Weaver's Week 2015-01-11

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Coming up, we disclose our vote in the Poll of the Year, and invoke the spirit of Stacey-May Anaïs.

Win Your Wish List


Win Your Wish List

Victory Television for BBC1, from 28 December

Win Your Wish List is a quiz for couples, hosted by Shane Richie. It allows everyone to play to their individual strengths. The producers could have scoured the world for half-a-dozen special prizes, but it's far easier to ask the contestants to pick their prize. You want fine dining every month for a year? We can arrange that. A day behind the scenes with Crystal Palace? That's possible, too. A week cruising around the gasworks of the Thames? Whatever floats your boat.

Just from the description of these prizes, we begin to get a view of the contestants. It looks like they're encouraged to spread their desires – some are lavish, others are a little more modest. Some are items to keep and things to build, others are experiences to treasure. The top prize is always an experience, a trip to Foreign Parts. Because what the viewing public really needs in January is a burst of sunshine from Brazil.

Win Your Wish List Shane and the contestants stand in front of a list of desirable prizes.

Shane introduces the couple, and helps them navigate through the format. And that's pretty much all he does. As on last year's Reflex, other people do the bulk of the talking. Alan Dedicoat, the BBC's professional announcer, describes the prizes fully. And here's the big gimmick: Shane won't be asking the questions. The couple will do that. Or, to be precise, one of the couple will do that. The other will be answering the questions.

Each round goes like this. Shane announces a category, and the couple make two decisions. Who's asking the questions (and hence who's answering), and which prize they will risk in that round. Shane retreats to a safe distance away, and the players face each other on opposite sides of a giant video floor.

Win Your Wish List Green sends the score left, which is good.

During the round, questions will be asked for a bit more than a minute. As time passes, a score marker moves to the right, towards the player answering questions. With each correct answer, the marker jumps to the left, by about 8 seconds' travel. Then it begins the inexorable slide to the right.

When time expires, the score marker is usually somewhere on the floor. If it's left of the start position, in a green zone, then the couple has taken that prize to the final. Nine or ten correct answers over the round will suffice for this. From time to time, the couple will find a subject they're good at, and the score marker will reach the left-hand edge. This is a very good thing to happen, because it means they've hit an Instant Win. The prize is theirs, whatever happens.

But if the score is on the right-hand side when time expires, or the marker hits the right-hand edge at any time, the prize is lost. Across the entire game, each player has one chance to reset the score while they're answering. It'll let them turn a major negative back to zero. We may yet see this alter the course of a round.

Win Your Wish List The players have lost a jar of pickled eggs.

This round is played six times, for six different prizes. Perhaps it's one round more than we'd like, the middle of the show can be a bit samey. We do get a good chance to know the question style. It's short, sharp, direct. Simple question, straightforward language. It has to be. The producers ask Jo or Joe Public to read out these questions, sight unseen, and make sense of them first time. The question writers have to be clear, and we're impressed with how well the questions read. And with how well they're pitched to a primetime BBC1 audience.

The final round is a bit different, and very tough. Here, the couple is playing for all the prizes they've carried forward – but not those won on an Instant Win, because they've won those prizes already. The gifts are arranged in the same order as they were introduced, we reckon it's from cheapest to most expensive.

Win Your Wish List Fine dining is the first prize to be won, with the Rio Carnival still available.

Still the couple chooses who plays, and now they have a choice of category from two on offer. The final round works up the board, rather than across it – this has to be so that the prize labels can be horizontal. The jump up for a correct answer appears smaller, perhaps half the distance.

In order to win a prize, the team's score marker has to reach the bottom of a prize label. Of course, the labels are positioned at the top of the screen, so it'll be at least 30 seconds into the minute before they might win something. Then the prizes come quickly – two more correct answers will win the next prize, two more the next prize, and so on.

To win the top prize, the couple will need to be right on just about every question in the whole minute. That's a very demanding standard, and the prize is suitably awesome. Lesser achievements will receive lesser rewards, which has a certain justice.

Win Your Wish List Shane does some unpredictable things, like take a seat in the audience.

Stuart Shawcross devised this game, and we're getting a certain similarity to his magnum opus Five Minutes to a Fortune. Shane, like Davina, gees on the contestants without asking them any questions. One of the couple will answer, the other has a defined role. Each programme has about seven minutes of intense quizzing action, and fills out the running time with chatter and adverts (in this case, for The Lottery Corp.'s products).

After three episodes, and less than two weeks into the year, we're not convinced that Win Your Wish List is going to be the Best New Show of 2015. It will be in the mix. We like the format, we appreciate the host, and we do love the question setting.

