Weaver's Week 2017-07-23

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Even if they aren't sung, every television theme song has lyrics. This week, the one going "Blind date! Blind date! Na na na na na na!"

Blind Date


Blind Date

Stellify Media and So Television for Channel 5, 17 June – 22 July

Is it really fourteen years since Blind Date left our screens? Cilla Black made the show her own, and could not be replaced in her lifetime. We had a quick look at this show in 2015, as a Cilla Black obituary.

The format hasn't changed at all. It remains as fresh as it was 33 and a third years ago. Do we need to describe this show? Very well. Very well. Just in case there are any viewers from Mars...

Here are three single ladies. Paul O'Grady meets each in turn, hears who they are, what they do, and what sort of partner they're looking for. Then out comes the screen, followed at speed by this week's bachelor.

Blind Date We can see the possible dates, but the bachelor cannot.

Three questions follow. "Blind Date is all about first impressions. I do a good Frank Spencer," said the singleton. "What impressions do you do?" In turn, the trio on the other side of the screen answer. "I do an impression of a monkey. Ooh ooh ooh." Er, right. "I'm a singer, a Cher impressionist, and I'd like to shoop shoop with you." Ooh, saucy. "I do one good impression, your next girlfriend." Marks for bluntness, but is she too desperate?

Melanie Sykes summarises the options, recaps a little something for each contestant. After the break, our single man gets to choose one of the dates. He's not seen them, just heard their voice and heard their answers. A brief introduction to the rejected suitors, before the screen pulls back and we see the new couple.

Blind Date Let's see your date.

They're off on a date, something to do. The new Blind Date has fewer holidays in sunny climes, and more activities near the studio. Yes, it cuts down on the budget a little, but the producers have positive reasons. These activities make for interesting films, and give the couple a chance to know each other better. Cocktail making, massage therapy, horse riding. We get enough of "people rubbing suntan lotion into each other" on Love Island.

We see the couple on their date, relaxing together afterwards, and their solo confessions to camera. Back on ITV, these confessions lasted quite some time, and we seem to recall them being vicious. This series, at least in the shows we've seen, rows have been absent. Everything is in good taste, Paul is friendly and gives encouraging words. Where there's no spark, he'll help the couple to go their separate ways. Where there is, he'll do what he can to kindle more romance.

Blind Date Champagne for a good date.

And so it continues. Right at the end of part two, three gentlemen walk out, ready to be picked by the single lady of the night, and the show repeats.

Except that in one episode, three more ladies walked out, to be picked by the single lady. Blind Date embraced romance between two women – they'll try a romance between two men later in the year. In one gentle moment, Blind Date embraced the new normal, and reflected a section of the audience on screen. We don't get that from Love Island, a bastion of heterosexual monogamy. And Blind Date didn't make a song and dance about the lesbian couple, they just took it all in their stride.

Back in 1984, we could believe that the IBA and LWT didn't want Blind Date to be hosted by a gay man, or someone appearing to be a gay man. In 2017, we can believe that Channel 5 want Blind Date to be hosted by a gay man. Paul O'Grady was a close personal friend of Cilla's, he gave a touching – and brief – tribute at the start of the series.

Blind Date Paul hears all sorts in this job.

The viewer is still involved. We can try and predict who we would go with, or we might guess who will be chosen. If we wanted, we might predict how the dates will go, and tune in next week to find out.

One thing has surprised us, and it's something we never quite got from the Cilla series: Blind Date is optimistic and heartwarming. At best, the players get a long-term relationship and companionship for life. At worst, an experience to laugh over, perhaps some good memories to cherish while moving on. It's not rude, it's not crude. This is a personal reaction, we thought Cilla came across as a little calculating, and Paul appears genuine.

Anyone could host Blind Date and make it a reasonable hit. Paul O'Grady knows when to inject humour, and when to ask a slightly risqué question. He knows when to step back and let the daters talk. Being able to shut up is the mark of a star, he can guide the show without dominating it. And we didn't have him down as a Céline Dion fan, not that there's anything wrong with Céline.

We didn't watch Blind Date every week of this series, just as we didn't watch Blind Date much during Cilla's era. We don't regret seeing the shows we did, and we're glad it's there. The show is light and fluffy and undemanding television. And it serves to lift our spirits.

Dream of the week

While we wait for someone to translate the Only Connect theme song from the original Etruscan, we'll drop into the pile of correspondence from the Céline Dion fan club.

Daniel Peake writes, "Last night I dreamt that #OnlyConnect changed its scoring structure to 10/5/3/2 and people were outraged."

Only Connect (2) Outrage? Victoria still hasn't finished all of ze drinks in ze vorld.

Would this actually change anything? Perhaps it might. The bonus for spotting links after two and three clues is reduced slightly. And in a programme where there's little to choose between sides, a small change could have big ripple effects. Or it might be so small as to make no difference.

