Saturday, 27 September 2014

In The News

In the News

Who or what are the following and why have they been in the news?

Ashraf Ghani
The Cheesegrater
Tommy Mattinson
Druridge Bay Northumberland
Angus Lennie
Scenic Railway
Christopher Rebrasse
Giles Scott
Omar Gonzalez
The Endless River
Gala Leon Garcia
Theo Zwanziger
Aaron Cruden
Delphine Boel
The Crocodile Under the Bed
Leo Bonten
Hervé Goudel
The Dowager duchess of Devonshire
Eric Holder
Russell Slade

In Other News

In a survey, which brand, making headlines for other reasons this week – was rated the coolest in Britain?
What was the score between Man city and Chelsea?
– and Leicester and Man Utd?
Who won the Singapore GP?
In Edinburgh, who was it confirmed was not pregnant?
Which family are shifting their wealth from fossil fuels to clean energy?
Who is to become the new Chancellor of Falmouth University?
Which musical has the highest box office of any production in any entertainment medium?
By how much did Tesco overstate their expected profits
Labour promised which new tax to fund the NHS?
Which two countries were the most notable absentees from the UN climate Change summit
Spain were relegated in the Davis Cup following defeat by which country?
Who has become the highest paid hip hop artist?
David Mitchell made an outspoken attack on which online retailer?
In which city did the Labour Party Conference take place?
The party received criticism for using which security firm?
Who was convicted of one count of indecent assault, but avoided a prison sentence?
Which actor addressed the UN summit on climate change?
What is the denomination of the new Euro note designed to foil counterfeitors?
What was the score between Arsenal and Southampton in the Capital One Cup?
– and Swansea and Everton?
– and Man City and Sheffield Wednesday
– and Spurs and Nottingham Forest?
What was the score in the penalty shootout between Liverpool and Middlesbrough?
David Cameron apologized for saying the Queen did what when he rang with the Scottish referendum results?
A survey revealed that Brits are most nostalgic about which 80s toy?
In Kansas, October has been designated the official month to prepare for what?
Who is going to host Channel 4’s 2015 Election coverage?
A special edition of Mastermind focusing on what took place ?
Who was acquitted in a court in Jordan?
What begins on the London Underground next year in September?
Which country successfully put a satellite in orbit around Mars?
Who was appointed England cricket captain for the T20 world cup?
Who won gold in the men’s road time trial world championship?
Which actor ran 144 laps around a museum in Amsterdam?
Which sport’s governing body has voted to allow mixed teams in competition?
What was the result of the commons vote on bombing Isis?
In which city is George Clooney getting married?
Who left the BBC Today programme?
Which famous racing trainer passed away?
Which country have introduced plain cigarette packaging?

Which county were relegated after drawing their last match with Middlesex?

Lam Podcast 12

This week's podcast contains: -
Questions on TV
Talking points on Mastermind, Eggheads, Quiz shows where you missed the bus and cheating
The Hall of Shame
The Court of Public Opinion
Answers to last week's questions

Only Connect - Match Four

Q.I.  Elves v. Bibliophiles

Now, I like Q.I. – I like books – so who was going to end up with the dubious benefit of the support from the Clark sofa in this show? Maybe the Q.I. Elves for the novelty of the crossover between shows. Aforesaid Elves were Anne Miller, Andrew Hunter-Murray and James Harkin. Victoria certainly seemed quite excited at their presence. The opposition, in the form of the Bibliophiles, were Richard Clay, Vince Milner, and Mike Hart. Now, I have to say that Richard Clay looked awfully familiar to me, but I can’t think where from. Maybe we’ve played at a quizzing event. A quick check of LAM reveals that I haven’t written about any quiz performance of his before. No matter anyway. Skipper Mike Hart has apparently only issued one episode of Doctor Who since 1978. How on earth did that happen? How dare he miss one episode? Alright, enough of such chaff, and let’s get on with the show.
Round One – What’s The Connection?

