Back to the Bar

February 2009

26th February 2009

God, so much to do, so little time.Come back after midnight for the answers to Brig Bother's Pathetic Phonetic Challenge (but not the results as they involve TABULATION), and hopefully before I go to bed I've got to try and fit in tonight's K-Fac and Dazza and Gazza's Accumulate! (ha ha, that's so sticking). In fact there is going to be no "proper" update until Sunday where we'll reveal the winners, put up Clip Boyard and win the second stage of the BSoP.

But I think I know what you're interested in...

Will you start the fans, please?

I am not a theatre critic.

  • Alrighty then, Crystal Maze: The Musical is written by Peter Facer and Simon Birdus, and is currently being performed at Robinson College's Brickhouse Theatre and will be on tomorrow and Saturday if you're in the area and fancy a show. Tickets are £10, £6 for concessions.
  • Plot: a team of misfits come to take on the maze unaware of the producer's neferious scheme to make enough money to buy episodes of top-rated sitcom Friends by selling off locked-in contestants to Geordie Aztec slave trader Juan (Birdus). WILL SHE SUCCEED? And what's Mumsey got to do with all this? Also: a love story.
  • Contestant's recreation of CM costumes very good.
  • Songs are OK (two of them very good, although I forget which). Either the acoustics aren't very good, they weren't singing loud enough or I'm deaf because I felt the music drowned the singing out a little bit in places, especially at the top of the show where all the contestants introduce themselves.
  • Writing was quite funny, not ashamed of throwing in a quick gag or diversion of musical form. It's fair to say that Niall Caldwell as loser IT consultant Jack and Fergus Ross Ferrier as Richard O' Brien steal the show, Caldwell's got a very decent sense of timing and manages to get more laughs out of a prosthetic arm than can be expected. And Ferrier's O' Brien is often uncanny. The supporting cast played their parts well, Sarah Hutt as 70 year-old Doris picking up the majority of the laughs in a sort of Meera Syal in The Kumars at No. 42 stylee.
  • The one thing I mainly wondered before I walked in was how were they going to play the obvious "stupid contestant in easy game" angle. The answer is: at the beginning, and that's pretty much it. Good. All other game playing is implied, the show deals mainly with what happens around them. Mumsey's been cast as a bit of a cougar, which is a bit surprising. Works OK though.
  • Set is very sparse, they seem to have blown the budget on the Crystal Dome, which has a flashing light and everything.
  • OK, to sum up: it's not a genre classic, plot felt a bit... empty, like it was more a set of interconnected sketches based on a common theme, but the writing is at least amusing and the perfomers play their parts well. Er, that's it.

I am not a theatre critic.

Also I've had this Anon(n)ymous comment:

  • Duncan Gray's article on COM is interestingly nice, considering he was the first commissioner to view the show and ultimately rejected it. Shortly afterwards his contract was re-evaluated (read fired) at which point ITV showed huge interest in the show and 12yard productions in general. Wonder why he was being so nicey nicey when it was probably the straw that broke the camel's back?

Hmm indeed!


24th February 2009

The Clipton Factor: Tokyo Friend Park II

Look, you're just going to have to trust us that we're spectacularly busy at the weekend, but we'll try very hard to do a little feature on this the weekend after. Sorry it isn't brilliant quality, I've been experimenting with Youtube file formats.


23rd February 2009

Well ladies and gents, lets be clear. ITV backed the black with The Colour of Money, and it seems to have come up green. Lime. Emerald. Chartreuse. Tropical Rain Forest. Whatever. The fact remains on the basis on episode one, it is Not a Hit. But I do think it can sell, and I think it will be Not a Hit in several different countries. And selling, rather sadly, is what ITV seem to be more interested in then producing something properly killer for, you know, your normal viewers in your domestic country.

Now with my background as a working class ITV sort of man, this upsets me just a little and I think it's time for ACTION. So I've given it some (some) thought and have decided to start a new irregular feature where I give some killer programme ideas for you to take up. I know you're reading ITV Press Office. My fees are very reasonable, but the following you can have for free in a new feature called...

Let's Make ITV Programme Ideas Help Help Get!!!

  • Pop Poker. It's basically poker with pop stars. FEEL THE TENSION, can Aleisha Dixon fold her King Jack on the button after a raise from Gary Barlow and a re-raise from Richard Fairbrass who is holding pocket rockets?
  • Host will be A-List D-Lister Richard Orford, Commentary to be provided by Colin Murray and Vicki Coren (who will probably have heard of the contestants) and Dave Ulliot (who probably won't) on a rotating basis.
  • Structure to be similar to France's Direct Poker, which is a bit rubbish but is over within an hour and is hosted by Patrice Laffont so is still good really.
  • Important: theme tune to be cover of Pop Muzik by M by Aldi Girls Aloud The Saturdays but with some clever changes: "New York, London, Paris, Dover, everybody talk about... Pop Poker!"
  • Also important: the sting for the blind increase should go "New York, London, Paris, Devizes, everybody talk about... blind rises!" Note, wanted it to end with "blind increase!" really, but that would mean rhyming with "Greece," which doesn't really scan and I couldn't think of another place that rhymed with 'increase'.
  • Anytime you can link a poker hand to a piece of music you should play it i.e. "Two Hearts" by Kylie Minogue everytime someone is dealt two hearts. Or even the two of hearts. "Ace of Spades" by Motorhead anytime the Ace of Spades shows up. The possibilites are limitless.

