Weaver's Week 2016-10-23

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We'd rather be playing Blitz on the VIC-20.

Go 8 Bit


Go 8 Bit

DLT Entertainment for UKTV, shown on Dave, 5 September – 10 October

Go 8 Bit is a show about computer games. Those we have loved. Those we have played. Those we vaguely remember from our childhood but forget the detail of just how rubbish they were. Prepare for an hour of nostalgia, with an emphasis on "it's not as good as what we remember."

Sam Pamphilon and Steve McNeil are the brains behind Go 8 Bit. They are the team captains, joined by two Dave celebrities, familiar from the many panel shows on the channel.

Ellie Gibson makes up the third wheel of this tricycle. She's the boffin of computer games, and is never short of an anecdote. She introduces a game, and is ready with a brief history of the game. How old it is, some facts about its development, what happened when people played it back in the day.

And everyone spends an hour reminiscing about computer and console games of their youth. Not only talking, but playing as well. So we get to see Rachel Riley play Sensible Soccer, or Marcus Brigstocke turn his hand to Sonic the Hedgehog.

Go 8 Bit The resident boffin, Ellie Gibson.

No show would be complete without some scoring, and Go 8 Bit innovates here. The audience has been invited to download an application onto their mobile computing devices. This app lets them vote for the team more likely to win the next challenge. The larger percentage vote becomes the score for both sides.

For example, suppose 38% reckon Steve and Rachel will win, and 62% back Stu and Marcus. Whichever team wins will get 62 points.

We haven't seen a scheme like this since Defectors on the Challenge channel in 2001. Under that show's rules, Steve and Rachel would only get 38 if they won. Go 8 Bit feels more fair, it rewards the upset.

Go 8 Bit The audience are fiddling on their phones. Again.

Because television needs a narrative, the final game is for double points. It's also a spectacular challenge done live in the studio. Could be a game controlled by tilting chairs, or some virtual reality. It's meant to ensure the show ends with a bang – quite literally when they played to defuse a bomb.

Across the hour, we'll see five games. The guests each nominate a game, and they get to tell tales about what it meant to them. We can, for instance, hear Susan Calman wax lyrical about the sheer brilliance of Chuckie Egg. Ellie puts forward the other challenges, devised to form a good mixture of older and newer.

Each game leads to a challenge, and each challenge takes commentary from Ellie and a co-host.

Not all the games are 8 bit. Some of them – many of them – are more modern. The 16-bit consoles of the early 90s, and 32-bit games from the present century all appear. There's a mixture of classic old-school, obscure stuff from the past, modern classics, and contemporary obscurities that no-one's played. It's not as cutting edge as Ginx tv, but it's nor is this show a deep nostalgia trip for the fortysomethings. {1}

Go 8 Bit The set has players on the right, Ellie to the left.

So far, so good. Ellie knows her onions, Stu and Ste are adept gamers, the celebs get into the swing of the show. They've put some effort into the graphics, little representations of the panel. Boring bits of the games are edited out. And the theme tune is a frantic 8-bit melody, discordant computer muzak from circa 1985.

There are a few little things we wouldn't have done. Much of the gameplay cuts between the game and reactions on the players' faces. It's the worst of both worlds: we don't get all the emotions the player's feeling, and nor do we see the narrative from the game. Instant replays for the reactions might feel better.

Go 8 Bit A bit difficult to see what's happening.

Ellie's pieces about the video games are full of snark. At times, we found them teetering on the edge of disrespect, of punching down to the players. That stood out as unusual, the bulk of the show respected video games as cultural expression.

The stage rotates. The panel are seated on couches to the right of shot; before the games are played, the entire stage rotates so the couches face the big screen. The studio audience and players see the same thing during the game segments. And the studio audience can look at the faces of the panel as they converse. We're fine with this gimmick.

What we'd have done differently is simple: not make a big deal out of this spin. Once per show is entertaining. Twice is amusing. After that, it gets old. Five spins in a complete show is a chunk of the running time. So is the audience voting segment, shown five times. We don't need these elements so often.

Go 8 Bit The joke: the stage moves quickly.

A bigger problem: we need to know what a win looks like. When playing Chuckie Egg, it's simple: collect all the yellow circles. When playing a shoot-em-up, is it points, is it last player standing, is it something else entirely?

