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September 2009

29th September 2009

The Clipton Factor: Flatmates

It was going to be something else this evening but we didn't have the time (sorry I've been a bit pushed for time recently) so we'll save it for next week (yes I know, how intriguing, I'm like a one man Lost) so in the week where students start or go back to university (I'm talking proper i.e. Cambridge students here) with all the exciting sharing of communal buildings that that requires, here's, er, Flatmates with Emma Kennedy from 2000. The show where a group of flatmates look for someone else to join them, the winner gets to move in and get their first month's rent paid for them.

I've got a horrible feeling the new series of De Slimste isn't going to be on RTL's watch again service :( New host Martin Krabbe did Wat Schat Je? if I remember correctly, which came over here as Guesstimation. Whither the ever awesome Linda de Mol?

At a glance:
Is Roboidz the new Bamzooki!?, Season 3 of Wipeout has begun filming, Nadia Swalhala to host Junior Masterchef with Gregg Wallace (is that the bald one? We forget.). It may or may not be the first Junior Masterchef, the BBC aren't quite sure, Dick de Rijk signs a golden handcuffs deal with Prosieben (joke about late night German films), Heads or Tails: will it be good or will it be bad?, The Cube has been bought by FOX in the US, Rupert Murdoch would like a quiet word with Dan. Five bring back Name That Tune. Halle Berry on Pointless.

27th September 2009

Clip Boyard

This week a game that's rather modern, introduced in 2006 and still being played today. But it is one of my favourites, because it's been designed quite cleverly to trap the unwary. It's also the closest to Hole in the Wall I can find. It is Barillet. This clip is from Jackson Richardson's team in 2008. BRING ON THE SAFE!!!


And now a secret.

For the second half of filming the first season of the Freench show (which happened just after the German show), it was decided that there would be a bungee jump, and when installing it the production team thought Antoine Marcon and the other professionals as rather unaware fools. Antoine didn't want to do it, he was scared someone would get killed - "too hard, too intense, too dangerous!". Despite this, Jacques Antoine and Jean-Pierre Mitrecy insist they want it, and decided they wanted to do full scale tests on the Fort. So Antoine rigged it up to support 90kgs, and they tested it with cans of water. And it worked OK. But Didier Luca the producer said that some of the contestants were going to be 95kgs, would they be OK to jump? Well no they wouldn't, Antoine said, they'd need three metres more in height. Didier would not budge - it must be 95kg. "You want to see 95kg?" Antoine exclaims, "OK, you'll see!" And so the elastic is weighed up with 95kg of water, pushed off and it smashed into the ground, drenching all the watching technicians and crew who stand in silence. "You understand? That's why I need three metres." That night, he got his three metres.

More questions than answers

Content! Who'd've thunk. There's a new weekend special on recent GSN Big Saturday Night offering 20Q, with Cat Deeley.

At a glance:
De Slimste returns, Scream If You Know The Answer evokes exciting 80s memories of Hold Tight and the less exciting Scream If You Want To Get Off!, RTL's Gemist service, The Amazing Race, Daniel Peake: Weatherman, TVTropes, whatever that is, University Challenge, Perfect 10 looks like a sort of version of The Cube but with menial household chores, Blind Date and X Factor are on in France, some people do well on Millionaire.

26th September 2009


Rather uselessly we're too busy to update today. But tomorrow - oh tomorrow - a clip and a feature, you mark my words.

24th September 2009

Right, busy few days for me the next couple of days, but Clip Boyard should happen on Saturday, and if you're really lucky, we're going to do a feature on Sunday. Yes! You remember! We used to do them quite often.

If they keep making The Way of the Warrior harder year on year on Raven, surely there will come a point where there's no point it actually being there? Although saying that, it looks like they've raised the swinging barrel just a touch so that it's just "really hard" as opposed to "next to impossible".

At a glance:
Pointless is recomissioned, quiz setting, what's the oldest reality gameshow in the world? Survivor 19x02, Millionaire dates, Hole in the Wall, The Cube and the usage of memory games and lack of playtesting within, people still not quite getting that there's no real difficulty curve in The Cube except for the final game, Sasuke 23, Ratings Bear.

23rd September 2009

So why hasn't anyone thought about reviving Ultra Quiz?

Because really, it would be brilliant for Saturday nights after The X Factor has finished - massive event, elimination format, glamourous locations, potential for mild emotional trauma, £1,000,000 in one penny pieces AND a quiz.

