It’s all going on

The end of the week is looking WELL ACTION-PACKED:

  • Big Brother! Producers are responding to low ratings by effectively rebooting the show on Friday, with four people getting kicked out and four new people going in. All the people not nominated are up for eviction and everybody was nominated is safe, a simple way to get rid of the deadwood, but after effectively penalising the housemates in the shopping task last week for actually doing the task and effectively penalising housemates for not creating enemies you have to wonder what the point of anything is, you might as well keep everyone in for ten weeks then pick a winner at random. Actually that’s a great idea, do that next year Endemol. Also Aaron’s been kicked out for inappropriate behaviour. We might have to revisit our bets over the weekend. The new housemates all seem to be of the stripper and bisexual (that’s what they say at the auditions, they never really are) variety, and one of them will be a “familiar face”.
  • It’s the Ninja Warrior UK final this Saturday! Frankly I don’t love the reformatting but it’s still just about  entertaining enough and it’s done good numbers. Who will make it up to the top of Molehill Midoriyama and claim the title of Ninja Warrior?
  • Last night a new show called Bullseye started on Fox in the US which basically is made by the people behind Fear Factor and hits all the same beats as Fear Factor but concentrates rather more on the action-stuff – last night had people trying to hit a target whilst swinging underneath a helicopter, trying to grab as many bullseyes as possible suspended underwater by being dunked upside down from a crane and finally knocking bullseyes down around a course driving a buggy. It was fun and entertaining, but the strongest bit for me was the first challenge and it petered off from there, I do wonder how many different variants of closest/most/quickest they can come up with. Worth a watch though.
  • It’s the last night of 500 Questions tonight! It’s had a loyal (albeit small) audience but it’s not risen throughout the week (and the point of stripping a show nightly is entirely to promote a “did you see?” attitude which plainly hasn’t happened). Ultimately I think the show was overformatted. Anyway I’ll update the Demographic Dragon with the final numbers tomorrow (it’s a double ep tonight) for reference it was well beaten by the premiere of poverty-porn-dilemma show The Briefcase in pure numbers and the key demo and Bullseye in the demo slightly later last night.


  • Benchmark with Paddy McGuinness starts on Channel 4 on Monday afternoon.


geniusgrandfinalAlright gang, I’ve opened up a page on the upcoming series of The Genius starting next month. It’s an all-star season, which is good going considering there’s only been three and half the cast in S2 were in S1. Still, though.

1000 Heartbeats RETURNS

1000 Heartbeats is getting an extended second run in the Autumn. Well they’re saying extended, it’s thirty episodes (the original was meant to be thirty but re-edited into twenty-five so God knows).

Enjoyed the first series in the main, hopefully the second one will improve on it. We discussed the first series here.

The most amusing thing is somewhere at Hungry Bear there’s a junior researcher crying into his hands at the prospect of having to come up with another 90 heart-related questions for the ad breaks.

In other news, Never Mind the Buzzcocks has been axed.

No I haven’t forgotten:


Up for the Memorial Day holiday, although American Ninja Warrior managed a 1.8. Tonight’s the first time the show faces proper competition (i.e. not re-runs on the other channels) in the form of America’s Got Talent and the new Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader on Fox. Right now it’s riding high on a champion who is almost up to 150 questions – it’s taken three episodes to get there, if the audience sticks with it after the crash out (if it happens) then I’d have to concede it’s not quite a flop. But really not a success, let’s be honest.

The Eurovision Algorithm

So there was quite a lot (some) of talk last night on the Eurovision algorithm. This was introduced a few years ago to inject some excitement into voting by making it look as if it was wide open for as long as possible.

How does it work? The Friday before the Grand Final they do a dress rehearsal for the main show on Saturday, and it’s this dress rehearsal the forty national juries watch and mark. This mark accounts for 50% of each country’s points allocation – it works a bit like Strictly Come Dancing, the countries are ranked by jury and ranked by the televote, the rankings combined and the top ten are given the points.

