Weaver's Week 2010-12-19

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Since we last discussed Countdown, there have been champions. Marcus Hares won eight games, with a total of 834 points. Nicky Miller had 323 points in her three wins, Niall Young won seven games, but lost the octochamp match to Greg Hayhurst. He fell after 5 wins, Denise Smith had three victories, and Mike Pickering carries his bat – or his snow shovel – over the Christmas holidays.

QF1: Jack Hurst (8 wins, 946 pts) beat Peter Godwin (7 wins, 705 pts), 108-40

Jack Hurst scored a century in every game, and his total is the highest in the nine years this format has been played. He's a student at Pembroke College Cambridge, and after his appearance in October, he's still single. Peter Godwin is retired and from Southampton. He's the number nine seed in this finals series, replacing Michael Chadwick who has been called away on business. Jack begins as he means to go on with the winner SERAGLIO, and has MEDUSAE just before the numbers – they're sorts of jellyfish. A simple four-large numbers game means Jack leads 36-21 at the anecdote.

After the interruption, Jack continues his winning ways with SAITHES (small fish), ROOSTER (a bird), MONIALS (an architectural feature). Another simple numbers game puts him 74-28 up at the break. The chance of a perfect game evaporated in round two, but he's only dropped three all night. That looks like it'll change after the break, but Peter offers "cut-outs", allowing Jack's JOUST to gain the points. Jack scores on a nigh-impossible numbers game, and takes almost two seconds to solve the conundrum. He's out of practice, this 108 is his lowest score, but it's six points away from perfection, his (er) fourth-best performance.

QF2: Eoin Monaghan (8 wins, 898 pts) beat Niall Young (7 wins, 726), 127-45

Eoin is a schoolboy from Newry, and he's already been sent a letter of commendation from his local council. Niall hails from Sleaford, and the first two rounds are level pegging. Eoin slips ahead in the third with CENSURE, and IMAMATE (relating to an imam) suggests it's going to be one-way traffic – 37-23 at the anecdote, and RAINOUT adds to Eoin's lead immediately afterwards.

CREASING and PRECENT and VIRAGOES give further ammunition to his lead, and it's 77-33 after the second numbers round. Shall we see what he's TOTALISED? A nine-letter word, and that actually has to be Game Over. Two flat letters rounds closes the game, but Eoin sneaks ten on the last numbers round, and solves the conundrum in approximately half a second. It did move, just. Niall was good, but Eoin was superb – he dropped just three points compared to the maximum, his best achievement ever, and closer than Jack managed yesterday. Game on!

QF3: Daniel Pati (8 wins, 840 pts) beat Tom Rowell (8 wins, 774 pts), 92-67

Daniel comes from Manchester, and he's racked up a perfect set of eight conundrum solutions. Tom is from Leicestershire, and people have been asking him how tall Jeff Stelling is. Paul Zenon is back in Dictionary Corner, as he seems to be at the end of every year. Do the producers arrange guests from Aaron Aardvark to Zenon? Tom begins the show with "pollutive", but it's not there, and allows Daniel to take the early lead. He extends the lead with that Whiteley-era favourite AGISTERS, but the next round is so hard that DAISY scores. Daniel also gets the numbers spot on, and he leads by 38-13 at the magic trick.

Is FUNGO a word? A baseball hit for practice, apparently, and it scores for Daniel. Tom's on the town with his CONGA, but not with "trophia". Daniel comes closer on a six-small numbers selection, and he leads by 71-32 at the interlude. That smells a lot like Game Overness. But for all the talk of Jack and Eoin's marvellousness, Daniel's still on for a perfect game. Not any more – the niner RELEASORS is there in the letters, but he only gets to AREOLES for seven. Tom pushes "unbathe" out in the next round, more in hope than expectation. Daniel blobs on the final numbers round, and unscrambles the conundrum, but it's only going to alter the margin of victory, not the fact.

