Weaver's Week 2019-01-13

The Week of the Year | Weaver's Week Index | Next week

The good news, this column has recovered from the cold and 'flu that knocked us out over 'twixtmas. The bad news, this column is back to darken your inbox with a full and considered review of everything worth noting about Re:View 2018 with Richard Osman. That's later, after



Countdown Update

Series 79 finals

"Versional", said Martin May in the first round of the quarter finals. "Game over", we wrote in our notebook. The top seed had taken an 18-0 lead over Bob Lunt, and would go on to win by 115-86. Martin is the top seed, and clearly the best player, securing the maximum in 11 rounds. Bob never gave up, and was rewarded with the conundrum.

Countdown An easy quarter-final for top seed Martin May.

There were no problems for second seed Mike Daysley, he overcame Adam Ralston by 104-58. Mike pulled out a strong game when it mattered, spotting "Dowagers" and making a tricky numbers solve.

Alan Duval caused an upset when he eliminated Andrew Jackson by 62-60. It was an error-strewn game, with Andrew's "jockies" and "radiums" both disallowed. Though Andrew took the lead in mid-game, Alan was able to stay with him, and solve the crucial conundrum and take victory.

And an upset in the fourth quarter-final, Tony Manwani beat Dave Ashton 114-79. The surprise isn't from the fifth seed beating the fourth (the gap was 3 points a game, and we sensed Tony was a stronger player), but from Tony's dominant performance. 12 maximum rounds, and three early winners meant he had the psychological advantage from the start.

Countdown The set was decorated for Christmas.

Tony took the psychological advantage into the semi-final, pushing Martin into the disallowed word "worktime". But this game is more than three rounds, Martin won the second numbers, and had the winner "Routines" in the next round. The players stayed together after that – including a double-blob on the last numbers. Martin's lead of ten gave us a crucial conundrum, which neither player got. Martin's winning score is 93-83.

Honours even early in the game between Mike and Alan; the players weren't separated through the first eight rounds, and scored maxima in six of them. The third numbers fell to Alan, but Mike played to his strength with winners "Taloned" and "Amour" in the final part. Alan had to offer some risky words to stay in the game, and they didn't come off for him. Mike solved the conundrum to win 97-69.

Martin May and Mike Daysley began the final level pegging, nothing between them in the first six rounds. The first break came when Mike took a risk and offered "escopia" for the lead. It wasn't there, but he took the lead when a six-small numbers selection fell in his favour.

The game looked done when Martin had two winners, "Tarrying" and "Moralise", but then Mike took the risk of "Outhaul" to cut the gap to eight points. And there it stayed until the conundrum. "Mothproof" was the word out of Mike's mouth, and he had won the championship, 82-80. The number two seed becomes champion, first time that's happened in three years.

Countdown Mike Daysley holds the champion's trophy.

Championship of Champions (octofinals)

Jonathan Wynn (champion, winter 2015) played Phil Davies (semi-finals, summer 2018). Jonathan won by 103-68, running away with the match in the last few letters rounds.

Ann Dibben (runner-up, summer 2016) met John Cowen (semi-finals, winter 2017). A ding-dong affair, we thought Ann had won it with a six-small numbers solve, only for John to unscramble a near-impossible conundrum. John won, 97-94; it's a shame there had to be a loser.

Matthew Tassier (runner-up, winter 2015) and Dougie MacKay (semi-finals, summer 2018) was a clear win for Matthew, 96-78. A wowsome early numbers solve gave Matthew the lead, and a couple of obscure words enhanced his margin.

Tom Carey (semi-final, winter 2015) beat Stephen Read (champion, summer 2017) by 106-87. 10 maximum rounds is impressive, with words like "Nowhat" (nowhere, for time) and "Gaiatris" (according to our web search, a word offered on Countdown) scoring the points throughout.

Countdown Warm-up man Dudley Doolittle retired after a long career.

Paul Erdunast (champion, summer 2016) met Zarte Siempre (champion, summer 2018). Two xicounts enter, one Diamond Dozen leaves. Zarte had the winning word "Releasor", Paul the winner "Autodine", and both solved a sneaky six-small numbers game. The final result was decided in one round: Zarte offers "Shooties", a type of show; Paul has to offer "noshiest", which isn't in the dictionary. Zarte was the winner, 113-105. Paul hit the maximum in 12 rounds, Zarte in 13.

