Weaver's Week 2022-12-11

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This week's Week is brought to you by a heavy cold. It was so bad, we had to watch Quizzy Monday as Taped Tuesday and What Is Happening Wednesday.

Gwrach y Rhibyn


Gwrach y Rhibyn

Boom Plant for S4C, 11 February – 1 April and 27 October – 15 December

The Witch of Rhibyn is back! When night falls, she will claim the souls of any poor unfortunates who have yet to find shelter. Our challenge features teams of four, each seeks to find their route to saftey by nightfall.

Gwrach y Rhibyn One of the competing teams.

For the game, we flit between four teams of young people, each team is drawn from their local school. Across eight episodes, the team will take on seven very different tasks, set out of doors.

Some challenges are physical, abseiling down a waterfall, or rafting along a riverbed.

Gwrach y Rhibyn The only way is down.

Some challenges are skilful, archery is the obvious example. Some challenges require mental strength, elementary codebreaking and spotting patterns.

And there's always a navigation challenge. The result of each challenge is a co-ordinate for your GPS tracker, which will direct you to the right place just a little way away. Attentive viewers will be able to work out roughly where each episode was shot.

Gwrach y Rhibyn Co-ordinates accurate to within 10 metres, and directions to get there.

Each episode intercuts between the various teams, chopping up what could be some short challenges and making them into more television. There isn't a wasted minute in the series of programmes.

Gwrach y Rhibyn is a logical development from two earlier Boom Plant series. Y Gemau Gwyllt was a wild challenge, teams attempted to complete outdoors challenges and the best competitors returned for the series final. Prosiect Z was, quite simply, an escape room in your school – complete the mental challenges, avoid contact with the zeds, and escape.

Gwrach y Rhibyn This team are on the right track.

Though neither antecedent has been recommissioned this decade, their DNA lives on in Gwrach y Rhibyn. The show is based outdoors, and takes advantage to show outdoor Wales in all of its glory. Wide sweeping shots of the mountains, the moors, the sea and the lakes. Drone technology sets the scene so that we can drink in the view. If you absolutely wanted to watch Gwrach y Rhibyn just for the scenery, you wouldn't be too disappointed.

And the challenges are properly hard, in the way of setting puzzles to tax 12 year old children – but not defeat them. All the answers are there, the young explorers have to find them and use their brains. While we might occasionally carp at the small number of devices used (four-figure combination locks again?), it's a good level of difficulty for the players, and for the watching audience.

Gwrach y Rhibyn Put these strips of paper together: what message do they spell?

Two series of Gwrach y Rhibyn have been made. The first series went out at the start of this year, and lacked jeopardy until the last episode. A team would either win at the end of the final programme, or lose at the end of the final programme. It made the journey feel a little redundant – we could just have watched the final episode and still understood the result.

This time around, there is some jeopardy. All teams have lost one player, some have lost two from their number. This has happened through pre-determined elimination games, the last player to complete a particular challenge is required to leave the team and "find their own way to safety". It's a nebulous concept, doesn't assume they're gone like the children in Prosiect Z, but doesn't reassure viewers like CBBC's Raven always did.

Gwrach y Rhibyn Are they barking up the right tree?

Ah, Raven, the legendary Greatest Children's Game Show Of All Time, which turns 20 next week. If they were starting Raven in 2022, we suspect it would look like Gwrach y Rhibyn: expansive, a bit glossy, drones give us a raven's-eye view, with an ever-present threat of danger. We're deliberately not going to pursue this comparison further, Gwrach y Rhibyn is able to stand on its own merits.

For our money, the elimination challenges are a work in progress. They are – rightly – the climax to each episode, nothing concentrates the mind so much as the prospect of losing someone from the screen. We find them to be very arbitrary, rewarding luck as much as ability.

But what's the alternative? The point is the team works together, we can't vote someone off like on The Weakest Link. An arbitrary exit is the least bad idea, and amounts to hard luck. We'd love the show to lean a little more into that aspect, perhaps you need more than just skills to escape the Night Witch...

Gwrach y Rhibyn The team have found a number of clues.

Gwrach y Rhibyn is a solitary experience, the teams don't meet anyone on their travels. Sure, there are safety adults around, but we never see them on screen. There are verbal instructions, always left on dictaphones. We can believe that it's just the youngsters, rushing around to beat the peril.

It makes for a team-against-the-clock challenge, complete all the challenges before time expires. There's no team-against-team work, another great point of difference compared with Raven. (And there are good production reasons: teams not meeting allows a smaller camera crew and greater bang for the show's limited budget.)

Gwrach y Rhibyn Mali is in the title role.

Watch more

All episodes on the S4C website, with subtitles in English

The role of the witch, and of the narrator, is played by Mali Tudo Jones. Cast in a bright scarlet cloak, she tops and tails the show, narrates as we go along, and dials up the scares – never too frightening for the young viewers, never breaking character or taking the challenge less than seriously. It's a well-judged performance.

Overall, Gwrach y Rhibyn is a well-judged show. The programme shows off a mixture of outdoor challenges, almost never repeats itself within a series. Might inspire viewers to go out and do something different; might inspire confidence that young people can already make a difference.

