Weaver's Week 2002-08-17

Weaver's Week Index

17th August 2002

Iain Weaver reviews the latest happenings in UK Game Show Land.

In the week when DEAD RINGERS picked up on Jade becoming a Foreign Policy Advisor, this also happened:

- Who wants to get lost?

- Cars go crashing

- Fibbers 'r' us


Somerville Oxford 2002 -v- Sidney Sussex Cambridge 1979

SSC gets off to the stronger start, thanks to some bonuses about marriage. Somerville gets ones about electrical circuits - tough with only a biochemist as a scientist. SSC is asked to name a space shuttle craft from a very long shot - quite how they were expected to do that is completely beyond me.

By the first music bonus (4/4 on Handel) all of SSC has at least one correct starter to their name. Only Luke Pitcher has correctly answered for Somerville.

All Buzz In of the week: Thumper: A tower measuring 24.66m high, built by Russian schoolchildren, is the tallest structure built using ... which company's ... building bricks? Nicholas Graham for SSC wins the race to say "Lego."

SSC continues to run away with the quiz, going 2/3 on chemical formulae, and 3/4 on pop stars' original names. Somerville is being pipped to the buzzer every time, perhaps showing that reflexes don't go down as one ages. Indeed, when SSC goes 0/3 on a set of bonuses, Thumper remarks, "we've found your Achilles' heel." Somerville celebrates this breakthrough by getting a missignal. It's one of those weeks.

A set of bonuses on Chinese provincial cities sees two very swift answers from John Gilmore, prompting Thumper to start the third "Which city... need any more?" By the time we reach the end, it's turned into a rout, the likes of which we've not seen since Christ's thrashed Keele in the second round.

For the "absolutely insufferable" Sidney Sussex, Nick Graham led with a massive 123. Gilmore took 100, and John Adams also outscored the opposition, with 94. Pitcher's 34 led for Somerville, who got 9/18 bonuses and three missignals. SSC also suffered three missignals, but went 41/59 on bonuses.

SOM 25 20 20 15 10 [ 90]

SSC 55 60 95 50 130 [390]

Sidney Sussex meets Keele in the grand final Monday at 8.

LIAR! (BBC2, Monday, 2132)

Six people come to the BBC studios. One of them has a talent, or some other minor claim to fame. The other five don't, but they're going to pretend that they do. The studio audience has the task of finding the truth teller from the blatant fibbers. If they manage this task, they'll split £10,000. If they don't, the successful blagger wins all the cash. The real McCoy takes home an appearance fee, and has no need to bluff.

Paul Kaye is the man in charge of proceedings, and he adds a funny / sarcastic comment at every opportunity. The first hundred or so times, this can be funny, but it gets a bit dull after a while. Paul is seen in the title sequence taking a lie detector test. No polygraphs are used in the show.

The format is pleasantly simple, yet develops as it goes on. Paul introduces each person, who explains why they are the person with the minor claim to fame. The audience quizzes each one in turn: although quite a lot of questions are asked to each person, only one or two will make it to air. After this round of questioning, the audience votes on their magic electronic keypad thingies while lights flash and deep music sounds. It's impressive, with the scores for each person revealed on a sine curve that could be a lie detector output. The person who is most commonly suspected of fibbing is out on their ear.

Then the remaining contestants get to put a question to one other contestant, and another round of voting, and someone else has to sit down. By the time this round is over, not only are the audience more suspicious of some than others, but the contestants are beginning to scrap amongst themselves and bring up divisions that may or may not be accurate.

With four left, another round of queries and observations from the audience, as much to clear up (or expose) false claims from the stage. With three left, it's a brief round of questioning between each person on stage; by now, the main effort is to convince the audience that the opponent's story is false.

The final two come down to the front of stage, stare each other in the eye, and speak for thirty seconds beginning with a comedy sentence stated by our host. A final vote reveals the Ultimate Teller Of Truthfulness.

Now, and only now, does Paul reach into his jacket pocket and peek at the identity of the truthful truth teller. One by one, the liars are revealed - not only have they lies about the claim to fame, but they've (generally) used false names and spoof jobs. Only the truthful truth teller is real. As ever, the truth teller and the person the audience picked as the Ultimate Teller Of Truthfulness (if these are different people) are kept to the end.

Irritating comments apart, Paul Kaye does a magnificent job of building up the tension and taking the mickey out of all the contestants. Like the audience, he doesn't know who is full of fact and who is spreading a load of baloney. Unlike the audience, he retains a healthy scepticism to all the people on stage, even though one of them may walk away with ten grand.

In the first two episodes, the truth tellers were voted out in rounds one and two. This might tell psychologists something interesting about how people react when they're looking for a reason to remove a liar. The same game played with people voting for the person they believe the *most* could well have different results. It might be interesting to run a second series in this way.

For many reasons, this show is different every time, yet on a similar format, and almost completely unmissable.

I could be lying...