The original Japanese show was basically 30 years ahead of its time - it was already sort of a little bit reality. And we found the titles to the David Frost hosted series on Youtube yesterday. Un/fortunately, we only have very vague recollections of the Stu Francis/Sara Hollamby era.

Also, does anyone else find it a bit unnerving that people only seem to talk about Rachel Riley when it's about how good she looks in a dress?

22nd September 2009

I wrote the review of 4 Square over ten years ago and goodness, it shows. I think now there's some proper evidence for it the time has come to neaten it up a little bit.

The Clipton Factor - 4 Square

Now it's fairly rare we put up full episodes of things - I have to balance out the fact that I like to share interesting things with you: the punters with the fact that I am quite lazy, uploading takes up loads of bandwidth and the fact I'm well aware TV types read and could stop me doing it if they wanted.

However, it's not just any week that I'm sent an episode of 4 Square with TV and radio's Mr Übersmooth John Sachs. The show that, really, was quite a lot more interesting than Going for Gold but didn't have the Hans Zimmer theme tune and comedy European accents and so nobody remembers it. I'd like to think now would be a good time to remember it. So here's the full episode. It is from 1990.

Here is part 2 and part 3. You can download Ian McKim's theme and completely awesome Maze theme from the TV Ark page here.

There was a version of the show - similar in theme, but different in mechanics, hosted by Michael Groth before the Sachs version we all remember. Now my memories of this are very vague, I wonder if any episodes of this exist? Also, those graphics were quite good at the time. You'd have been impressed, if you hadn't seen Box Clever with Emelyn Hughes.

21st September 2009

Time for a new comment box, and I'll just point this out as it was in the last one and is possibly interesting enough to be worth a reprint: David J Bodycombe is doing sort of like his own version of The Apprentice and you might get money off him if you can do computer programming.

At a glance:
The Cube, Bingo Lotto attempts to trap the unwary on Digital Spy fora, 4 Square, Heads or Tails, University Challenge, it's Croatian Countdown!, Rachel Riley, Who Wants to be a Millionaire? isn't giving enough money away, still no royalties for Batak Attack! :(, Pointless gets political. Pointless destroys the footballing Berlin Wall, Slovakian People Versus obviously.

19th September 2009

Of course...

... that famous phrase "Monkey Asssink Fantsmed."

If anyone has a better solution to the titles puzzle on the titles shown on this TV Ark page, do please get in touch.

Edit to add: I've had the answer pointed out to me, it wasn't a joke question, I was genuinely slightly baffled. And I grew up watching Classic Concentration with Alex Trebek off of Jeopardy! on Sky One :(

Another edit: I hve hilariously failed to point out I'm referring to the Concentration titles here.

Dear The Internet,

Playalong at home value is not, in fact, the be all and end all of TV gameshows, and in fact it can be quite to very entertaining watching others live their lives in a vicarious fashion.

That is why things like sports, films and The Cube are quite popular.

Brig xx

Clip Boyard

Just a quickie this week - here's G Squad from 1997 with the Catapult.


17th September 2009


Survivor: Samoa is on this evening. This is well good now we're into Survivor again. I won't get to watch it until the weekend - that's my problem not yours, feel free to talk about it if you want.

Here's a new comment box as it's been a few days since the last one.

At a glance:
Marcus Bentley: jobbing answerphone message man, some US celebrity does well on Jeopardy!, Surivivor: Samoa, someone loses on Tout le Monde... and includes a clever French version of British forum lingo, Eurovision is more than just a song contest, Tokyo Friend Park 2, Greg Scott is back, back, BACK! on Price Drop TV, David Bodycombe off the telly does like a sort of version of The Apprentice, The Cube, can you watch stuff on RTE outside of Ireland? Tought Concentration puzzles of our time, a hilarious reference to Cross Wits, All Star Family Fortunes, Ratings Bear, Heads or Tails, Victoria Coren has nothing better to do.

16th September 2009

Thing to make you go "hmm."

Arlene Philips get replaced by a younger model on Strictly Come Dancing (where she was a perfect fit), a competition with contestants with a broad age range and with broad appeal, in order to help the show appeal to a younger audience.

Arlene Philips gets a judging job on So You Think You Can Dance? UK with Nigel Lythgoe (aged 60), a show that appeals mainly to the young, with mostly young contestants.