Don't forget that Brig Bother's Pathetic Phonetic Challenge ends Thursday. Some of you have even got some answers right! So best get skates on if you want a shot at £20. And it's BSoP Night on Sunday. Chips get!


21st February 2009

The Colour of Money, then

Right, I'm not entirely sure where to begin with this. So I guess I'll start at the very beginning:

  • FOX style show intro and break bumpers. No, no, NO. If you are the person responsible for this, please sack yourself. It's awful when US shows do it and the average Brit doesn't need it and absolutely doesn't want it.
  • The set and graphics are quite nice actually. You should remake Strike it Lucky on it, clearly.
  • Sob stories. Fine.
  • Right, cash cards that give the illusion of choice but without any indication of what might have been on the other cards. We'd have revealed the three different amounts and given the contestant the choice to take the top and most difficult one or trust to luck.
  • The game is what it is - solid with a decent basis in mathematics. But unfortunately that doesn't always translate into good telly. In actual fact I thought it translated slightly better than I was expecting and I was left less bored than I was expecting, but I can't help but think any show that likes to flash things up like "average needed: £6,593" in quite such a po faced manner is going to find it difficult to be a mainstream success.
  • Millie's lovely, but there's no real reason Chris couldn't host it on its own.

Basically, the show isn't awful but I suspect the show is going to be a victim of its own hype. I was quite surprised when it finished after two players, I was expecting three for some reason. And the show underran the timeslot fairly spectacularly. Not convinced we need a post show breakdown or shots of some people looking tense for next week, it all felt a bit "press red for a director's commentary".

It's the new The Big Call, isn't it?

The Colour of Money is on this evening, ITV, 6:35pm

If 70 minutes of people shouting "stop!" sounds appealing, I've provided a new comment box for you. I'm out this evening playing the most stressful game not on television (poker) but have it on record, so you'll get the OFFICIAL correct opinion late Saturday or Sunday sometime.

Clip Boyard

Bad news I'm afraid Ladies and Gents, I've cross-referenced all the games I've put up with all the games there have ever been, and I'm afraid there are only about 129 editions of Clip Boyard left :(

So what better way to cheer ourselves up as we prepare ourselves for the sad end of a long running feature with the debut of the fort's most wacky, fun, crazy AND outrageous character ever, Jaba the Pirate? Here's the very first playing of Escrime from 1995, the idea is for the contestant to hit the buckle on Jaba's chest which opens the compartment releasing the key, and making him dive into a bucket of shame.


Three wins to the contestants and two losses, if you're keeping score. I was convinced I had put up this game already, but a search on Youtube suggests otherwise. So there we are.

For all my kvetching about it a few days ago, SOTI actually has some fairly interesting twists in it towards the end. So I don't love it, but I far from hate it really.


20th February 2009

And don't forget!

Our Happy Hour competition closes next Thursday. We've not been, er, inundated with entries so far (er, two) so you've probably got a decent chance of winning. This could be the easiest £20 you'll ever make!

And Sunday week is the second stage of the Bother Series of Poker. Don't forget to join in the fun and give us your money!

We'll have a new comment box for The Colour of Money and stuff tomorrow.

19th February 2009

Will anybody stop The Almighty Colfer?

Excellent first semi-final on K-Fac this evening. It looks like they've listened regarding fairering (someone call the OED) up Mental Agility, we're just not massive fans of the 'two highest scoring losers across both semis go through to the final' system, mainly because if someone dominates their show they're going to eat all the points away from everyone else, and if the other show is more balanced their scores are likely to be generally higher but the calibre of contestant might not be. Does that make sense? Is it even right? Who knows.

Shortland Street

Do you know what we're doing right now? Well we're writing something, but do you know what series I was sent recently I'm watching right now?

