Monday, 11 July 2011

Quiz Trippers

Well, the long awaited “Quiz Trippers” has made its debut on Channel 4. To quote Biggins’ introduction – “Take 5 competitive strangers – give them a camper van – and . . . “ and so on. To be honest, the imprecation to “Get ready for the ultimate test of general knowledge ” was met with derision from the Clark sofa – why do new shows always insist on making this spurious claim ? Oh well, on with the show.

Our intrepid bunch then were introduced as Alan, a self employed quiz host from Glasgow – nice work if you can get it – Lauren, an improvisational performer, originally from the United States – Jen, an IT consultant, Aud, a holistic therapist, and Kevin, a retired teacher. I couldn’t help warming to Kevin, as he smilingly chatted to the camera about the shows he’s been on, and how he's never done extremely well on any of them.

Basically it worked like this. The team were taken on a 200 mile round trip around Scotland in a camper van, playing in a different pub quiz each night for a week. The van had basic rations, but money for anything else had to be won in the quizzes. So with commendable celerity the show moved into the first quiz. This took place in Fortrose. Our host for the quiz, Jim , poured quite a bit of scorn on the team’s chances. “I don’t think your team has a chance. “ he announced, in tones which suggested that he may have originated somewhere in North America himself. He obviously knew what was coming. The quiz seemed to consist of 5 rounds, and each one was themed. Oh dear. At the start of the round he would ask his wife to spin a wheel, to decide which question in the round would be worth double points. Now, you possibly know my feeling about themed rounds, as in , a little goes a very long way. As far as I could see, the rounds were : -
Round 1 – Letter codes for international airports
Round 2 – Cars in Songs
Round 3 – The Human head
Round 4 – Official Residences
Round 5 – Cryptic clues for types of bread.
OK, now any judgements I make about the quiz have to be viewed in the light of the fact that we didn’t get to see all of the questions being asked. I really wouldn’t have minded hearing the whole of the round on cars in songs. But based solely on the evidence of what I saw, I don’t think that this was the kind of quiz that would have suited me at all, and I don’t think that it was the kind of quiz that I would have done very well in. These questions were most definitely not gimmes at all. Kevin chuckled after the show that this was the hardest quiz he had ever played in, and while I’m not sure that I would agree, I would certainly say this was many degrees tougher than a typical pub quiz. The kind of quiz, in fact, where it would certainly pay you to be a regular, and get a feeling for the sort of thing likely to be asked by playing over a reasonable period of time.

So with that in mind, I really don’t think its fair to make any observation about the level of ability shown by any of the quizzers in the team. Not that this bothered the show that much. Alright, as a fairly seasoned TV campaigner myself I know that nobody forces you to go on these shows, and if you make the decision to do so, then you should accept any praise or ridicule or whatever that comes your way. As it is I think we can already see how the different personalities are being presented for us . Kevin, avuncular, always smiling, was certainly today made out to be the best quizzer of the bunch. Not for nothing did they make a point of stressing his resemblance to Santa Claus at the start. Alan, whose job is as a quiz host, may have answered questions during the evening, but certainly didn't seem to be shown doing so, and I have no doubt that’s something we were meant to notice. As for the other three, I think you can clearly see who the fall guys being lined up here are. Jen and Aud, for example. Biggins’ voiceover ridiculed one of Jen’s answers for the airports – and to be fair she was at least offering an answer, which nobody else was – and then he made a point of saying that Aud hadn’t got one question right before she correctly answered that the second smallest bone of the body is the anvil. As for Lauren, well, they are obviously softening us up for a blow up between her and Aud – I’ll be surprised if it doesn’t start next in tomorrow’s show, but I’ll be flabbergasted if it hasn’t happened by Friday.

For the record, Kevin gained votes from the other 4 players as the one who had contributed most, and this was certainly true of what we saw, with Lauren getting his vote. As for my vote on the show, well its early days yet, and I’m going to reserve judgement. I enjoyed the first episode certainly, but I hope that they actually show us a little more of the questions in the next show, in a very different kind of pub quiz – after all, variety is the spice of life. I’d like to see how they get on in a straight, no gimmicks, bog standard pub quiz. Hopefully tomorrow . . .


DanielFullard said...

I just finished putting my ideas on my blog too and I must say I did enjoy it. Obviously the actual quiz was "styled" to suit the nature of the show but it was still a decent teatime show

bj said...

I know there has already been discussion about this show on several websites, blogs and forums. There is one recurring theme and that is that the quiz was very difficult, and I would not disagree. But I did have a thought, and it is something that I have been thinking about for a while. I have noticed that some people at GPs can be just a little dismissive of pub quizzes. On the other hand I have sometimes mentioned tricky questions that I have come across in Edinburgh pub quizzes and other people have been a bit suprised at the level of difficulty.

Now, this is just a thought... Obviously keen quizzers in many parts of England compete every week in pub quiz leagues, others who do not take it quite so seriously will take part in more casual pub quizzes perhaps. But there are no pub quiz leagues in Scotland. So the people that would be involved in leagues in England are regularly taking part in pub quizzes in Scotland. So maybe there is a difference?

I did an Edinburgh pub quiz a few months ago in which the other members of my team were my son, Jenny Ryan and Gary Grant (both of whom are currently ranked in the Top 50 in Britain). The questions suited us, we played well, we won, but only by a few points (and obviously much to the surprise of the team at the next table).

Of course quizzes vary enormously from pub to pub. Some are tough, including the one on the show tonight. My regular team actually takes part in the show on Thursday. We had not been to that pub before, but we were familiar with the quizmaster and his format (even though we made sure to have young music experts in the lineup for a music round that never came because STV couldn't afford to clear the rights). That particular quizmaster's modus operandi is to produce a quiz where everyone has a chance... I won't say anymore.

Local knowledge is an advantage, both in terms of knowing the format and there being local questions. The airport codes for Skye and Tiree might have seemed difficult, but bear in mind the quiz was taking place in Fortrose!

Ben Dutton said...

I'd like to have known more about the quiz also. We saw, what, fifteen minutes max of the actual quiz, and heard 21 questions, if memory serves. That's barely half a quiz. I think because monetary rights, music rounds can't be shown, but what other rounds must have been excised?

One thing I did like in that particular pub was the wheel they used to determine which questions were going to be worth double points: and here was the big clue to how many questions were cut... there were 11 spaces on the wheel, I think, and yet for each round we heard only 5 questions.

And I agree about the quiz being tough, but knowing that it was in Fortrose, and not London, it's not a surprise the airports were Scottish.

Ultimately I'd have preferred more questions and less 'reality tv' elemets. But I will watch at least one more.

Londinius said...

HI Everyone

Brian makes a very interesting point. I didn'tknow that there aren't quiz leaguies in Scotland, and this makes a difference, probabaly in the way that Brian suggests.

Nice to have you back Daniel - hope that things are OK.

Ben, I think we have to give it the week. As we saw on tonight's second show, you do at least get enough questions to start to get some kind of feel of the quiz.