15th September 2009

The Clipton Factor: Raven: The Island

The new series of Raven started today (very similar to last series on the basis of the opening episode, although Pendulum is a fun new addition. The graphics for keeping track of the scores are bigger than last year, but still largely miss the point that it takes twice as long to get relevant information across as it used to, and lacks the magic of Raven bringing losers back by magic in real time, rather than in a less interesting cutaway). I'm led to believe that series 9 and 10 have been filmed one after the other, so don't expect too many presentation changes for the series after this one.

Anyway, this week's clip comes from 2006 Raven spin off The Island, which doesn't feature Raven very much at all, in fact here they are mentored by Princess Erina played by Lindsay Mackenzie (no relation to James Mackenzie aka Raven, although Michael Mackenzie who played Cyrus the Astronomer in the series is actually James' dad. All it was missing was Mackenzie Crook, obviously.). This is the first ten minutes from the final episode.


Just a note, something's come up, updates might be sporadic for the next few days as I might need to be elsewhere - family emergency, sorry. But I'll do what I can if I'm here.

I'll give you a new comment box in the meantime:

At a glance:
Tomb Raider as Treasure Hunt, University Challenge, do Irish towns rhyme? Will they get rid of The Kube on The Krypton Factor because there is The Cube on Saturday nights? Raven 9, allusions to Gordon Burns swearing, Late Night Poker, Filip Nikolic commits suicide, Brighter Pictures + Cheetah = Remarkable Television, let us hope Cheetah can pull BP up and not let it take them down, Jesse May - a force for poker good or poker evil?

14th September 2009

Raven's ninth tournament starts tomorrow (4:05pm on BBC1). Let us hope it is a bit less underwhelming than the last series.

Nine series is very good for a kids game show though.

13th September 2009

Clip Boyard

This week Indra attempts Jacob's Ladder, from 1994. I'm sorry it's in black and white, my colour copy of the episode won't transfer for whatever reason.


Meanwhile, Cosser has sent us another secret of Fort Boyard - this is a combination of Google translation and paraphrasing...

The 2Be3: It's June 1997, Cendrine, Patrice and three members of popular French boyband 2Be3 (led by Filip Nikolic) await to see if the gold will be released. Cendrine recalls that the team were rather delirious on the way to the Fort, surrounded all the way by their staff - they were not terribly good contestants to work with, but in the end with sacrifices they settle for a word. Unfortunately, no Boyards fall because the word is wrong, and this is where the bullshit starts. How do I manage these guys who have lost? Radio silence from the producers. Emerging from the Treasure Room, Filip yells "The 2Be3 cannot lose! We are stars!" But everyone on the production team in the excitement agrees on one thing - a team that lost, lost. Everyone left to try and calm down the team and their staff, but Filip wasn't having it, and Cendrine spends the next twenty minutes arguing with him. "Filip, you and your team, you agreed to come to Fort Boyard has to play our game, respecting the rules. You agreed to take the risk of losing."
"Yes, he replied," clinging to his idea, "but the true rule is that stars like we can not lose, it's our image is at stake, they came to be highlighted! Heroes, cannot disappoint the public!"
"OK, OK, you gambled, you lost. But you fought well and you do not break faith. And do not forget that, anyway, you take an endowment of twenty thousand francs for the association to which you have played."
"Yes, but it could bring more!"
"Listen, Filip, whatever you think, a losing issue is a good scenario is a show different from others, with nary an extraordinary drama that provokes suspense and emotion particularly strong among the public. reactions it generates sympathy for the team that played and it usually results in larger donations to the charity."
I conclude with one final argument that titillates his pride ( "Can you imagine, you and Filip, the unfortunate hero of the day, which failed before a hundred people now begin a sequence of final fully rigged ? ") No answer. And finally it is agreed to play out as it should.

In general, about 80% of teams win and trigger the trunk, and the pleasure of watching the deluge of coins drop from it. But how did the trunk come into being? Jacques was charged with making the changes for the second season of the show, it was determined that the treasure would come from a monument, and that it would be delivered from above. But the question posed was: how were we going to limit how much very good teams could loot from the treasure? The solutions were not interesting or very telegenic so it was decided to find a way to limit the contestant's actions - that's why there are bars on the cage. Much smaller ones at the bottom so contestants can't just slide it all out, they must put their arms through the bigger bars to scrape the Boyards up and make them fall on their side. And it's the same the world over.

