Friday, 8 August 2008

TV Watch : Battle of the Brains - Sport Mastermind - Eggheads - University Challenge - Weakest Link

OK – let’s start with The Battle of the Brains. I gave it a cautious endorsement last week – but how is it settling in? Well, I’ve watched it every day since, and that has involved searching for it on the iplayer when I’ve missed it because of other engagements, so that must say something. Maybe its just the fact that I feel almost duty bound to watch a show which has at least tried to encourage really good teams to take part, rather than trying to ferret them out before they get anywhere near the show, which has happened on a few others I could mention.

This is not to say that any of the teams this week came across as well as Di’s Diamonds did last week. Well done to Annie’s Boys who at least won £2000, which is no mean feat on this show. But all of this week’ winners had some quite glaring weaknesses, and the format of this show means you’re far more likely to show yourself up than to cover yourself in glory So after 10 shows, my advice to the production team is this : -

IF you are recommissioned for another series:-

1) Persevere with Paddy O’Connell, but warn him about getting too familiar with contestants. Tell him to ditch the ‘you’re playing for the honour of your whole county’ line. Be a little more stern and serious – watch Paxo on University Challenge Paddy, that’s what’s needed here.

2) For God’s sake, drop the ‘Name a Hairy Dog ‘questions – by which I mean the guess the number questions.

3) Cut the team numbers down to four and a captain. That way you can make the individual battles a little longer and therefore more interesting.

4) As a rough rule of thumb, you want to be LESS like Eggheads, not MORE.

Speaking of Eggheads, it’s a sad state of affairs in this country where the average viewer’s daily quiz of choice is Eggheads, when ten years ago it used to be 15 to 1. Given the choice of watching a revamped 15 to 1, I’m sure that the majority of Eggheads regulars would gladly switch. I watched it a couple of times this week. Same old same old. Plucky amateurs came, saw, and were stuffed for their pains. Mildly amused to see CJ claim that he hadn’t got a Geography question wrong once in this series yet, then promptly get himself knocked out on Geography. But then, that’s what he’s there for I guess, to make the challengers think they have a chance. Which they don’t. Its poor fare, I’m sorry to say, and I can only hope that the forthcoming show to find a new Egghead to join their ranks provides more entertainment value.

There’s usually plenty of entertainment value in University Challenge, and this week was no exception. I know that after the Universities have finished they have teams of professionals, but surely it wouldn’t take a genius to take this format and use it with the kind of teams that appear on Battle of the Brains. I mean, look what you get for your money : -

* A host who has no interest in being the contestants’ friend – and if they make a daft answer, he will tell them.

* A full range of questions, and more of them in one half hour than you get in both Battle of the Brains and Eggheads combined

* Genuine pace and excitement, not the poor apology for tension they try to generate on Eggheads, for example.

* An emphasis on winning the show, and not winning the money ( because there isn’t any ! )

I am still also enjoying Sport Mastermind, even though my quiz acquaintance and fellow Swansea League player David Brayley got knocked out last week. But I have to ask – what on earth is the matter with Des Lynham ? He looks ill, this week he sounded ill, and other people I know who took part say he’s in terrible form, fluffing the questions and needing endless re-takes, apparently. I think he looks most uncomfortable, even in the chat interludes where he should be right at home. I like the show, but Des, you’re worrying me.

I gave up on “The Weakest Link “ a few years ago. When it began Anne Robinson’s bitchy comments were actually quite funny, and usually hit the mark. It used to be a quiz show with a bitchy host thrown in for a little colour. Now its 30 minutes of Anne Robinson being nasty with a bit of a quiz thrown in for a little colour. It’s the tail wagging the dog – and I shall resist the temptation to make a bitchy comment myself here. Anne Robinson though has become a caricature of herself. Still, at least tonight’s show provided the daftest answer of the week.

Daftest answer of the week

Question : - which of the four founding members of the SDP in the 1980s was the daughter of writer Vera Brittain ?
Answer : - Leon Brittain ?

They can still pick ‘em, can’t they ?


Ozrobin said...

Can you see the Oz quiz programme Spicks and Specks. I would like to see Paddy O'Connell hosting something along the same lines.
I can't get Battle of the Brains but hope it keeps going.

I can see Eggheads and Weakest Link on Cable UKTV and I'm very sick of them for the reasons you have written about.

Londinius said...

Hi Ozrobin, an thank you for taking the time and trouble to leave a comment. Sorry, but no, I haven't seen Spicks and Specks.

I know a lot of people who are 'in the know ' about quiz programmes, an they say that the jury is very much out on "Battle of the Brains". If they do have another series, its a big question whether they will ever get ood teams on it again after the way they have treated people in this series. Keep watching the blog - I am going to explain about this in a day or two !

OK - Eggheads. I've been on the show, so what I say could be dismissed as sour grapes. But its a show that cheat the public. I just can't believe the number of people I have met who say that they like it more than Battle of the Brains !

Thanks for taking trouble to comment - watch this space for more on TV quizzes.