COMBAT CARS (C5, Tu Th, 1902)

Jason Bradbury and Louise Brady host. He is bald of head, sharp of tongue, and with a bit of practice could be as much fun as Ed Hall. She is blonde of hair, sweet of personality, and does the interviews with the teams.

Four teams have gone out and bought themselves a new motor, and they've customised their cars with spikes and bumpers and made it as aggressive as possible. The unique selling point is that there's no one actually in the cars: they're controlled by radio waves like toy vehicles.

In the opening round, the cars and drivers take a skill test, to see just how well they can (or can't) manoeuvre. This can be entertaining, though when nothing much is happening, it can be deathly dull.

After the skills round, the contestants can tinker with their motors, repairing any damage that might have been done, and adding spikes and other aggressive weapons. It's also an excuse for Louise to ask some anodyne questions. Sounds like she's auditioning for Beverley Turner's job stating the blindingly obvious on ITV's motor racing coverage.

Then the skills stores are used to seed the cars in the destruction round. A knockout will (fairly obviously) win; points are awarded on an arbitrary basis for hits and damage if there's no knockout. Winners of the two bouts fight it out for the show victory and a chance of a place in the final.

The series is filmed outside, on a converted racing track about the size of an athletics stadium. The hosts' mikes have spikes, and the graphics are mainly along the theme of a wrecking ball. There's a quiet techno thump beneath the rounds, but (again) C5's compression means this is louder than the ambient sound of crashes and prangs from the arena.

If seeing cars ruined, or radio controlled cars not always working very well, is your cup of tea, then this show will be popular. If not, this can be tedium in the extreme. The sooner battle commentator Bradbury perfects the sarcastic putdown, the better this will be for the show.


The final lineup of CELEBRITY SURVIVOR, sorry, I'M A CELEBRITY GET ME OUT OF HERE has been unveiled. The eight will fly out to an isolated camp in the Australian Outback on August 24. They will spend a fortnight surviving on basic rations, rice, water, cheap champagne, with one being voted out every other day.

The deserters, in alphabetical order, with some hint at why they might perhaps stake some vague claim towards the adjective of "celebrity":

+ Christine Hamilton - was once the wife of Tory MP Neil Hamilton, now best known as the wife of disgraced former Tory MP Neil Hamilton.

+ Darren Day - was once the host of rather good CBBC show CLOCKWISE, now best known for walking on tour in CAROUSEL.

+ Nell McAndrew - was the hostess on C5's revival of KNOCKOUT, now best known as (er) the first to sign up for this game.

+ Nigel Benn - was once a champion boxer, now best known for leaving CELEB BIG BROTHER within a day. Oh, hang on, that was Chris Eubank...

+ Rhone Cameron - was once arrested for playing a Burt Bacharach record too loud, now known as one of the best standup comedians on the UK circuit.

+ Tara Palmer-Tomkinson - was once that posh bird who clung on to Alex's coat tails in BB3, now best know for running a dating service off her website.

+ Tony Blackburn - was once the first DJ on National Radio 1, now best known for giving up a DJ residency in Ibiza for this lark.

+ Uri Geller - was once able to bend spoons by nothing more than the force of his fingers, now best known for his close friendship with faded pop star Michael Jackson.

In each programme, viewers will choose one contestant to undertake a "gruelling trial," such as not calling their agent for twelve minutes. If they succeed, the group will eat, but if they fail, they could all end up hungry. If the chosen celeb is partially successful, only some of the group will dine - and they'll have to choose who eats and who rumbles. Viewers will eliminate players until one remains to be crowned D-List Celeb of the Jungle.

D-LIST CELEBRITY LOST! begins on ITV over the bank holiday weekend. Antan Dec hosts live from the middle of nowhere. Louise Loughman (whoever she is) presents an ITV2 extra show.

Do not underestimate the sadistic tendencies of the Great British Public.


Your Saturday line up: On 1, BIG BREAK 1745, then WEAKEST LINK Fashion 1855, WINNING LINES 1945. On ITV, BLANKETY BLANK at 1735. This week's SCRAPHEAP CHALLENGE is to make a coffee bean grinder - E4 1900 Sa and 1545 Su. The CRUEL SUMMER 2 omnibus is on Trouble at 1325 Sa and 0915 Su.

For no adequately explored reason, THE ENEMY WITHIN (BBC1) shifts to 1455 from Monday. Something decent in the afternoon.

This week's SWAPHEADS (C5): Madonna -v- the toilet; Marilyn Manson -v- The Krays; Muhammed Ali -v- UFOs.

This week's LIAR is related to a famous person, and is repeated 2335 Fr. LOST! (DH&L) has moved to 2230 Monday; this week, we should be beginning the laugh-a-minute North American leg of the world tour.

FIFTEEN TO ONE (C4) airs Mo only; the Men In White are back from Thursday eliminating COUNTDOWN.

BARGAIN HUNT makes its primetime bow this Thursday at 8 on 1. Review next week.

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