Correct! It is, of course, Superstars of Treasure Island. You might know Treasure Island, Five showed the Aussie version some time ago, there was also a few Irish seasons and it's been going on in its native New Zealand for approximately 6,000 seasons. It is, fairly basically, a Survivor rip-off - some people survive on a desert island, people get eliminated, there's a winner. But the original show had a rather neat voice of its own - each week the two tribes hunt for pieces of a treasure map which when put together at the end reveal a tough riddle to solve which reveals the location of the buried treasure. To find these pieces, the tribes must crack codes and solve puzzles around the island based on messages in bottles that wash-up from the old pirate that used to live there X hundred years ago forming a fairly compelling narrative. At the end of each episode everyone takes a computer questionaire (We preferred the Aussie version which didn't break the atmosphere by getting people to mark locations on a map with a quill) which determined who stays and who goes, the last people left race to find the treasure. It was quite good.

So what Superstars of TI did was the rather brilliant idea of getting all the best players from all the international versions of the show together for a game. But disappointingly, somewhere between the original show and this one the game's changed to basically become Survivor, the two tribes compete against each other for challenges (based on the island legend) for food and luxuries and the tribe chief chooses someone to be eliminated at the end of each episode, with the chance for anyone else to overthrow the current chief in a vote after each elimination. How massively disappointing! I wonder what led to the changes.

Survivor: Tocantins and The Amazing Race 14 both began very recently.


17th February 2009

The Clipton Factor: My Kind of Town

Well we did Chris Tarrant yesterday so here's current Capital breakfast show host Johnny Vaughan with 2005 Michael Davies and W-i-i-ill Macdonald (you'd never guess) produced Stateside flop (cancelled after four episodes!) My Kind of Town. Featuring a man burning some sandals without a context and a giant robot!

Don't forget to sing along if you know the words.


The high-tension endgame involved one person being asked to put one of ten names to six faces met throughout the show in a game called "Name Your Neighbours" in order to win the whole 200-strong audience a nice prize. Although even if they're wrong, everyone won a smaller prize anyway.

16th February 2009

Dear Chris Tarrant,

If you'd rather people didn't think of you as a 'gameshow host' (spit), stop saying yes to every bloody format that is suggested to you.

Brig xx

In lieu of news, let's have a nonny comment round-up:

  • I Love Bothers Bar (normally we wouldn't post such pointless missives, but after finishing on the bubble in a poker tournament on Valentine's Day, I don't think some self love is anything to be ashamed of. Right gang? And nobody loves me more than me, after all.)
  • Word has reached me from France that À Prendre ou à Laisser (the French incarnation of Deal or No Deal) has been revived, in a format not dissimilar to the one before the 2006 revamp (with joke prizes and such) but with similar presentation to the 2006 version. AIUI it still has Arthur Sans-Nom as the host and still has the melodramatic soundtracks. (Gleaned from the French Wikipedia and certain... erm... sources.) (That's brilliant! Except, er, we covered it in the New Year when it first started. You can watch it streaming live on the TF1 website and everything followed by their entertaining but strangely recursive Wheel of Fortune from 5:25 UK time which is irritatingly just as we finish work on most evenings. Still don't worry, one day we'll have a website most befitting the 2,423,120th most popular website on the planet that we are with a search function and everything, so it's not your fault, although it IS your fault for not reading every comment religiously and committing it all to memory.)

Good clip tomorrow.


14th February 2009

Clip Boyard

Happy Valentine's Day! Because today is all about love, and because we love our fans or something, here's the first ten minutes of the very first ever edition of La Cles de Fort Boyard from 1990, with introduction by Olivier Minne and everything. The game featured at the end of it is Côton-tiges which is a bit like Duel from Gladiators. I'm going to have to draw a list of all the games I have and haven't done by next week, I think. Anyway, enjoy.


In other news, we've been having a discussion over Krypton Factor assault course times and how big the headstart for females should be in order to make it competitive and exciting. On the current course in the current series it stands at 45 seconds and has provided no winners. We present the times from the heats for you now to peruse, the female times are in square brackets, you will need to add 45 seconds to the time to get their true figure.

Heat 1: 5:38, 6:43, 9:06, [10:17]
Heat 2: 5:31, [6:23], 7:02, 9:13
Heat 3: 5:51, 6:16, 6:53, [8:01]
Heat 4: 6:35, [6:42], 7:16, 7:55
Heat 5: 5:14, 6:10, 7:40, [7:50]
Heat 6: 5:10, [6:48], 7:03, 8:10
Heat 7: 6:07, 6:29, 6:37, [11:22]


12th February 2009

Sorry everyone, we're basically really busy an' that. And not much interesting is happening anyway.

Why not enter our "genius" competition? And can you believe it's ONLY (goes and checks) SEVENTEEN days until the next stage of the Bother Series of Poker? Amazing.

It's the Crystal Maze: The Musical webpage! Get a ticket before Tuesday and get a cheap ticket to the launch party at hilarious nightclub Bellare. Filth Avenue. Or if you're a "student", Sindies, despite the fact it's not been called that for about 20 years, before most of them were even born. Ah, local references there.

