Weaver's Week 2018-11-04

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It's a double-bill of music this week, from the serious to the frivolous.


Don't Hate the Playaz

Monkey Productions for ITV2, from 11 October

Don't Hate the Playaz

You know it's a panel show when they all sit behind two long desks. It's literally the hallmark of a panel show, they sit behind long panels of wood. So, yes, this is a panel show.

And you know it's a hip-hop show when the first thing you see is DJ Shorty standing behind his decks.

Don't Hate the Playaz DJ Shorty stands behind his decks.

Don't Hate the Playaz is what happens when you shove "panel show" and "hip-hop show" into a blender, chop loosely, and only serve the biggest chunks.

Jordan Stevens hosts, and introduces eight people on the panel. Eight! Most panel shows get away with pairs (Have I Got News for You) or trios (Insert Name Here). We might get to know the regulars – indeed, we all recognise Maya Jama from the zillion shows she's been on recently. Rapper Lady Leshurr and comedian Darren Harriott also pop up on every episode, and comedian-presenter London Hughes has an open ticket. Other guests are here for one week only.

Don't Hate the Playaz

The show's football team is completed by Amelia Dimoldenberg, the "Chicken Shop Date" online video interviewer. We weren't aware of this character until now, it's good-natured comedy from a deadpan snarker. This column is reminded of Lynda Woodruff, in a good way. On this show, Amelia is the "roving reporter" around the arena, and in the stars' dressing rooms.

The studio set is different. The audience stands on the floor, and on balconies around a small arena. Jordan and the panel desks are off to one side, there's a catwalk and a performance area. If you remember Sounds Like Friday Night, that, but completely in the round.

Camera angles are different, too. We're treated to a lot of high shots, often peeking through the shoulders of the crowd on the balcony. That's an intimate shot, it brings us right into the action. And it's fallen out of fashion – though we saw just the same shot on Top of the Pops circa 1983.

Don't Hate the Playaz A panel game with a big panel.

All of this crosses our mind while Jordan is introducing everyone. It's one downside of having so many people, introductions drag on a little.

Eventually, we get to the competitive elements of the show. While the last part of the show seems to be fixed points, the front portion is experimenting with rounds, mixing it up to work with that week's guests. On the opening show, we saw:

Don't Hate the Playaz These breakdancers go over the top...

Break-off – where the challenge is to keep up with a breakdancer. They do a move, the team's chosen player imitates them. Which is fine when the professionals are throwing shapes, but eye-bogglingly awkward when they start leaping over each other. Cheers from the audience decide the winner.

Shorty's Rules – a messed-up rap. DJ Shorty plays a record, and one of the team raps over it. The performance will start normally, then the beat will go askew, the tempo will alter, Shorty might put on a completely different record or play in reverse. It's a test of improvisation and quick thinking.

Don't Hate the Playaz ...these celebrities go round the outside.

Six Degrees of Pique – how to get from this person to that person via four others, all connected by some sort of feud or disagreement. Of all the formats in all the world, they've chosen to re-create Only Connect (1), the rubbish Radio 4 "comedy" show canned after one episode. Amelia pretends the discussion is not at all funny, which makes it funnier. Jordan gives the connections they were looking for, many of which are petty and ludicrous.

Sneaky Grimers – someone raps at the other team, and are charged with smuggling certain lyrics past the other team. "Spot the hidden hip-hop references" or "Spot the movie titles", that sort of thing. Often performed with great panache and art – even when we can't play along, we can marvel at the rapping ability.

Don't Hate the Playaz This ain't Swashbuckle, folks.

The final rounds seem to be played across the series. Nursery Rhymers – rappers do battle, and they're all under 10. And the final Hip-hop karaoke – all the teams perform together.

Scores have been kept, a winner is declared, and a special guest performs their new track. Credits begin superimposed over the show, most unusual for an ITV channel.

In later shows, we've been treated to raps extolling the virtues of hometowns, and a test of how much rapping someone can do without pausing for breath. There is a running beef between the London posse and the Birmingham crew, and Amelia is awkward around the children.

Don't Hate the Playaz Jess Robinson: straight outta Trumpton.

Don't Hate the Playaz is a loud show, airhorns go off every few moments, there is a lot of whooping and hollering. The atmosphere is of fun and frivolity, and brings out the best in its contributors.

This column enjoyed the show far more than we expected it to, a lot of smiling as the enjoyment was infectious through the screen.


The 2018 final

Gathered at the Proms in London were Bill Cawley, a supermarket worker from Staffordshire. There was David Sherman, a hospital administrator from Essex. And there was Jack Spearing, a student from north Hertfordshire. All had won through their heat and semi-final, and were just moments away from victory in the most wide-ranging music quiz.

Strong starts for all players – David knew Abba's palindromic hit, Jack scored with Michael Nyman works, and Bill hit an unexpected bonus with the most painful harp accompaniment in history. This column picks up a bonus point on the guitarist who recorded "Light my fire", and that's better than we got all final last year.

Bill has the lead after the first round, but the other two are tied. Counterpoint requires all ties to be broken, and David knows his Lexicon of Love tracks. The players reject specialist rounds on "Proms firsts" and "Sherlock Holmes and music". We'll hear those in a later series.

