Weaver's Week 2020-05-31

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It's a radio quiz special this week, many of them recorded under the unusual circumstances we find ourselves.


The Talk Sport Quiz

Talk Sport, from 28 March

Our sample episode comes from 9 May.

Two hours on an early Saturday evening, and Faye Carruthers is here to take calls. Unusually, they're not going to talk about the day's football action, because there hasn't been any. No, Faye is here to test our knowledge. Darren Bent is also in the studio.

They will keep score, they will declare a winner, they will award a prize. It's a small prize – a £50 voucher for home delivery food, and a Talk Sport goodie bag. The calls are expensive – 13p per minute, and some folk will be on hold for an hour. Longest string of correct answers across the two hours wins, and three out of every four questions will be about men's football.

Co-host Faye Carruthers.

The show's been running for a few weeks now, and they've already had a repeat winner. Hope he doesn't call back tonight.

First caller is Dan the Ipswich fan, he's been working and walking in the hills around his house. Like everywhere else, it's been a glorious day. Dan gets three questions about men's football correct, but doesn't know any of the baseball sides in New York. C'way the Trolley Dodgers!

The next caller has been watching Game of Thrones. Faye wonders if she should also watch that show, all 53 episodes of it. No, is our suggestion, stick to Normal People. The caller knows his baseball, but doesn't recall other sides from England's group in the 2014 world cup.

Yes, they save on questions by repeating them. The question he got wrong is the first question for the next caller. There's a ticking clock effect when the caller stalls for time, and a bell when they have to answer. After some generous timekeeping, and a cockup where the presenter reads the answer to the question, Dawn takes the lead with a chain of 5 correct answers. A commercial break follows.

Frankly, we've already got the hang of this show. Well-pitched questions: difficult enough to separate the avid fans from the dilettantes (like us). Perhaps some of questions are a bit meh, but like on The Chase, the questions come thick and fast.

Darren and Faye outside the studio.

Another regular caller is up after the break, and gets a really difficult question about a player loaned from QPR to Liverpool, and made about three appearances all season. He's out before he can get going. The next caller picks up that question, and racks up another nine correct answers. Or is it eight? Faye's lost count, and we'll take a quick ad break while they sort out the confusion.

After the break, we're back and our player finishes on 10 points. That sounds like a winning score, and it's been a winning score in the past. There's gentle encouragement for another regular caller, though he scores just one point. ("Just" one point: we've got about three questions right all afternoon.) Players are known as "Ben the Leeds fan", or something like that. No surnames, no location, just the caller's main affinity.

From time to time, they throw in some audio questions. Name the person talking, or identify the football chant. Or, indeed, remember that Claudio Ranieri offered to buy pizza for his players. Some of the audio clips are from other Talk Sport programmes, a good way to promote the station.

Eight for our next caller; Faye and Darren wonder if it's better to have scored nothing than come so close. Our next player has his run... "we'll find out of you're right after this break," says Faye, channelling Chris Tarrant. The player is right, of course, and amasses a score of 10. Ooh, a tie is looming, but there's more than an hour to go.

What with one thing and another, there were some health messages to get through at this time. Talk Sport made theirs witty and memorable, for instance "Stay at home, let's show this virus the red card". On-brand, crisp and clear, really good imaging. At the end of the first hour, a father-and-son team (but mostly son) top the standings with 11 correct answers.

Physical distancing at its finest.

In the second hour, Carlton Cole is on the line, and The Talk Sport Quiz turns into Yet Another Interview With a Footballman Down a Rubbish Phoneline. Wish they wouldn't, Talk Sport has 160 hours a week of interviews with footballmen down a rubbish phoneline. After a very long chat, Carlton finally gets to take part in the quiz. It's a celebrity section: ten questions, and the target is Darren Bent's score of 3. Which sport do they play for the Stanley Cup? How many snooker balls are on the table at the start of the frame? All these, and more, were given incorrect answers.

Back to the quiz – eventually – and Chris the Crystal Palace fan racks up a score of 12. That's a lot of sports knowledge, and the run finally ends with a bit of a chestnut – who scored the first goal in football's Premier League? But, at the very last minute, Neil the Everton fan sneaks in with a run of 13 answers. He wins the Talk Sport goodie bag, and the £50 food takeaway voucher.

Not many people listen to the radio at 5pm on Saturday afternoon: many fans might be watching archive matches on ITV, or spending time with their family. Those few who are listening appreciate the companionship, the hosts and callers share their experiences of life in these uncertain times.

It's a little drama, both in the show and in the series. Can anyone beat the score before they go off air? Will Toby The Southampton Fan manage to beat his score of 3 from last week? Will Dawn the nurse call back this week; will she get another round of applause when she gets through?

There's a saying in the radio industry: great stations are real and relevant. The station, and the show, will play to a community, or it'll help to establish a community of its own. The Talk Sport Quiz certainly builds its community, people call up week after week. The Talk Sport Quiz is a very simple idea, and it's done really well.

Gloryhunters with Charlie Baker

Talk Sport, 11 August – 17 May

Listen to podcasts

Every week during the (scheduled) football season, Charlie Baker invited some famous friends to join him on the radio. Our sample episode is from 25 August, when the Headingly Test was in full swing; the MCC First XI will resume at 156/3, chasing an unlikely 359 to beat Cricket Australia's First XI. If Ben Stokes can build on his 2 not out, things could happen.