At a glance:
Free Play, should The Cube have a third lifeline and if so what should it be? Bingo Lotto, falling Boyards, Gadget Show gameshow special, product placement, CBS does the UK, Clever vs Stupid.

12th September 2009

This week's Clip Boyard will be tomorrow, sorry. But thanks to Travis, we know it's Schlag den Raab this evening for €500,000. It may be avaliable to watch live somewhere. We're going to be out, unfortunately :(

10th September 2009

The Chase is on...

This still makes me "laugh", sorry.This is worthy of a wider mention I think, thanks to Milky Jack for pointing out this article in Broadcast Now suggesting that The Chase and Divided are set to come back for longer runs.

I sort of feel sorry for The Fuse, I think it's probably the better format (although both are not brilliant, The Chase could do with a little polishing in that regard), but if you will insist on whooping contestants and Austin Healy...

It's a shame there's no sign of Spin Star, we were going to apply for it. Shouty Balls is unlikely to return.

At a glance:
 The Chase vs The Fuse, Cha$e, punctuation error's, more Italian Colour of Money, The Wizard of Oz and the age of the cast, Affari Tuoi is BACK!, Childrens Fantasy Novels on Pointless, The Amazing Race returns, The Big Food Fight, Jeopardy and Wheel return Monday, Schlag den Raab and the betting thereof. The Cube.

9th September 2009

The Clipton Factor: Combat Cars

It actually was going to be something else, but then I decided to improvise. Anyway, I think it's reasonable to say that as a tech journo and host of The Gadget Show, Jason Bradbury is one of TV's top geeks and as such he can be found fronting other shows involving wacky uses of technology. So from 2002 here's Combat Cars, an entire show based around something Scrapheap Challenge did as a one-off about a decade ago.

Let us be the first people to point out that Jason Bradbury is bald and that there is a Don't Scare the Hair joke somewhere. 