In another match of champions, Tom Chafer-Cook (winter 2017) beat Martin Hurst (winter 2016) by 129-89. Tom got off to a jaw-dropping start with "Maderise", and would offer the maximum available in 12 rounds, including all letters selections.

The runners-up from these series also met: Bradley Horrocks (winter 2017) beat Andrew MacLeod (winter 2016) by 128-104; again, Bradley hit the maximum in 12 rounds. These players offered the same words in many rounds, Bradley's win came from the opening numbers and Andrew having to offer a dodgy word late in the game.

The last two contenders: Philip Aston (runner-up, summer 2018) and Noel McIlvenny (semi-final, winter 2017). Philip took a lead in the opening round, and was 20 points ahead by the second numbers game. His risk of "bluewing" was disallowed, but Noel couldn't reduce the arrears further. Philip scored 11 maximum rounds in a 103-89 win.

More Countdown in two weeks, as we wrap up the Championship of Champions.

Only Connect (2)

First-and-a-halfth round

The second chance for first-round losers. Winners will play against sides that won their opening match then lost; losers go home.

Hotpots and Durhamites met in the opening match, and the Durhamites ran away with it in Missing Vowels. Before that, we'd taken a connection from Land's End to John O'Groats, found that none of the contestants had seen Strictly Come Dancing, and discussed famous Vinces. Durhamites won, 29-20.

Motorheads and Cartoonists played on Christmas Eve, a match tight to the end. Groups in road cycling, the debuts of people on The Chase, characters from Sonic the Hedgehog, and Hannah Montana were all present. The Motorheads missed a chance to win on their wall, and secured a three-point swing in the final round. Motorheads took this, 17-16.

Birdwatchers and Brews demonstrated their knowledge of The A Team, the survival rule of three, and upside-down Greek letters. Don't get this problem with hieroglyphs. Missing Vowels was a virtuoso performance, clearing four full categories without a single error. At the end, the match was drawn, 26-26. Birdwatchers advance on a tie-break.

Dragons and Three Peaks came from the tough quarter of the draw. In retrospect, Three Peaks needed to get something from the opening Connections round, and were flummoxed by their wall of berries and Jacks. While we were shouting "Dick!" and "Pop Idol!" at the screen, Dragons got their questions, Three Peaks didn't. Though they were better buzzers, ten points was too much of a deficit to overcome in Missing Vowels, and Dragons won by 21-16.

#onlyconnect tonight makes A Question of Sport seem like #tippingpoint

Sporting Triangles ... and Sporting Triangles look like Catchphrase.

There were also four special editions of Only Connect. A Champion of Champions match between the Europhiles (series 9, 2014) and String Section (series 11, 2015-16). String Section took the match in Sequences – the lyric of Alanis Morissette's "Hand in my pocket" from picture clues was a star spot. The lead was enhanced as Europhiles couldn't unscramble their groups in time, even though they knew the connections. String Section won by 25-10.

A Sports Special between the Footballers (series 6, 2012) and Korfballers (series 12, 2016-17). All of the questions had a sports lean, with Princess Merida and Katniss Everdeen present as archers. Mohammed Ali gave a quote, there's a games console cheat code, and events taking place over a sequential number of days. Footballers ran away with it in Missing Vowels to win 25-17.

Family matters between the Lasletts (series 8, 2013) and Meeples (series 13, 2017-18). Is there a difference between the Jetsons and the Bankses from Mary Poppins? We'll have to watch both a lot to find out. This wasn't all family questions, nor Christmas questions, though one question about the gifts offered in "The 12 days of Christmas". Lasletts were always hot on Missing Vowels, Meeples never were, and that's where the game was won; Lasletts by 28-23.

Quiz setters met on Christmas evening, the QI Elves (series 10, 2014-15) against the Inquisitors (series 13, 2017-18). The operas of Ludwig van Beethoven, the television career of Dame Sandi Toksvig, and the combination of Scrabble letters and snooker colours all appeared. Both walls contained homophones for letters, and plenty of others that might have been; anyone tuning in expecting something unchallenging was in the wrong place. Elves won on a Missing Vowels set, The Beatles songs with one letter changed, 22-20 the final score.

