Monday, January 21, 2008


Monday 21 January 2008

WMESB™: Another day and another debate with the driver as to which ticket I should be sold. Since time immemorial the 12-journey ticket to Edinburgh has been £23, yet they’re trying to sell me a £22 one. Now, I suspect you’re thinking why not just take the cheapest one? I could but that’s not the point. It’s the WRONG ticket and further underlines the poor communication and training within the Stagecoach organisation. To be fair to this morning’s driver, he was polite and knowledgeable and I didn’t feel like I was being spoken to like an idiot by an idiot, unlike previous drivers.

I was reading some interesting discussions on a popular quiz website forum about the new ITV quiz/game show “Duel”. It seems that the production assistants from the show, made by Ant and Dec’s Gallowgate production company, are trawling quiz forums for “names” and then ruling these people out of the application process because they’re classing them as “professionals”, irrespective of ability. This is an interesting, if somewhat worrying development.

It’s further proof, as if we really needed it, that television is being dumbed down. They don’t want “professionals” or even serial applicants; they want thickos and quiz show virgins (BBC1’s lottery show “In It To Win It” is the perfect example). These production assistants don’t seem to realise that pros and enthusiasts alike inhabit these forums, albeit under pseudonyms. How do they differentiate between the two? Maybe they don’t. Maybe they just make a sweeping judgement and rule out everyone who uses these sites. This is unfair. I use these sites occasionally and I would never class myself as a quiz “pro”. I like quizzes and can probably hold my own on a good night but I’d be well pissed off if I was barred just because I talk about quizzes with other quiz-minded people on an internet forum. Is this Gallowgate’s idea of a transparent and open application process?

It seems that everyone from one particular quiz forum didn’t make it through the application process for the current series. It might be thought of as just a coincidence until one poster, a well-respected quizzer, pointed out that a friend of his in TV had heard about Gallowgate boasting about their sneaky methods.

Of course, most pros would just deny they use these particular quiz forums and blatantly lie on their application form about what shows they’d been on. The pros have been doing this for years and even amateur quizzers will be forced down this route – honesty doesn’t pay, no matter what production assistants say. As far as I’m aware there isn’t a database held of which people have been on which shows (I had a link to a Beeb one but I can’t find the link). As soon as production companies get their heads together and join databases, the pros will be squeezed out. There has never been a better time for the quiz show virgin to start applying. The GLW has only ever done one show and I keep badgering her to apply for shows because she has such a good range of knowledge that she couldn’t fail to succeed.

Maybe this is just part of the game. The companies change the rules and the applicants adapt accordingly - that’s certainly what I do. Like Goodfellas, the moral is to keep your mouth shut and don’t rat on your friends.

Dear BBC1, why wasn’t “Damages” on last night? You get into a Sunday routine of “Kingdom” followed by “Damages” and then the powers that be change it without an explanation. Apparently, it’s on tonight instead, along with Mastermind and University Challenge. Can you imagine if they dumbed down University Challenge? Jeremy Paxman would lose it big time. Mind you, he's too busy getting his knickers in a twist with Marks and Spencers over their underwear.

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