Friday, 1 May 2009

You can have kudos, or cash - but not necessarily both

Auditions, auditions.

If you care to glance back at one of the last entries I made back in December, you'll notice that one of my New Year Resolutions has been to appear on another TV or Radio quiz show. There's been little news about this in the blog since, and you may be worried that your Dave has just been sitting and scratching his backside, and doing little about it since the start of the year. Well in truth I have done a lot of sitting, and not a little scratching, but as the great Samuel Goldwyn once said, we've all passed a lot of water since then. While not exactly taking the kitchen sink approach to application, I have sent off several applications to selected shows in the interim. Most of which have come to absolutely nothing.

You see, it is a widely held belief that there are many quiz shows out there which do not encourage successful and serious quizzers to apply. As a rough rule of thumb, the amount of money on offer is in inverse proportion of the amount of knowledge or skill desired of a contestant. Hence shows without a cash prize such as Mastermind, Only Connect, University Challenge, Brain of Britain and in days gone by 15 to 1 seem to attract more knowledgable and serious quizzers than the shows that offer a large cash prize. I say 'seem to' since many of the same people attracted by these 'serious' shows do also apply to big money quizzes, but as a rule are far less successful in their applications.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Both Pat Gibson and David Edwards have won Mastermind and £1 million on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. I did rather less well on my own appearence on the show - to the tune of several zeros. The application process has been changed for Millionaire in the last couple of years. Whether this makes it easier or harder for a seriously good contestant to get on the show I couldn't say.

Granted , too, there are some shows which do offer a cash prize while actively seeking out quiz talent to appear. I think particularly of "Battle of the Brains ". Still, even in the second series of the show winning any cash at all was far from a foregone conclusion, and even for the top money-winning team I don't think that each member went away with much more than £1000. Now, don't misunderstand me, that's a nice little earner, but its not exactly life-changing. Then there's "A Question of Genius". There were some very good quizzers on the show, although I will admit that I didn't watch every episode. Top whack of £5000 was not to be sniffed at, but again, nowhere near the heights that have been available on some shows, which I would argue have been virtually impossible for the top quizzers to get onto.

So this is all a very long winded way of saying that when I fill in an application form - and lets be honest, they are all much of a muchness, regardless of which production company are making the show - I have a pretty good idea of what's going to happen once the producers read on the form that I have won Mastermind. Every TV application form I have ever filled in has always asked whether I have appeared on TV before, and if so what shows, and how did I do . So there's no hiding the Mastermind thing from them, even if I wanted to. ( I don't want to - as you have probably worked out I am far, far , far too vain about it for that. )

So I've sent out quite a number of application forms feeling deep down that I know pretty well that they're going to be rejected out of hand, but hoping that I will be proven wrong, with a kind of blind faith that is naive, but hopefully touching.

So lets cut to the chase. A TV show - and forgive me for being coy and not revealing which one, but in case I do get on I think its wise to be a little secretive for the time being - another show has called me back. I think they may be a bit keen. Anyway, the upshot was that they gave me a little test and an audition over the phone. Well and good. Then they invited me for a face to face audition. Which kind of left me wondering why we had the phone test. Unless it was an audition for an audition. So where does that end ? Think of it, I've already been through two stages of application - filling in the form, from which it was decided to give me a phone interview, then taking part in said phone interview from which it was decided to ask if I could come to a face to face audition. Could they possibly add another level of filtering ? DNA testing, perhaps ? A letter of permission from ones parents ? Well, no. Actually it was a written General Knowledge test of 25 questions before the audition actually started ! Quite fun actually.

BTW I'm not asking for sympathy here, for once. The fact is that I enjoy the whole application process, I enjoy talking to TV people on the phone, and I enjoy taking part in auditions. Mind you it does help that I'd like to get onto the show in question, but I wouldn't say that I have a burning ambition to do so, and if I don't hear anything back now it certainly won't be the end of the world.

The Quiz After the Quiz the Night Before

You may have noticed before that I quite do like to make little observations on the rules that seem to govern the corner of my life that is forever quizdom. I call to your attention Clark's Taxonomy of Questions, and various other observations from blogs gone by. Well, our performance in the CIU quiz, followed by Tuesday night's quiz at the Duke of Wellington in Cowbridge brings to mind one particular such axiom -
A good performance in a great quiz, is most likely to be followed by a relatively poor performance in an unenjoyable one -

I don't really know why this should be the case. After all I subscribe to the point of view expressed by a sportsman - some people say it was Gary Player, but I've also seen it ascribed to various cricketers - who, when told that he had been lucky answered,
" You're right. And d'you know something ? The more I practise, the luckier I get"
Translated into quiz terms it means that I believe that the more quizzes that I play in, and the more I go out of my way to learn specific things for quizzes - alright I don't do a great amount of this, I'm just too lazy, I admit - but the more I do this, the better I do , and the more that I should win. So what were our chances on Tuesday night in Cowbridge, then ? Well, in the normal run of things I would have said that they were very good. We must have played there about 8 or 9 times, and we have won every time bar one. However, the fact was that my eldest daughter Phillippa is unwell at the moment. She might not get many answers for us, but in such a tight quiz the one or two that she does get can make all of the difference.

