Watching Telly: Weakest Link for CiN

By | November 17, 2017

Friday 17th, 10pm,

It didn’t seem worthwhile giving this a separate discussion post given it’s a “one-off” and likely to be slightly different in nature to a run of Saturday night shows it hopes will happen, so here is the report from the recording bumped up for tonight’s show. If you have any questions, I will endeavour to answer them afterwards.

This review almost didn’t happen at all – the trains had all stopped after an “incident” at Ally Pally which would have taken hours to sort, but we were able to alight at New Barnet Station where – incredibly – there was a bus waiting outside that went straight to Borehamwood so I could avoid Kings Cross and St Pancras altogether. The circumstances were tragic but the opportunity was useful.

Anyway this is the “one-off” Children in Need revival of Weakest Link, I will presume you know what Weakest Link is and how it works – I really like Weakest Link as a concept, it’s fun to play and fun to watch. I will bump this thread up in time for Friday 17th 10pm where this will be going out on BBC2 as it’s probably not worthy of a full-on Show Discussion Post, but I will be able to add more gossipy stuff. This write-up will not spoil the outcome of the game but should give a taste of what to expect.

  • Studio Manager pro-tip: Please don’t ask your audience to hand their coats in to the cloakroom then make them wait outside a studio in single degree temperatures for ten minutes. It has a habit of annoying them.
  • Unfortunately the legendary Peter Simon, who used to warm up the show, isn’t doing it. Instead some guy who I will politely suggest reminds me of a workmate.
  • It looks like the same set as before come out of storage after five years. HOWEVER, unusually for a celeb special, they aren’t using the telestrators, it’s back to the old wipe clean boards. Maybe they could have updated them to tablets, I don’t know.
  • If you were hoping for a graphical refresh you are going to be disappointed.
  • Seven celebs, the names are already out so I’ll list them here: Rylan, Chizzy off of Holby and Strictly, Kem off of Love Island, Giles Coren, cook Rosemary Schrager, Maya Jama from Cannonball, John Thomson from The Fast Show. They were all pretty good value. They took the game quite seriously, with a fair amount of mucking around during the downtime, as well as hardcore banking strategy chat. Surprisingly useless at the “pretend to write the name for thirty seconds or so so we can get the shots” bit.
  • And then there’s Anne, who we shall get to in a minute.
  • I absolutely hate the money chain. I hate the way it looks and I hate the way it plays. £20, 50, 100, 250, 500, 1500, 2500. This feels extremely cheap for a charity edition where most of the play is going to be in the lower levels. In every other version of the show, played by 7-9 players, at the very least the bottom rung is 1/50th of the top rung, and four rungs in, where most people would consider it worth banking, 1/5th. There is no way that £20 rung, at 1/125th of the top rung, should be there. It ought to be swapped for £750 or even £1,000. Weakest Link is about trying to square a circle of wanting to be efficient with balancing risk and reward, in this case it feels like you have to put in a lot more effort to get any sort of worthwhile money. The original show still managed to make £200 feel like a wodge of cash even when Deal or No Deal was in it’s stride – here not so much. When they were doing 7-player shows ten years ago it went £50, 100, 250, 500, 1000, 1750, 2500 which felt like decent progression. Why change it?
  • Rounds start at 2:30 and reduce 10 seconds each round, the final round is 1:30. But in another “feels a bit cheap” thing, that final round is not doubled or trebled. So £15k max, with a special thing happening at the end you could probably predict.
  • There’s a second issue and that is Anne Robinson isn’t as fast as she used to be and the questions seem longer. Now there are some mitigating circumstances, which I won’t spoil, but there were only 11 questions in the first round. Even with the dead wood removed, it was still taking 10+ seconds to resolve a question. This needs to be much faster.
  • The barbs and quips were decent and got laughs (Giles and Rylan get ribbed for the failure of 500 Questions and Babushka, which made me laugh if nothing else), and doubtless this is what will sell the show more than the quiz I suspect. But these things are symbiotic and you need to get through the questions to give people the chance to give stupid answers to feed the barbs.
  • The first two rounds, including some promo stuff, took the best part of 1h 40m to do. This is sloooow. Thankfully the last five rounds were all done within 90 minutes.
  • I have been of the belief for about two years that if you want to reboot Weakest Link, you should get Robert Rinder to front it. Having watched it first hand with the original host I’m not sure my opinion’s changed that much to be honest.

