Weaver's Week 2016-11-27

Last week | Weaver's Week Index | Next week

We're having a short series on music competitions. Next week, the massive budgets and huge egos of The X Factor. This week, something on a smaller budget and much friendlier.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest 2016

PBS for EBU, broadcast on Fun Kids, 20 November 2016

PBS had planned forever to bring a Eurovision contest to Malta. They made an excellent Junior contest in 2014, they'll host Young Dancers next year. And they're hosting Junior Eurovision today.

We're hearing the contest down quite a long chain: from the stage to the commentator's booth, from the booth to distributors Radio Six International, from there to Fun Kids HQ, and from there to the Digital Two network to DAB+ receivers. Somewhere in all the links, the IP feed got a little wet, and there are a few glitches from time to time. A 99% good audio feed is better than 0% of the show, and we've watched the entire stream later in the week.

Junior Eurovision is a chance for the EBU to experiment with its contests. The parade of flags was born here, and so was the desire to only read out the big scores. This year, the EBU is experimenting with democracy itself: there's no televote. There are adult juries, there are children's juries, and there are three expert jurists.

A record executive, an EBU scrutineer, and these performers. Eurovision Song Contest

We begin with a visual tour of Malta. This works wonderfully on the radio: commentator Lisa-Jayne Lewis remarks how palm trees are nestling alongside Christmas trees. (Can we use the C-word? We're into Advent now, so yes.) Host Ewan Spence narrates the film, and introduces last year's winner Destiny.

Did we mention how "Not my soul" is the best winner of any Eurovision song contest in years? It's still on our generic fruit-based music player. Onwards, and the competitors enter the arena behind their broadcaster's national flag. A massive group dance follows.

Valerie and Ben are the hosts, and they introduce the expert jurists. Christer Björkman, a television producer from Stockholm. Måns Grimstad, a record executive from Universal. And Jedward.

Eurovision Song Contest Zena Donnelly opened the contest proper.

Before each group of three acts, we have mini-postcards, brief footage of the contenders around Valetta. This is as confusing on screen as it sounds.

First up is TG4, represented by "Bríce Ar Bhríce", performed by Zena Donnelly. Zena is dressed in a powder blue grunge-manga-angel dress, whatever that is. The song is ethereal Gaelic, Zena swaps between chest and head voices like there's no gap to mind. Just a glimpse of the English-language translation towards the end. It's powerful, not sure it'll be remembered at the end.

AMPTV are second, Anahit & Mary perform the entry "Tarber". The two girls have a pair of backing dancers each, and it's the costume change – from black-and-white or colour into six white dresses during a brief flash of light. Jury notes are hit at the start, leading into a charmingly retro rhythmic number. Is this going to have enough to stand out when we've heard all 17 songs?

RTSH present "Besoj", performed by Klesta Qehaja. Starts like a music box, and continues in a slightly spooky manner. This is going to give us nightmares, it sounds like Klesta might be falling victim to a horrible bogeyman. Looking at the video, she's actually bringing things to life. We like the song, fear it do nothing.

Eurovision Song Contest Water Of Life Project and their backdrop.

After a short "here come the next three", we start on the next three. RTR have The Water of Life Project with "Water of life". Head-dresses are being worn, there's water on the video screens behind, sometimes moving in sync with the dancing. And lots of what radio host Ewan calls "armology", a visual joke we only get at the end. They've kept the Russian language down as far as possible, much of the song is progressed by "la-la-la-la". It smells like there's been a lot of effort put in here, but will this win a fair election?

Our hosts PBS send "Parachute", performed by Christina Magrin. There's no parachute on the stage, though Christina will take the camera on a walk. The time signatures are weird: verses are in a slow waltz time, the bridge and chorus in faster common time. It's disconcerting, but we're assured it goes big in the hall. By second viewing, we were singing along with the chorus.

BNT hosted last year; this time Lidia Ganeva performs their song "Magical day". She performs alone on the stage, in the central circle. Where we might expect a key-change of joy, we get a spinning child. It's a confident song, a great big gospel feel towards the end. Our hosts tell us that Lidia caught every red light on the camera, and she gave a performance with strength and style.

