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Excellent - no presenter, no personalities getting in the way, no tedious life histories and "funny stories" about that time when..., just questions - and lots of them. Once most quiz shows have got past the "who are you", "what happened when", and "aren't I just sooo funny" there is often very little time left for actual programme content, but this is a game you can play along at home and it's one of the few programmes that delivers what it sets out to do -it's a quiz show that actually provides interesting and varied questions in sufficient quantity to make it worth watching.
What do you do with a successful format - a show that's watched by millions? You revamp it of course - more money (hooray), new naff presenter (boo). Why ditch Roy Walker? He was good, he had catchphrases, we all knew where we stood with him. Along comes a new presenter - you can't blame him, he just isn't Roy Walker - a change of graphics and the sole goes out of the show. I know the catchphrases - unfortunately, so do the contestants because the presenter has told them! Another old favourite bites the dust.
Take a well-known and well-loved character from the Bill. Remove his sense of humour. Put him with a bunch of losers in an un-named mythical police squad. Film it in the dark. Call it Burnside to grab the viewers who knew and loved him from The Bill and sit back. Don't bother writing an even half-way decent script. Confusing stuff makes them watch more to try to find out what's going on, right? WRONG! This is confusing, badly written and hyped up purely on the basis of Chris Ellison being in the series playing a policeman. Give the poor man something to work with! This is a big NO.
Ten new comps every week, good prizes, click to enter, your name and e-mail details are already entered for you - it's as simple as that. The problem is that once the first user inputs their details, no one else can enter, and the other half got there first - so I'm entering the comps and he's winning the prize(s). Can't find an address to contact them about this either, so when we move it could prove difficult.
The site has to be in the running for the award for sloowwwwwwessst site. It's not particularly user friendly in that it won't let you go back to the rest of the section you're on once you've clicked-and-not-won without going to the main menu and then starting again. The prizes are fairly naff (sounds greedy, but with so much competition in competitions, you have to limit your time to the more worthwhile projects). There's a points system but no one knows the point of building up the points (or how exactly, they accrue). So what's the point of going to blartly? None as far as I can see, so I won't bother.
This site has it all - well, if you're after internet only comps it does: it tells you the prize, what you have to do, when you have to do it by and other relevant details. When you enter a comp directly from their site, a new window automatically opens up so that you can refer back to competitions-online to check on any detail you may have forgotten. The site enables you to be systematic about your entries, you don't have to dart all over the place finding out details, you just work through the comps and tot up the prizes when (if) they come in.
Unlike other lottery syndicates offered on the web, freeuklottery offer a chance at the Wednesday lottery - well, 5 chances actually! The numbers do change (my partner enters on a different day to me so we're not in the same syndicate) so at least it's not the same 5 tickets for every person who enters each Sunday-to-Wednesday and Thursday-to-Saturday, but I don't know how many people are in each syndicate. But who can grumble, it's a free chance at some big money - even if you have to share it with someone else, it's still more than you would have had if you didn't enter.
Freemoney has been running successfully for over a year now and paid out to thousands of people. Consumer questions asked vary daily from only 2 or 3 to large numbers of multiple choice questions, but the annoying thing is that when they haven't got a new client to ask questions for they repeat old questions ad nauseam - if there's nothing new to ask, why not just leave it with the intial simple question, or not question at all, just enter your e-mail address. I understand that there was a little disquiet when several winners were disqualified (why not pick a new 'replacement winner' for that day?) but these disqualifications were explained when they told us that some people had been registering several times with different e-mail addresses (but why couldn't this problem have been weeded out before they were drawn?) The win a million contest is a great idea - the winner would generate thousands, if not millions, of pounds of publicity for them in the press - but the 'nuts and bolts' are a different story. The odds against winning are astronomical as the number changes daily and is an 8 digit number (from a possible choice of 10 digits per digit, if you see what I mean). The fact that you have to check, rather than them e-mailing you with the glad tidings is a major put-off factor too. However, when all is said and done it's FREE MONEY - and that's what everyone likes, right?
They have interesting and novel games that you can play daily. They pay out - I know people who have won £20, those who have won £5,000 and several in between - and they pay quickly - generally it only takes 3/4 days from comfirmation to cheque in your hand. If you have any queries, they are courteous and quick with their response. There's only one downside - if you haven't got OE5 it won't download properly a lot of the time. It's entertaining, quick, have lots of winners and they have great customer relations - what more can I say?