42 thoughts on “Watching Telly: Weakest Link for CiN

  1. John R

    Does Siri still do the voiceover or is that to be added in the editing suite?

      1. Mart With A Y Not An I

        John Briggs V/o is added in post.

        I know this because in one of the occasional celebrity editions I attended, recording had to be stopped on the first round of voting as one of the celebs (can’t remember his name – possibly one of those flash in the pan boy band stars) just stood there once the Anne had cued up the voting and walked off the set.

        This guy gazed around for 10 seconds and then said loudly “where’s the voice? – I want to speak to the voice” at which point the floor manager came up to his podium and explained to him the art of post production sound mixing.

        I’m glad you raised the issue of the overly long voting recordings. I never did quite understand why they needed to record 5-10 mins of closeups of each contestant, for every voting round. It really does kill the pace of the taping down.

        Why not record the ‘head and shoulders one shot’ in the first round, then cut them during editing to each further voting round. They then save time by just recording the slow cross podium zooms and sideways daggers of death looks at the other contestants in the remaining voting sequences.

  2. Greg Scott

    We share the same view! Have been saying for at least two years that Mr Rinder should host a revamped Weakest Link. He would be BEYOND perfect.

  3. Whoknows

    The names for this feel like such a meh line up for what should be a big return of a classic format. Just feels like the line up you’d get on one of the old Saturday night celeb specials.

      1. Danny Kerner

        They will be padding out the change over by running a week of S2 impossible episodes between the 13th – 17th November. The final 10 of S3 will be broadcast at a later date

  4. David

    The primetime US version used 1/125th for their first rung too (1K/2.5K/5K/10K/25K/50K/75K/125K= 1/125, 1/50, 1/25, 1/12.5, 1/6.25, 1/2.5, 1/1.6, 1/1)

  5. Mathew Palmieri

    Brig, why think Robert Rinder should be the reboot host, not Anne? Just curious. I’s Anne too old?

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      Robert Rinder has believable authority, sass, can think on his feet, has a clear speaking voice.

      Anne’s fine, certainly a draw initially, but needs to be faster and clearer reading the questions.

      1. Brett Linforth

        He would certainly have the best diction of any quiz show host since Andi Peters on Ejector Seat

      2. David B

        I don’t think RR is under exclusivity, but going to the Beeb would certainly hurt his stock at ITV and maybe he knows where his bread is buttered. But I would agree that it would be a good move, casting-wise.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      According to Wikipedia:

      “Most of the European versions are produced in Studio 204 in Paris, France. The Polish, Romanian, Australian and Russian versions are produced in the Transcolor Studio in Szeligi near Warsaw, Poland, while the Italian one is produced in Milan.”

      1. Danny Kerner

        So if the UK pick up the rights we will fly/train/drive over to Paris to record a series.

        1. Mart With A Y Not An I

          Two options.
          1 – Load the French wall onto a truck, drive it up to Calais, boat/Eurotunnel to the UK, and construct it at Pinewood/Elstree/Television Centre.

          2 – Work out were is best to record the shows in Europe. Where would the best amount of English speakers be to pad out the rest of the audience with, after the friends and family of the contestants of the block of shows being recorded?
          Yes, the St Denis suburb (where the French studio is) is closer to the UK, but, would you get more English speaker if you recorded a UK version in Milan?

          The makers of Five Gold Rings could get away with it in Holland, because pretty much everyone speaks some English, and the legendary 1st series of Beat The Star was recorded on the Schlag Den Raab set, and most of the audience were English speakers because they put the call out for audiences to the US and UK army/air force bases that were located close by. Same rules probably applied to the 500 Questions audience arrangers a couple of years ago.

          1. Nico W.

            The German version is recorded in France and it really didn’t matter that the audience could probably not understand most of the show. The graphics and studio lighting are good enough to provoke the right emotions and sounds from the audience imho.