The computer whirrs away overnight to come up with the most exciting deliverance of votes possible based solely on the jury vote. This is released on Saturday morning (this means they can finalise a running order/cue-cards and so on).

If the votes from this year’s jury finals were the only ones used, this is how the final voting would go:


As you can see it’s nip and tuck until the 27th set of votes are released which is where Sweden have more than a 12 point lead and then continue to pull away. If the results were given in a completely random order you would expect the gradients to be a bit more fixed, and it would look like Sweden are the winners from much earlier.

However the interest for me is how does the televote affect the result of the algorithm? This is how the results would have played out on the night if the comms didn’t break down:


The pull-away point here is around result 32, the televote added literally 6-7 minutes more excitement and interest. Particularly interesting is that again, if the results were given in a random order you’d expect Sweden to look like clear winners earlier, but because the viewers disagree with the juries Russia pulls well ahead until the jury advantage kicks back in to the Swede’s favour. There will have to be a point where the losers fade away.

Where the public agree with the juries you’d expect it to feel all over a lot earlier, but clearly when there’s a bit of disagreement you get a rather exciting night like last night.

You can check the working on the Excel spreadsheet I made. Euroalgorithm

The Four Stages of Eurovision Grief

eurovisionIt’s the Eurovision Song Contest Grand Final tonight!

It starts at 8pm in the UK, you can watch it on BBC1 with Graham Norton commentating and Nigella Lawson giving the UK results (also Ken Bruce on Radio 2).

Alternatively for international (or indeed UK viewers) you can watch the whole thing live on or this year on Youtube.

Watch as the UK entry Electro Velvet STORMS to a towards-the-bottom placed finish.

I thought of something quite funny a while ago, the Four Stages of Eurovision Grief. Unfortunately this afternoon I forgot one of the stages so I’ve had to improvise and I’m not sure how much I like it, so consider this a “work-in-progress” “gag”.

  • There is definitely no political voting in the ESC.
  • Look, it’s not political, it’s all about a shared culture – The Russian song is so intrinsically Russian all their neighbours will feel like voting for it.
  • Look, it is a song contest.
  • Yeah well, Ireland always give us points every year so stop complaining.

I don’t really care who wins, I do have a little bit of money riding on the UK doing quite badly (the reasons people have given for why the UK might do quite well are faintly astonishing, “it’s quaint so the Europeans will love it” is amusingly patronising and “it’s upbeat so it’s memorable in a sea of ballads” doesn’t automatically mean anyone’s going to pick up the phone for it, it’s also fifth in a running order of twenty-seven).

We shall see.

500 Questions

Well it’s not looking great so far.


I’m not entirely certain what sort of number they are hoping for, for NEW QUIZ SENSATION you would probably be wanting closer to 3.0+, in actual fact this has started not far from where non-quiz sensation Million Second Quiz ended. Our hero could probably just duck under that as a one-off (I originally had the “safe” bit at 2.0, but reduced it to 1.5 so the feature can run a bit), but shows tend to open high and drift. There are two hours of it tonight.

It’s actually not that awful, if you don’t like dark sets you won’t like it (and it’s legitimately dark, rather than a black backdrop with lots of actual light). Richard Quest holds the show together quite well, but his cadence when reading questions out is all over the place which is rather irritating.

Also there’s something wrong somewhere. When they ask questions straight it doesn’t “feel” too slow in actual fact, but the special questions break the flow of the show in quite an aggravating manner (and having them walk slightly forward and back is the most awkward thing since when Weakest Link only used to have one podium for the head-to-head). And yet without them the challenger wouldn’t really be doing very much and might as well not be there, sure they pick the category after two strikes (“Wrongs” can sod off) but given the quality of the contestants selected to play knocking someone out is probably more luck than judgement. They have very little agency, compare to other shows that ask contestants to stay on for many days at a time.

Probably will watch the next episode, but as I say I think there’s going to be a real issue when the next contestant has to start from zero again. There are probably 20-30 things you could be doing and watching at that time, I fail to see what is going to make 500 Questions the most compelling of them.