This Week Month and Next

Quiz watch

The Fifteen-to-One final happened on 21 December. Ryland Morgan finished top of the finals board, with a score of 353 points. He wins nothing for this remarkable achievement, but was clearly the contestant to beat. He was able to make the final three from position 1; at the other end of the semicircle, Liz Alexander was also serene in her progress to the final. It felt like the other contestants duked it out between themselves for the final place; Louie Houghton took the middle seat. All three contenders began the final with 2 points.

Early exchanges were between Louie and Liz; he would get a question right, she would get the next. Liz made the first error, losing a life on a question about alternative names for a hedgehog. Rylan didn't answer any of the first fifteen questions, by which time he was six behind Louie. A run of five correct answers soon closed that gap, and Liz committed the cardinal sin of buzzing in on a speculative guess. And this proved her undoing – another error, confusing "bistro" with "brasserie", meant it was lights out.

Fifteen to go, Louie leads by two questions, but has one life fewer. The players are level on score with ten to go, as Ryland takes the lead for the first time. With five left, Louie loses his second life, and allows Ryland to extend his lead to four questions. One right answer will win it.

"What is the antepenultimate word of this question?" Neither player buzzes, neither player gives the answer "of". Louie gets the rest of the final five, so it's 122-122 after forty questions are up. But Ryland has three lives left, Louie has just the one, and Ryland Morgan takes the victory. He's off on a world cruise, sounds like a plan!

Celebrity Mastermind took place, with the host asking such questions of contenders as "Why aren't you fat?". Such a charmer. The episode on 31 December was postponed, making way for an episode of Terry and June as a tribute to June Whitfield.

Christmas University Challenge also took place. Peterhouse Cambridge continued the Oxbridge dominance of this series, though they were very lucky to beat St Catherine's Oxford in their heat on an accidental Catz buzz. In the final, they beat Bristol, and 190-125 didn't reflect Bristol's strong performance.

The series is meant as an entertainment, an intellectual pantomime, but suffered from very weak comedy scripting. The most obvious jokes were avoided. Peterhouse's captain was Michael Howard, who was never once asked if he had threatened to over-rule anyone. David Aaronovitch represented Manchester, and recalled his previous visit to the studio where he answered "Trotsky!" and "Lenin!" to all the questions; this year's writers didn't include anything about prominent Communists.

And, in a nod to the far more funny Richard Osman's House of Games (3), they tried to re-create Answer Smash in words alone: "An 1888 short story by Rudyard Kipling set in Afghanistan, and a novel of 1885 by Henry Rider Haggard" should have elicited the entirely giggle-free answer "The man who would be King Solomon's mines".

We've since heard that there will be another 100 episodes of House of Games, so we'll see at least 700 Answer Smash questions that are funnier. (Or they'll come up with another end round, this column's preference.)

Other news

Re-Play Ten ITV celebrities on a light entertainment show.

Still in Richard Osman news, the big man hosted Re-Play 2018. The Richard Osman role of "intelligent commentator" was taken by Scarlett Moffatt, which pretty much sums up the show. The lightest of light entertainment, we couldn't remember a thing about it the next morning – though that could have been the double-strength cold medicine.

Eurovision Choirs will take place in August. RTV will look to retain their title in Gothenburg. Just as Junior Eurovision Song Contest tends to be an Eastern European competition, so Choir of the Year shows a northern bias – only three broadcasters don't have a coastline on the Nordsee or Ostsee. One of them is S4C, runners-up last time out. There are debut entries for France Télévisions, NRK ("Norway"), BBC ("Scotland"), SVT ("Sweden"), and RTS ("Switzerland").

There won't be a Eurovision Young Dancers this year. Only two broadcasters said they wanted to take part, and neither wanted to host it.

Junior Eurovision Song Contest Eurovision makes hit record! No strings attached!

Even before the Junior Eurovision Song Contest last year, there was a suggestion that "Anyone I want to be" was going to be a massive smash. It's got the hooks, it's got the tempo, it's got the undercurrent of anger we have in so much modern pop. Six weeks later, and we find Roksana Wegiel's song is a top five smash on Polish radio. It's clearly crossed over from the JESC bunker into the mainstream, and it's knocked down almost everything else.