      2. David

        I was actually surprised to see that they taped the Australian version in Poland- I thought they would have taped it in Los Angeles on the US set, but the distances are actually pretty close (13,851 km from Australia to Poland, 13,119 km from Australia to the US) and it’s probably cheaper overall to use the Poland set….

  6. John R

    Interesting article on the BBC website :-

    Mystery solved why it is back to the whiteboards and dry wipe markers, they nicked the French set to film the special!

    Also “It’s not that she’s unhappy about hosting a one-off special for Children in Need this Friday – nor that a new series is being considered for next year.” suggests the series is probably extremely likely!

    1. Danny Kerner

      So if they borrowed set from the French for this one off, it can prove that if the Wall is picked up for a UK production they could ship over the set. (Cost could decide)

      1. Jon

        I would think using the French set on a regular basis would cost a lot more than building one.

  7. Des Elmes

    Well that went by quickly.

    And I’ve got to admit, I was disappointed too. Chizzy deserved to win, but I thought she did so a little *too* easily (there was just about no tactical voting, and hardly any opportunities for it either). And I totally agree that the money chain is shit.

    Totally agree, too, that Judge Rinder would be a great host.

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      They did all offhandedly declare when discussing strategy that they were there to play properly, which as they were all playing for the same charity felt fair enough. One of the things we pondered before the show was how playing for the same charity would affect the game, and there we are.

      There was a big discussion about banking strategy before that round they banked £500 in, they felt that was the best time to bank as they’d all have got a question correct. Can’t help but think that with that chain that’s absolutely the worst place to bank really as the following question is really good value (although I think I’d bank there after that rather than risk it all on a seventh, especially if we didn’t have much to show so far).

      Slightly off feel with the stings, and some of the cuts felt a bit odd, Anne suddenly disappearing and appearing from her podium (basically they had to bring in a crane for all the vote reveals, IIRC the original had a camera above Anne they could raise and lower at will).

      They recorded the Spectre question about five times as a pick up after the show.

      Although it looks like the conversation with Rosemary mid-round looked weirdly cut, it was a fair reflection of what went on.

      1. Mart With A Y Not An I

        For the old cleb specials, they used the (techno) crane jib for the voting reveals which came to a stop from the high up angle to about 3ft above Annie’s head.

        There was a small red led light above the lens, which flashed as a Cue light for the player to press the button, and reveal the name of the podium screen.

        1. Brig Bother Post author

          Thank you, yes that sounds a bit more correct. I certainly more remember a crane shot going in and out rather than the sudden cut we got yesterday.

      2. Tom H

        That sting in and out of the voting reveal was horrible, and in the wrong key; some of the editing was also very suspect.

        Anne was OK – as you pointed out her question delivery has slowed (but not to the extent of the snail’s pace delivery in the head-to-head in early episodes); that said, to my mind, some of the sparkle’s gone from her presentation, and she didn’t seem as fired up for it as I thought she might be after such a long break.

  8. John R

    I quite enjoyed it for what it was, the retro feeling was cool – and to answer my own question they did manage to get Siri back to do the voiceover to make it complete – hurrah!

    Anne was clearly loving it too which helped, but didn’t have that much opportunity to get stuck in as it was actually quite a short episode with them having to do the mandatory give us your money inserts.

    I would like to see it back in the schedules but not too often, towards the end of the original run it was overkill on how much it was on. Also something I seem to remember from the original is all of a sudden Round 1 almost always ended up with the team managing to bank the full grand!

    1. Brig Bother Post author

      I think there had always been a gradation of question difficulty, but there certainly seemed a point where round one questions were Tipping Point easy.

      There was a lot of cut chat as you could imagine.

      This got 3.2m last night which sounds pretty decent.

        1. Brig Bother Post author

          In fact looking at that first ep, it’s strange to think that the show developed so much so quickly:

          * Question difficulty seems to be set at around average throughout the entire game.
          * Anne is quite tart and has an occasional dig but not really as the focus of the show. Evidently this was an aspect that people quite clearly picked-up on fairly early.
          * That endgame set-up. Christ.
          * Also the money chain lacked the pound symbol for most of it.

          1. Matt Clemson

            So, let’s focus on the *really* important question here, because it’s something that nagged me for a while, and it’s particularly highlighted in this clip:

            Just when did the intro lose the “The” from the first rung?

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