

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