The Qs kicked off by choosing Two Reeds. This brought an early outing for the music set. I recognized Al Stewart for the first, but not the second. The third sounded like Al Jolson – which made Als a reasonable suggestion. Even more reasonable when Al Green brought the set to a close. The Qs didn’t get it, neither did the Philes. Brownie points were awarded by me to Mike Hart for picking and voicing Hornéd Viper the way we like it. Serious – didn’t offer instant enlightenment for their first clue, but Frame and Fortune did. They were sporting autobiographies, those of John McEnroe and Steve ‘Interesting’ Davis . The elegantly titled G’Day ya Pommie B.. .. by David ‘Bumble’ Lloyd followed, and when Lance Armstrong’s ironically titled It’s Not About The Bike finished the set the Philes they were still barking up the Australian TV shows tree. It’s interesting to speculate what G’Day Ye Pommie etc. would entail if it was a TV show.  The Qs also took up the TV baton and ran with it, which was something of a surprise, seeing such a relatively benign set going begging. Lion gave the Qs Millar Fillmore. Fillmore was a US president of the 1850s, which wasn’t much help yet. James impressively supplied that he was the 13th president of the USA. Lace came next – which was surely the traditional gift for a 13th wedding anniversary. (For those interested, earlier this month Mary and I celebrated our silver 3 years ago). The Qs didn’t make the connection with 13. The next clue – the Abolition of Slavery obviously referred to the 13th Amendment, which didn’t do it for them. The last one – Floor of Roky Erickson’s elevators wasn’t something I got at all. More in desperation than anything else James tried 13, with about a second to go, and opened the Qs’ account. Eye of Horus gave the Philes a lovely set. First we saw the word rose in red – like this Rose – then tree in blue – Tree – and it clicked. These were emblems of British political parties. The Philes had it on the third – Pound . Water was the next choice of the Qs. We began with Ford Prefect. Cars – too obvious. Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy characters – ditto. Now David Brent sparked something in my mind. David Brent is from The Office. Martin freeman played Tim in the same show – and he played Arthur Dent in the best forgotten about film of Hitchhikers. This proved to be a fruitful line of reasoning when Sherlock Holmes was revealed next. All people to whom Martin Freeman has played the sidekick. Taking Gandalf was enough to give it to the Qs for a point – once again a very nice set indeed. This left the Philes with a set of picture clues behind twisted flax. Right the first was a photograph of Trevor ‘Jim Trott from the Vicar of Dibley’ Peacock. Peacock’s perhaps? I wouldn’t have gambled had I been in the studio. The next was multi gold winning Paralympic sprinter Johnny Peacock. So definitely Peacocks. The NBC peacock came third which was enough to give the Philes the connection. So at the end of the round they led by 4 – 2.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth?

Eye of Horus gave the Qs First Manfred Mann hit. This gave them the distinct chance at a 5 pointer. The first hit was 5-4-3-2-1. So I plumped for an upper second degree at this point. I didn’t know the Noel Clarke film 4-3-2-1, but I just knew that gameshow featuring Dusty Bin would be next. That was enough for the cautious Qs, and they offered and upper second as well. The Philes’ sequence looked more difficult. Tar Heel NC was obviously North Carolina, and the nickname given to it. But were we going North from there or South? Palmetto SC answered that one. Would it be, then , Sunshine Fl? Peach GA came third. The Philes gave my answer, and we were both right. Water came next for the Qs, and began with 1990: Johnson – 1997: Booth. Well the second was the clincher. That was Cherie Blair’s maiden name. So the question was – what was Samantha Cameron’s maiden name? The Qus had the connection here but not the answer. I had forgotten it too, but the Philes knew that she was Samantha Sheffield first of all. Good bonus, that. For their own set they picked twisted flax, and I had my lap around the room five pointer. Many people know that Sir Stanley Rous was the president of FIFA, but not so many know that Arthur Drewry preceded him. Having written a world cup quiz book during the spring, I plumped for Sepp Blatter without hesitation. Stanley Rous followed, then Joao Havelange, just as I wanted. The Philes just didn’t get the FIFA connection, opting for Juan Antonio Samaranch – he of the IOC. The Qs had Blatter to claim back the bonus. The Qs last choice was Lion, and this began with 1 of 4: Battleships. Huh? I didn’t get it. 2 of 4: Clue didn’t really help. I knew that Clue is the American name for Cluedo, but so what? 3 of 4 NFL Superbowl electric Football, though, rang a bell in the back of my mind. The only time I recall ever having heard of said game was in the second Bill and Ted adventure – their Bogus Journey – where they send up the Ingmar Bergman movie, The Seventh Seal by beating Death at a succession of games. And I felt sure that Twister came next. Come to think of it, I did a lap of honour around the room for that one as well. Neither team knew this. Victoria resisted the temptation to allow the Philes to say Horned Viper again, and got straight on with the last set. Now, in the picture set we saw a pixelated blue and white image, which was more familiar on the second, and on the third was obviously the OC logo. A bit of a giveaway on the third. It meant that the Philes led 9 – 5 going into the walls.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Philes took Lion, and there were obviously 12 days of Christmas gifts and aircraft manufacturers in there. Fairly swiftly the Philes separated the gifts – Gold Ring – Partridge – Lord and Swan. They saw a set of Arsenal managers and isolated Graham – Mee – Rioch and Wenger. I could see that as well as the plane manufacturers there was a set of words for street sellers. It took a couple of goes, but eventually they resolved the planes – Piper – Cessna – Boeing and Embraer, which left Chapman, Hawker – Tout and Monger. 10 points thank you very much.

The Water wall saw the Qs working out what the connections were fairly quickly – Simpsons characters – Golfing trophies – Musical composers – Middle names of presidents. That done James set about the golf trophies and isolated Walker – Presidents – Ryder – Solheim. Quickly they took out Hussein – Baines – Delano and Milhous as the presidential middle names. Then, despite having the right connections, they proceeded to try to talk themselves out of them for the next half a minute or so. Eventually they decided to just try their Simpsons characters – Sherri – Martin – Nelson and Bart – and it worked first go. This left Gay – Herman – Kern and Rodgers. They didn’t know the connection, and this meant that they finished with 7. All of which meant that they trailed the Philes by 19 – 12.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

7 was a serious lead to have to overturn. Films set on Greek Islands fell 2 apiece. Sayings without the and in the middle saw the Philes unluckily lose a point by forgetting to omit the and from nooks crannies. The Qs took 3 more points to the Philes’ 1. The gap was down to 4 as we moved onto sauces in French cuisine, but it widened again, and the score finished at 16 – 23 to the Philes. The Philes were the better team on the day and certainly deserved to win. As for the Qs, well, it might be an idea to abandon the safety first tactics next time, as they could have scored more highly on the thing they knew in this show. 