Exit Poll of the Year

Sunday readers! You have the rest of the day to vote in the Poll of the Year 2014. Lines close at one minute to midnight tonight, and the Bother's Bar Supercomputer will start to churn its way through the many papers. At one minute past midnight, the Bother's Bar Supercomputer will go "phut", and the results will be paw-counted by Ratings Bear ("grrr").

This column has a vote, and here's how we voted:

Best New Show

  • First Person
  • Hair
  • Reflex
  • Two Tribes
  • Who's Doing the Dishes?

We put a marker down for First Person as the most important new quiz format of the year. It's a quiz that worked on the internet, and did not work if the internet fell over. It had to be seen live, it did not work as well on catch-up. We'll be using this to measure other interactive real-time shows.

Worst New Show

  • Celeb Squares
  • French Collection
  • Stand By Your Man
  • Tumble

(One vote unused)

A year where few shows had any merit, but a year where few shows had flaws baked in. French Collection was by far the worst antiques format we've seen – arbitrary deadlines arrived from nowhere, the producers sprung surprises on the players, and they didn't even try to hide the show's flimsy construction.

Show We've Most Enjoyed Watching

  • Eurovision Song Contest
  • Only Connect
  • Pointless
  • Tipping Point
  • Who's Doing the Dishes?

The Chase is squeezed out only because Only Connect sorted out its summertime blues and became compulsive viewing again. Bradley and co did give us two Magic Moments, but we'll see those later.

You Can Help Save Christmas The Answers

Last year, we set a puzzle to work out where Dr. Peake had been working. The answers to the riddles are:

  • Mistletoad
  • Aladdin (he had a flying car-pet)
  • King Kong Merrily On High
  • Frostbite
  • Vixen (likes reading fiction)
  • Lots
  • Twerkey
  • Coward, Noel
  • North Polearoid
  • Robin Hood
  • Little Rude Riding Hood

Find the answers in the books, and "read the volumes end to end". The first book is MIN-MYL, then AKO-ARC, and KET-KLO, and so on.

Put the books end to end, and look at the letters adjoining. LA, then CK, OF, and it continues to the final answer.

Dan has been ensuring that the jokes in crackers were down to standard. He's been in the Lack of Quality Control.

There's more fun like this at Puzzled Pint, which happens in London this Tuesday, and on the second Tuesday of every month. (Except the ones when the organiser is away in a cracker factory.)

This Week and Next

Democracy Season continues with the final round of the National Television Awards. Game-ish finalists in the categories are:

Most Popular Talent Show: The Voice, The X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, Britain's Got Talent

Most Popular Skills Challenge: Masterchef, Great British Bake Off, The Apprentice, Come Dine with Me

Most Popular Daytime: Pointless, The Chase (and two others)

Most Popular Multichannel: Celebrity Juice (and three others)

Most Popular Entertainment Presenter: Dermot O'Leary, Keith Lemon, Bradley Walsh, Ant & Dec

Most Popular Entertainment Programme: Celeb BB, Through the Keyhole, I'm a Celebrity, Saturday Night Takeaway

Most Popular TV Judge: Simon Cowell, Mary Berry, Cheryl Fernandez-Versini, David Walliams

A new year, and University Challenge resumed. St Peter's Oxford beat Selwyn Cambridge by a distance – 235-100.

Doctor, doctor, I feel like scary posh baby Ginger! "The pasta I'd made for Only Connect dinner was too spicy." With Michael Wallace unavailable, Jamie Karran (fellow Board Gamer) casts his eye over this week's edition.

It's the final second-round winner-winner match, Nørdophiles against the Bibløphiles. Pronounced "Nordophiles" and "Bibliophiles". Music and pictures give a point to the Bibs, and they get a bonus for The Mary Whitehouse Complaints Experience. A question about sports stadia (model answer: two sports are played there) wonders if they've all hosted World finals. The Nords get off the mark with knowledge that a Smurf is the height of three apples, and three fruits gets a point. It's 3-1 to the Bibs.

An "ooh, nasty" decision on the first sequence, which is kob, lob, mob, nob. The Bibs guess "Jack of diamonds", but fail to explain that "nob" in cribbage involves a jack turning up. The Nords swoop in for a point. Paper sizes give them two more, sheets from A1 to A4. New-style STD for the Bibs' question, the dialling codes beginning 11x, ending in 118 for Reading. Don't forget the 0 to indicate you're using subscriber trunk dialling, and for the score on that question.

A lovely question next: Noah's Ark, Jack-and-Jill bathroom, Monty Hall problem – so the answer is "four-door car". Two to the Nords, who (like many viewers) got it on the third clue. The obligatory Sinatra question is pictures of his wives. The obligatory public service announcement is FAST, the stroke detection acronym – face, arms, speech, time. That's the one bonus for the Bibs, who now trail 6-4.

