Weaver's Week 2014-06-15

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Why was Jenny Eclair recently mobbed by a coachload of pensioners?

Draw It!

Draw It!

Victory Television for Channel 4, from 6 May

Back in early 2012, there was a brief fad for a social networking game. Draw Something challenged one friend to (er) draw something, and the other friend to guess what it was. At the peak of the bubble, developers OMGPOP sold themselves to the Zynga company of Farmville fame, and received $180 million. Around one thousand million challenges were played every single week.

In October 2012, Zynga wrote off $95 million of the assets acquired from OMGPOP. Five months later, there was a press release entitled "Zynga Announces Substantial Cost Reductions". It was laying off 520 employees, and closing offices in LA, Dallas, and New York offices. The New York offices had been OMGPOP's pad.

The net worth of the Draw Something company had gone from approximately $180 million to $0 in just over a year. Draw Something 2.0 (April 2013) came out to a very moderate reception, and Zynga's native Farmville game has also plummeted. It's clear that Zynga needs to find new sources of income.

Draw It! Spot the artworks around the studio.

One way to bolster the bank would be to make a television game show. It's a visual game, it's light and frothy, this could actually go places. And, just to make sure that only the best archaeologists can link television show and app, why not leave the programme to mature on a Channel 4 shelf for a year.

So, now that we've finally got to see it, what of the show? It's hosted by Mel Giedroyc, the blonde and perky one from The Great British Bake Off. She saunters on stage, and explains the basic rules. "One person draws, another person guesses." Glad we've got that clear.

Then we meet the teams – a celebrity, who will stay with us all week; and a member of the public, who may or may not come back. The celebrities have been larger-than-life personalities – Christopher Biggins, Rosemary Shrager, Tim Vine, Nadia Swahlia. The civilian players have also been large characters, each introduced by showing us an example of their artwork.

Draw It! Is it "Summer in Skegness"?

Straightaway, we're into round one. This is a 30-minute show, no time to faff about, brisk and efficient. Ah, that's why they've got Mel Giedroyc as host: she's fearsomely well organised and gets things done.

Round one is "Contestant Quick Draw". In this round, the contestants will draw, quickly. Three words or short phrases appear on screen: an easy one for £100, something of medium difficulty for £200, and a hard concept for £300. The player is to draw each of these on screen, using the tablet and touchscreen provided. Speed is of the essence, for the specific word must come out of the celeb's mouth within 30 seconds.

Draw It! A solved riddle.

But what if the celeb is unable to spot the word? What if they cannot tell a watermelon from a waterbed? At any time, the celeb can call for a "word jumble". This anagram of the letters in the answer gets shown on screen, and the combination of the drawing and a hint at the answer should be enough. The word jumble comes at a cost, it halves the amount of money for the answer.

"Quick on the Draw" is the second round, the most on-the-buzzer part of the game. Here, drawings have been sent in by "users of the Draw It! app", and we'll see them take shape before our very eyes. One guess per pair, £200 for the right answer, halved when the word jumble appears after twenty seconds.

Throughout the show, Mel gives a running commentary of the drawing as it takes shape. Sometimes, this can be a little banal, telling us the obvious. "Jake has picked a yellow background – oh, and changed it to green." Occasionally, the banal becomes high art, as when Mel tries to recapture the glory days of "Take Hart". Commentary such as, "This picture comes from Richard. He's from London, and he's 35!" is delivered with a breathy excitement. For a fleeting moment, we're thinking, "wow! Richard must be super-talented to draw so well at such a young age."

Draw It! Wave at the players.

And then we think, "He's 35, fer cryin' out loud."

There's a half-finished puzzle to solve during the ad break, and then we're into "Celebrity Quick Draw". The celebrity steps up to the tablet, and has a series of things to draw. There's £300 for each right answer, halved if the player uses the word jumble – and that's only available after a little time. The entertainment factor comes from celebrities being given silly or embarrassing things to do, and from the public being inept. Anton du Beke might try to draw "quickstep", and someone spent over a minute staring at "rekonos" without making the (s)pot.

After all of this, the money is totalled up. The loser receives thanks and a Word Jumble t-shirt. The winner receives applause and a place on the Daily Winners' Board. This is important because the two best scores from Monday to Thursday come back for Big Money Friday.

Draw It! Can you solve the teatime teaser?

But more on that later, because right now the winner has won nothing more than their place on the board. To win the cash, they must play "Draw to Win". Solve three last words – one easy, one middling, one hard. The player chooses whether to draw or solve, and has control of the one word jumble. It's the one bit of the programme that genuinely needs tension, and Mel knows how to ramp things up so that a win is welcomed, and a double win sees hugs all round.

Should the dynamic duo solve all three clues in one minute of drawing time, they'll win the amount in the pot – typically £2000. Should they solve all three clues without using the one allowed word jumble, they'll win double the amount in the pot. But if a clue remains unsolved at the end of the minute, the player goes home with a word jumble t-shirt.

Draw It! The lights go down for the final round.

Win or lose, the player is still eligible for Big Money Friday. Very similar to the main show, but now playing for double money, and the prize for solving the final round without using the word jumble storms up to £50,000. Nifty!