University Challenge - Round One - Heat 10

Trinity, Cambridge v. St. Andrews

Well, we’ve already met the Trinity team of Matthew Willetts, Claire Hall, Aled Walker and their captain, Hugh Bennett in the two documentaries about the selection of teams for the series. Whether this meant that they would be a team to watch out for or not the next half hour would show. The teams from St. Andrews always have the choice of whether they wear their distinctive red cloaks or not. The team of Lewis Fairfax, Will Kew, James Adams, and their captain Jamie Perriam had opted for the clock, although according to JP they were wearing them with different degrees of casualness depending on how long they’d been at the university. Fair enough.

The first starter gave a Walter Bagehot quote about a future PM, and while Lewis Fairfax zigged with Disraeli, this allowed Matthew Willetts to zag with Gladstone. 20th century Prime Ministers weren’t easy, and they took just the one. Never mind – first blood drawn. Jamie Perriam knew that Russian Museum ship in St. Petersburg is the Aurora, and opened St. Andrews’ account. Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in Wales didn’t fill me with anticipation. I knew that the Gower Peninsula (simply Gower to most of us nearby) was the first, but that was it. Actually I say that, but I guessed the Wye Valley as well. St. Andrews didn’t manage any of the bonuses. Neither team knew about deciduous teeth. Aled Walker knew the word conurbation to take Trinity’s second starter. Biological terms all beginning with – syn – followed, and Trinity managed just the one with Synaesthesia.  Right, did you know that in sporting terms, a Grand Slam city in the USA has a professional ice hockey, gridiron, baseball and basketball team? Me neither, but it makes sense. The first picture starter showed us a city, all we had to do was to identify it and name one of its teams. It was clearly Washington, so I offered the Redskins. Hugh Bennett buzzed in, but couldn’t dredge up a city. Lewis Fairfax offered the Washington Capitals, which was good enough. Three more cities followed. I recognized Philadelphia but didn’t know the ice hockey team, I didn’t get Denver and the Nuggets, which St. Andrews did, but I did have Minneapolis and the Minnesota Vikings. Asked for the only group of mountains in the Eastern USA that is not Appalachian, I plumped for the old quiz favourite, the Adirondacks. Matthew Willets offered Catskills, a sensible suggestion, but it was the Adirondacks. Lewis Fairfax took a good starter next, knowing that Thor, the cliff with the greatest vertical drop, is on Baffin Island. Plays about the Iraq war offered me but little, but we both managed Black Watch, and none of the others. So after the opening ten minutes neither team had managed quite to impose their will upon the other, the score standing at 35 – 30 to St. Andrews.

Now, I guessed that Nixon appointed Kissinger in 1973, which neither team got. Pate and Paté brought Lewis Fairfax the next starter, while cricket broadcasters didn’t add anything to their score. To be fair, I only had the Henry Blofeld one myself. Now, the Starkadders are a good old UC chestnut, and Claire Hall was the first to identify them as characters from Cold Comfort Farm. Places with reduplicative names, like Bora Bora, gave them two bonuses. The music starter played a piece of popular music inspired by a work of fiction, and they were asked for the author. I didn’t know it, but the repetition of warm leatherette, and the mention of steering wheel suggested J G Ballard’s Crash. Which turned out to be right, although neither team managed it. Nobody in either team knew that Jules Grevy gave his name to the largest species of zebra. One of those astronomy number questions followed – to the nearest whole number the radius of the sun is how many times that of the Earth? It’s 109 apparently. There’s not really many excuses for not knowing that the first battle of the English Civil War was Edgehill – it’s just one of those things that comes up time and time again. Now if you’re given precise times like 17:04, and asked what item is broadcast on Radio 4 at those precise times, then you slam the buzzer through the desk and answer Shipping Forecast, even if you’ve never heard it yourself, because it’s bound to be the answer. Will Kew did just that, to earn the music bonuses, more artists influenced by Ballard’s work. I recognized Gary Numan and the Human League for the first two, and didn’t recognize the third, but guessed Empire of the Sun. St. Andrews took two of a highly gettable set. Nobody knew the main gases of coal gas. Lewis Fairfax won the buzzer race to identify Syngman Rhee as the first premier of South Korea. Two bonuses on the Brothers Grimm took them to a 35 point lead. Cristobal Colon and Simon Bolivar are the highest peaks of Colombia, as Hugh Bennett knew, buzzing in after Jamie Perriam had offered Venezuela. The chemistry of water was provided another bonus. Nonetheless St. Andrews still led by 85 to 65 at the 20 minute mark.