Tennis, rather than cricket, scores tonight. The Nords have dog food, winds, plays by that yuletide-a-phobe, and salmon. "It could be all sorts of things" says one player. Yeah, that's rather the point. The winds and salmon get entangled, so Six points!

For the Bibs, it's ducks, steam locomotives, and places where Agatha Christie and Poirot had murders. And a fourth group. "Are they golfers? Directors? Doctors? Is there an anagram in their name?" After almost 90 seconds, they press the last connection, and offer golfers. No. Victoria's titters might have given the game away. Tomlinson, Payne, Malik, and Horan are members of One Direction. Seven points!

The X Factor Ben Heynow will put this on shelves soon...

12-11 to the Nords, and Third Novel in Literary Trilogies ends in a 2-2 draw. Apple products goes from a macbook to cider. Ha! A point to the Nords, and a point on Things a Self-Checkout Might Say. Look, you stupid pile of silicon, it *is* an expected item. We put item down, it weighs more. Gravity. See? Oh, go watch Supermarket Sweep.

While we leave the self-checkout grumbling in the soft bigotry of low expectations, we note the Bibliophiles are wondering what happened to the on 12 points, while the Nordophiles have bagged and gone with 16.

High-scoring specialist rounds on this week's Mastermind, but no major surprise in the winner. Iwan Thomas took the Life and Music of Gram Parsons. The specialist set didn't go at much of a speed, but was a Perfect Round! 14 (0). The reigning Going for Gold champion, and former Brain of Britain, picked his questions in the second round, pushing his score to 27 (4).

Gareth Williams had Welsh International Rugby Union 1960-80. As successful as the subject, he made 12 (0). Second time around reminded us of Wales in recent years, strong in many areas, and finished on 24 (4). Frank Wood had British Railway Disasters 1830-1939, so a bit before London Bridge 2015. He used the steam trumpet to make 11 (0). A cautious general knowledge round took him to 22 (5). Sarah Mead took the Novels of Dick Francis 1962-80. Answering what she knew, passing on the rest, a brisk 11 (3). The same tactic in her general knowledge round was as much pass as answer, and took the score to 18 (7).

BARB ratings for Christmas week!

  1. Mrs Brown's Boys on Christmas night (Thursday) won the consolidated viewing, with 9.7m viewers. The Queen's Christmas Message – reported as the overnight winner – barely added to her 7.5m live viewers, and was tonked by Strictly Come Dancing (9m).
  2. Pointless Celebrities had 5.05m on Saturday, and that figure doesn't include viewers in Scotland. Masterchef The Professionals had its final on Tuesday and 4.05m saw the action on BBC2.
  3. Famous Family Fortunes (Corrie vs Emmerdale yet again) pulled 3.65m to ITV on Sunday. Big Fat Quiz of the Year had 3.1m on Boxing Day night, by far Channel 4's biggest game show audience of the year. 8 Out of 10 Cats (2.05m) and Celebrity Fifteen-to-One (1.65m) also had their best scores. But remember that the first civilian Fifteen-to-One in April also had 1.65m viewers.
  4. World's Strongest Man is a regular on Channel 5, it brought 1.25m on Saturday. A League Of Their Own Christmas Party (630,000 on Sky1) was the biggest non-PSB broadcast.
  5. The Challenge Channel peaked with a Stars In Their Eyes evening on Saturday (175,000). Repeats of Celebrity Millionaire seemed to flop on Christmas Day: maybe they might alternate Pointless and The Chase in 2015.

This week has the out-takes show Famous Family Misfortunes (ITV, 7pm Sun), and Celebrity Big Brother continues all week (C5, 5*, and MTV), though without Jeremy Jackson, who was thrown out yesterday. Planet's Got Talent (ITV, 6.30 Sat) is a collection of clips from international editions of the franchise, so expect lots of performing dogs and a few stars we'll see on Britain's Got Talent in the summer.

Photo credits: Victory Television Scotland / BBC Scotland, Spiritboxes

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Next: some hints for the You Can Help Save Christmas puzzle.

You Can Help Save Christmas

There are three hints on this page.


The SANTA Organisation is skilled at recycling.

We know this from how every present is wrapped in the same paper every year.

We wonder if some of the mottoes might be found with a little web search.


While we were outside changing the litter, Tiddles took her paws – covered in crayon wax – and scrawled over the paper.



Tiddles was pushing some of the Encylopaedia Crakertica volumes around, laying them next to each other.


And if you're still stumped, the answers are now up.

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