It's the last K-Fac heat this evening! At least four people are calling it that on a regular basis now, so we're going to keep doing it until EVERYONE IN BRITAIN HAS JUMPED ON THE K-FAC BANDWAGON.

10th February 2009

The Clipton Factor: Bare Necessities

Before we officially relaunch as 'The Ed Hall Wry Fan Page' next Monday, here's a clip of some sheep-shearing and cheating from great BBC outward bound survival show Bare Necessities, with bonus Hugh McManners.


9th February 2009

It's the competition that EVERYBODY will be talking about!

Finally! Our first proper competition in about 18 months that isn't a Fantasy one, and all you've got to do is play the most complex game of Name That Tune you'll ever play. You could win £20! It's time for Brig Bother's Pathetic Phonetic Challenge.

7th February 2009

Clip Boyard

We're back in 1990's Germany this week for 'Balançoire'. Being played fairly badly.


New Happy Hour compo on Monday!


6th February 2009

  • Turns out Fun House is going out from May, but that may be pushed back to the summer if they can get Finders Keepers to go along with it. Weekend mornings 8am.

So there we are. Clip Boyard tomorrow.

5th February 2009

It's wacky! It's fun! It's ker-a-a-zy! IT'S OUTRAGEOUS!

It is of course Dick and Dom's Ask the Family. Meanwhile here's an anon(n)ymous comment:

  • Its now confirmed, Challenge to show Fun House. Looks like it will go out over the Easter holidays.

4th February 2009

Would you like to appear on Only Connect?

Because I'm the most important person in Gameshowland, I was sent this on Facebook earlier:

"The second series of ‘Only Connect’ is returning to BBC Four, and we’re looking for teams of three to take part.

Teams should have good general knowledge, an aptitude for lateral thinking and a keen eye for spotting connections. The show is presented by Victoria Coren (Balderdash and Piffle, The Observer, The Guardian).

It’s a challenging yet fun quiz where teams work together to work out the answers. At no point do team members have to answer questions by themselves.

For further information or an application form contact

All entries must be received by no later than midnight on Tuesday 17 February 2009 so get your application in as soon as possible.

Applicants must be 18 years of age or over and U.K. residents."

In David's contestant call down in the comment box beneath this one, he also adds you need to be avaliable for filming March 9th-11th and that you should all have some kind of common link. Or connection, if you will. So there we are.

In other news, Gordon Burns has been talking about the new K-Fac in his North West Tonight newsletter and someone has put it up on TV Forum. It makes for interesting reading, especially the story behind the 1995 series where they almost got rid of the assault course! Amazing. Of course there is nothing wrong per se with target times (it's just the old age and gender headstarts but flipped to apply at the end) but yes it means it's quite difficult to commentate on it as a meaningful race.


3rd February 2009

The Clipton Factor: Dick and Dom's Ask the Family

Well I thought it was funny. In honour of Da Dick 'n' Dom Dairies currently running on weekeday mornings, here's spectacular 2005 flop Ask the Family starring Dick, Dom, and Dave Chapman.


Ha ha! Rubbish. I can't believe they managed to fit a reference to donkey punching in at 6pm.

2nd February 2009

A warning, tomorrow's Clipton Factor is likely to be a bit late. But I can promise it will almost certainly be a Good Game Good Gamey Gamey Game Game. What do we do with a pair?

Also: I think there might be a new Happy Hour competition in the works that *gasp* isn't a Fantasy Competition. Fancy that!

Is this the end of Big Brother?

Probably not, seeing as they're contracted to, I think, 11.

As I've said many times over the past years, freshening the format is not the problem. Putting it on for an hour a day for three months is the problem.

Also the show is skewing older. And yet filling it with young T4-esque people with trendy haircuts people doesn't draw the viewers in, it just irritates the ones who are already watching. Hmm.


1st February 2009

Dear Sky One

It is normally easier to hide the fact you've hidden a slightly substandard first-to-be-filmed edition of Gladiators mid-series if you tell Ian Wright not go on about it being a new series in his intro.

Just a thought,
Brig xx

A Bother's Dozen

It started with 12, 169 hands later Ian Robertson claims all the chips, the lifechanging $30 payday and the all-important CRUCIAL 11 BSoP points in the first round of the Bother Series of Poker. Greg Lowe finished 2nd claiming 8 points and $18, and yours truly managed a valiant 3rd place after getting jammily knocked out when his pocket overpair lost to a very loose call hitting two pair on the river.

It was a great game, thanks to everyone who took part. It was certainly one of the most intense games online I've ever played - after one hour only one person had been knocked out (and that took 44 minutes...), and a big blind of 150 doesn't go too far when the average stack size is just over 1,600...

The standard was much higher than I was expecting. Round two happens on March 1st. If you like gambling and fun (but not necessarily in equal measure) and you've got $5.50 going spare then you can register for it right now!

It's the first league standings!