Wednesday, 29 June 2016

University Challenge and Only Connect to return Monday 11th July

Yes folks, it's that time again. A quick peek at the Radio Times website reveals that Quizzy Mondays will return on Monday 11th July, with, again, University Challenge and Only Connect returning for their new series at the same early time.

I will, as usual, be reviewing both on a weekly basis (usually), and, like I promised at the end of last series, will try to adopt a more positive attitude for my UC reviews. Bring 'em both on!

UPDATE 01/07: first UC of the series will be between Sheffield and Bristol.

Thursday, 2 June 2016

Fifteen-to-One 2.0: Series 5 Final

OK all? Hope everyone is all right at the moment. I'm back from the spring recess for my usual review of the grand final of Fifteen-to-One 2.0.

I still stand by my views that the revived series is perfectly watchable and very enjoyable, provided you view it as its own show and don't compare with the original. You'll be pleased to know, as well, that I no longer consider it to be 'a bit like MK Dons', a metaphor I very much regret making last year and never really felt comfortable making in the first place. Besides, the series that ended on Channel 4 on Tuesday afternoon has seen some of the best games we've seen since the show returned.

For example, on only the third show in, Daniel Brennan racked up the highest score of the revived series (at the time) of 281; this was then topped a couple of weeks later when Bob Haigh finished with 292 points, which saw him finish top of the finals board.

So, the line-up for Tuesday's grand final were: Tim Hepworth, Lee Holmes, Steve Parlanti, Matt Campbell, Vicky Sorsby, Mr Brennan, Gareth Kingston, Joel Holmes, Jeff Evans, Richard Ronaldson, Steve Dodding, Mr Haigh, Will Howells, Graham Cox and Sam Roberts.

Four OC alumni there: Messrs Howells and Dodding were runners-up with the Antiquarians and the Draughtsmen in Series 5 and 6 respectively, Mr Kingston captained the History Boys from Series 2 and 10, while Mr Ronaldson was part of the Courtiers, a very good Series 4 team who unluckily met the imperious Epicureans in the first round.

After the first round, two players, Mr Campbell and Ms Sorsby, were eliminated, while eight progressed with their three lives still intact. The second round was worthy of the final, with the remaining players spreading the questions around fairly evenly, until eventually three players remained: Gareth Kingston, Bob Haigh and Will Howells.

So, these three now met in the final round: 40 questions, all on the buzzer, last man standing or whoever has most points when the questions run out wins £40,000.

Will started strongest on the buzzer, though two unlucky wrong answers, which he later admitted to knowing and just saying the wrong thing on, reduced him to one life very early. All three were on the scoreboard quickly, with Bob and Will virtually level on points, leaving Gareth somewhat behind.

Approaching half-way, however, Gareth strung a few questions together, and was back in contention, though Bob and Will managed to pull away again and were still almost stuck together. Then Gareth got four in a row, and was level on points with them. With ten questions left, it was anyone's game: Will had 101, Gareth and Bob both had 92.

Bob and Gareth swapped questions, before Gareth took a very quick buzz to take a narrow lead. Another question to Gareth gave him a twenty-point lead over Bob, but Bob had all three lives to Gareth's two, meaning if he took the final two questions, he would nick it. He took the penultimate question, but Will took the final one.

This left the final scores: Will 121 (1), Bob 122 (3), Gareth 132 (2).

So, after one of the closest Fifteen-to-One finals of all time, Gareth Kingston wins the series, and the £40,000. Very well done to him! And well done Bob and Will too for a superb contest!

Not only was this the best final since the show came back, it's one of the best of all time IMO. Of course, nothing will ever top the classic Bill McKaig-Nick Terry final of 1998, where Bill pipped Nick on the final question of the game, but this was a great game in its own right, and definitive proof that the revival is certainly worth watching.

The next series has already started, and will probably end around the time UC comes back. I will, of course, be back to review whichever comes first then. Until then, I shall return to my sabbatical from here. See yous later.