QF4: Scott Gillies (8 wins, 807) lost to Marcus Hares (8 wins, 834) 90-92

Jeff begins today's show by complaining about how people buy so much for Christmas, when the supermarkets are closed for one whole day. We should be so lucky, all the ones near us are closed on Holiday Sunday, too. Scott Gillies is from Dunbartonshire, and we're reminded that he only got three conundrums. Marcus hails from Somerset, and he won his games in November. It's Scott who wins the opening round with ROOFIES, a type of illegal drug associated with Marcus's offering of ORGIES. Some fairly flat letters rounds follow, and Scott goes for four-large on the numbers. He comes one closer than Marcus to extend his lead to 33-19.

Marcus MEANT to take a winner after the magic trick, and INDEXERS gives both players a lift. Scott scores with WAPITI, and a simple numbers round means Scott leads by 64-49 at the interval. Scott's offer of "seerage" is denied by Susie, closing the gap to eight points. SUNDIALS and BARITONES keep the margin through the letters, and another simple numbers game means it's a crucial conundrum. Dim the lights, turn over the board. Marcus buzzes on ten seconds, and cries "GRASPABLE". That's the win, Marcus only led once in the game, but it was where it really matters.

Countdown The defeated quarter-finalists (clockwise from top left): Niall Young, Tom Rowell, Peter Godwin, Scott Gillies.

SF1: Marcus Hares (9 wins, 926) lost to Jack Hurst (9 wins, 1054), 80-109


It's still somewhat unusual for the top four seeds to make the semi-finals of Countdown, as has happened this year. Sevens each in the opening rounds, the lingering chance of a perfect game goes in the third round as everyone misses EXIGENT – not a man from Devon but an emergency. Rachael says that she's going to take a tea break during the numbers round, that's before putting up a 100, 4, and 3, and asking the contestants to reach 107. The scores are 37-37. AUBADES! The pieces suitable for the morning is our first winner of the night, and it's put ... Marcus ahead! Marcus leads! Jack trails!! This never happens!!!

Sevens and eights in the next two rounds, but then NARIYALS is almost spelled out in the selection, Jack knows it's a word (coconuts, there) and takes a one point lead. Jack chooses four-large for the numbers, both players are within one, so Jack leads 67-66 at the interlude. Marcus miscounts the length of his word in one of the later rounds, costing him eight points and allowing Jack to open the gap to nine. Jack then goes to four large again, and has an unusual numbers solution. 100-8 is 92, then multiply by 75, add 50, and divide through by 25. That equates to (92*75/25)+(50/25), so 92 times three plus two. Ten points! Jack goes on to get the conundrum in a pedestrian time, and secures his tenth win. Maximum watch? Dropped a point in three rounds, then perfect.

SF2: Eoin Monaghan (9 wins, 1025) beat Daniel Pati (9 wins, 932) 108-77


The chance of a perfect game goes in the opening round, as both players miss GAWPED. That's out of the way, on with the game. Harsh-but-fairness as Daniel's perfectly valid THEORISE is disallowed because he didn't say he hadn't written it down. Please let the game be decided by something other than a clerical error. Another easy numbers game sees Eoin lead by 35-27.

The game meanders along until round seven – Daniel has a STONKER, but Eoin tops that with the hormone OESTRONE. It's the same story in the next round, as TOMATINE wins for Eoin. Daniel picks six small numbers, and the target is tougher than it looks – 806 is awfully close to 810, with two nines in the selection. Eoin leads 76-52 at the break. It's just about game over as Eoin takes CONCEAL for a winner. Both players come up with TORULAE – they're yeast – in the final letters game. The final numbers game is one-large and is actually a bit difficult, the first time that's happened in ages. It isn't going to affect the outcome in the slightest.

Final: Jack Hurst (10 wins, 1163) v Eoin Monaghan (10 wins, 1133)


So it's come to this. The maths student from Pembroke College Cambridge faces the schoolboy from County Down. Both players are "calmer" than they were before their semi-finals. A pair of solid sevens in the opening rounds, but then Jack offers the word ORGASMED to much delight from the studio. Presumably they remember that wrong answer from Blockbusters. The next round has both players offering a SPOILER! Oh. FEARED in a flat letters round, and perfection on a tricky little four-large numbers game means Jack leads by 38-30 at the magic trick. By a strange coincidence, Jack again used the method 92*75/25 to reach his target.