But we're not here four the six appeal. We're here for Kellie Maloney (boxing promoter, Millwall supporter) and Bob Mills (comedian, prefers Leyton Orient). Here's a surprise: Talk Sport does sometimes look at sport beyond the men's Premier League of football, albeit in this very off-peak spot, at 9.30 on Sunday morrning.

Charlie Baker at his radio station.

Gloryhunters is a 90-minute discussion show – take away the news, sports news, adverts, and previews of other Talk Sport shows, we've a bit under an hour of actual content. Both Kellie and Bob are joined by a Talk Sport regular (this week: football writer James Brown and Natalie Sawyer), so there are five voices on the show.

"My club's bigger than your club" is the first round, each club tries to gain bragging rights over the whole A13 corridor, from Limehouse to the Wanstead Tunnels. "Sporting Heretics" gives the teams an opportunity to propose ideas to improve sport: make the tennis scoring system a bit more obvious, or introduce a black card in soccer. Rather than award points, Charlie awards "goals", it's as arbitrary as other sports shows we could mention, but that would be fighting talk.

Kellie Maloney, Millwall fan.

"Back in the Day" is a landmark moment from the club's history. Remember the club? Each side is meant to be representing a football side. For Millwall, it's a trip back to 1988, when they were in the top flight of football. For Leyton Orient, the year they got back into the Football League, 2019. Does Bob Mills remember last month? He does, but Kellie Maloney wins the round with a remarkable anecdote about a bankrupt property developer who once drew the League Cup quarter-finals.

A "guess the scores" section previews the men's football action coming later in the day. "A Question of Sport Time" is a cross between Sue Barker's hard-hitting panel show and BBC1's sitcom Question Time With David Dimblebot. Members of the public ask a question about sport, requiring some imagination and improvisation by the panel. Finally, "Injury time" is the Every Second Counts revival we never knew we wanted: is this a genuine move in skateboarding or not? With a point — sorry, goal — for each correct answer, the scores will quickly advance.

Bob Mills, Leyton Orient fan.

A winner is declared, and a good time was had by all. The series is nominally a contest to find which team's supporters are smartest, and they had a final at the start of May, where Hibernians beat Manchester United.

Throughout the show, Charlie plays tunes from his music library. It's a mixture of upbeat jazz and tunes from television shows, less arch than Gary Monaghan's collection, and just as coherent. Perhaps doesn't work as well as it might on squeaky old AM radio, or on the strangulated DAB- they use.

Pre-recorded? Probably, but it doesn't matter. It's a light entertainment, gentle sport talk. Far less competitive than Colin Murray's show, and just as good-natured.

My Generation

BBC Studios for Radio 4, from 18 May

Listen again

Stuart Maconie has stepped into his home studio. Three callers are on the line, and everyone shares how they're coping with these unusual circumstances.

After this brief introduction, each contender has chosen a different decade from the 1960s through to the 2010s. Stuart will ask a bunch of questions about the chosen decade: high politics, low culture, high culture, and whatever Beyond the Fringe was. Does our 1960s expert recall the invention of the Spirograph? Can the 1990s specialist unscramble a verbose question about the Channel tunnel?

A boring topic.

Ten questions in each category, including an audio clip. There's two points for a correct answer, one point if the contestant deserves partial credit. There isn't a formal timer – this isn't Radio 4's Brain programme – but Stuart will push for an answer if he hears dissembling, hesitation, or suspicious coughing.

After everyone's answered questions on their chosen decade, there will be a second round of questions. Whoever's trailing gets first choice of the remaining decades. In both shows we've heard, we've had to have a tiebreak – Stuart lists events from a decade before the 1960s, and our callers try to identify the decade.

Yep, in each show we'll hear ten questions about each decade from the 1960s to the 2010s. Half of them will be on the "home" decade, the other half might be some distance away. Stuart goes on quite a bit about "another generation", but the quizzers have been of high quality and it's not been as different as the two halves of Mastermind. Highest score at the end of the show is the winner, and gets a Radio 4 round of applause.

Stuart Maconie in a sharp suit.

My Generation is a very short-notice commission, and perhaps it shows – some of the lines to the contestants are a bit ropey. It's consistent with Radio 4's other highbrow quizzes, perhaps closest to the entertainment of The 3rd Degree than any other.

In other news...

All Day Popmaster was a highlight of holiday Monday. The first half of the hour was normal Radio 2 banter and music. Then, at half-past, Ken Bruce pops up, talking to a professional DJ. Over the next ten questions, we'll hear just how little the oh-so-hip Shaun Keaveney knows about Radio 2 music, or Magic FM's Ronan Keating knows about anything.

Then, after he's played a record, Ken will talk to a member of the public, who will proceed to wipe the floor with the DJ. Bonus points if the punter can complete three-in-ten, and the rest of the hour will be three hits from that Radio 2-friendly act. Great if it's the Pet Shop Boys, rubbish if it's Westlife. Top four scores came back for the semi-finals, winners to the final, and a good time was had by all.

And if you're still hungry for more contests on the radio, David Lloyd has a bunch of clips. We're intrigued by the last story, a contestant whose postcard was delayed in the post for 37 years.

We're planning to take a week away to do some research, so here are the highlights for the fortnight. Gêm Gartre is a new sports quiz (S4C, Fri). ITV brings The Yankee Masked Singer to Saturday teatimes. BBC daytime has The Bidding Room, with Nigel Havers and a group of dealers (from 8 June).

Do stay at home, follow the science not the pressure groups, and keep your beard tidy. We'll see you in two weeks.

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