There's one big cloud on the show: Dara Ó Briain. We think the conversation at Dave went like this:

"Hey guys, we've got rights to this fabulous Edinburgh show."
"Ace! What's it about?"
"Computer games. Who's the best host?"
"Dominik Diamond, but he's in Canada now."
"Violet Berlin?"
"Vanished off the face of the earth."
"Andy Crane?"
"What about someone our audience know."
"Someone a bit technical and geeky."
"Is Dara Ó Briain available?"
"Of course! Dara it is. Trebles all round!"

We don't like the way Dara hosts this show, he adds nothing and dominates conversation to overshadow the guests and the games. It would be a stronger show without him, let Ellie explain it all – perhaps with a guest co-commentator each week.

Go 8 Bit The title sequence features sprites of the players.

Back in the distant past, video games were a "low culture" phenomenon. "Gah, it's just popular ephemera. It'll never last," sneered the snooty gatekeepers. Until about ten years ago, the dead tree press ignored video games, just like they'd ignored the internet, just like they'd ignored television. No longer.

Go 8 Bit tells the snoots where to go, and celebrates its own culture. Not perfect, and they could lose the fourth wheel. There is something of value here.

{1} They called it Go 8 Bit for another reason. If you're not listening closely, it sounds a bit rude. Back to article


Yes! It's late October, and time for the annual Festival of Shonky Formats on the French Riviera.

There's also a conference, so that television bigwigs can drink themselves under the table. Er, we mean so that television bigwigs can sell programmes to each other. And hear each other speak, because few sounds please a television bigwig more than the sound of his own voice. Unless it's someone offering to buy him a drink or ten.

But we digress. As always seems to be the case, MIPCOM went long about how the younger generation aren't doing what their parents did. They don't go to the movies, they don't believe in linear television, and they'll make snap decisions. Want someone to watch your show? Hook 'em in the first two seconds of the trailer with some intriguing graphics.

And the "millennials" are making their own shows. According to one presentation, a third of under-12s make their own video content. If they don't like your show, they'll go off and make one of their own: a vlog, a stunt, some film about their interest. And it'll be better than yours.

Japan's television companies were the focus of the trade show. They made a structured series of pitches and presentations. Lots about anime, lots about manga adaptations, and some game show formats that we'll get to shortly. This fact surprised us: Japanese animated characters – from Hello Kitty to Pokémon and Mofy – aren't aimed at children, or their mothers. They're aimed at young adult women.

And so to the Wheel of Unlikely Formats. Last year's crop of Competitive Mountain Climbing shows seem to have fallen away, dropping faster than a television bigwig in the bar. Here's the game stuff being hawked around.


Born To Be A Chef (Armoza / Quebecor / TVA) Two acclaimed chefs each lead a team of 10 young apprentices in a series of challenges until one finally emerges as the best young chef.

My Wife Rules (Global Agency). Couples have a cookery contest. Only the wives know the recipe. Their husbands follow orders.

Wedding Cake Challenge (Fremantle). Baking + weddings + competition.

Only Connect (2) Did someone mention cake?

Dating and relationships

Animal Attraction (NRK). Can a serial dater bypass looks and job prospects by finding his or her perfect match through a variety of tests, including sniffing urine and listening to men roar in the woods. Each episode's Alpha Male is sent to a themed date.

Dance Floor Date (Newen Distribution). Exactly what it sounds like.

Four for Family – The Big Family Competition (ZDF). Three families master various challenges.

Meet The Parents (ITV Studios). Find out about potential partners by quizzing their parents. We'll review this next week.

Separation Anxiety (Electus / TBS). One contestant thinks they’re on a small online game show worth pennies while their partner is on the main stage playing for the actual big prize

Sweetheart in your Ear (CJ & EM). Dating by phone. Contestants can talk, text, send videos and photos – but can’t see each others' face.


Face to Face (Flare Media). Two people try to solve a long-running battle by looking into one another's eyes.

Families Gone Wild (FremantleMedia). Dysfunctional families are stranded on an island. They try to survive without food, water or shelter.

Get The Flip Out Of My House (Fremantle / BlueCircle / RTL 5 (Netherlands)). 100 complete strangers are crammed into an average home for forty days. Last person standing wins a jackpot prize. We first thought this was a much shorter show, with comedy stunts and silly ways of leaving.