Our working ruleset:

  • As per Dr. Peake's dream, scores for the first two rounds are 10/5/3/2.
  • Bonus questions are worth 2 points.
  • A complete wall is worth 20, each group or link of a partly-solved wall is worth 2.
  • Missing Vowels questions are worth 2 points each.

This is isomorphic to nicking a point from teams solving after two or three clues, and then doubling the show totals.

Only Connect (2) Or like making two cakes, the second with empty glasses of sherry on the presenter's desk.

Now, if you remember anything from last year's series of Only Connect, it's that they kept moving it around the schedules. Predicting when the next episode would go out was a 2-point question in England, and a 5-point question in Northern Ireland.

If you remember anything else, it's that the Verbivores won an awful lot of games by very small margins. They took the series title under Victoria's rules, but would that still be the case with Peake's revisions?

  • The Verbivores would still have lost their opening match, 45-42 (it was 24-22 on screen).
  • Their narrow win over the Channel Islanders would have been slightly wider, 46-42 (from 23-22).
  • 36-34 the tiny margin against the Taverners (19-18) in the second round.
  • Then a 36-30 defeat to the Surrealists at the start of the group phase.
  • No problem against the Fire-Eaters, 49-42 (from 26-22 on screen).
  • And a 47-29 (25-15) demolition of the Psmiths.

Defeated finalist the Cosmopolitans would have scraped a 41-40 win in their second match, but otherwise sailed through to the semi-finals. The Verbivores still beat the Surrealists by 34-31 (17-15), and the Cosmopolitans downed the Psmiths by 29-26 (15-14). The final was a clear win for the Verbivores, 50-36 (26-18).

Only Connect (2) In short: still the series champions.

Our fact-based consideration tells us two things. Dr. Peake's revised scoring system would not have altered last year's tournament in any meaningful way. The only change: Part-Time Poets and Oscar Men would have had a tie-break in their opening match. Had they lost it, that might – perhaps – have let the PTPs through the repêchage to the quarter-final group phase.

And we conclude that people will get annoyed at any little change, however irrelevant it is to the overall result. Goodness, some people might even have been slightly narked that they've cast a woman to lead Doctor Who.

So, if you dream up any slight tweaks to game shows, do let us know. We're, er, particularly interested in the one where this column does rather well on Baron von G's Who Wants To Have All Of Ze Money In Ze Vorld.

This Week and Next

University Challenge resumed. Edinburgh (John Heaton-Armstrong, Stanley Wang, Innis Carson, Philippa Stone) beat Ulster (Cathal Mcdaid, Kate Ritchie, Ian Jack, Matthew Milliken) by 165-160.

Counterpoint continued, with a round on the musical career of Peter Kay. For the first time, Radio 4 audiences were "treated" to "The winners song" from Got the Pop Factor.

The Krypton Factor Not the Pop Factor

The Satellite Channel has announced three new out-of-this-world commissions. They are unlike anything else seen on television. Sing It! will be a contest between vocal groups. There will be medleys of hits, covers of familiar songs, and a show-off round for the weekly final. SMTV fave Cat Deeley will host in her usual, forceful, style. The winners get to release a single in time for Christmas, and no-one can see any similarity with Pitch Battle.

Two series will début in the new year. Carmageddon pits teams of engineers, mechanics, and drivers as they build and race "Mad Max"-style machines. It'll be filmed on location in South Africa. Revolution has races between skateboarders, inline skaters, and BMXers. It's filmed in the exotic location of Bedford.

Phil Edgar Jones, the Head of Entertainment at KYTV, told a press release, "There’s something to get everyone either on the edge of their seats or dancing round the living room." So his company will not have a device for people who watch telly in their bathroom. Guess they've abandoned their watch-around-the-house device KY's Loo.

Incredible scenes in the BARB ratings, week to 9 July.

  1. Coronation Street (ITV, Mon) is the most-seen show, 7.95m. BBC The Voice Kids (ITV, Sat) the top game show, 3.3m. Nothing unusual here.
  2. Second most popular game? That's a tie between The Chase (ITV, Tue) and Love Island (ITV2, Fri, 2.67m). Never has a show from the New Digital Channels made a weekly top three.
  3. The Crystal Maze With Celebrities (C4, Fri, 2.35m) and Catchphrase (ITV, Sat, 2.2m) were eclipsed by sport. BBC2's top game was Mock the Week (Thu, 1.55m) and Channel 5 topped with Big Brother (Thu, 1.15m).
  4. Other digital channel highlights: A League of Their Own (The Satellite Channel, Mon, 660,000), Go 8 Bit (Dave, Mon, 455,000) and 8 Out of 10 Cats (E4, Tue, 405,000). These last two are at their year's best ratings, as is Your Face or Mine (Comedy Central, Wed, 205,000).

The live final of Love Island (ITV2, Mon), and lights out on Big Brother (C5, Fri). New series of Mastermind and Only Connect (2) on BBC2 (Fri). There's a hole in the BBC1 schedules next Saturday, to be filled by Who Dares Wins.

Photo credits: Stellify / So, Parasol, Granada.

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