SQUINTER from both players after the break, then a pair of fives in a dire round. MASTOID in the next round, and a pair of fives in the next round. It's here in round nine that Jack's perfect game is finally broken – Paul Zenon in Dictionary Corner has SUNTAN. Perfect for today's snowy weather. Jack is the only contestant to hit perfection on an Actually Difficult One-Large numbers game, the first of those we've had in yonks. Jack's lead is 73-55.

Sixes after the break, POETICAL follows that, and the common sixes INVADE and JINXED show how hard the final letters round was. Jack is still one point off the maximum, and Eoin picks six small. He needs perfection and for Jack to miss. But the target is just that little bit too easy, Jack scores the ten, and that's game over. Is he going to finish with his second game just one away from perfect? Up comes the conundrum, Jack rings, says "MARCASITE", and that's the win. One hundred and thirteen points out of a possible one hundred and fourteen; Eoin finished on 85 points.

Countdown Jack Hurst.

But all hail Jack Hurst, champion of this latest series. He collects the complete OED, a perpetual subscription to the online service (the rest of us have to get a library card), and a new laptop.

Countdown resumes on 10 January next year, at the earlier time of 3.10.

University Challenge

Second round, match 7: Merton Oxford v Queens' Cambridge

"Oxford take on Cambridge" said the continuity announcer before this week's show. She could have said the same last week. And on 11 October, when Merton beat St John's Cambridge. And on 19 July, when Queens' bettered Balliol Oxford. Tonight's is the fifth Oxbridge match of the season, and there's already been a Cambridge derby. A change to the Queens' side, where William Belfield moves into the captain's chair, and David Webster joins the side.

Queens' pick up the first couple of starters, but have the misfortune to confuse Davros (leader of the daleks) with Davos (Swiss resort where there's an annual meeting of the powerful). Too much evilitude around there. Hurry up please it's time: the Little Billy Shakespeare Question of the Week seems to have been replaced by T S Eliot citation of the week. We've reached the first visual round, on footballers in the kit of two different clubs, after which Queens' leads by 55-20.

Merton have proven themselves adept at knowledge of group 11 of the periodic table, and prove able to do combinatorics in their heads. Queens' are struggling with Aristotle's logic and with central European geography; has the BBC tapped them up for next year's Eurovision commentary? The audio round is on operas set in German-speaking lands, and Queens' lead has been pegged back to 85-65.

Does anyone remember The Mole? Queens' do, though the seminal 2001 game show isn't one of the definitions offered in word of the week. They prove less knowledgeable about economics theories, and pottery. Ah, here's the Little Billy question, a quotation from Macbeth, and all of the Merton side has a starter right. Merton confuse Mandel with Mantel, so both sides have mispronounced their way to an incorrect answer. Jim Naughtie and the Culture Minister will be pleased. The sides briefly draw level at 100-all, but Queens' get the visual round – pictures of prime ministers – and leads 110-100.

Oil magnates finally give Merton the lead, only to lose it on an early interruption. "Carnival of the Animals" puts the Oxford side back ahead, and they only need to be ahead at the end of the game. Phenomes combine to give Queens' the lead, and the history of pasteurisation puts them 25 ahead with about a minute to play. That's game over; walls and another Oxford error help Queens' to run up the scores a little, winning 175-120.

University Challenge Merton shared their starters: Tim Coleman, Verity Parkinson, Thomas Hudson, Kinda al-Hourani.

It was a game won on the buzzers: Mark Jackson got eight starters for Queens', that's as many as Merton got between them, but the Cambridge side was right on 12/37 bonuses and picked up three missignals. By not incurring any of the side's four incorrect interruptions, we assess Tim Coleman as best for Merton, where everyone got precisely two starters, and the team made 12/24 bonuses. The overall accuracy rate was a flaccid 45/85.

Next match: Newnham Cambridge v Bristol

Only Connect

Semi-final 2: Alesmen v Radio Addicts

There's an unspoken Brain of Britain connection to this week's show. For the Alesmen, Mark Kerr appeared on this very week's edition, winning it by a large margin. For the Radio Addicts, Dave Clark is the defending runner-up of the venerable competition, behind Ian Bayley of defending Only Connect Champions of Champions the Crossworders. Victoria speaks of the OC champion who has gone on to a career on television – Mr. Mark Labbett of 2009 champs the Rugby Boys and The Chase.

