SCMP Tuesday, August 21, 2001

Quiz show battle has viewers flicking between channels


TVB appeared to have lost out to rival ATV in the battle of the quiz shows last night.
The opening episode of TVB's The Weakest Link went head to head with ATV's hit programme Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and while ratings were not immediately available, viewers said they had flicked between the two shows but spent more time watching Millionaire.
In a mini-survey, four families interviewed by the South China Morning Post said the ATV show was best.
"The Weakest Link is too complicated and not as entertaining as Millionaire," said housewife May Leung Mei-ha, who switched occasionally to TVB to check out the new show.
Vivian Chun, a mobile phone company executive, said: "The atmosphere was too tense and the host [Dodo Cheng Yue-ling] was a bit harsh on the contestants, which made me feel uneasy."
The Hong Kong version of the hit BBC show made its debut at 8.30pm on TVB, shortly after ATV's star-studded version of Millionaire, which featured the cast of blockbuster film Shaolin Soccer, including the star, Stephen Chiau Sing-chi.
Jackal Po, a copywriter at an advertising agency and a fan of Millionaire, said curiosity about the new programme prompted him to switch between the two quiz shows, but the "boredom and lack of style" of The Weakest Link drove him back to ATV.
"The TVB show was a bit of a let-down. It's style is so restricted by the BBC that even the host had to put on a serious look and couldn't be her real self," he said.
But some viewers took a shine to TVB's newcomer.
"The format of The Weakest Link is very new and Dodo Cheng was very charismatic. I will stick with it," university student Alan Lee Wai-ming said.
Dr Chan Kin-man, an assistant professor of sociology at Chinese University, said Millionaire might be a bigger draw for audiences given the positive message it conveyed. "People may enjoy watching adventurous players taking the plunge to answer a difficult question. The spirit is what is needed in a financial city like Hong Kong," he said.
Dr Chan said The Weakest Link, which involves players voting out their rivals at the end of each round, might be a turn-off for people as it reminded them of the dark side of a society driven by competition.
He said the ATV show might gain the upper hand in the long run as it was scheduled to start 10 to 20 minutes ahead of its opponent. Both shows air at prime time on weekdays.