More on that topic next week...

In other news

Ingrid Oliver and Richard Osman.

Social news Congratulations to Richard Osman and Ingrid Oliver on their wedding last weekend. The two met while filming in 2020. Don't recall the House of Games (3) engagement ring being on offer that week, it must be a secret compartment in the dart board.

Matt Lucas is to leave Bake Off. Suggestions that the replacement will be a human suit filled by 71 squirrels have been described as "nuts".

The Great British Bake Off 1.4% of the new host.

Céline Dion has cancelled a series of European shows, after being diagnosed with a rare neurological disorder. The "stiff person syndrome" causes spasms, gives difficulty when Céline walks, and prevents her from singing as well as she can. Céline, the Eurovision Song Contest winner in 1988, is unsure if there's yet a cure.

This week we learned:

  • A pile of one billion £1 notes would be 78.9 miles tall. That's even taller than Richard Osman! (Think of a Number)
  • Fanny Cradock, the 1960s television chef, was known to her bank manager as Phyllis Primrose-Pechey. (House of Games)

We asked one of those AI language thingies to summarise what the blazes is happening on BBC1's The Traitors. It wasn't much help.

"There are a few power roles that interact with vanilla status, e.g. the Neapolitan (who can check if a player is vanilla) and the Vanillaiser (who can forcibly turn someone else into a vanilla player)."

We'll stick to something even more complex, like Claudia's fashions.

The Traitors On the racks in H&M by next Tuesday.

Quizzy Mondays

Halfway through the Mastermind heats, and Colin Rogers-Marsh (films of Judy Garland) booked his place in the next round. Took a monster general knowledge round and a five-question tiebreak, the Mastermind equivalent of penalty kicks, to beat Christopher McBride (The Cure, the band). Specialist round of the night was from Fiona Templeton (12 on the French wars of religion). The winning score of 17 was one of the lowest in the television revival.

Harlequins dominated the second half of Only Connect, to win by 11 points. The show proved its attention to detail: a word using the same letters 4 times, acts to have released three albums in one year, some music on the theme of foolishness, and the precise borders of the Federated States of Micronesia. Harlequins took it on the wall, they solved theirs and Cunning Planners were defeated by "Galifrey" – it begins with a slang term for women.

University Challenge began its repêchage. Newnham Cambridge defeated Sheffield by 175-110. Lots of incorrect interruptions from the Sheffield side, all of them logical but none of them right – elementary quantum properties, Beowulf, anniversaries in 2011, and the third-longest river in China were all clarified elsewhere. When Newnham buzzed, they were right; when they offered answers to bonuses, they were right. The slight problem was that they passed rather than guess and look wrong; the work to undo society's gendered expectations goes on.

Kudos to the setters and editors, this was a lovely set of questions, took us places we'd never expect to go. And gave us quite the funny turn: this column watched Quizzy Monday while coming off a 'flu medicine high, and we had the most vivid hallucination of a bonus round based on the lyric to Aqua's "Barbie girl". Could never happen!

Junior Eurovision Song Contest The opening ceremony warmed the cockles in Yerevan.

Set your expectations for today's Junior Eurovision Song Contest (CBBC, BBC1, TG4, Sun). BBC are performing 12th, "Lose my head" is performed by Freya Skye, it's sassy and savvy and she's done a great video diary show on CBBC. Clear already that the BBC have understood the brief, and are answering the questions at JESC as it is today. The only question is whether her health will allow Freya to perform her best: this ain't the week to catch a cold.

TG4 are also taking part. "Solas" is performed by Sophie Lennon, it's a song of strength and resilience, a big sweeping slow song that drips Irish from start to finish. Some have compared it to "Banshee", TG4's entry from 2019 and this column's favourite from that year.

The performances start with "La festa", the entry from our friends at AVROTROS. "To the moon" from powerhouses TVP is second up, with Khabar Agency bringing their usual big show in position three. "I believe" represents GPB in position 8, an intense show. Hosts AMPTV ask us to "Dance!" at position 15, the last song is in position 16 – "Nezlamna (unbreakable)" for Senior winners NTU.

Junior Eurovision turns twenty this year, and most of the previous winners will drop in to celebrate alongside this year's candidates. Yes, folks, we get to hear a bit of "Bzzzzz!" live on BBC1! The dream is fulfilled! There's also Maléna's new single, and everyone's hero Rosa Linn from the pages of Billboard magazine. The show will be hosted by Robin the Robot and some humans.

The final of Masterchef The Professionals (BBC1, Sun), and good luck guessing when The Traitors continues (BBC1, Tue or Wed, Thu, Fri). Christmas specials for A League of Their Own and Never Mind the Buzzcocks (The Satellite Channel, Mon and Thu).

Next Saturday has Celebrity Catchphrase and Tipping Point Lucky Stars (ITV). BBC1 has the Christmas special of The Hit List, Strictly special of The Weakest Link before Strictly Come Dancing has its final. The follow-up is That's My Jam, competitive confiturery with Mo Gilligan.

Pictures: Boom Plant Cymru, BAFTA, Love Productions, Studio Lambert Scotland, EBU/Corinne Cumming.

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