So, in the best sporting tradition, the outcome was going to be decided by who wanted it more, and who could dredge up the most correct answers under pressure. Matthew Willets identified a painting by Gauguin, and three more paintings on the same theme failed to provide any more points. I didn’t understand the next question in the slightest, but it was Jan Burgers. Aled Walker knew that if it’s a question about an ode by Keats on UC, the majority of times it will be about the Grecian Urn. Jane Austen normally proves to be a happy hunting ground for UC teams, and the full set taken by Trinity was enough to give them a 15 point lead. The increasingly influential Matthew Willetts buzzed in to identify the Moluccas as the Spice Islands. Popular Science (all those who say that this is an oxymoron please go and stand at the back of the class) provided a couple of correct answers. Nobody knew that George I was born on the day before Charles II arrived in London in 1660 to mark the restoration of the Monarchy. How on earth did I know what adipocytes store? Because I remember the Doctor Who story in which little monsters came into being out of human fat, and they were called the Adipose. Will Kew obviously watched the same show since he answered correctly. UK airports gave them two bonuses, enough to break the three figure barrier. It still looked too close to call this one, but one thing looked certain – the losing team in this one looked unlikely to get on the repechage board, and would be going home at the end of the show. A little surprisingly neither team knew that Lethe is the river of Forgetfulness. Matthew Willetts knew about the Tulip period of the Ottoman Empire, and earned Trinity some bonuses on the year 1919. One was taken, and the gap was still bridgeable. Neither team knew that the Eocene takes its name from the greek word for dawn. At this point Jamie Perriam threw caution to the wind and buzzed in early on a question asking for the word rime. The gambit didn’t come off, but with so little time remaining it was still the right tactic I think. This allowed Claire Hall in with the correct answer. Complex numbers saw me answer 0 to the first, as is my wont. That was wrong – and Trinity had it with 5. That meant that on the gong they finished with 150 to St. Andrews’ 100. Not a great match, although an interesting contest. As for Trinity, well, on this showing you’d say that they’ll need a little bit of the rub of the green to get through the next round.

Jeremy Paxman watch

“It is Gladstone, of course” our hero informed Matthew Willetts, on the first starter, which was a slap in the face to Lewis Fairfax who had offered Disraeli.
He was in a fairly spiky mood at the start. When St. Andrews buzzed in early and failed to get deciduous teeth, Claire Hall buzzed in almost immediately, and gave a wrong answer as well. “No, you should have listened to the whole thing!” JP chided, “You could have done, you know.”
Henry ‘well, hello my dear old thing’ Blofeld was the next to receive both barrels “He’s always rambling on about something like that.”
Not knowing J G Ballard’s Crash, Aled Walker jokingly offered Philip Larkin. “PHILIP LARKIN!” cried our hero in mock apoplexy as his eyebrows shot towards the ceiling. ”I – DON’T – THINK – SO! It was by J. G. Ballard – “ dramatic pause “ – it was nice, wasn’t it!”
When the teams didn’t buzz in immediately for the sun radius question he dismissed both answers contemptuously when they came, with the words , “I thought you were all working it out.”
At the end, being in his best rubbing salt into the wounds mood, when the 50 point gap between the teams somewhat flattered Trinity, he observed, “You never really got going there St. Andrews. Did you?” A little unfair, Jez – they were in the contest right up until the last four minutes.

Interesting Fact That I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week

The word conurbation was first coined by Sir Patrick Geddes

Friday, 26 September 2014

Mastermind - Round One - heat 7

Well, after tonight’s heat are we still waiting for our first all-virgin heat of this year’s mastermind? In a nutshell, yes. Only one recidivist tonight, though, and that was Hazel Humphreys. Hazel was havng her third crack at Mastermind, having taken part in the first round in 2011 and 2013. On those occasions she offered us rounds on Richard Pryor and Dave Allen. Tonight, well tonight she offered us possibly my favourite of the old-school stand ups I grew up with, the great Les Dawson. I must admit, I don’t recall any specialist round relying on quite so many punchlines of jokes before, but hey, it goes with the territory. It’s also the first time I can remember an audience laughing at answers in a regular series show, although it has happened in the sleb shows. 11 points looked a good score, but left enough room for someone to open up a gap at the top if they could put in a blinder.

Martin Roebuck was the first of tonight’s virgins then, and he offered us West Indies Cricket. Cricket is one of those subjects that does inspire people to huge feats of memory regarding statistics and feats, but nonetheless learning it, even just those bits relating to one test country, is a daunting prospect. Martin’s tactic, so it seemed was to answer carefully and precisely. That’s a valid tactic, but it requires great concentration, and it does mean that every wrong answer is slightly magnified, because you’re giving yourself less time for another question. Martin clearly really knew his stuff, but had he been a little quicker I fancy he might have had a dozen, rather than the ten he had accrued by the end of the round.

If cricket inspires devotion, no less do films, especially the films of a director from Hollywood’s golden age like Howard Hawks. This was the subject offered by Neil Madle. He was answering somewhat more quickly, but a little less accurately than Martin had. Swings and roundabouts. So under the circumstances it was probably fair that he achieved the same score of 10 points. So there we were – three rounds down and only one point separating the three contenders.