Alesmen begin with the Wick o'Twisted Flax, and get pictures of cloud types. That's good for three points. They clearly have the number on the Wick. Now, were the Radio Addicts subjected to "Mary Poppins" every week for years by their relatives? Evidently not – they don't remember that the bank chairman died in his chair, laughing. Bonus for the Alesmen, and they circle on on a pair for their own question.

Radio Addicts have people who are clearly poets, and some abstract nouns. Were the poets the Bard of %abstract noun%? True for a point. Alesmen can't have water, so have book titles and some numbers. They're not Dewey numbers, but times, so the offer of dates is clearly wrong. No, it's the Anneka Rice memorial question: clocks have stopped at these times. Audio for the Addicts: they get something from "Half a sixpence", Sixpence None the Richer, miss "Sing a song of sixpence", and Queen's Dr. Brian May plays his guitar with a sixpence. Two for the Addicts, but they trail 3-6.

Only Connect (2) The Alesmen: Fans of the Wick of Twisted Flax.

Round two, please. Alesmen begin with the Norman Conquest, then the Stella Artois brewery, the Great Fire of London, so obviously it's something famous happening in 1966. Birth of Dexter Fletcher, that'll do for us. Two points there. "USA, 1st" is so generic as to be almost useless for the Addicts; "Australia 4th" and "Greece 15th" is more helpful. It is the Olympic games, and "China 1st" was the host and position on the medals table. Calder – Aire – Ouse is rivers, perhaps flowing directly into the North Sea. Swale? No. Don? No. Calder flows into the Aire, into the Ouse, into the Humber. No points.

To Greek mythology for the Addicts, who have Ares, Gaia, Aphrodite. They're the Greek equivalents of Mars, Earth, Venus, so the next one in is their Mercury, Hermes. Bonus to the Alesmen there, and we're on to nuclear accidents: Chernobyl being the most serious one ever, and though the Alesmen have the wrong reason, it's the right answer. Radio have the flag of India, Victor Meldrew, X-Ray, and guess at Quebec. Not scarcity of letters, but Roman numerals, so Lima. Alesmen have eked out their advantage, leading 12-3.

Bring on the walls! Radio Addicts take Lion, leaving their opponents with water. They have some composers of television themes, there are terms in surfing, nicknames for tube systems. Are there terms for left-handed people in there as well? The team knows what the connection is, and three of the connecting terms, but which is the composer who is also a term for left-handed? It's Mancini, and that completes a perfect round. Ten points!

Only Connect (2) Radio Addicts: Never knowingly take water.

What have the Alesmen got? Types of cross are in there, and there's a set of nicknames for types of car. Types of hair covering? There are some dogs in there, but do they form a group? They do, not that the team's getting much – the fourth group is Cockney rhyming slang. Five points.

That's closed the gap, Alesmen lead by 17-13. Films named after songs kicks off Mssng Vls, and that goes to the Addicts 3-1. Equations is a 1-1 draw, and Collective Nouns goes to the Addicts by 3-0. That could be a valuable clutch of eggs. It is! It is! The Radio Addicts have pulled out victory from the jaws of defeat, winning by 20-19.

Next match: The third-place play-off


Kate Morris starts tonight's proceedings, she's taking the Operas of Gilbert and Sullivan (1871-96). Sir Arthur Sullivan believed that his best work was his orchestral composition, William Schwenk Gilbert was a decent satirist. Both are best remembered for their work together, and particularly their run of success from HMS Pinafore to The Gondoliers. Most shows get an appearance here, and the round is neither a comedy nor full of errors. 14 (0).

David Coleman is discussing Burgess and Maclean. Guy Burgess and Donald Maclean were recruited by the spy agency while studying at Cambridge. The only trouble is that they were recruited both by the British and by the Soviets. These two defected to the USSR in 1955, followed by Kim Philby in the 1960s. The round covers other members of the Cambridge Spy Ring, and finishes on MI 5 (1).

Daryl Hewison has the Life and Works of Lewis Carroll (1832-98). Born Charles Dodgson, Carroll is best known for his book "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", and nonsense poetry such as "The Hunting of the Snark". Carroll was also a pioneer photographer, and loved mathematics and logic so much that he taught it at Oxford. The round concentrates on his fiction work, and ends on 10 (3).

