Yes, the LAMMY awards. Don’t worry, this has nothing to do with Government Minister David Lammy’s less than stellar performance in the last series of Sleb Mastermind. No, its simply my annual review of the year, and a few awards, the recipients of which are chosen by nothing more objective than my own personal whim. So lets begin, as we did last year, with
1) The Award For The Best New TV Quiz Show for 2009
I have to say that we have had a much larger crop of entrants for this award than we did last year, even if we are devoid of a stand out candidate like last year’s winner Only Connect.
In February Battle of the Brains returned for a second series. It doesn’t qualify for a nomination since the first series aired in the summer of 2008. However its worthy of mention since the second series was a huge improvement on the first. You might or might not like Nicky Campbell, but he does at least let his personality come through, and he does ‘sell’ the show. Gone were the flat £2,000 a show prize, to be replaced by an Eggheads style rolling jackpot, and also the pointless think of a number questions. Having listened to some of the complaints about the first series, the production team came up with a rather slicker and more enjoyable show. Which it seems is the last series that we’re going to get of it. Shame.
March saw the BBC’s first entry to the 2009 new quiz list with “A Question of Genius”. Quite a serious contender this one is too. I liked this show, although I do think that it tries to cram too much format and not quite enough questions into 45 minutes. In another year, it would have been a very serious contender for the title.
March also saw the start of ITV’s The Colour of Money – not a quiz, but rather a game show where making random choices would lead to cash or disaster, after the fashion of Deal or No Deal. It was interesting that this show bombed so badly with the audience that the last few episodes were shelved indefinitely . So perhaps the future of the big money quiz show isn’t quite so bleak as it may have appeared.
Lets move on to June, as ITV introduced three shows in the teatime slot one after another in quick succession. First to hit us was my least favourite of the three, Divided. A large amount of money potentially up for grabs made it interesting, but not enough. Too few questions, and a performance by Andrew Castle stiffer even than his dance routines in Strictly left me unimpressed, I’m afraid. Whereas its successor, The Chase, did hit many of the right buttons. I’m not a fan of Bradley Walsh, but the format kept his worst excesses in check. The individual rounds were a little slow moving. However the Final Chase rounds for me , where either Shaun Wallace or my friend Mark Labbett answered quickfire questions to try to catch the challengers, and prevent them from taking away some cash was genuinely exciting TV. Personally, I think that this is a far better Pro – Am quiz format than Eggheads, and even though I know I risk accusations of favouritism for saying this, I nominate it as one of my top 2 new quizzes of the year.
I liked its successor, the Fuse too, but not quite as much. Austin Healey did a manful job as presenter, but believe me, “Do you want to fight the Fuse ? Then lets light the fuse “ is every bit as irritating as “Don’t Put All Your Eggheads in One Basket”, especially when Mr. Healey has to say it several times a show. Slow moving until the later rounds, but much better than Divided, The Fuse is highly commended, but not a potential winner for me.
In July we saw Nick Knowles new Saturday show sandwiched around the Lottery – Guesstimation. This one was not a bonus ball winner for me, in fact, it didn’t even get three balls out of six. Not really a quiz show at all, and seemingly made up of bits and pieces of other shows I’d seen before. I’ll be surprised if its back .
Knowitalls, at the end of July, wasn’t a quiz as such either. Its basic premise required contestants to regurgitate bits of knowledge that they’s had a minimal amount of time to bone up on, for which they would be awarded at times an arbitrary seeming amount of marks from ‘experts’ in the field. Actually, it was a lot better than it sounds written down on paper.
In August , a month I missed a lot of due to a holiday in Spain, Pointless began a very successful run on BBC2. A sort of reverse Family Fortunes, this involved trying to find members of a list or category which nobody in a survey of 100 members of the public would actually have thought of. Doesn’t sound all that promising, I grant you, but it soon attracted a good following, and the BBC are making a second series. The sheer fact of its popularity with the non quizzing members of my family means that this is the 2nd of my new quizzes of the year.
Fast forward to November, and Britain’s Best Brain. Now, I do have issues with this show. My main issue is that its not very good. However there is also the fact that I auditioned fo it over the phone, and the bloke auditioning me had the kind of reaction to me telling him I’d won Mastermind which told me “We’re not looking for smartarses on this . “ Slow games, obvious plugging for Nintendo brain training games, and a virtually unintelligible scoring system made this a bit of a mess.
So, without further ado – the winner is
Yes, I know my friend is the Chaser. Doesn’t matter. I enjoyed the best bits of this show considerably more than any other new show I’ve watched this year.
2) The Award for Quiz Performance of the Year
This is a really tough one. I mean, how can you choose between : -
University Challenge – Corpus Christi
Yes, Manchester won the series because of a technical infringement of the rules, we know that. But the performances of the Corpus Christi team last year, led by their captain the amazing Gail Trimble, were enough to take your breath away at times.
Brain of Britain – Geoff Thomas – Ian Bayley
Geoff became only the 5th person to complete the Mastermind and Brain of Britain double. Needing a five pointer in the final round of his semi to overcome the great Dag Griffiths he pulled it out of the bag, and then went on to win the final very comfortably.
Also I must mention Ian Bayley, whose performance in the first round a couple of weeks ago, when he scored a massive 33, left me absolutely speechless with admiration.
Mastermind – Nancy Dickmann
Nancy Dickmann played brilliantly all series, and scored 30, the highest score of the whole series to win the Grand Final , beating the same Ian Bayley mentioned earlier, and becoming the first lady champion since Anne Ashurst in 1997.
Only Connect – The Rugby Boys
My boys done good ! Richie Parnell, Gary Dermody and Mark Labbett won a title which I feel is of real substance, and will become even more so as the years go by. South Wales’ finest always looked like one of the strongest teams in a great competition.
Are You An Egghead – Pat Gibson – Anne Hegerty
Pat Gibson became the 7th member of the Eggheads, and I don’t think that any quizzer in the country could possibly gainsay his right to that position. I have been privileged to know Pat, and to have played with him in the Cardiff Grand Prix.
A special mention for Anne Hegerty too. Not because she beat me, although she did that too, but because of her stunning performance in the second round match, which saw her drop only one question – outstanding quizzing.
So who gets the prize ? Well, again, this is a personal choice, and so I plump for the one which I actually saw in the flesh, which is
Ian Bayley – scoring 33 in the first round of Brain of Britain.
3) The Award for Best Performance in a non broadcast quiz
This one is easy to award. Still, before I do, here’s a couple of highlights of the year for me : -
Winning the CIU welsh final by a single point, from a team of Mark Labbett, Gordon Galliford, Richie Parnell and Trevor Parry.
Placing third in the CIU National final, by a tie break against the same Maesglas A team.
Winning the Birmingham Mega Quiz, as part of a team including Gordon Galliford, Richie Parnell and Trevor Parry
Almost getting another 100% in the Aberavon Rugby Club quiz, when we were disallowed Sony for Sony Ericsson.
The winner, however is : -
Radford Road CIU of Coventry for winning the CIU Nationals. Gareth Kingston, Craig Element, Nic Paul and Dave Masters
performed brilliantly to take the title from a host of teams representing much of the cream of quizzing. Wonderful achievement.
As for the lowlights – well, no, lets leave them as that . So ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the voting of the LAM jury. Congratulations to all the winners.