Which brings us to John Carrington. John looked to be one of the younger contenders we’ve had so far in this series. John was answering questions on the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood. Now, I’ve had something of an interest in the Brotherhood since the BBC put on a highly fictionalized drama series about them called Dangerous Romantics a few years ago. So under the circumstances I wasn’t unhappy to manage 5 of these. well, John did a bit better than that, but with the round stalling at 8 points, leaving him 3 points off the lead you had to fancy that he was unlikely to be on the top step of the podium by the end of the show.

In fact, looking at the scores at half time you had to say that it looked unlikely that anyone would be going through via the repechage slots from this show. The best way to go through has always been to make sure that you win the heat, though, and that’s what all 4 contenders would be trying to do. First back to the chair was John. Now this was the archetypal round of two halves. For the first minute or so John struggled to get going. However , in as much as a pass spiral is only ever two consecutive passes away,  it only takes a couple of quick correct answers to establish a bit of momentum, and John saw out his last minute in fine style, taking his score through the 20 point barrier, and finishing on 21. Now, what do I always say? You have to push as far as you can to at least put your opposition into the corridor of uncertainty, and I fancied that this might just do it for John.

Martin returned next, and his round was something of a mirror image of John’s. Still answering slowly and carefully, Martin was picking up the points, and edging up towards the target. In the last minute, though, the round just came to a halt, and refused to push on past 20.

At this stage I began to idly wonder whether John could possibly hold on. I’ll tell you what prompted such thoughts shortly.  As had Martin, Neil began well, and had raced up to 17 points with just over a minute left. The next 70 seconds or so were rather torturous for him. He managed to wrest another three points out of the questions to take his score up to 20. Now, I mentioned I had an inkling that John might hold on, and the reason why is I knew that Hazel had scored 7 and 8 in her two previous general knowledge rounds. She  needed 10 and no passes in order to win. Well, all I can say is my contention that it gets easier to handle being in the chair each time you do it is looking like wise words after the round Hazel put on. Basically she answered what she knew – which was quite a lot – and what she didn’t she guessed, and judging from her expression quite a few of the 17 points she gained were guesses. That didn’t matter in the least. 17 points is 17 points, and it’s a hell of a good score. Well done! If you had a chance to listen to this week’s podcast you’ll know I speculated on just how man of this year’s semi finalists will turn out to be recidivists. Well, of the 7 already guaranteed places, 6 are recidivists. We could be heading for a record, for what it’s worth.

The Details

Hazel Humphreys Life and Career of Les Dawson11 - 217 - 228 - 4
Martin RoebuckThe History of West Indies Cricket10 - 110 - 320 - 4
Neil MadleLife and Films of Howard Hawks10 - 110 - 320 - 4
John CarringtonThe Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood8 - 213 - 121 – 3

Answers to News Questions

In The News

Who or what are the following and why have they been in the news?

Justin Roberts
Tony Mangan
Alan Henning
David Haines
Ryan Adams
Tiffany Porter
Dylan Van Baarle
Lucas di Grassi
Oscar Groening
Jerome Champagne
Bob Dyer
Shaun Wright
Married At First Sight
Ruth Atkins
Chuck Feeney
John Cantlie
Sonia Powell
Felix Magath
Jens Voigt

In Other News

Which road bridge celebrated its half century last week?
How many people set a record for the most number of people dressing in Regency costume in Bath?
What was the score between Chelsea and Swansea?
– and Arsenal and Man City?
– and Aston Villa and Liverpool?
Who did Floyd Mayweather defeat in the 12th round of their world championship return bout?
Which golfer nearly lost an arm in a chainsaw accident?
Who won the San Marino Moto GP?
Which world leader was spending last week in a tent?
What became the Tate’s most popular exhibition in its history?
Crimewatch is thirty years old. In round numbers, how many crimes has it solved?
Who announced his first album and tour since the mid 70s?
What is the title of the next Toy Story Movie?
It was announced that the Guildhall School of Music and Drama are to offer their first course in what?
What was the Champions League score between Arsenal and Borussia Dortmund?
– and Liverpool and Ludogorets Razgrad?
Everton FC have been given the green light for a new stadium in which location?
Which embarrassing occurrence befell the Columbian women’s cycling team?
Who was reappointed Pakistan’s T20 captain 3 years after getting the sack?
Who had to apologise for calling US moneylenders Shylocks?
Which actress is playing Hamlet on stage in Manchester?
Who will be the new voice of Danger Mouse?
Who is the famous sitter for the finalists in the Sky Arts portrait artist of the year competition?
Which companies have been commissioned to build NASAs next manned space vehicle to transport astronauts to the ISS?
Londoners are to be charged £10 to watch what in December?
Which type of architecture features on a new set of Royal Mail stamps?
What was the Champions League score between Man City and Bayern Munich?
– and Chelsea and Schalke?
The RFU apologized for using what design on their England kit?
Name the Yorkshire cricket captain charged by the England and Wales cricket board of offenses with racial connotations
What was the % turnout in the Scottish referendum vote?
Which veteran country singer passed away?
Which historic decision did the R and A golf club reach?
Who had to return a £16,000 watch to the Brazilian FA, having had no idea of the value of the gift?
Who quite as manager of Port Vale?
In the Europa League, what was the score between Spurs and Partizan Belgrade?
– and Everton and Wolfsburg?
 – and Celtic and Salzburg?
Who left Cardiff City last week?
Which stadium will host the final of the Euro 2020 tournament?
GB has been drawn to face which country in the Davis Cup?