That's Yer (Pi)lot: Don't Scare the HARE

  • Well I got to the Beeb at 4:30 for letting in at 5 for a 6:30 start. Audience researcher asks me in the queue "oh, didn't you get the message? We e-mailed everyone to ask them to turn up at four." Nope. Thanks BBC Ticket Unit! Happily I still got in, and managed to watch pretty much an entire episode of Pointless in the audience foyer. Good stuff. We get let into the studio at about 5:20. An hour early eh? HMM.
  • Warm-up act is likeable Middlesborough bloke Patrick Monaghan.
  • The show is (and I had no idea up until this point) Endemol's big Saturday night hope Don't Scare the HARE. It includes a terrific Aibo-like robotic hare. See if you can guess what phrase the audience is encouraged to shout out at regular intervals, and also try and guess whether the format or the title was invented first. HARE stands for Hyper Asomething Reactive Esomething, I forget sorry.
  • The show is hosted by Jason Bradbury, off of Mercenaries. Commentary and voiceover work is provided by the unlikely figure of Barry Davies off of Match of the Day. He sounded a bit bored. Jason Bradbury was encouraged to breakdance on at least one occasion.
  • The game pits three lycra-clad guys against three lycra-clad girls in a bid to win £10,000.
  • The first game was Don't Lose Your Bottle. One contestant from each team is challenged to get to the end of a course, the first half has poles connected by bits of string (the web) followed by lots of tall poles close together (the forest). On top of each pole is a (sugar) glass bottle. Their job is to reach the end of the course within two minutes. Of course if a pole is dislodged too much the bottle on top will fall and smash. DON'T SCARE THE HARE!
  • The HARE (I'll just write it as hare from now on) begins in the three point zone with a net above it. When a bottle smashes, the hare spins round in apparent fear and retreats to the two point zone (the game pauses to allow this to happen which meant the audience got confused when they were following the floor manager's ten second countdown and a bottle smashed halfway through it). Another transgression drops another point, and a further transgression means the other team get to push their button for an automatic point. If they get to the end in time, they can push a button which drops the net (not looking unlike the cage from Mousetrap, in fact). The same game is then played with the teams reversed (the player set to play the game is out of the studio whilst the first team get their go). Sure, you've seen laser maze sort of thing on every show going, but you've NEVER seen it with a robotic hare providing a metaphorical visual scoring aid. This game was the longest to set up, apparently, so it was played before the opening and chats were done.
  • So it's about half seven now and finally game two has been set up - Don't Be Alarmed (if I recall correctly). The player must traverse a difficult balance-based course (featuring two curvy hilly walkways, two spinners, some uneven stepping stones) and a springy platform. Putting a foot down sets off an alarm which scares the hare. But there's more! They must do it whilst carrying "the fuse" - basically a ball in a plastic tube with lights that flash on either side if the ball hits the end. If they don't keep the fuse level, the alarm goes off. Or at least it does when the technician remembers to turn the thing on (it was halfway through the game when everyone pointed out that it wasn't working, and had to start again). When the girls had a go, she managed to trip and fall off the course completely. Apparently the idea of someone falling completely off a set of uneven obstacles was not a situation that had come up in a production meeting, and about ten minutes was wasted whilst those upstairs decided what to do. And that's not to mention the bit where she puts the fuse in the holder, except she forgets to push the button and then the ball rolls to one of the ends. That had to be filmed three times.
  • You've seen balance tests like this before (on Friends Like These), but you've NEVER seen it with a robotic hare providing a metaphorical visual scoring aid.
  • So it's nine o' clock now and I'm losing the will to live - in three and a bit hours they've recorded two games. I bought a pack of Ibuprofen at the Liverpool Street Station Boots in case I got a headache. I'm quite tired and fed-up, I could do something extreme here to end the pain and possibly make a statement in an arty way.
  • However I don't like the idea of wasting £1.19, so I choose not to just throw them at Jason Bradbury as he walks past. In fact, someone has the bright idea of putting the Champion of Champions edition of Total Wipeout on whilst they set up the next game. The original 80 strong audience is now down to about 20 and any staff they can rope in, but to their credit they do at least hand out water and chocolate to everyone who's stayed thus far.
  • Unfortunately they stop showing it to play the final game. And this time, they've stopped using the robot hare is a visual scoring metaphor. No, the two final players will play a large version of don't-touch-the-wire. But hold-on, this does something slightly different - There are two buzz wires, one for each contestant beginning at opposite ends of the stage with the hare in the middle. The contestants stand on platforms attached to winches. So the players must not touch the wire whilst being pulled towards the middle, and their button to catch the hare, automatically. but in fact it works on a sort of reverse chess clock basis - as the scores were tied (guesswork) both players got to start at the same time, but as one touched the wore their platform stopped and their opponent's carried on, until they touched, then the other person got to have a go.
  • This is a fine idea. Unfortunately the winches didn't work the first time. And double unfortunately, there's about a five second gap between a person touching and the game continuing because (yes!) an alarm goes off, and the hare has to do a spinny thing. Yes we get it, you've got a fucking robot and it can do a fucking spinny thing. If the gap was only 1 second - bearable, but when you spend more time not playing than actual playing, you've got a problem.
  • Anyway, the boys who won (I can say this because it's a pilot and there's no way it's getting broadcast) get to play the end game for £10,000. More people were leaving at this point, the warm-up promised that this would be quick, it's just a couple of questions then out, which persuaded some people to stay. It's gone 10:10 by this point.
  • End game: fifty-fifty questions. A right answer drops the net one-third of the way to catch the hare. A wrong answer and the hare runs one step (of three) towards its tent. Catch the hare, win £10,000. Davies reads the question out which appears on the large screen centre stage deep in the audience (so how well the contestants can see it... I don't know). Players get ten seconds to discuss then step or either the A or B square (a sort of path on the stage screen - god knows why these quares don't have the choices written upon them)) which turns green or red once they've taken the step. Unfortunately Bradbury (who'd been fine the rest of the show) was a bit rubbish here, drawing out the reveals for too long and messing up the cues. And seemingly the director hadn't thought about how this was going to be shot, as they re-did the hare and net dropping about five times each time. Every mistake, and every question felt like about five minutes. It is also never a good sign when the warm-up has to ask me who is sitting behind him what the question was, because the roped in staff for the audience were finding it quite hard to pay attention.
  • Unfortunately at about 10:30, with the boys one question away from victory and steps away from losing, the most technically advanced bit of equipment that had apparently worked flawlessly the entire show, the hare, decided it had had enough and broke down.
  • I'm sorry everyone, but I had seen enough by that point and gave up myself. It had been a long, tiring, interminable 5.5 hours of things you have seen before done a bit better, with a robotic hare which seems quite cool first time you see him, but realise that by episode two probably won't have an awful lot extra to offer. At time of writing (2:25am), it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest if they were still going. It is a half hour show by my reckoning (that's 5.5+hrs. For a 30 minute show.). Thank God they didn't have an hour's worth of ideas.
  • Endemol pilots tend to be pretty poor, and I'm sad to say this was pretty poor by Endemol's standards.

