Weaver's Week 2023-05-07

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Say what you see. It's a simple concept. So simple that Stephen Mulhern has done little else for the past ten years. But now there's a new claimant to the throne, someone else who gets people shouting at their telly.

In With a Shout

In With a Shout

Expectation for ITV network, from 8 April

Joel Dommett, that's the new bloke's name. The Popatron poppet has had a few other game show credits – Reality Bites on ITV2, Bring the Noise on The Satellite Channel, Hey Tracey back on ITV2. He's finished second on I'm a Celebrity, hosted the ITV Television Awards, and has been tapped for the BBC's revival of Survivor. In short, Joel Dommett is a familiar face.

This time, Joel's hosting a show where contestants shout at their tellies. That's all they have to do. Find the right words and lots of money could be theirs. "Over £20,000" says Joel, waggling the big prize in front of us as though we're going to be impressed. Most teams end up playing for "merely" a couple of grand, which is still better than standing on a log for two days straight.

In With a Shout Joel Dommett is in front of televisions.

The teams are families, related through blood or marriage or both. There's a team captain and two relations, described as "Husband" or "Brother-in-law" or "Fourth cousin nineteen times removed" or whatever. Shades of Fame Academy, where even the biggest stars were "Edith's colleague" or "Scott's husband".

In With a Shout is a telly show, played on the telly on the telly. Behind Joel is an array of ten television screens, each lit up in neon. It's a simple and unfussy set, does what it needs to do without being too showy. "All you have to do is tell us what you see." That's all. Describe what's on the screen. "Name that thing", as Bob Hopeless said. "Say what you see", in the words of Roy Walker.

In With a Shout This team hopes to win lots of money.

However, there's a catch. The clips move at a fast pace. Seriously quick. They're on screen for just three seconds, so you've got to see it, recognise it, say it. And all before the picture changes, otherwise the adjudicators (industry leaders Beyond Dispute) will say "naah, too slow" and mark you wrong.

"Think fast, and shout faster!" is Joel's best effort at a catchphrase. Not sure how Mr. Mulhern will clue it, but it's a decent effort.

Anyway. Each television set has a category, a loose collection of clips around the theme. Each player steps up, one by one, for their individual round. Their chance to take on a telly.

In With a Shout Right answers move you up, wrong answers move you down.

So the player steps up, has a quick chat with Joel, gets gently ribbed by the host. Then our player chooses a category, and sees the money ladder. Each right answer will move them a space up the ladder, each wrong one moves them a space down. First ladder has £0 on the bottom, then 50, 100, 150, 200, 300, 400, and a top prize of £500. There's also £10 for each correct answer – this is basically to ensure there's no need for a tiebreak, though they've probably got one hidden away in the rulebook somewhere.

The first question on a new show sets the tone for the whole production. It needs to have a little gravitas, that certain something to convince us that the programme knows what it's doing, and isn't just a Mickey Mouse operation.

In With a Shout Bother.

The clips are proper film clips, archive footage of Charlie Chaplin being knocked over by a feather, or Peppa Pig eating with a real pig, or Ozzy Osbourne flying into Birmingham Airport. And the clips move at a ferocious pace, on screen for just three seconds before they're gone. Vam! Vam! Vam! It's the observation quiz for the MTV generation.

To slow the pace a little, each team is allocated 10 "freezes" to use across the entire game. When used, one of these freezes will stop the clip for up to ten seconds, allowing the player a bit longer to dredge the name out of their memory. And then the freeze is up, time marches on relentlessly, and so does the picture. Missed answers are explained after the round's complete.

In With a Shout The contestant's frozen on this picture of (er) (checks notes) Actor Matthew McConaughey.

And, quite honestly, that's your game right there. Identify the things flashing before your eyes. Say as many of them as you can, and hope to win more points than your opponents. Yes, it's 43 minutes of people calling at a screen, and occasionally jumping and clapping.

Sure, there are a few wrinkles in the show. Each category can only be used once, they haven't got a zillion sets of clips on people who share their name with pizza. All of the rounds are played for more money. Second round is roughly double prize – still £0 on the bottom, then 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 700 and £1000 on top, with £20 for each right answer. Third round whacks the prize up even further, going straight from £0 to £1500, then 1600, 1700, 180, 2000, 2200, and a maximum of £2500. There's £30 for each right answer, too.

In With a Shout A couple of the categories they might play tonight.

The result is in doubt until the final rounds. Even if one team has raced to a massive lead, if they wipeout in the final round, they could go from miles ahead to just behind. And unlike the Action Time shows of the 1980s, this is an organic increase of the prize money, it doesn't feel bolted on to rescue a sinking format. The first two rounds don't count for nothing, but mess up the final round and you're toast.

Lots to like on this programme. The montages are well authored, each round starts easy, gets hard in the middle to push the player down the ladder and draw some tension into the round, then a little easier in the final moments. The set is functional, and the sounds are restrained. The dressing doesn't overpower the show, we're not watching for the gaudy but for the game.

In With a Shout The set is bright, but doesn't distract from the game.