Jack Spearing chose a specialist round on Aretha Franklin. Counterpoint always pays tribute to those who departed recently, and Aretha's passing came a few weeks before this show was recorded. Perhaps he took some revision on the topic, or perhaps this was a trifle easier than many specialist rounds. Jack gets 8 points from a possible 14.

David Sherman took "Musical inventions", beginning with a question on Robert Moog. Pronounced "mogue" to rhyme with "vogue"; not "moog" like a cow learning Gs. Though David misses this opener, he gets everything else in the round.

Finally, Bill Cawley has a section called "Conflict and music". Sounds like there was a lengthy adjudication for the first question in the round, and the contender only makes 6 points.

Just two points cover the contenders going into the final round. David gets the first three questions, then Bill scores a hat-trick of his own. Jack got a point, but is mostly frozen out of the round. Bill buzzes incorrectly, and loses a point, and David continues to score. At the end of the round, both David and Jack manage to buzz in together, and say the answer together.

The result: Jack Spearing 16, Bill Cawley 17, David Sherman 25. So David becomes champion of Counterpoint, at least for half a minute.

Counterpoint has now finished. In its slot next week, Quote... Unquote. Don't forget to miss it.

Countdown Update

We've noted, in previous months, that the octochamps on Countdown don't seem quite as good as in prior series. Two have been crowned this month: Mike Daysley (786 points) and Martin May (839). Apart from one horrible game, Mike did as well as we can expect any normal player to do. Martin was a little better, and hit the first 11-max game in a heat for almost six months.

Some other players won a single game: congrats and teapots to Andy Wedlake, Paul Hollidge, and Georgia Goulding. The current champion is Chris Sturdy, with four wins so far.

This Week and Next

To correct a misunderstanding we had after hearing "thirty second champion" on Counterpoint; David Spearing is actually the 32nd champion in the series' history, and is not the champion for thirty seconds.

Channel 4 is moving house. The Big Block Roadshow will come to rest in Leeds, and the channel's nominal headquarters will be in the Yorkshire city. The majority of Channel 4 jobs will remain in London, but the nameplate will be "Channel 4, Leeds". They will also invest in "creative hubs" in Bristol and Glasgow. It's not immediately clear how this will alter the shows we see on screen, though Educating Yorkshire and Countdown will now be local productions.

Richard Whiteley Some suggest the new building be named after Richard Whiteley. This column agrees.

"On the internet, 'grats' is slang for what?" asked Bradley on The Chase this week. "Thank you?" suggested Paul Sinha. The Chaser is ahead of himself; that's the "technotalk" futuristic speech from Luna, an early 80s comedy show, and set in 2040. Paul's game was erroneously mislaid, and the team won all of ze credits in ze habiverse. Congratulations to them.

BARB ratings in the week to 21 October.

  1. Strictly Come Dancing remains television's biggest show (BBC1, Sat, 11.5m). Breadxit Burn-Out comes second (C4, Tue, 9.7m).
  2. It's a long way to The X Factor (ITV, Sat, 5.5m), then come Have I Got News for You (BBC1, Fri, 4.45m), Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, Sat, 4.35m) and Would I Lie to You (BBC1, Fri, 4.05m).
  3. The Chase (ITV, Mon, 3.52m) beats its own Celebrity Specials (ITV, Sun, 3.50m). Celebrity Hunted (C4, Tue, 3.3m) comes out ahead of For Facts Sake (BBC1, Mon, 2.35m).
  4. On BBC2, Autumnwatch meant no Quizzy Mondays. Strictly It Takes Two the top game (Mon, 1.75m) ahead of QI (Mon, 1.4m) and Mastermind (Fri, 1.35m). Letterbox broke a million viewers (Wed, 1.04m).
  5. Why must Big Brother go (C5, Thu, 975,000)? It's been overtaken by The Great Model Railway Challenge (C5, Fri, 1.18m). Ouch.
  6. Leaders on the digital channels: Celebrity Juice (ITV2, Thu, 910,000), Taskmaster (Dave, Wed, 755,000) and A League of Their Own (The Satellite Channel, Thu, 675,000). These last two are about as big as the protest march in London on Saturday, which seems to have shaved a measurable edge off the day's viewing figures.
  7. Blue Peter pushed the boat out for its 60th birthday (CBBC, Tue, 355,000). That's comfortably ahead of Landscape Artist of the Year (Artsworld, Mon, 170,000) and Got What It Takes? (CBBC, Mon, 165,000). No place in ITV2's top 50 for Don't Hate the Playaz, and Radio 4 doesn't issue weekly listening figures.

Lots of new daytime shows this week. Dame Sandi Toksvig fires a new batch of questions on Fifteen-to-One (C4, weekdays). Paul Martin trains his replacement on Make Me a Dealer (BBC1, weekdays).

BBC2 primetime sees a new run of Masterchef The Professionals (from Tue), and I'll Get This (Tue) decides who pays for a slap-up meal. On Channel 4, a new build of Lego Masters (Tue). For Friday, we have football skills contest Match of the Day Can You Kick It? (CBBC) and rob-and-hide reality show The Heist (The Satellite Channel).

As more shows begin, some end. Taskmaster confirms its winner (Dave, Wed). And, after eight series, Big Brother takes its leave from Channel 5 (Mon).

Photo credits: Monkey Productions

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