More than that, though, was the weight of the fact that since Monday night was such a good night, the chances of Tuesday being a bad night increased exponentially . ( That's a great expression, isn't it ? I wish I knew what it really meant. )

As it transpired, it wasn't actually a bad quiz, and I would hate for you to think that I am complaining about that aspect of Tuesday night. No, and we didn't even perform that badly either. With just John and myself, we tied for first place with a team made up of 7 or 8 members. Still, we contrived to lose it on the tie break. You'll remember that my friend John is the King of the Tie Break ( Its official - we even held a coronation ceremony a couple of years ago ) However this was not a date tie break. Instead, we were asked -
How many Archbishops of Canterbury have there been since the first one ?

Now I'll admit that I didn't know. So , working from St. Augustine arriving in England in 597 we guessed that the average tenure of each one would work out to about 10 years, and so plumped for 140. I believe that the answer was 104, and the other team, who had underestimated a little bit closer than we had overestimated, won, to much general rejoicing it must be said.

So we were only beaten on the tie break, and it was a good quiz, so what's the point ? Well, the point is that although we were joint winners, the fact is that the result should never have even been put into question. We got all of the guess the year questions wrong by one year each time, and then to cap it all, we were asked which band released an album in 2008 called "The Circus ". I actually bought that for Mrs. Clark at Christmas ( not her ONLY present, before I get accused of being stingy ) . I bought the album for her, yet could I remember that it was by Take That ? Could I hell ! A point lost, and with it the win. Which is corroboration of the point I'm trying to make - good performances are often followed by bad.


OK then - I did suggest last week that I might find it easier to post a quiz of 40 questions once a month rather than a quiz of 10 questions once a week. As it happens I compiled the quiz for Thursday night in the Aberavon Rugby club, so here is precisely half of that quiz . Its a little easier than the weekend mini quizzes have been - apologies for that.
Target - the winning team had scored 33 after these first 40 questions.

1) What was the first song that Susan Boyle sang on Britain's Got Talent ?

2) The Imperial War Museum North can be found in which English city ?

3) Which mammal is responsible for more human deaths than any other mammal except for other humans ?

4) Who was the first commander of the British Expeditionary force in World War I ?

5) Which well known novel was set on the Canadian Province of Prince Edward Island ?

6) Which seafood dish is named after a month in the french Revolutionary Calendar ?

7) Which were the first five words recorded by Thomas Edison on his first phonograph ?

8) Which model of car is driven by Gene Hunt in Ashes to Ashes ?

9) Kenny Rogers had 2 solo number 1s in the UK - Lucille was one - which was the other ?

10) The badge of which cricket county has the emblem of a Tudor rose ?

11) News - how much do you have to earn per year in order to start paying the new 50p tax bracket announced in last week's budget ?

12) Which world - famous thoroughfare is known as the Great White Way ?

13) Which two diseases are caused by the varicella virus ?

14) Charlemagne was crowned as the very first what in 800 AD ?

15) Which German composer was Liszt's son in law ?

16) Which of the disciples of Jesus was his brother ?

17) Which number is represented by I00I in binary ?

18) You've got a friend in me is the theme to which animated film ?

19) Waterloo Road is set in which Lancashire town ?

20) Current manager of Chelsea Guus Hiddink has had success with several international sides. Which country did he take to the semi finals of the 2002 world cup ?

21) Which island combined with Tanganyika to form Tanzania ?

22) What is the name of the flap of cartilage that prevents food and drink from entering the windpipe when swallowing ?

23) Since Queen Anne, which monarch has had the most number of different Prime Ministers during his or her reign ?

24) In which beach in the North of England can you find Anthony Gormley's cast iron life size statues standing on the beach, and out into the sea ?

25) What is the new name of Norwich Union ?

26) Where would you find the volcano Mount Olympus, the highest mountain in the Solar System ?

27) The Specials have announced that they are reforming to go on tour. What were the titles of their 2 number 1 singles ?

28) Hannah Montana is played by an actress whose father had a top ten single in the UK - what was it called ?

29) Formula 1. Which other team has exactly the same markings as the red bull renault team ?

30) What is the name of the former Britain's top anti terrorist policeman who inadvertantly gave away details of suspects and then resigned ?

31) The Croatian Seaport of Riyeka is located on which sea that forms part of the Mediterranean?

32) What name is given to the two leg bones between the knee and the ankle ?

33) The Black Death first came to Britain during the reign of which King ?

34) What number was Schubert's Unfinished symphony ?

35) What is obtained from the plant camelia sinensis ?

36) What does the acronym VTOL stand for ?

37) Who or what links the Sheriff of Nottingham, and Tim Nice-But-Dim ?

38) The TV series Total Wipeout sends contestants to take part in an assault course in which country ?

39) Name the 2 scottish players selected for the Lions

40) Gordon Brown recently made an unauthorised appearence in which cartoon show, trying to borrow money from aliens ?


Will Jones said...

Hi David

Q28 Achy Breaky Heart was a #3 according to and Wikipedia.

Good quiz. I didn't match the leading team though.

Londinius said...

Ooopss ! Just goes to show - don't trust everything you hear at another quiz without checking the answers first ! Thanks Will, and apologies to all concerned. I'll amend the question now.