Living Stone (Strix for Insight) Seven couples go to African wilderness and challenges them to find their way to civilization in ten stages. Couples battle through exhaustion, wildlife, and each other. And there's some elimination.

Look Me in the Eye (RedArrow Intl). Two people try to solve a long-running battle by looking into one another's eyes.

Man vs. Drone (TV Asahi). Hide-and-seek ... with drones searching for you. This sounds like the best drone game show yet.

The Pyramid Derby (TBS Japan). People bet on the likelihood of achieving different challenges. We've found a showreel.

Who Wants to Come to Japan? (Tokyo TV) invites foreigners, obsessed with Japanese culture, to actually visit Japan. Based on a format pioneered in north-west Spain.

Studio games

One Man And His Dog Did someone mention sheep?

Black Sheep (Workpoint TV). Which of four players is lying?

Cue the Music (Fremantle / SVT). Another attempt at a show with its very own play-along app.

Friends For Never (Go Quest) pits friends against one another to win a jackpot.

ID Lucky Number (MCOT Entertainment Lab). A game of chance is based on the numbers on your passport, driving licence, birthday...

The Society Game (EndemolShine / CJ E&M) Which works better: democracy or dictatorship? Physical and mental challenges to win, or unsettle the community. Bother's Bar might be writing a lot about this.


Beat the Stack (Eccholine). Celebrities complete challenges in containers on a massive ship. That's "large seagoing vessel" not "fanfic of Squawkenmoth".

Hole in the Road (Fuji TV). Celebs fall through holes they didn't expect were there. The funniest victim wins. We expect this will sell well in Texas, where the local news has a TV Pothole of the Day.

The Next Great Magician (Vaudeville / Cook / Passion). Magicians perform tricks for Derren Brown. Already commissioned for ITV.

You Can’t Fool Me! (ZDF) attempts to trick the senses of its competitors

Children's BAFTA

Awards Season begins with the BAFTA Children's gongs. Here are the best bits:

ComedyThe Dog Ate My Homework is up against Dick and Dom's Diddy TV, Horrible Histories Sensational Shakespeare Special, and So Awkward. Our game show has its work cut out to win here.

The Dog Ate My Homework The fabulous Iain Stirling.

EntertainmentSam and Mark's Big Friday Wind-Up (a sort-of game show, from the same gene pool as Crackerjack) faces Art Ninja, Dengineers, and Matilda And the Ramsay Bunch. We can't call this category.

Presenter – Iain Stirling (for The Dog Ate My Homework and nothing else), Maggie Aderin-Pocock of Cbeebies Stargazing, Naomi Wilkinson of Naomi's Nightmares of Nature, and Alexander & Chris Van Tulleken of Operation Ouch. Good for Xander and Chris to get some recognition.

Channel of the Year is between Cartoon Network, Cbeebies, defending champion CBBC, and newcomer Truetube. We know nothing about Truetube, and need to rectify this at once.

DramaThe Dumping Ground, Hetty Feather, Refugee, Rocket's Island. Lovely set.

Factual – we're rooting for The Walk That Changed The World, Radzi Chinyanga recreated MLK's trek for Blue Peter. Newsround Hiroshima, Operation Ouch, and The Boy on the Bicycle also get nods.

Performer – lots of title characters. Nick James from Hank Zipzer, Tom Stourton from Horrible Histories Shakespeare, Justin Fletcher from The Tale of Mr Tumble, and Leona Vaughan as Jana from Wolfblood. We remember the outcome of massive flop show Tumble. It would be foolish to bet against the Wolfblood massive, particularly when the show's got even better.

No love for Danger Mouse, we presume that's being saved for Senior BAFTA awards in the new year. Doc Brown presents the junior awards on 20 November.

This Week and Next

A small planet, of little consequence Four episodes of The Adventure Game are available to buy on the BBC Store. They're all from the first series in 1980, starring Moira Stewart before she read the news, and Ian Messiter plays The Rangdo. The Week covered one of the episodes in 2007 (and part two).

Prediction of the Week. Remember the 2015 Westminster elections? Feels like a lifetime ago. At 08.18 on 8 May last year, Ed Balls was defeated in his Morley and Outwood constituency. At 08.26 – just eight minutes later – Nick Robinson made a Bold Prediction.