Perhaps they know there's hard science coming, as Jonathan Evans takes the Life and Career of Nikola Tesla (1856-1943). According to the Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, "He was one of the pioneers of radio, took some of the first X-ray photographs, constructed the first radio-controlled robots, and built the first AC power system." And he's remembered for the conspiraloons who congregate around him. But not in this round, which finishes on 9 (3).

Right, let's get one thing clear. The David Coleman who knows about the Cresta Run is not the one known for his sporting commentaries. He also knows about King Lear, so he's not the host of Only Connect. He knows that beacons were used to spread the word about the Spanish Armada, and the Hidden Transmission Indicator of the Week is about the plot of "A Christmas Carol". The score keeps ticking over, and ends on 18 (6).

Jonathan Evans knows all about a pineapple upside down cake (especially that it's to be eaten). Children's show Dr Who invite its participants to eat fishfingers and custard? They'll be passing everyone through a gunge-fall next. The constituents of the UAE help out this contender, though he's too polite to mention the nickname for the Swiss Re building in London. Again, the scoreboard keeps ticking over, to finish on 19 (6).

Daryl Hewison knows the previous jobs of William Hague, and that Giotto could draw a perfect circle freehand, and the German word "kaput" from its definition. But this round begins to slow down, and it takes Hergé's Adventures of Tintin to get him back on the move. The final score is 18 (11).

Kate Morris doesn't have the most difficult of tasks: six to win, and the repechage board won't be ticking over tonight. Cloves of garlic knocks one off, "Pride and Prejudice" follows shortly afterwards, as does a cast member from The Wire. Perhaps she knows that she can spend time on guesses, even if they're wrong, as there are many good (but incorrect) attempts – zig-zagging between Teddy and Franklin Roosevelt, for example. The minuet dance sees her across the finish line, and the final score is 24 (5).

Regular Mastermind resumes on 7 January, back at the usual time of 8pm. Usual service indeed, as this episode doesn't go out in Wales or Northern Ireland. Before then, there's Celebrity Mastermind from Boxing Day.

More University Challenge

Second round, match 8: Newnham Cambridge v Bristol

Newnham won a low-scoring match against Southampton on 9 August, 135-115. Bristol won the opening match of the season back on 5 July, when they beat St Andrews 190-185. Both of those days featured daytime highs of around 20°C. That's only about 40 degrees higher than the current overnight lows. Welcome to winter, everyone.

Our journey begins with Marco Polo and a set of questions about semiotics. The longest word in the first verse of "God Save the Queen"? That'll get Newnham rolling. Bristol prove a little less adept at people who think global warming is a myth. If it were, then there wouldn't be so much energy gathering in the south Pacific at the moment, indirectly causing blocking highs over Scandinavia and pulling polar air over this country. Large subnational entities (with the British Isles shown to scale) are the subject of the first visual round, and Bristol's lead is up to 65-20.

Enron and celebrity chefs are also fertile fields for Bristol: the latter round reminds us that the French style was to present all the dishes at once, and that reminds us of Gordon Ramsay's prejudice against this style from earlier in the year. Wordplay of the Week is pairs differing by the insertion of "r" in the third position, and Bristol knock that down easily. They're less able to answer after buzzing, get five points knocked off, and then give the answer. Very bad show.

Newnham get bonuses on where to find bits of the Roman empire, and Bristol the audio round on records (reportedly) banned by the BBC. 135-45 the score, and no mention of the most recent record not to be played on the chart show: a remix of Cage's 4'33" set to a really annoying techno beat. Silent beat, of course. Recent University Challenge experience tells us that sides know nothing about any question involving alcoholic drinks, because they're all too sober to be bothered with booze. Bristol actually get one right, in spite of themselves.

University Challenge Newnham's side: Claire Greenwell, Lucy Andrews, Elizabeth Coker, Caroline Tanner.

Works entitled "Spartacus" follow this week's Little Billy Shakespeare question. He's Spartacus! The Armenian composer Katchachurian is unknown to Bristol, events of 1972 go somewhat over the heads of the Newnham team (average age: 20), and the second visual round is on depictions of battles. Bristol's lead has reached 200-60, and we can only see one winner from here. "The year represented by the 14th prime number represents which significant event in British history?" Fourteenth prime, that'll be about AD 40, so"Second World War". Obviously.