Who or what are the following and why have they been in the news?

Man charged with the New Forest stabbing
Man who completed a 4 year run around the world
Salford taxi driver and aid worker under threat from Isis
British man tragically murdered by Isis
Musician who played the closing ceremony of the Invictus Games
Broke the British women’s 100m hurdles record, previously held by Jessica Ennis-Hill
Winner of the Tour of Britain
Winner of the first ever Formula E grand prix for electric powered cars
93 year old man charged with 300000 counts of accessory to murder, from his time as a guard in Auschwitz
French man who has announced he will stand against Sepp Blatter for president of FIFA
App against which injunctions have been lifted in parts of Europe
Ironically won the title Embalmer of the Year
Rotherham Police and Crime Commissioner resigned
Controversial show on which people marry total strangers, which has found that many couples are dropping out at the last moment.
1st volunteer to test the Ebola virus
US billionaire donating $25 million to education in Northern Ireland
3rd British hostage to be forced to plead for life on video
Welsh grandmother who died while waiting in an ambulance.
Manager of Fulham sacked last week.
Great cyclist who broke the world hour record with his last ever professional ride

In Other News

The Forth Road Bridge
4 – 2 Chelsea
2 – 2
1 – 0 Villa
Marcos Maidana
Greg Norman
Valentino Rossi
Tony Abbot of Australia
Matisse’s cut outs
Yusuf Islam
Toy Story That Time Forgot
Dortmund 2 – Arsenal 0
Liverpool 2 – Ludogorets 1
Walton Hall Park, Liverpool
They were ordered to change their kit, since it is partly flesh coloured and has been ruled indecent by the UCI
Shahid Afridi
Joe Biden
Maxine Peake
Alexander Armstrong
Sir Ian McKellern
Boeing and SpaceX
The New Year Fireworks (January strictly speaking, I suppose)
UK Seaside Architecture
1 – 0 Bayern
1 – 1
Victoria Cross
Andrew Gale
George Hamilton IV
To allow women members
Greg Dyke
Mickey Adams
0 – 0
4 – 1 Everton
2 – 2
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer

USA at home

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Lisa chose Blockbusters - How about you?

If you read my interview with Egghead Lisa Thiel – and if not why not – you might have noticed that Lisa made a statement that she wished she could have appeared on Blockbusters back in its Bob Holness heyday, and because it “still wins the best quiz theme tune stakes” – Lisa’s words. Well, I don’t deny that the Blockbusters theme, “Quiz Wizard” by Ed Welch is a very fine example of the genre. But the greatest?

Well, ‘greatest’ is often a subjective concept. Many of the themes I like for example belong to the shows I grew up with. It isn’t just that either. There are themes which, as a piece of music, would never find their way onto my ipod (if I was possessed of such a new-fangled article) yet fitted their show perfectly.

For what it’s worth, then, here are – in no particular order – ones which I’ve liked, or which have particularly stuck in my memory -

Mastermind – Approaching Menace – Neil Richardson
anything Mastermind is a fave of mine anyway, but was there ever a theme that gave you a more accurate idea of what the contestants were in for? Pure class.
University Challenge – College Boy by Derek New.
I like the Balanescu Quartet used now, but if anything I preferred the older ITV version more. I miss the kettle drum.
Brain of Britain – Eine Kleine Nachtmusick (K. 525 Serenade No. 13 in G major, IV Rondo) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.
Marvellous work from the young whippersnapper – he should really do more theme tunes in my opinion.
Ask the Family (Original version) - "Acka Raga" by Joe Harriott and John Mayer.
This was quite unlike any other theme on telly, and all the better for it too. Mind you, I liked Sun Ride which came in the later Robert Robinson series too, but for me Acka Raga was the definitive ATF theme.
Who Wants to Be A Millionaire - Keith and Matthew Strachan
One of the few shows which came long after my childhood to make that much of an impression on me. IMHO this is a real classic of the genre. All the more impressive considering that according to the UK Gameshows website, the decision was made to scrap the original Pete Waterman theme, and they were given ten days to come up with this.
Bullseye – John Patrick
As I said, you wouldn’t exactly want this one on constant play on your ipad, but it fit the show as snugly as Approaching Menace fit Mastermind. They used to do that clever thing with the end theme as well, in playing the sad version when the contestants lost.
Going for Gold - Composed by Hans Zimmer and Sandy McClelland.
Yes, that Hans Zimmer. The show was, well, cheap and cheerful tat, and the theme music – well I don’t know how cheap it was, but it certainly qualified as totally naff. In fact I wouldn’t even remember it apart from being intruged by the way that the theme had lyrics – which managed to completely and utterly avoid anything even resembling a rhyme. This from the UK Gameshows website : -
Going for gold!
The heat is on, the time is right,
It's time for you, for you to play your game.
'Cause people are coming, everyone's trying,
Trying to be the best that they can,
When they're going for... going for... Gold.”
You don’t have to be good to be memorable.
Top of the Form - "Marching Strings" by Marshall Ross, performed by Ray Martin and His Concert Orchestra -
Now there’s a theme which was value for money. Not only was it the radio theme for the majority of its very long run, but also for the Television Top of the Form spin off as well. Utterly stirring – makes you proud to be British, what?!
Screen Test – Marching There And Back by Syd Dale –
You might not remember the show. It was a 1970s BBC childrens movie quiz, originally fronted by Michael “Tomorrow’s World” Rodd. Another stirring piece plenty of plinky plonk from the piano and xylophone, and a fair old bit of banging on the big bass drum – I think Jonathan Ross used it again for one of his series in the 90s.
Sale of the Century – Joyful Pete – by Peter Fenn
I cite this one not because of any particular excellence on its part, but because it is typical and so representative of its early 70s period. Just a couple of bars of it is enough to make you jump out of your G-Plan chair, close your orange Brentford Nylons curtains, turn the 8 track on and reach for the fondue set.
Going for a Song - First movement from Respighi's suite Gli Uccelli (The Birds)
You have to be as long in the tooth as I am to remember this one. Before the Antiques Roadshow we had this, more a sort of panel game than a quiz if I recall correctly. The most memorable thing was this lovely little piece, which faded into the trilling song of an automaton songbird in a cage. Sweet.