On the few occasions I've visited Jamba, I've hurried away quickly. When I first tried to register, I couldn't complete the form and I couldn't get back in to it to correct it. The site is poorly laid out, unresponsive, and as for it's reputation for paying out on wins - WELL!!! Their claims system appears to be up the creek - e-mails unresponded to and prizes awaited for wins stretching back for months - and these are not isolated instances. The best thing you can do with Jamba is avoid it - there's plenty more out there and it's all better than this. (Of course, if I'd ever won something my opinion *might* change).
Beenz for entering competitions - this was too good to be true (well, it would be if they'd acknowledged I was registered with beenz - they're sorting it out and that's another story). These questionnaires are, on the whole, set by financial institutions who seem to think everyone owns a house and has pots of spare money which they just don't know quite what to do with without their advice. That said, there aren't too too many questions and there is that mousemat to win after filling in a certain number of surveys (it's a chase the mousmat logo kind of thing, except you don't have to click on it when you find it). There's also the small matter of a Ford Fiesta to win - a certain number of completed surveys count towards entries for the Fiesta competition - so you're entering 2 comps at once, really. The surveys can be completed several times (you can keep coming back), so that helps with the mousemat and the Fiesta too. The only word of warning is watch out for the bumpf that comes through the mail following your entries from the financial institutions - they're all large and heavy!
Cheekymonkey has been around for a few months but many people still don't seem to have heard of it (good, all the more prizes for me) and I don't know anyone who's won yet. The prizes are set in categories and they have some good prizes but not too many at the moment (only 1-3 per category). The useful thing is that they tell you when you've already entered - at least it saves you wasting your time re-entering and possibly disqualifying yourself for multiple entries. Cheekymonkey is a promising site, doesn't take long to download pages and I await more prizes (prefereably on my doorstep!).
You too can get that winning feeling with just a small win. I don't know if they expect you to bank your 50p cheques but I certainly do (every little helps!). Everyone likes the idea of a lottery for free, especially the thought of winning that lottery for free, and this is simple to do. As with other internet lotteries, there is the choice of a random selection or choose your own lucky numbers, and there is the facility to store these lucky numbers. Select your numbers, click on a banner and wait. Unfortunately, bananalotto includes a lot of waiting: waiting for the page to load, waiting for the numbers to load, waiting for the advertised page to load and your numbers to be verified. The also make it harder for you to return quickly to place your 2nd and 3rd selections. Other sites open a new window for your newly-clicked advert, or have their banner along the top allowing you to return/replay with a simple click. With bananalotto you have to laboriously click back and wait for it to load again to go through the whole slow process. Changing players is also more fiddly than other sites - whereas they just have a separate button or a 'change player' button, you have to delete your details and fill in the new player's. Despite these gripes, I still play every day and look forward to my daily results e-mail telling me I got a little more that 0/6 balls!
Just when we're getting into it, the series is cut short. The romance with Debs was going fine, Jakes' life continued to fall apart at a rate of knots, but he still hung in there. Then Ian flips and excomunicates Debs and (fairly, but quite unexpectedly) sacks Jakes. Will they all be back next series? Well no, actually. The BBC have already told us that Amanda Redman has left to film the 2nd series of At Home with the Braithwaites. I presume commitments on the dismal Heartbreak Hotel will keep the Jakes character out, so that leaves us with only one of our 3 main characters. It's just as well that Lenny Henry has proved to be such a very good actor and can hold it whilst we get used to new characters, although the new deputy head, to be played by Phyllis Logan (sounds like good casting to me) shouldn't take too long to find her feet. At least we don't have to wait until next year to find out.
This is one of the more watchable cheap-tv programmes - where the public provide most of the "entertainment". Alistair Stewart pontificates over how terribly naughty the perpetrators are and what new measures are being brought in to stop them. All well and good, but we're not stupid: we can see for ourselves that what these people are doing is, at best, foolhardy and, at worst, downright lethal. However, the clips themselves keep you on the edge of your seat as you watch near-misses and wobbly driving. If it wasn't real life, it would be funny!