Michael Portillo became a hugely popular figure after [his Commons career]. Ed Balls is currently loathed by a lot of people. They will love him.
The truth is, there is a side to Ed Balls that the public has never got. The piano-playing, marathon-running, football-playing, passionate man, who also happens to be one of the cleverest economists that most people have ever met.
Now, the country don't see that. They see the Gordon Brown, bullying bruiser. They see the guy who won't admit he got things wrong. They see the tough guy who took people on in the Labour party. But, funnily enough, I think they'll see another side.

Strictly Come Dancing Ed Balls (right).

And Nick Robinson has been right. A shot on Comic Relief Bake Off, and now Ed Balls is being adorkable on Strictly Come Dancing. His lack-of-talent won't get him far, the comedy relief always comes off towards the end, but we salute Ed's ineptitude.

Into the repêchage on University Challenge, with Cambridge assured of a win. Jesus took on Queen's, and Jesus won by 195-155.

Still in the repêchage on Only Connect. Maltsters took on Oscar Men, and first blood went to the Oscar Men. And how; they took a full Five Points on their first question, things that kill aliens. The Oscar Men used all 40 seconds to extract oil companies from some picture clues, and explained the bonus sequences before they gave an answer. Not sure if that's showing off, or playing for time. Or both.

Anyway, a good spot of brother succeeding brother as king let the Oscar Men open a 12 point lead after the sequences round. The only way was down, and how. That lead's trimmed to 9 after the walls, and it's 23-20 after the missing vowels round. Maltsters were experts on Dante's Circles of Hell Combined, or Victoria's daily life.

No Quizzy Mondays tomorrow, as BBC2 prefers to show the nuzzling badgers of Autumnwatch.

They're into the winners' matches on Hive Minds. Logophiles and Ortographobes met this week. It was another frustrating start, as the teams shared gaps in their knowledge. No-one remembers Stephen Harpic, the former Canadian prime minister. No-one remembers Taylor Swift of the love story. Ortographobes hit the wrong "O" in "ozone", and neither connected Dunkirk with Dynamo.

Things improved in the second half. All the acting dames were there – Diana Rigg, Sibyl Thorndike, Marmalade Atkins. And all the Asian capital cities turned up – Baku, Thimpu, Seoul, Manama. Ortographobes had reversed their early deficit to lead at the start of the buzzer round, and pulled away to win 21-15.

And heat 15 of Mastermind. High scores in the specialist round, all contestants hit double figures. John Cockerill proved most adept at the general knowledge questions, advancing to 28 (3 passes; he'd answered on British racecourses). Sree Kanthamneni (UNESCO world heritage sites) and Ruth Russell-Jones (Shardlake novels) both scored 21, and Loretta Waters (Ewan McGregor) completed the set.

Of note: there's been no change to the high-scoring losers list in six weeks.

BARB ratings in the week to 9 October.

  1. 13.45m for Bake Off. Thirteen million and change every single week. They really are going for a complete monopoly of the 2016 top ten.
  2. Strictly Come Dancing had a mere 11 million for its performance show, and a piffling 9.75m for the results. The Apprentice came back with 7.35m viewers (and 1.95m for You're Fired), but The X Factor lost viewers on its live shows – 7.15m for Saturday and Sunday.
  3. Have I Got News for You came back to 5.4m, a personal best for Nick Clegg. Would I Lie to You pulled 3.9m opposite Corrie on Friday.
  4. BBC2's big ones: University Challenge 2.8m, Bake Off 2.6m, Only Connect 2.4m, and Great British Menu 2.15m. Dancing on Two has the second week blues, 1.65m.
  5. Celebrity Juice continues to rule ITV2, with 1.22m viewers. A League of Their Own on The Satellite Channel took 745,000 viewers. Taskmaster came back to Dave, 730,000 tuned in. Go 8 Bit secured 540,000, and Xtra Factor on Sunday 510,000.

Last in the present series of The Great British Bake Off (BBC1, Wednesday), and we catch up with the 2015 contestants on Thursday.

Many other shows come to an end: Hell's Kitchen Us (ITV2, Wed), Ar y Dibyn (S4C, Wed), Hunted (C4, Thu), and The News Quiz (Radio 4, Fri).

Photo credits: DLT Entertainment, Presentable, BBC

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