Someone will explain why we see the ceiling before every performance, and why there are dancers performing behind the hosts in the "next three up" lists.

MKRTV are up next, "Love will lead our way" is performed by Martija Stanojkovič. Rose-gold jumpsuits are the costume, and the sound is the fashionable tropical house. There's an identifiable song in there, a verse-chorus structure. We can hear this fitting easily into the rest of the Fun Kids playlist, though it feels like a bit of a sorbet after what we've heard recently.

Eurovision Song Contest Olivia stood still.

RTP are back for the firsttime since 2004. "Nie zapomnij" is performed by Olivia Wieczorek; she was about two when RTP last took part. Olivia has very strong vocals, is aided by dramatic backing track (with drums and everything), and feels like the sort of thing that will go down well with the adult juries. The staging proves simple: static singer wearing a loobrush cover.

BTRC have never missed a Junior Eurovision, and this year send a demonstration of synchronised hoverboards. It's to enliven "Musyka moih pobed", performed by Alexander Minyonok. Sounds like it needs a visual gimmick, the song is a slightly-shouty number, all beat and little vocal capacity. And for most of the song, there's a loud and distracting show on the video walls.

While most of the television broadcasters take a commercial break, we get a performance by last year's host Poli Genova. "If love was a crime" with the zillions of backing dancers she couldn't use in Stockholm.

Eurovision Song Contest Sofia Rol and a mime.

NTU won the senior contest last May. The junior entry is "Planet craves for love", performed by Sofia Rol. There's a large upturned umbrella in the staging here, Sofia sings in it, while a dancer does his thing on the other side of the stage, later joined by a mime. It's a Ukranian ballad by numbers, according to Ewan and Lisa, and that's a good thing. Lots of emotion, it all emerges easily, and the adult juries might love this.

But then they might love the RAI contribution, "Cara mamma" from Fiamma Boccia. She's not got the message to turn up in Sunday best: she's in t-shirt and jeans. A very good example of the Italian power ballad, delivering a big punch towards the end. And an invisible slip into English during the final chorus. "Big in the hall, best I've heard it all week" says Ewan. But today is too late...

RTS send something we've seen earlier. One hoverboard, a song called "U la la la", a ringmaster's jacket worn by Dunja Jeličić. Another contemporary number, another one we can hear Fun Kids playing later in the year. A bit too repetitive for our taste, but seeing the performance revealed it was a visual treat – Dunja didn't stop all the way through.

Eurovision Song Contest Things are looking up for Sher and Tim.

"Follow my heart" from Sher & Tim for the IBA. The one his-and-hers duet in this contest, Tim starts with his side of the story, then Sher walks on to deliver her lines. The intercut between Hebrew and English works here – the verses become a bit disposable, showing even sharper relief on the choruses. This song is an ear-worm, as this column found from "la-la-la"ing to the chorus later in the week. And, aw, they held hands at the end.

A very good day to SBS, "We are" is performed by Alexa Curtis, a former winner of Channel 9 The Voice of Holland of Australia Kids. Alexa had throat problems after her flight, and nailed it in the jury final on Saturday. Not sure she's left much for today, she clearly struggles towards the end. The song is hard to pin down, midtempo and verbose – for all the repetition of "we are" in the chorus, there's a lot of words in the verse. It'll do OK.

AVROTROS have "Kisses and dancin'" performed by the three-piece girl group Kisses. After many changes of costume in rehearsal, they've settled on dresses with slogans on. It's a very bright and colourful performance, the sort of eye-popper we'd associate with GBP. Ewan and Lisa say the song is Bananarama circa 1986; we're getting some very sharp notes out of the performance.

Eurovision Song Contest A rare moment of calm for Kisses.

CyBC gave us "Dance floor", performed by George Michaelides. George is a street dance champion, and doesn't stop while performing the song. It's an upbeat contemporary dance track, it begins with a drum solo and continues banging brilliance for the next three minutes. Ewan recommends hearing it down the gymnasium.

