The Listeners v. The Steel City Singers
If you’re a regular viewer of University Challenge – and if not, then why not ? – you may well have recognised the Steel City Singers. They were none other than Tom Thirkell, our own Hugh Bennett, and Andy Bolton, who represented Sheffield University so well in last year’s tournament. No Tristram Cole, unfortunately, being as OC is for teams of three. I noticed that whereas Tom had been captain on UC, it was Andy who took the helm here. The lads’ opposition was The Listeners , a formidable team in he shape of Andrew Lyman, Jane Teather and Dave Tilley. I have it in my head that Andrew is a Mastermind semi-finalist, and it may well have been in Shaun’s series in 2004. Dave is a good quizzer, and a Masterminder as well, from Geoff’s series in 2006. Although I don’t know Jane I have no reasons to cast any doubts over her ability. So the Singers certainly looked to have their work cut out for them.
Round One – What’s the Connection ?
The Listeners kicked off with the twisted flax. They found Ken Kesey – Juliet Capulet – John Stonehouse , at which they went for people who faked their own suicide. After a bit of manoeuvring Victoria accepted this, with the answer required being that they faked their own deaths. Close enough, and a good start. The Singers took Lion, and they found – right – well, fact is I didn’t get it all down. First clue was a Spanish title, anyway – then Paso doble – then Act 4 of Carmen ( I had it here ) – Death in the Afternoon. The Singers punted with Seville, but the Listeners supplied the correct answer with bullfighting. Eye of Horus brought up the music connection for the Listeners. They heard Mint Juleps, Orange Juice and Hot Chocolate and knew full well that we were dealing with drinks. Water brought the Singers the pictures, and they found a type of deer or antelope, a cuckoo, and they went for a long shot at goal with words that have repeated elements. I see what they meant – the first was a dik dik. But no, sadly. The Listeners were then shown Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and some crackling, and they couldn’t get it. A little surprised about that, since with all four you could see that they all took their names from the noise they make. Mind you, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang was the first film I saw at the Odeon in Northfields Avenue, so I would remember it very clearly, I suppose. Anyway, the Listeners continued their points building with the set behind two reeds. Playing Kubbadi – Aiming a gun accurately – Trying to cure hiccups. Quite rightly they said they were all things you should hold your breath to do properly. So , left with Viper, my boys had yet to show us their full mettle. Pavement – Ousegate were enough to put the correct idea into their minds, but bearing in mind their previous set they correctly made sure by taking the next – the Whip Ma Whop Ma Gate. That confirmed that these were all streets in York. So the score was now 7 to the Listeners, and 2 to the singers.
Round Two – What Comes Fourth ?
I wasn’t panicking yet, since I knew that my boys had the nerve to be able to come back. An opportunity was presented in the Listeners’ first set behind Horned Viper. The Fourth – The Fifth – The Minor Fall – the Listeners had a go, but it took the Singers to explain that the next would be the Major Lift. The sequence coming from Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. Rather appropriate really, since this round would see something of a resurrection of the Singers’ chances. Behind Water the Singers found 4th – Statue of Zeus – 3rd – Temple of Artemis – and worked out that we must be talking about the 7 wonders of the Ancient World. If we were also talking about them in order of age, then the answer would have to be 1st – The Pyramids. We were, and it was. Looking to take their first points in the round, the Listeners opted for Twisted Flax, and found Forelock – Poll and Crest. Both teams knew what we were talking about , but neither team quite managed to work their way round to the withers. Behind Lion the singers found a bit of a stinker. Pro – Meta – Ana are all phases of cell division. I think that the answer was telo , but since neither team got it we can move on to two reeds. This was much more to my liking. Frazier – Norton - and by this time I was shouting LARRY HOLMES !!!!!!!! at the screen – then Spinks. Both teams offered heavyweight boxers, but not the right ones. These were the first three men to defeat Ali. Holmes was the 4th, and the late Trevor Berbick the last. A small crumb of comfort fell to the Listeners. Eye of Horus brought the Singers a set they understood – with pictures of a mini – a shuffle of a deck of cards – a Bulgarian chappie whose name was Nano. Yes, ipods was right, but it was the Listeners who supplied us with touch for a bonus. So at the end of the round the Listeners still led with 8, but the Singers were hot on their heels with 6.
Round Three – The Connecting Walls
Good performances from both teams followed in this round. The Singers opted for water, and untangled all four of their sets. Bath – Beard – Harem and Shrewd they knew were all words which had been created by adding a letter to the name of a mammal. Harrow – Roller – Plough and Tiller were all farm implements used in cultivating fields. Ice – Field – Street and Air they knew as forms of hockey. This only left Wells - Chard – Wellington and Frome , and as they knew , these are all Somerset towns and cities. A well earned 10 points, and a classy showing.
No better than the Listeners themselves, though. They first untangled Rock – Hoe – Gin and Brethren , as all being linked to Plymouth. Jane said that they were lucky they got Plymouth first. Maybe, but you still had to get it, Jane, and that’s good play. Canasta – Nixon – Zenon and Blaine gave them magicians. Well done to Dave for remembering Chan Canasta – that one could have messed the whole board up for you. Spade – Brush – Tongs and Poker all belong to a fireside companion set. Finally Hearts – Euchre – Skat and Bridge are all card games with tricks. Incidentally I think my university friend KD Johnson learned the meaning of futility when he tried to teach me the rules of skat , however I digress. With a well earned maximum as well, there was hardly anything in it going into the last round, with the Listener’s leading by 18 to 16.
Round Four – Missing Vowels
We kicked off with party games. The Listeners managed three of them, but dropped a point when mistaking London Bridge for London’s Burning. Its easily done. Still, this was the only one that the Singers managed. Non human literary characters proved tricky. The Listeners managed a couple, but Great Uncle Bulgaria and Moominmamma ( try saying that pair of names when you’ve had a couple ) were just too quick and escaped without injury. Historical time periods saw the Listeners take two, but drop one , identifying the mauve decade as the movie decade. I’ve never heard of either. Finally horticultural spaces gave the Singers a chance for just one last hurrah, and then it was over. The result ? A win for the Listeners by 23 to 19. A good match, and as Victoria rightly pointed out, a good score by both teams. Well done the Listeners – I’ll look forward to seeing you in the next round. But well done Tom, Andy, and of course Hugh. You played well , and have nothing to be ashamed of. LAM salutes you !