Draw It! is a light and frothy show. It knows not to take itself too seriously, and it knows when to be sensible. We're not convinced that the programme needed to be left on the shelf for a year, but Channel 4 was right not to put it in the 5pm slot o'doom. We've enjoyed watching the show, and would like to see more. And so would the coachload of pensioners: though viewing figures have been poor, those of us who enjoyed the programme have really loved it.

This Week and Next

Into Phase D of Only Connect with the Heath Family going up against the Software Engineers. Our viewing of the first round was pretty much ruined by weaknesses on the increasingly rubbish digital terrestrial television signal. Any time there's a breath of wind, it scrambles the digital bits and we get drop-out on the signal. All we know about the first round is that the Software Engineers scored three on I'm Sorry I Haven't a Clue rounds, and someone thought it was the right weather to play "Killing in the name". Christmas records at this time of year. The Software Engineers led 5-0, so it may be a mercy for the Heath Family.

They came into their own with the third sequence, culminating in "2013 Andy Murray", local champs of grand slam tennis tournaments. Three points, only for the Software Engineers to recognise Lorem Ipsum In Reverse and get three of their own. The picture round is clueing the final words in Muppet movies, and that feels a good deal too hard even for this level. There's a question asking for the first number which, when written out, contains a given letter. Would they have taken "D: one dozen"?

8-3 to the Software Engineers as they play Wall 458. "Bye-bye", a round with valedictions and then the team comes to a halt. Spanish things also comes out, and the teams spot one final group. Five points! "What you lookin' at?" is the common thread through the Heath Family's four walls, encouraging each other to talk about the possibilities. Talking about it is as far as the team get: no groups found, and four connections spotted.

Software Engineers have this in the bag, 13-7 ahead. A point each on things that swing, an edge to the engineers on fashion designers and products, retaken by the Heaths on cyclists. Not that they'll come back, the Software Engineers have come through 16-10.

"Although I cannot lay an egg, I am a very good judge of omelettes." The X Factor and Masterchef: The Professionals announce revised lineups. Melanie B, the former Spice Girl, joins Louis Walsh and Cheryl Cole on The X Factor. Series creator Simon Cowell completes the panel. Over on Masterchef: The Professionals, Marcus Wareing will replace Michel Roux Jr. Both shows will return in the autumn.

The X Factor An entirely unmanipulated photo of the The X Factor panel.

Amazing Greys won't be returning, ITV has decided not to commission another series of the old versus young show. We will have the chance to see Richard Bacon host The Great British Paint Off, a show all about excellence in DIY, particularly when using turpentine spirits. What, it's an artistic painting challenge? Oh.

Channel 4 has announced The Singer Takes It All, a real-time voting show for singers. Apparently, singers will perform, and they'll get instant reaction as to whether they're a hit, a miss, or a maybe. There will be two differences from Britain's Got Talent: reaction will be from the great British public, Simon Cowell is not involved, and each show will be self-contained. Alan Carr hosts the show, Endemol makes it. Not clear whether the show will use an open platform or be in its own walled garden app that the rest of us can only see by bouncing on trampolines.

A hole is about to open up in ITV2's schedule. The Smudge has been playing episodes of I Wanna Marry Harry, in which hopeful young women compete for the affections of someone who looks a bit like Henry Wales, an army officer from Wales. Credulity was stretched to breaking point when Harry's brother was introduced with a full head of hair. The show is an import from Yankee-land, and it turns out that they do have a quality standard over there. The programme has been dropped by the F*x network after the viewing public responded with a technicolour yawn.

Boris Johnson, a regular on Have I Got News for You, has said he will stand in front of the new water cannon he's ordered. Quite obviously, he's trying to recreate every great game show in the world. This is his effort at the Getting Across A Narrow And Wobbly Bridge While Being Sprayed By Jets of Water game from Takeshi's Castle. And we remember one of Mr. Johnson's previous attempts at recreating The Krypton Factor.

Can't even get the aerial slide right.

BARB ratings in the week to 1 June.

  1. In semi-finals week, Britain's Got Talent ruled the roost (peak: 8.75m on Monday).
  2. A long drop to Have I Got News for You (4.6m) and Pointless (3.95m on bank holiday Monday). Catchphrase had 3.8m.
  3. Great British Menu (2.1m) is still doing the business for BBC2, and 1.3m tuned in for Daphne Fowler's final Eggheads.
  4. A near-tie atop the digital charts, 780,000 for Britain's Got More Talent, and 775,000 for Only Connect.
  5. Room 101 is turning into a hit for UKTV Dave (365,000) and CBBC's The Joke Machine and Gory Games both got 170,000.

In a quiet week for new shows, our biggest new series is Fifteen-to-One (Challenge, 9.30 weekdays). It's the very first series, and airs next to the original run of Blockbusters. There's also a run of Hell's Kitchen Us (ITV2, 9pm Tue, 2 episodes), and next Saturday night has Big Brother (Channel 5, 9pm) up against The Hunger Games (Channel 4, 9pm).

Photo credits: Victory Television, ITV / SyCo. Like most things, this week's Week was delayed by a cable fire in Neasden.

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