And finally! GPB with "Mzeo", performed by Mariam Mamadashvili. GPB have a history of sending multicolour works – Lizi Pop, Gabede, whatever the hell they sent in May. All of them are vivid explosions of colour. For this entry, something completely different. One young girl, solo on the stage, performing an orchestral number that could be out of East Carpathian Story. It's not just got an introduction, it's got an overture!

Eurovision Song Contest Mariam performed a simple song well.

There's brief feedback from the expert jurists. Måds is blown away, Christer is puzzled about how to vote, and Jedward were wowed.

The interval acts: Destiny sings her new song, Jedward perform, Destiny sings last year's winner in a new ultra-funky disco arrangement. And there's the group song. A reprise takes us to the voting. Not sure this works – we could have taken the reprise before Destiny's brilliance.

"Georgia. Georgia. Georgia." Any given Saturday at our founder's house? No, the twelve points being read from the first adult juries, rewarding GPB. AVROTROS and SBS and BTRC all did well, TVP and TG4 picked up big points from time to time. GPB's advantage over AMPTV was 45 after the adult juries, pegged back to 34 by the expert jurists. BTRC were just behind, but AVROTROS lost from the experts.

Eurovision Song Contest Flammia shares the excitement of twelve points with Zena.

Lest we forget, the adult and children's juries both voted on the Saturday "dress rehearsal". 92% of the marks were already allocated before the show started. We'd rather have the bulk of the votes awarded from the Sunday final.

And so to the children's juries, announcing points in combination. All the points for one broadcaster, then the next. Ewan and Lisa tipped BTRC and AVROTROS to make up ground on GPB. But BTRC were placed ninth, totalling just 65 points. And AVROTROS also took a mere 65. Both had to be caught. GPB had 83 points, putting them in the lead. 522 still in the bag and five countries to go.

Points to SBS and RAI left both in second place for a moment; they couldn't beat GPB. 320 points to split between three countries. 105 to RTR, then 105 to PBS. We knew AMPTV had won the children's jury, but did they have the required 118 points to win? They'd been dragging out the tension a beat too long all night.

Eurovision Song Contest Our hosts were perfect for all but three seconds.

"And I have 110... and I have so many points to give." Bother. Well done, Valerie. Just give away the answer. The tension is a fake, we know there are just 110 points in the tank. Some mad flapping from the hosts, like Nick Knowles trying (and failing) to build up the tension on a particularly dull episode of Who Dares Wins.

We know the losers of the show (whoever wrote the script), and we know the winner.

Mariam's reprise was consumed by emotion, but the Junior Eurovision tradition is that everyone joins in on stage. First amongst friends. She'll be calling her grannies when she's off stage, and asks for "no homework".

Eurovision Song Contest A group hug for the winner before the reprise.

So it's victory for GPB! "Mzeo" is the winning song. What's Tbilisi like at this time of year? We'll find out in 2017.

This Week and Next

Best of the Web: an oral history of Nickelodeon's Double Dare. We remember how the programme came to Going Live, and how host Peter Simon tended to lose his footing. There's a reason for this: "One of the biggest concerns was always how slippery the floor was. Especially once it got whipped cream on it, there wasn’t much you could do."

They also make a point for contemporary game shows. "If there’s a game that ends with a grand-prize winner, you always want to see that happen once a week, if possible. It keeps people coming back. Because if the game looks impossible, people lose interest." Are you listening, Alphabetical?

East London and Warwick on University Challenge. Warwick ran away with their first round match, and ran away with this week's contest, 195-55 the final score.

The match contained a reference to emoji, but we're still waiting for a visual round in this visual language. Latin names of children's books is a bit of a waste, these questions could be read by the host. The later round using paintings uses visuals in a way that can't be replicated by sound.

Only Connect continued in section A, with the Shutterbugs and the Korfballers. The Korfballers won by 22-20.