The greatest asset on this show is Joel Dommett. He's very gentle with the contestants, encouraging them and offering useful advice. "What's that? Yes! You're already well up! No? Keep throwing stuff out. Never mind, it's alright, it's ok." He's a calming influence, ensures that nobody takes this game too seriously, or gets disheartened. In With a Shout is a television programme, they don't need bad temper or demoralised contestants grumping about.

Make no mistake, Joel Dommett keeps this format bobbing well above the waves. With a lesser host, we'd be worried that it would sink into turgid tedium; there's absolutely no danger of that with Joel, and his assured confidence radiates through the programme.

In With a Shout Our defeated team leaves to cheers.

After everyone has played their solo round, we decide which team has more cash and hence has won the game. The losing players leave with our thanks, and a round of applause from everyone. We don't see any shots of the audience, for all we know the game is still shot in an empty studio and sweetened with Canned Crowd™.

The winning team then splits into a single player and a pair. The single player picks one last category from the original board – now just a choice of four. There's a tiny bit of strategy, the winning team might choose to keep their best category for this round, and play something else in the last cash round. Why do this? The solo player can multiply the cash by four – or halve it.

In With a Shout Former boy band Tax That.

Rather than cash on the final ladder, they offer multiples. "Half" if they're at the foot of the ladder. Two rungs of "Bank", two of "Double", two of "Triple" and a "Quadruple" if the team finishes at the top of the ladder. So far, so familiar. As is the ad break afterwards.

Joel puts his serious face on for the final round, he's joined by the other two players from the winning team. They've got sixty seconds to identify something – anything – on the television sets before them. "Turn off your telly!" the cry.

The screen gives a clue to what they're looking for – presenter, singer, building, animal, vegetable, mineral. All the players have got to do is name that thing. If they're unsure, the team can press the big red button to pass, and face a fresh question. But this will cost time, and they only have a minute to turn off all ten tellys. It's difficult, but very doable – we've only had one loss in the first five episodes.

In With a Shout Well done if you got that at home.

Another unusual point in the final – they stop the clock after each correct answer, which helps to raise the stakes each time. We saw this yonks ago on Raise the Roof, on Susan Calman's under-rated The Boss, and on primetime success The Hit List. And perhaps The Hit List is the best current comparison – an enjoyable show, testing precisely one of the senses, a properly difficult quiz made to look simple by entertaining presenters who know how to get the best out of their players.

But there's a word doing heavy lifting there – the best *current* comparison. We know that the BBC have a series called Picture Slam in the can, also about people recognising images at speed. At one point, Picture Slam was due to start in May, we don't know if that's been pushed back a little so as to dodge In With a Shout.

As it stands, In With a Shout is a very decent show in the right slot. We're not convinced that 7pm on Saturday is the right slot, it feels like a 6pm-ish family programme in the style of Partners in Rhyme or Rolling In It. However, as a lead-in to Got Talent, it's exactly right – feelgood fluff, easy to get the idea if you tune in halfway through, and hosted by someone who makes us feel right at home.

In other news

While testing the big screens in London last week, Pointless was blaring across St James' Park. This is what we need! Massive screens dotted around the country, showing the best in daytime quizzes! Tipping Point on the board at Liverpool Street! Tenable on The Shard! Bridge of Lies played on the Severn Bridge! Alexander Armstrong projected onto the tower at Canary Wharf, or make a scale model of Richard Osman from the Telecom Tower!

Bradley Walsh, of course, will be on the other side of The Wall. The new hosts of Gladiators have been announced – it's Barney and Bradley Walsh. The father-and-son duo are best known for Death in Paradise, The Larkins, and Play to the Whistle.

ITV has ordered another 16 episodes of The 1% Club, the show testing contestants' grasp of English, basic mathematics, lateral thinking, and ability to sit in a seat for hours without a break. There will be two Christmas specials, though no word yet on a celebrity edition – or even celebrities appearing in amongst the regular contestants, as happened on BBC1's Masterteam (1).

Jock Zonfrillo has died. The chef, born in Glasgow, moved to Australia at a young age. He was best known as a regular on Masterchef Australia, shown here on the W channel.

Best of the Web The missing Jeopardy! contestant, a strange tale of a quintochamp, a bad case of gasto-enteritis, and character assassination through repeated myths. (Why does this site do its best to be fair to everyone? We don't want to spoil the historical record. And it's the right thing to do.) (And there's a "National" Archives of Game Show History in Rochester? Why do the words "trip" and "road" spring to mind?)

Leroux Botha, producer of Survivor South Africa, talks to Reality Escape Pod. Superfan turned content producer, Leroux pays homage to past versions of the show and keeps twists and turns to a minimum. Survivor South Africa has been airing on the Dave channel.

Yes, it is a short Week this week. We had planned to take this week off, but the glut of obituaries last week – and the fact that In With a Shout finishes soon and will be forgotten by June – forced our hand. Not that there's much else happening next week. Birdbrain of Britain (Radio 4, Sun), seeks the best ornithological expert around. The remaining teams come in from the wild west in the final of Race Across Canada (BBC1, Wed) and last in the "present" series of I'm a Celebrity South Africa (VM1 and ITV, Fri).

Nothing else happening next week, right?

Eurovision Song Contest

Oh yeah. Eurovision Song Contest on BBC1 pretty much all week long.

Pictures: Expectation, EBU/Corinne Cumming.

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