At a glance:
 Don't Scare the HARE, the Only Connect CoC will be shown at Christmas, for obvious reasons, Total Wipeout, Strictly goes Dancing in Blackpool with Joe Calzaghe, could Pointless run out of questions? Full Tilt Late Night Poker is back and great, BBUS comes back for a 12th outing, Italisn quiz host legend Mike Bongiorno dies, Ellen Degeneres is the new American Idol judge.

7th September 2009

Beeb off

We're off to see an Endemol Saturday night pilot at the Beeb tomorrow. Recording starts at 6:30pm. Why not have a guess as to what time it's going to finish, and if it will be in time for me to catch the last train home? There might be a prize if someone gets it bang on, although seeing as it's Fantasy X Factor coming up there probably won't be. Recording review when I get in, if I get in.


What has happened to the Only Connect Champion of Champions episode then? Or has it changed its name to Michael Palin... on the Colourists as some sort of intelligence test?

According to @KeshiKingdom on Twitter, Takeshi's Castle is returning to Challenge tonight with a "new look". New commentary as well? 8am and 6pm on Challenge.

At a glance:
 No-one knows what happened to OC's CoC's ep, Takeshi's Castle facelift looks somehow less good than the original, The Italian's will watch anything (including The Colour of Money) with ladies in it, Ed Tudor Pole amongst others appear on The Gadget Show, University Challenge, Clever vs Stupid, people guess at times, TV Quick Awards, Lady GaGa and her acoustic Poker Face, Armenian Fort Boyard, US does Aussie Wipeout, Comet sponsor Millionaire, Carte Aux Tresors has been axed.

5th September 2009

Clip Boyard

Because someone suggested they couldn't remember what Amarre Trop Courte was (the short mooring rope), here is a playing of it from 2008.


We'll be doing more secrets of Fort Boyard next week, but for now I want to concentrate on the season just gone. The show's twentieth. Sure, it fell into the Big Brother trap of celebrating 20 years a year too soon, and I suspect with daily Best of shows as well as the two hour new episodes on Saturday night there's been a bit of Boyard overkill in France this year, and the ratings have been troubling - down to just over 1.5m at one point, although rallying to almost 3m for the final episode. There would be many good reasons to go 20 and out but I think the world's television would be a poorer place without a strong Boyard. So let's have a look at what happened this season and suggest a few things that might give Season 21 a helping hand. Warning: this is a bit unfocussed.