Ely cathedral is visible from the sea? Well, if you've got a really good telescope, possibly. Homophones are good for Bristol, the geography of the Americas less positive for Newnham. Bristol's final winning margin is 275-70. Nine starters for James Williams, Bristol made 24/49 bonuses with three missignals. Caroline Tanner was the only Newnhamite to get two starters, but everyone got at least one tonight. Newnham finished with 4/15 bonuses, and the overall accuracy rate was 50/93.

University Challenge resumes with the first quarter final on 10 January.

Only Connect (2)

Third-place play off: Alesmen v Wrights

"Our question writers skulk in the darkest depths," says Victoria in her introduction. Without the shadows cast by the questions, there would be no way for the teams to show their ever-present brightness. But which is more glowy than the other?

Round one, the Alesmen won the toss and decided to bat, and ... they're starting with water! "Are you all right?" asks the host. "Probably not." Are these four things all made out of ships? Been under water? Not really: repurposed materials is the link between all four items. Maybe they should have avoided the wet stuff. Wrights have the Boo Radleys, Moby, and does that mean the artists are named after characters in books? It does, and the BBC4 audience won't be exposed to the Artful Dodger's music. Three points. "Venus on the Half-Shell" – wasn't that a picture with four people in it from UC? True, but the question goes on to "Beedle the Bard" and "Fly Fishing", books published after being written about in fictional settings. That's a point for the Alesmen.

Wrights have a group of leaders and some dates: Napoleon 1809, Henry VIII 1533, Martin Luther ... did they all declare themselves heads of churches? Dates they took their second wives? No – they were excommunicated from the Catholic church. Alesmen get nationalities and dishes – Swedish: omelette, French: marmoset – and Alesmen are smiling to take the point. Pictures for the Wrights, and it might help if they were able to identify any of the four people in this list. "Are they all doctors?" Ah, they're all known by three initials – AJP Taylor, JRR Tolkein and so on. At the end of the round, it's a 3-3 draw.

What's next? Philadelphia, PA is the first in the list, and it looks like Alesmen are coiling for another five-point strike. But they choose to press on, and try New Orleans. Or New York. No, it's locations in "Dancing in the Street", so "Motor City" is the answer. Water for the Wrights: 675, 1087, 1136, so 1485? When the Plantagenets ended? Er, no. It's obviously years when St Paul's caught fire, so 1666 it is. Even knowing the answer, we couldn't tell you what it was. Pictures for Alesmen, including Malcolm X and the Ford Model Y, so they're going for ... a buzz. But no answer. The Wrights have the idea, but not the answer – Mr. Jay Zed is the one they were thinking of.

We claim three points on the next one: it's political parties for the current Westminster MPs in Belfast. West = SF? Ah, go on – took a bit of time to get there, but two well-earned points. Alesmen have "Ac", and launch into a long debate about the alphabetical order of elements. "Al" appears, "Ar" is the wrong answer, "Am" is the Wrights' bonus clue, but neither side knows that next is antimony: "Sb". Wick o'flax gives the Wrights Saint-Denis, Yokohama, Berlin, and therefore, er, Paddington. Largest railway stations in the world? No. FIFA World Cup Final venues, so Johannesburg gives the Alesmen a point. They're on four, the Wrights have five.

To the walls! Wrights have a lot to think about – Biggles and types of bridge, but there are the usual load of options there. There is a set of Biggles characters, and there's types of beer. Types of bridges and musical terms also appear. Those aren't Biggles characters, but naval nicknames. Seven points!

Alesmen kick straight off with types of computer infections. They get another group so quickly that we don't know what the link was. Types of sandwich and things that can be prefixed with "anti" also appear. The one we missed was – ah! Things in the lyric to "Bohemian rhapsody". Ten points!

So that gives the Alesmen a 14-12 lead going into Mssng Vls. Regimental names and nicknames kicks off this round, and it's 3-1 to the Wrights. That'll tie the scores. Films featuring bizarre plants is a 1-1 draw. "Their names use only straight lines" reduces the possible vowels to three, and the Wrights take that 2-0. Types of book, that's with the Wrights 3-1, and Extinct Mammals brings the Alesmen back in, 2-1. But time expires, and the Wrights are right enough, clinching third place by 22-19.