There are others I rather liked too – for example: -
Every Second Counts – John Mealing
The Chase – Paul Farrer
Only Connect – Dawson Sabatini – played by The Brodsky Quartet -
Krypton Factor – Mike Moran
A Question of Sport

But that’s just me. How about you? Do you agree with Lisa, and would you award the title of The Greatest Quiz Theme to Blockbusters? What are your favourites? Why not let us know?

As regards the greatest TV theme of all time (any genre) – don’t know. But as for the most evocative – well one of them at least, try this one – especially if you’re over 40 : -
Simply one of the most evocative TV Themes of All Time

Meet TVs Newest Egghead - Lisa Thiel

Some time ago I asked TV's newest Egghead, Lisa Thiel, whether she'd be willing to answer a few questions for LAM, when the time she takes her place amongst them draws closer. Being the good egg(head) that she is, she agreed to do so as soon as possible. So here they are. Thanks Lisa!

1.    Lisa, could you tell us how you first became interested in quizzing?

I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t! I’ve always loved finding things out and then spouting them back – I was the child with a lot of those Usborne books that told you about different aspects of the world.

The first formal quizzes I took part in were at school, when I was a ten-year-old sent off to quiz with the 12 and 13-year olds in inter-school competitions. At secondary school I was taught Latin by a fella named John Hart, who was Mastermind champion back in 1975 and naturally encouraged an interest in quizzing and general knowledge alongside his other duties. He used to act as quizmaster for inter-school quizzes. I suspect Jeremy Paxman – another alumnus of my school – picked up a few tips from John Hart during his time, because their question master styles are eerily similar.

2.    Other than Eggheads, which TV quiz shows, if any, do you enjoy now, and which shows have you enjoyed in the past?

I grew up with Blockbusters, University Challenge and Bullseye - I still remember getting my very first correct answer while watching Blockbusters when I was about seven. These days I can watch any quiz and get something out of it, but my favourites would be Pointless and Only Connect. I’m fully expecting to love the revamped Fifteen to One and, without wishing to sound sycophantic, I’ve been an Eggheads fan since it started.

My guilty pleasure these days is Challenge TV and the quizzes from the 80s and early 90s, partly to bone up on pop culture from the period, but mainly to admire the fashion and hairstyles of the day. It’s living history and it’s fantastic. I loved hearing Jim Bowen ask ‘Where will the 1988 Olympic Games be held?’ the other day…

3.    Lisa, I believe that you have been a contestant on The Weakest Link a few years ago. If so, how did you find Anne Robinson, and what are your memories of the experience?

Anne was perfectly gracious in a professional way – it was ‘turn up, shake everyone’s hand, congratulate them afterwards and the on to the next show.’ She wasn’t a chatty-type host in your Jeremy Vine or Bradley Walsh mould, but if I was on a five-show-a-day treadmill I doubt I would have been either.

We had a small set-to during the show when she asked me what I wanted to do career-wise, as I’d just left university when we filmed. I told her I wanted to work in television, to which she replied (you’ll have to imagine the sneer and the cut-glass disdain in the voice) ‘What makes you think you’re talented enough to work in television?’ I replied ‘Do you need to be talented, Anne?’ The resulting loud guffaw from the production gallery didn’t make the edit, but in fairness she did come up afterwards and say ‘the producer says come and see her afterwards, because she says you deserve a job in television’. Thirteen years later, here I am…

The rest of the show was slightly atypical in that we were one of the ‘nicer’ teams ever to film – there were no tactics to get rid of the stronger players and very little sniping between contestants. I made a hideous mess of the final – there were questions in there that I’d known the answers to since I was about five, but because I panicked under pressure I failed to get a single one correct. It was a salutary lesson in tactics, though.

