Friday, July 30, 2004

THE FAR END OF FAME: Normally when The Weakest Link do a special, they usually manage to scare up a couple of current celebs - amongst the faded footballers or comedians who haven't worked since Seaside Special took down the Big Top for the last time will be a couple of people who still have a recognition factor, so there's some special talent at work that managed to produce a pop special where the biggest name is Belinda Carlisle - who is starting to look a little like she could be baking cookies.

So, who came forward to allow Anne Robinson to slap them with put downs? In the order they went out:

Ben Volpierre-Pierriot, who once of course was so hip he was in the launch ads for the Independent. Now, he's abandoned his trademark beret (proving that yelling 'what are you, Frank Spencer?' did have an effect) and was sent - inveitably - straight back down to earth.

Daniel from One True Voice. We actually liked Daniel, he was pretty self-deprecating (admittedly, the only workable option open to members of One True Voice) and if he'd just shave a bit more carefully, he could actually be quite cute. But he had to go. A terrible reminder of a dark period in our history, when OTV were taken seriously.

Kellee from Eternal went next. Anne seemed impressed that Eternal had gone on so long - six years, did she say? - and for once Kellee never bothered to mention that she once played for the Pope. That's a hell of a career slide, isn't it? One day, doing your thing for the leader of one the major world religions; the next, you're being beaten in a quiz by one of Appleton.

Belinda Carlisle. We know she's still gorgeous, so we're putting it down to the harsh lights.

Naimah from the Honeyz. We always liked the Honeyz, mainly, if we're honest, for the video for Won't Take It Lying Down where the corsetry is set up to create that odd flying bosom effect, but we think her appearance here suggests that contact books were being desperately flicked through with some desperation. We shall never know how close we came to having two of the Thunderbugs and the singer from Hepburn on prime-time TV.

Nick Heyward, have you been working out? During Haircut One Hundred, you could have been on your back if someone turned the pages of a newspaper too close to you. Now, you're very solid. It's impressive. Although you do dress like you provide tech support for Elbow. God alone knows how he made it through to round six, as he was as addled as a pie.

Martin Fry from ABC got the boot because Natalie Appleton saw him as her biggest challenge for the finals. He now has that air of a man who might wear a cravat and attempt to swindle your gran out of her life savings - all firm handshakes and twinkling eyes.

The final, then, was Natalie Appleton versus Lisa Scott-Lee: Natalie had correctly guessed that Lisa wouldn't be much of a challenge at all. She was surprisingly school marm, too, voting Nick Heyward off because he wasn't taking it seriously on behalf of his charity (it's a game show, Lisa, it's light entertainment; it's not a UNESCO budget meeting).

So, Natalie Appleton won. "I can't believe it" she cried, and, frankly, neither can we. Although she is a lot smarter than we expected, but nowhere near as smart as winning The Weakest Link would suggest. Maybe none of the stars were stellar anymore, but it was a pretty good edition. For a quiz show. They've all still got that entertainment spark.

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