  • Of course it is slightly more difficult for us because I don't know what France 2 would consider a decent audience (the blurb from Zodiak before this season suggested it pulls 20% more than the slot average), and also changes cost money, and it's very easy to spend other people's money.
  • Basically I really liked the new titles and graphics. Foreboding stuff.
  • The music I like a bit less. I think the music for the key games is rather over-dramatic when it was better more whimsical. The remixes of the old adventure standards are on the whole quite exciting, but I fear in getting the atmosphere correct you've lost the hooks and melodies of the originals. Which is bad.
  • It is very strange having Anna-Gaelle on the Fort at the beginning of the show doing the opening sketch and greeting the team rather than arriving with them. It implies a slightly different dynamic between the Master of the Fort and Coach/contestant, and one I'm not entirely happy with. I'm pretty open-minded when it comes to change, but I think some things should be sacrosanct.
  • The biggest problem the show has at the moment, I think, is bloat. Ideally I think it needs to get back to 90 minutes, and as such ways to save time loom large in the back of my mind.
  • The easiest way to bring some romance back to the fort, and I think it could do with a little, is film the lot late in the evening so you're doing the adventures at night. It's not as if this should be particularly difficult, you light up the fort for the Treasure Room, a couple of floodlights to light up the adventures shouldn't be that expensive. And it's not as if you haven't done it in the past!
  • The new rail thing that shows the story of the game is entirely pointless and served seemingly only to spoil during promotional photographs. The only way it would carry any weight is if you ditched the clocks and played it a straight 13/5 game. There's actually no real reason why that wouldn't work and would save a bit of editing. However it would be a shame to get rid of the nice new clock graphics.
  • I think the idea of a collective team task is a fairly good one although because I want to speed the show up I'd be making it the first challenge for a key rather than a bonus game, and I'd be making it harder.
  • The new games this year were fairly decent, on the whole, although Smash was visually a bit dull and Transformateur wasn't as interesting as it initially looked. I'm baffled as to why you didn't use all the games you have at your disposal. Really there needs to be more new games - if Crystal Maze could come up with 50 every year, there should be no real reason you couldn't make 15 new tests and 4 new adventures. And you didn't even use the ship in Tyrolienne! It's your signature game!
  • Why not bring back swimming for a key if they miss a riddle? It was one of the iconic Fort Boyard things I reckon. Stick a clock on it and it could be another test. And if you film it in the late evening, the tide should be on your side.
  • LaBoulle is currently a bit of a pointless figure. Surely it's time to either give him a more prominent role or ditch him? Was there any real reason Mr Chan was the one doing all the rope pulling in the Room of Challenges and not Laboulle?
  • It's time to punish teams properly for taking prisoners (and it's time to stop setting games up deliberately to catch them). It's also time to ditch the Claiming the Bonus Box bit, whilst keeping the bonus box. Here is what I propose - a return to the Council. Four games. Each game won earns the team a prize in this strict order: release of a prisoner, elimination of a fake Bonus Box (once all the prisoners have been released), 30 seconds in the treasure room (once both fake boxes have been removed). Prisoners will probably get released and if the team takes no prisoners then they have a better chance of winning something that will really affect the final bank balance. Avoid using nasty creatures at this point as it just dilutes their effect for the adventures - find new adventures to put them in.
  • But what if the team don't manage to release the prisoners? And what if they fail to get the five key minimum? After all, if you've paid for a celebrity to appear you want to use them - I accept that. So I suggest releasing the losers but marking them in some way (a black armband like you use in the two-team version of the show, for example) that makes them forbidden to enter the treasure room. Install a free-standing cage near the treasure room and instruct all the marked players to get in before the end game begins - they can't be sacrificed, they can't collect the gold, but they can help solve the codeword - you have a game with integrity that the viewers like, and you still have your contestants to do the adventures with.
  • And what of those adventures? One new adventure (having promised two) is not good enough. And I don't quite understand why you're not making the most of your locations on the fort - nothing set underground this year, for example, when possibly you could have repurposed last year's prison corridors for an adventure. I think it's quite important that you make more of an effort to try out a few things that don't involve getting across an obstacle at height. Why not a few things more skill based that look spectacular whilst remaining Boyard-esque? Or bring Homme Volant back. I accept it's quite difficult to come up with good ideas, but you have the best part of a year to do it.
  • Ditch four-digit safe combinations for releasing clue cannisters - not interesting and in games where previously you'd just collect the cannister quite annoying. If you must do something like that, an idea I had was to have something like an old railway junction box with six levers, each one with a different word or symbol (or even a pattern) on it, and the box is connected up to a container with the clue in it. Pull the correct one, it releases the clue, pull a wrong one and it blows it up. This introduces a more interesting element of communication, and possibly luck. And in the case of le Tete Cherchuse, something a bit more interesting than adding up numbers. You could keep the padlocks for the snakes and the spiders though.
  • Please don't retro-edit: Sophie Vouzelaud's fear on the tightrope would have been much more exciting if it wasn't made obvious that something was going to happen by only putting a two minute clock on screen. It'd be nice if you felt more "live".
  • The current Treasure Room set-up is fine, although I liked it last year that the team got a few seconds extra thinking time whilst Felindra put the tigers away. It also makes sense - the door is open for three minutes rather than the game lasts for three minutes.

That is all, I think.

At a glance:
Fort Boyard, The Cube, Saturday ratings.

3rd September 2009

If anyone's waiting for our fascinating opinions on this year's Fort Boyard, wait until Saturday. It is also the Big Brother final tomorrow! In the meantime:

Vicki Coren fans!