4.    If my information about The Weakest Link is correct, then you have faced both Anne Robinson and CJ. Who do you think would win out of the two of them in a cage fight – no, only joking! But seriously, which was the more daunting experience – facing Anne Robinson in The Weakest Link, or facing CJ in Revenge of the Egghead?

In the cage my money’d be on Anne because she’d fight that bit dirtier, but it’d be a close-run thing…Quizwise, I’d actually go for CJ, simply because it’s quite difficult to play a quiz format with which you’re not familiar. On The Weakest Link, I knew roughly what to expect of the format, the level of questions, expected banter etc., but I couldn’t be sure at what level Revenge of the Egghead would be pitched or how it might have developed since the auditions. The questions were harder on Revenge too. I was lucky with a few of my answers.

5.    Prior to joining the Eggheads, what would you say is the quiz experience or achievement that you are most proud of?

Edging my solo round of The Chase against Paul Sinha. How I survived that I have absolutely no idea, given the questions. Not my finest hour knowledge-wise but probably the finest in terms of sheer nerve and persistence.

6.    Since you have joined the Eggheads, has your approach towards preparing for quizzes changed, and if so, how?

I’ve tried to make sure that the kind of absolute ‘core list’ with which all quizzers should be familiar is fully up to scratch, so that really basic quiz fodder like world capitals, or Olympic host cities, or American presidential office holders, doesn’t catch me out. Every day on Eggheads throws up a new area for me to look into, though, so I suppose it’s more a broadening of research areas than a change of approach per se. I think the most conscious change is that when I read the news, I find myself muttering facts and lists over to make sure they sink in.

7.    Could you give us an idea what the reaction of friends and/or family has been when you revealed to them for the first time that you were becoming an Egghead?

My immediate family were all in New Zealand when I told them over Skype, and I don’t think they’ve scraped their jaws off the floor yet. Most other people have actually been quite laid back about it, particularly my work colleagues.

The best reaction was my father-in-law’s – he’s a dedicated Eggheads fan and we’ve often joked about getting a team together. My husband rang up and said ‘Lisa’s going on Eggheads’. My father-in-law responded, in a slightly hurt tone, ‘Oh…who’s on her team?’ to which my husband replied ‘You know, Kevin, Barry, Pat, Judith…’!

8.    What are/were your thoughts on taking over from such a popular, respected and talented Egghead as Daphne Fowler?

Let’s get this absolutely straight – I am not, repeat not, ‘replacing’ Daphne in any way. You cannot, by definition, replace a one-off. Daphne made her first appearances on TV quiz shows before I was even born, and her level of performance is a benchmark to which all quizzers, particularly female quizzers, can and should aspire.

I understand that the idea of a like-for-like replacement will be people’s natural assumption, because Daphne and I both happen to be women. But I don’t think anyone expected Dave to be exactly the same type of quizzer, or have the same type of personality, as CJ when he arrived to fill that particular vacancy. So from that point of view it’s basically sexist for people to think that I’m a straight swap for Daphne.

From what I’ve been told by various people connected with Eggheads, the idea of finding a new female Egghead had been around for some time, and while a lot of people (including a large number known, I suspect, to this blog’s author) (Really? Could be - Ed) were considered, the producers obviously had quite a specific blueprint in mind. I think it’ll be immediately obvious when I appear on screen that the last thing they were thinking about was finding another Daphne, even if such a thing were possible.

9.    Regular viewers of Eggheads have noticed that particular Eggheads are often targeted for specific subjects, where, rightly or wrongly, they are perceived to have an Achilles heel. Do you feel that you have been targeted for any specific subject more than any other, and if so, which?

In my first week of filming, I’ve competed in head to heads for eight out of the nine question categories, which I think is a clear indicator that nobody quite knows what to make of me just yet. I actually expected a little more targeting for some subjects based on assumptions about my age and gender, but it hasn’t really been evident except in a couple of cases – and happily I was able to prove contestants wrong on those occasions. As a result my win-loss record for this week is a little better than most of the other Eggheads, who suffer to greater or lesser degrees from this type of targeting. And I’m not going to tell you which subjects…I’m trying to preserve the mystique for as long as possible!

     You’re now an Egghead, but if you weren’t, and you could appear as a contestant or contender on any other quiz show (past or present), which show would be at the top of your list?

Now that is a great question.(thanks - Ed!) I’d love to have made it onto old-school Blockbusters with Bob Holness, because he was a legendary example of hosting and Blockbusters still wins in the ‘best quiz theme tune’ stakes (sorry, ‘Approaching’ what now?). These days I’m dying to have a crack at Only Connect. Are you listening, producers…?

Lisa - once again thanks for being a sport, and answering so fully and frankly. I'm sure all LAM readers would like to join me in wishing you every success. (We'll argue again about the best quiz theme - in fact I think I feel a podcast coming on . . . )