Thursday, 14 August 2008

TV Quiz Watch

OK , its time once again for my round up of the quizzes I’ve been watching on TV this week.

No reviews for The Weakest Link, or Eggheads. My comments from last week stand, and I'm afria that I haven’t been at a loose enough end to get the oomph to actually watch either. Hence I am sorry to say that the award for daftest answer of the week actually goes to a team from The Pheasant, in last Sunday Evening’s quiz. Here it is : -

Daftest answer of the week

Question – What is the largest carnivore in Britain ?
Answer - Notting Hill

Back to the telly.

"Battle of the Brains " – BBC2 – 6pm Monday – Friday

Several points of interest this week. Firstly, this week has seen pure quizzing royalty take the stage in this contest. Its almost sacrilege to single out individuals, such is the standard of the quizzers on show. Still, on Monday we had the pleasure of watching a team containing 15 to 1 multiple Grand Finallist, Dag Griffiths, taking on a team containing my predecessor as Mastermind Champion, Geoff Thomas. If that wasn’t enough, on Tuesday we saw Geoff’s team, the Clayheads taking on the Ashford Road team from Swindon. A certain Mr. Kevin Ashman is often a member of this team, although not in this show. So they had to make do with two world champions – Mark Bytheway, and Pat Gibson. Pat has won Mastermind, Brain of Britain, and £1 million on Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Not exactly a slouch.

Why is it then, with these magnificent quizzers, only 2 teams have yet won the £2000 prize ? Well, here’s the facts. The show is cheap

Don’t take my word for it. Quiz friends and acquaintances who have appeared on it say they have never been on such a cheap, penny pinching show, where they have been treated so shabbily. They all like Paddy O’Connell, but they also tell horror stories of being left standing around for hours in corridors. Their niggardly allowance of £5 a day for breakfast has to be accounted for by the penny with receipts. Also, players were expected to be available for huge chunks of time out of their lives, when there was no guarantee that they would actually make it onto the show at all. All for a one seventh share of £2000, which it turns out, even the best quizzers in the world have scant chance of winning.

It’s a shame. Its also a shame that this show doesn’t quite hit the target. Tuesday’s Clash of the Titans was an anti climax, because of the way the head to heads work. I don’t want to see people being knocked out after one question. I have actually written to Shine, the production company who make the show, suggesting some drastic changes for a second series – if they have one. Ominously I have not had a reply.

Sports Mastermind 7:30pm BBC2 Weds 13th August

Well, it was the final heat last night. Maybe it was my imagination, but Des just seemed to be a little perkier, possibly seeing light at the end of the tunnel. Winner last night was a Mrs. Arthur – ( sorry, I didn’t catch the first name ) , offering as specialist subject the Wimbledon Singles . She scored a magnificent 18, although I have to say that her questions were a little kind. Sitting in my armchair at home with no preparation ( and admittedly no pressure either ) I got 14 of them right. She played a good game, with a steady, measured performance in the general round to win, and her score got her into the top 6 for the final. Personally, I don’t think she seems quite strong enough on General Sport to win the whole thing, but you never know.

Obviously with my own Mastermind pedigree I’m going to say that I like the show, but I do, and I’ll miss it when its over. If they have another series, though, and I feel every kind of heel for saying this, I really think they need to look again at the presenter. Sacrilege, perhaps, to say this about Des, but he’s not done the job, for me. John Inverdale, IMHO, has the pedigree to make it his own.

University Challenge BBC2 Monday 11th August 8pm

University of Exeter played Pembroke College Oxford. Who won ? Can’t remember. Does it matter ? Well, it probably does if you’re connected with either of the seats of learning involved, but to me and I suspect the majority of the viewing public, not a lot. What does matter is that , as always, this was a genuine contest, a marathon rather than a sprint. What I want from a quiz is questions, questions, and more questions, and thank God University Challenge always delivers. Jeremy Paxman would probably hate to be described in this way, but the man is a national treasure, and should have a grade 1 listing from English Heritage.

On the Grapevine

Dale Winton’s Lottery quiz, In It To Win It, is on the way back soon. This I know because my son had a screen test for it in Cardiff on Monday 11th. If he’s on the show, they’ll tell him within the next two weeks.

Battle of the Brains – tonight ( Thursday ) The Clayheads take on a team with a number of my quiz friends in it – not sure what their team name is, but you’ll notice Mark Labbet, the 7 foot tall runner up from 2007’s The People’s Quiz.

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