Monday, 15 August 2011


A quick question for you. Which is thre longest running broadcast quiz in Britain ? The title of this post should give it to you - its Round Britain Quiz, first broadcast in 1947.

One of the great pleasures of being on holiday from school is being able to listen to the first round of this year’s Round Britain Quiz as it was broadcast at lunchtime today on Radio 4. If you’ve never listened to it before, well, it’s the sort of thing you might well enjoy.

In common with Only Connect , knowledge alone is not enough in RBQ. Each show pits 2 out of 6 regional teams against each other, with the most successful team being crowned champions. It is with some pride I can say that Wales, with my friend David Edwards, are reigning champions. Both teams are asked 4 cryptic questions, which need to be deciphered, and each part of the answer needs to be explained. This can earn the teams a number of points for each question, depending on how well they untangle it.

In the first show, host Tom Sutcliffe introduced the South, represented by Marcel Berlins and Fred Housego, who played against the North , represented by Jim Coulson and Diana Collecott. All the questions from each show can be found on the Radio 4 website. Here they are : -

Question One: -
What, or rather who, is the missing link between:
The phone number of a hotel in New York;
A small earthen receptacle;
A streetcar interchange with the name of a dinner jacket; and
A vigilant group of G.I.’s?

This one went to Fred Housego and Marcel Berlins for the South. Playing at home I knew that the dinner jacket is a tuxedo – the interchange makes it Tuxedo Junction – the receptacle is a little brown jug – the phone number is Pennsylvania 65000 .All three of these are songs/tunes made famous by Glenn Miller. Like the team, I didn’t know Glenn Miller’s song American Patrol for the vigilant group of GIs, but still had the connection.

Question Two was : -
An encounter that leads nowhere; a creature of limited versatility; a settlement without much excitement; Brando’s only movie (in one sense); and a machine that will almost certainly rob you. What do they add up to?
The number one was the connection I had from the start. I knew that Brando’s only movie as director was One Eyed Jacks – A one armed bandit robs you – a one trick pony has limited versatility – a one horse town has little excitement – one night stand was my answer to the encounter – which all adds up to 5. I did rather better than Jim Coulson and Diana Collecott here. I had the lot, but they missed out on two.

Question 3 was a music question – we were played three sound clips, and asked which of the three was the greatest . I recognized Adam Faith’s wish you wanted my love ( baby! ) – I didn’t recognize the second, which wasn’t music at all, but rather a monologue from Gerald Hoffnung – and the third was The Rhythm of Life . That comes from Sweet Charity , which gave me faith hope and charity. As for the connection, the greatest of these is charity. So I lost out on the second , and the South team pulled ahead of me.

Question four played Nothing Sweet About Me – by Gabriella Chilmi – then asked -
Why could an athlete at the centre of a gender controversy, a boxer who was an all-time knockout, and one of George and Martha’s dinner guests, all contradict the words of this song?
Sweet , and boxer, made me think Sugar Ray Robinson( or Leonard. Since the team only suggested Robinson this possibility wasn’t explored. Would the answer Sugar Ray Leonard – or Sugar Ramos even – have been acceptable I wonder ? ) – the athlete was surely South African Caster Semanya – the dinner guests thing made me think of Whose Afraid of Virgina Woolf. I’ve never seen it, so missed out on the fact that one of the guests was called Honey. The team had that, but missed out on Caster Semanya, so honours even there.

For question five we left the music behind again.
Which mighty warrior, never crowned but married twice, once to a man of twenty-eight and then to a boy of fifteen, calls to mind a dancing bag and a little girl who was much cleverer than her headmistress?
Right away I thought of Matilda, since the song Waltzing Matilda is actually addressed by the jolly swagman to his bag and Matilda, eponymous heroine of Roald Dahl’s novel, was much smarter than Miss Trunchbull, her headteacher. I was struggling with the warrior, though. Then I got it – Mathilda, daughter of Henry Ist – never crowned queen, though married first to the Holy Roman Emperor, and then Geoffrey Plantagenet. I didn’t know that Matilda derives from the German for Mighty warrior. I think I didn’t deserve full points, but did better than the team.

Question Six seemed to me the most difficult of all the sets today.
Who are these non-Marxists?
A comic bear and the organ he graced, the top banana at 17 syllables, Professor Edwards’ scholastic war-cry, and the purveyor of the ‘Pluto Platter’ which became a bestseller after a change of name.

Here I struggled. I knew that the pluto platter was the original name of the Frisbee. I guessed that the comic bear might be Rupert, and the organ thus the Daily Express. I completely missed Jimmy Edwards as Professor Edwards, with the war cry Whacko. I knew that 17 syllables suggests haiku – but couldn’t do much better than that with it. Fair play to Diana Callecot, she connected it with the name Basho. The bear actually turned out to be Biffo, and the organ the Beano. So all were ending in –O. Which didn’t explain where the Frisbee came in, but they were all ending in – O, but not Groucho , Harpo , Chico the Marx brothers. Non Marxists, you see . No, I was nowhere near it either. It was the manufacturer of the Frisbee they wanted , which was Whammo. I might have earned perhaps one or two points here, and was well and truly shown up by the team.

If question six was my nadir, then at least question seven was my peak of performance.
A vengeful Catholic monarch; a liberated glossy magazine; a first-rate bore; a world-beater; a dambusting pilot.
Why could all of them leave you feeling light-headed?

I thought Guy Gibson for dambusting pilot. A Gibson is a cocktail. That gave me Bloody Mary for the monarch , gimlet for bore, cosmopolitan for the magazine, Alexander ( Brandy ) for the world beater and a full house, with which I slightly redeemed myself, and did one better than the team.

Far too soon it was time for the eighth and final question.
In a sentence can you say:
what a revered England goalie does to protect his earnings;
how a Queen's manager responds to a request for his musical client;
how a Yorkshire announcer assures vegetables throughout the winter.

The goalie had to be Gordon Banks, I reckoned. I also had Wilfred Pickles for the announcer and the vegetables. Yet I couldn’t get a Queen’s Manager – take it as the pop group, and so the answer is May , as in Brian. Banks – Pickles – May – names and also verbs.

Despite what I said earlier about being happy that Wales are the reigning champs, the score in the end really isn’t that important, but for the record the North recorded a win by 18 to the South’s 17.

As always, the show signed off with a question to ponder : -
What stature is shared by a French international who played for Arsenal and Chelsea; an anonymous author; and the straight man in a 1970s double act?
No prizes for the answer- which is a shame since I'm pretty sure I have it.

Great show . Loved it !


Paul Steeples said...

I assume the mystery question is something to do with small, since the footballer is Emmanuel Petit and the straight man Sid Little. Can't do the anonymous author, though...

Londinius said...

Hi Paul

Like you I had the answer from those two parts. I confess that I have since googled any connection between little / small and anonymous author . . . and got precisely nowhere. I await the explanation !


Quentin Vole said...

Joe Klein published 'Primary Colours' anonymously. Smug face on :)

Paul Steeples said...

Ah, well done Mr Vole. Primary Colors crossed my mind, but I couldn't remember who'd written it