Do you like Vicki Coren off of Only Connect and poker? Do you like Vicki Coren off of Only Connect and pornography? Can you read? Well you'll be pleased as punch to discover that not only does she already have a book out about the trials and tribulations of Vicki and Charlie Skelton (who you may remember was one of the actors on Space Cadets) making (as in producing) a porn film in Once More, With Feeling (£6.49 from Amazon) which is probably hysterically funny and actually about people, yeah? (I'm assuming so from the blurbs, it's currently on the top of our "to read" pile by my bed), she's also got a poker biography coming out, For Richer, For Poorer: A Love Affair with Poker which is probably excellent and already half price at Amazon, despite it not being released for another fortnight. It will probably be very good. Or it might be completely rubbish, but I'm going to stick my neck out and suggest the former.

OFFICIAL Accumulate! Press Release

Hey guys, I can't believe it's September now, and the Freshers arrive in just 4 weeks time. I think it's about time for an Accumulupdate!

Firstly, we've been overwhelmed with the all the positive comments and the fantasic UKGS review. We fully knew our limitations - we only had 3 microphones and 3 cameras! Given our resources, I think we did an amazing job.

We're now looking forward to Season 2! We should be filming in October and November and broadcasting in November and December this year.

We've had a bit of breathing time to look back at season 1 and make improvements. So - there's a new title sequence, and we've composed new music for it - the graphics are currently being made too.

We've slightly tweaked the format - but nothing major. In Round One, questions 1, 2 and 3 are individual, with the team-mates getting the 1 and 2 point questions and the team captain getting the 3 point question.
This is to put a more individual aspect into the game.

Round 2 isn't changing, but as I applied the rules in an inconsistent way *whoops ahem*, the first option in the correct place earns 1 point, the second option that finds its way into its correct place is woth 2 points and so on. So if you get answers 1, 3 and 5 in the correct places, you'll score 6 (1+2+3) points.

Round 3 - We're adding an option for wimps basically! The teams build up to two towers simutaneously - so if one tower is getting too high and they want to wimp out, then they can start a new tower. Both towers are scored individually (so a tower of 4 and a tower of 2 layers is worth 13
(1+2+3+4 + 1+2) points).

Round 4 - No changes.

Hopefully, enough teams will apply that we can have a tournament structure, if not, we'll improvise. We did look for sponsors to help us with a budget, but sadly none were forthcoming. Having said that, we have a £60 budget courtesy of Reading University's Society Fund for Accumulate! So we should to have a rudimentary set (we know what it's going to be, we've just not bought it yet). Also, we've been given permission to have a server for the TV society, so hopefully there should be fewer streaming issues.

September is going to be a busy month collating everything together, but we're looking forward to putting together a season that's more polished than the first.

Thankyou to everyone on the Bar for their support - it's given all of us at RUON a great deal of encouragement.

Dan Peake, Gary Male and the RUON team!

At a glance:
Accumulate! Is the Only Connect Champion of Champions match on next week or is it not? Greek Fort Boyard (you're absolutely right, the music is intriguing), the Pointless head to head, Paul Morley does Knowitalls, The National Lottery Big 7.

1st September 2009

The Clipton Factor: A*Mazing

Well it's almost back to school time for the kiddies, and what better way to celebrate than a show that is slightly like Funhouse but different enough not to invoke copyright problems? Here is A*Mazing from Australia, 1994.


In other news, guess what we've been watching of late? Well, the completely awesome Survivor: Tocantins. But as well as that we've seen 2003 US reality show Survival of The Richest. It's basically like Beauty and the Geek (it was on the same channel, in fact), except that rich kids (combined value: $3.5bn) and poor kids (kids being early twenties in this case) are paired up and given menial minimum wage jobs to tackle, and are eliminated week by week through ballots and not being very good at jobs. I don't think I'm being too unfair in suggesting the majority of the entertainment on BatG is less females reading books and totally geeks learning to get game, well here the entertainment lies in rich people getting their hands dirty and coming to the conclusion that they're actually quite awful and they would quite like to win if only for their partners. It's all very The Guardian, if not as lovable as BatG.

Expect Can Rich People Clean Toilets? as Big Brother's summer replacement in 2011.

At a glance:
Survivor Tocantins: is it good or is it bad? Somebody throws up on A*Mazing, Shellblast HD on XBox Live Indie Marketplace, the Irrepessible Dark Horse rides again, Shooting Stars: is it good or is it bad? The Colour of Lingerie, Instant Restaurant and Escape in Time.