Each side picked up a three-point connection – the Korfballers on how they make up a Premier League Quidditch team, the Shutterbugs on music by people whose surnames are places. The Shutterbugs let a few points drop on their questions, perhaps enough to force a draw. (But we'll never know: if the Shutterbugs gambled, would the Korfballers follow suit?)

Korfballers won the opening round 6-4, Shutterbugs took sequences 4-1. Both sides were perfect on the walls. The Korfballers overcame a selection of 16 surnames, the Shutterbugs didn't know that "Angora" is both a wool and a former name for Ankara. Korfballers won the match on Missing Vowels, taking the round 5-2.

Second semi-final on Hive Minds, where the Cruciverbalists took on the Belgae. Low scores in the opening round, thanks in part to the teams not knowing their group of five – wasn't that Williams, Owen, Jenkins, Rogers, and Steel? Cruciverbalists took the lead after the first round, 7-4, thanks to a question about chefs and their restaurants. Canterbury Tales, branches of biology, the cast of Four Weddings and a Funeral, animals in Beatles songs, and the ten minute middle round produces a one-point swing, 10-6.

In the superhives, Roman authors confused the Cruciverbalists, who managed to select all the letters but didn't solve the grid. They'd misspelled "Catullus", by including him at all. Six points is not a bad return. Culinary herbs and spices also yielded six points – basil was a red herring, nutmeg was not.

16-12 into the final round, and the Cruciverbalists opened up the gap a little further with each minute, and opening up in the last gasp to run out the winners by 26-16.

Mastermind heat 20 was a high-scoring affair. Alan Diment won, he scored 29 (0 passes), his specialist subject was Edvard Munch. Ian Fennell was perfect on his specialist subject David Bowie, and closed on 27 (1 pass). It puts him fourth in the high-scoring losers list, which should be enough to come back.

Karen Fountain (German occupation of Jersey) and Chris Rabbitt (post-war British motorcycles) both got into double figures in their specialist rounds, and their totals could have won other heats. We think there'll be one heat in the new year, then we're into semi-finals, and the final could be in late February.

BARB ratings in the week to 13 November.

  1. Planet Earth II is the first show other than Bake Off in the top ten of the year. This week's episode was seen by 13.14m viewers, beating three episodes of the cake show. I'm a Celebrity returned with 12.2m viewers asking "who are these people?" It's ITV's top show of the year, beating all the football, and more popular than new year fireworks.
  2. Strictly Come Dancing results pulled 11.35m, for third place on the night. A long way down to The X Factor, 6.9m is nothing to sniff at. HIGNFY and Pointless Celebrities both above 4.5m, Who Dares Wins a decent 4.2m.
  3. Masterchef The Professionals came back to 3.45m, eclipsing Dragons Den as BBC2's top-rated game of the year. University Challenge had 2.85m, Only Connect 2.7m. QI continues to mosey along to its fans, 1.65m this week.
  4. Elsewhere on ITV, 3.6m for The Chase on Wednesday, a year's best. 3.5m for The Next Great Magician, holding on its debut. 2.9m for Tipping Point Lucky Stars. Channel 5 dug out The Ant & Dec Story, and got 1.25m viewers.
  5. On the digital channels, ITV2 leads. 1.325m for Celebrity Juice, 1.27m for Celeb Extra Camp, but just 430,000 for Xtra Factor. Junior Bake Off returned to CBBC with 340,000 viewers, roughly level with Dave's primetime schedule.

Coming up this week. How Quizzing Got Cool (BBC4, Wed) asks how (and, indeed, if) the humble quiz has suddenly become cool. There's a new run of Think Tank (BBC1 weekdays).

Some shows end: Hive Minds (BBC4, Thu), UK's Strongest Man (C5, Thu), Landscape Artist of the Year (Artsworld, Tue).

Photo credits: PBS/EBU

To have Weaver's Week emailed to you on publication day, receive our exclusive TV roundup of the game shows in the week ahead, and chat to other ukgameshows.com readers, sign up to our Yahoo! Group.

Last week | Weaver's Week Index | Next week

A Labyrinth Games site.
Design by Thomas.
Printable version
Editors: Log in