The National Television Awards are looming. They're decided by a popular vote, mainly amongst viewers of ITV. Here are the game shows and people available for decision in the various categories:

  • Quiz Show: 8 Out Of 10 Cats Does Countdown, A League of Their Own, Catchphrase, Pointless, The Chase
  • Talent Show: BBC The Voice of This Territory, Dancing on Ice, Got Talent, Strictly Come Dancing, The X Factor
  • TV Presenter: Ant & Dec, Bradley Walsh, Graham Norton, Holly Willoughby, Phillip Schofield
  • Factual Entertainment: The Great British Bake Off (and four others)
  • The Bruce Forsyth Entertainment Award: Ant & Dec's Saturday Night Takeaway, I'm A Celebrity... Get Me Out Of Here!, Love Island (and two others)
  • TV Judge: David Walliams, Louis Tomlinson, Robbie Williams, Robert Rinder, Simon Cowell

The NTAs will be presented on 22 January.

Voting has closed for the UKGameshows / Bother's Bar Poll of the Year. The returning officer has been called away to solve the fragile situations in Gabon and Kinshasa; he'll take M. Bongo to drinks in the Congo. Results will follow in the week after next.

Popular television

BARB ratings in the week to 9 December showed I'm a Celebrity finish on top (ITV, Sun, 13m). Might be down a million on opening night, but well ahead of everything else, such as Strictly Come Dancing (BBC1, Sat, 10.6m). The halo effect spread to Stephen Mulhern's I'm a Celebrity Celebrity Catchphrase with Stephen Mulhern (ITV, Sun, 5.05m), the week's third-top game. I'm a Celebrity Extra Camp closed on ITV2 with 2.01m viewers, the biggest score for a game show on a non-traditional channel.

Other highlights: Richard Osman's House of Games improved to 1.37m viewers (BBC2, Wed), and beat the Lego Masters final (C4, Tue, 1.31m). Beat the Internet with John Robins (Dave, Thu, 103,000), is level with Horrible Histories Gory Games (CBBC, Mon).

The Strictly final won the week to 16 December (BBC1, Sat, 13m), with I'm a Celebrity Coming Out (ITV, Wed, 8.75m) a very creditable second. Have I Got News for You (BBC1, Fri, 4.8m) the third game show, just ahead of a Pointless Celebrities repeat (BBC1, Sat, 4.75m). Celebrity Juice the top new-channel show (ITV2, Thu, 1.02m), barely behind Celebrity Lego Masters at Christmas (C4, Tue, 1.05m).

For the first time in months, Coronation Street was the biggest show on telly in the week to 23 December (ITV, Mon, 7.75m). The Chase The Bloopers is the top show from the game cupboard (ITV, Sun, 4.8m); The Chase on weekdays is the top game (ITV, Mon, 4.25m). Christmas Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, Sat, 4.2m) was second, and Masterchef The Professionals (BBC2, Thu, 3.7m) third. Love Island The Christmas Reunion (ITV2, Mon, 2.5m) came atop the digital pile.

Call the Midwife was top of the ratings for Christmas week (BBC1, Christmas Day, 8.95m). Strictly Come Dancing Christmas Special the top game (BBC1, Christmas Day, 7.55m). The Chase Celebrity Specials did awesome numbers (ITV, Fri, 4.35m), and new Pointless earned a year-best 3.9m (BBC1, Fri).

Channel 4 always does well, with Festive Bake Off (Christmas Day, 3.9m) just beating The Big Fat Quiz of the Year (Boxing Day, 3.7m). The Crystal Maze had its best score of the year (Boxing Day, 1.75m). Masterchef The Professionals Rematch topped BBC2's games (Thu, 2.85m). On Channel 5, World's Strongest Man peaked on Sunday (1.45m); Celebrity Game Night stalled at 790,000 (Sat). Top digital show was a Celebrity Juice repeat (ITV2, Christmas Day, 520,000).

A quiet week for new shows. To Spain for Celebrity Coach Trip (E4, weekday evenings), and it's the last in the present series of Beat the Internet with John Robins (Dave, Thu). Richard Stilgoe's on next week's Pointless Celebrities (BBC1, Sat).

Photo credits: YTV, Central, Mitre Television / Hungry Bear Media, EBU/BTRC.

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.

The Week of the Year | Weaver's Week Index | Next week

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