Only Connect (2) Third place for the Wrights.

Only Connect continues next week, with the grand final. It's a quiz so hard that it carries an official Smartarse warning, and will go out at the later time of 9pm.

This Week And Next

Ratings for the week to 5 December, and again we ask: is The X Factor losing it? 14.5m people tuned in for the results, still below the heights of two weeks earlier; a year's best 13.05m saw Strictly. I'm a Celeb got out of here with 12.35m seeing the winner, and The Apprentice had 7.55m seeing its loser. QI and HIGNFY finished within a sneeze of 5m, Family Fortunes a smidge below.

On the minor channels, University Challenge had its highest rating of the year (and higher than the April final), 3.6m. Come Dine With Me, The Apprentice You're Fired and Strictly on Two all had more than 3m viewers. Eggheads had 2.75m, its top score of the year, on Wednesday, and that day's edition of Pointless was seen by 2.3m viewers; the part-networked Mastermind on Friday by 2.25m.

A good week for ITV2: I'm a Celeb Now bowed out with 2.13m, and Xtra Factor Result took 1.955m. ITV-HD's coverage of The X Factor was seen by 1.22m, and I'm a Celeb by 1.11m. Next highest game shows are Come Dine on More4 (830,000), Only Connect (640,000), and CBBC's Copycats (390,000). BBC4's coverage of Choir of the Year (375,000) was more popular than anything on Dave. Only Men Aloud on S4C (105,000) proved more accessible than Britain's Strongest Man on Bravo (70,000).

This is the last Week of 2010, and here are the highlights for the next three weeks. Finals for One Man and His Dog (BBC2, 1.45 Sunday), Drop Zone (BBC1, 2.25 Sun; 11am BBC2 in Scotland), Quiz is Anfield (LFC TV, 8.30 Sun), The Apprentice (BBC1, 9pm Sun), and Chris Moyles' Quiz Night (C4, 10pm Wed). There are celebrity editions of Eggheads (BBC2, weekdays) and Come Dine with Me (C4, 9pm Wed), and special editions of The Weakest Link (BBC1, Mo-We). Who Wants to be a Millionaire tries a live episode (ITV, 9pm Thu), and there's an 8 Out of 10 Cats special (C4, 10pm Thu).

Christmas week begins with the Strictly Come Dancing special (BBC1, 7pm Christmas Day). There's nothing much on Christmas Sunday, but Boxing Day brings a new run of I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue (Radio 4, 6.30), Celebrity Mastermind (BBC1, weekdays to 7 January), and the so hard it's after the watershed Grand Final of Only Connect (BBC4, 9pm). Thursday 30 has special editions of Never Mind the Buzzcocks (BBC2, 9.30) and Shooting Stars (BBC2, 10pm), and New Year's Eve has Come Dine with Me (C4, 8.10) and the first News Quiz of the Year in many moons (Radio 4, 6.30).

The Magicians kicks off the new year with a spark (BBC1, 7.30); ITV's knock-off follows on Friday (Penn & Teller: Fool Us, 9pm). 2 January features The Cube (ITV, 8pm) with Jennie McAlpine and Ricky Hatton. That's up against the opener of Famous and Fearless (C4, 8pm, continues all week) in which famous people do terrifying things, like be interviewed by Cliff Evans and Clare Balding. Normal service begins to resume on 3 January, The Chase returns (ITV, 5pm), and Deal or No Deal expands into its new bloated slot (C4, 3.55). The Secret Life of Bob Monkhouse is BBC4's biopic (9pm), and The Big Fat Quiz of the Year goes out here (C4, 9.30). The Weakest Link and Eggheads all return on the 3rd, Pointless follows on the 4th. And if it's normal service you're after, A Question of Sport, Mastermind, and QI all come back on Friday 7 January.

The two-week Christmas And New Year television guide comes out on Thursday, and the Week of the Year will be published on 2 January next year. May we take this opportunity to wish all our readers a very happy Christmas, a new year better then you could possibly imagine, and good games to you.

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