I did promise that I would try to restage the LAMMY awards as soon as I could, and so here are the awards for 2014.
1) Award for the Best New Quiz Show of 2014
Its interesting to look back and see just how well some of the past recipients of this award have done - they include Only Connect – The Chase – Breakaway – Perfection – and there have even been a couple of years when no new show has been deemed worthy of winning the award.
In 2014 we saw quite a bumper crop of new shows. In February BBC2 brought us Revenge of the Egghead. This brought CJ back into the Egghead fold. In some ways this seemed a little bit of a hybrid of the original Eggheads and The Chase. The reviews weren’t generally kind, and since CJ is back among the Eggheads fold I have my doubts over whether we’ll see this show again.
Strictly speaking Fifteen to One is not really eligible for the award since it’s not a new show. We can argue about whether revivals should be eligible, but the fact is that I took part in the second series before the end of the year, and this takes it out of the running anyway.
April also brought us Challenge TV’s own original quiz, Timeline. This was all about putting things into a sequence. Now, go back 15 or 20 years, and host Brian Conley was a very big TV name. Somehow though this show contrived to be rather less than the sum of its parts. Meanwhile on Saturday nights in April Rob Brydon brought us a new celebrity panel quiz game called The Guess List. I wasn’t the only one to draw attention to its great similarity to Blankety Blank.
In May ITV unveiled Ejector Seat, presented by Andi Peters. You have to hand it to ITV, they will keep trying out new formats which they can use when The Chase and/or Tipping Point are off the air. This wasn’t the hardest quiz in the world, and the Ejector seat gimmick wore fairly thin fairly quickly. However it wasn’t the worst new quiz show that ITV came up with all year, not by some distance.
Now, in a way, I suppose that you could say I also have a connection with The Link. This was created by the creators of the game Linkee, and I was sub contracted to provide some of the questions for the second edition of the game which is now available. The Link does pretty much what it says on the tin – basically asks you questions, and you have to find the links between the answers. It certainly wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I did think that it had several things going for it. Unlike many, if not most daytime quizzes, this one at least offered a game which had play along at home value for both non quizzers and quizzers alike. Alright, it’s not Pointless, and it’s not Only Connect, but it had something. And what’s not to like about Mark Williams as question master for that matter?
In August, several quizzes came along at once. Poor old Gethin Jones, who presented the awful Sell Me The Answer a few years ago, was given another grade A oven ready turkey in the shape of the 21st question. No better than this was Eamonn Holmes and Ruth Langsford’s rather self indulgent Gift Wrapped. This show suffered from the Holmes-Langsford love in which was rather nauseating, from having some embarrassingly poor contestants, and from being extremely ‘bitty’.
Over on BBC2, though, we had a show which has to be considered for this year’s award. I speak of Richard Osman’s Two Tribes. The gimmick behind this show was that it was a contest between two teams, yet the teams’ membership would change according to answers the contestants had given before the start of the quiz. So for example in the first round cat lovers might play dog lovers, while in the second round those who could read music would play those who couldn’t – and so on. A player was out in each round, until just two remained to play a head to head. I would say that for many viewers the biggest selling point was probably Richard Osman as host.
So basically, it’s a two horse race for me – The Link v. Two Tribes. Now, I will admit that I’m torn here. I can’t help remembering that I plumped for The Chase over Pointless back in 2009, while Pointless would have romped home in any other year since. And when you get right down to it, although I still rate The Chase, I would always opt to watch Pointless now myself. So if I do it again to another Richard Osman show this time, then it’s going to start to look personal. But it isn’t personal. The fact is that while Two Tribes is a perfectly decent little show, the level of the questions means that it doesn’t have the same play at home potential for anyone above a certain level of ability at GK quizzes. At the end of the day it’s purely a matter of personal preference, and while it’s been fair to say that the Link never enjoyed better than strictly lukewarm reviews, I liked it, and therefore the LAMMY Award for the best new quiz show of 2014 goes to
2) The Award for Best Performance in a Broadcast Quiz of 2014
Mastermind 2014 – Clive Dunning
University Challenge 2014 – Trinity, Cambridge
Brain of Britain 2014, Brain of Brains – Mark Grant
Only Connect – Europhiles
This one is tricky. My friend Clive won a nailbiting Mastermind final, beating Brian Chesney by 3 passes, having looked like one of the favourites ever since his first round performance. In University Challenge Trinity, Cambridge had to defeat double champions Manchester in their semi final. To be fair to them they were pretty much carrying the mantle of favourites after comprehensively beating a very good Christ Church team in the first round. In the final BBC4 series of Only Connect, the Europhiles demonstrated that if you have a terrific missing vowels player on your team, then you’ll always have a chance of winning.
This year’s overall winner, though, is a name that will be familiar to regular LAM readers. Mark Grant is a member of the Crossworders, the finest Only Connect team ever. As a coincidence, Crossworders skipper David Stainer also took part in the Brain of Brains competition that Mark won, and the third member of the trio, Ian Bayley, is a past recipient of this very award. It was a highly competitive series of BOB this year, and Mark was a very worthy winner of the Grand Final. So the winner of the best performance in a broadcast quiz of 2014 goes to : -
3) The Award for Best Performance in a Non Broadcast Quiz
As has become customary, I must pay tribute to my teammates in the Bridgend Quiz League. UP to the end of the 2014 season in April we played out of the Llangewydd Arms. During the season we completed our fourth consecutive League Championship and Cup Double, and in fact it was triple winning season considering that we had already won the traditional Muriel Williams Cup curtain raiser back in September 2013. All of which would have made the guys eligible for the award, were it not for the fact that I was playing with them. Such is life.
Despite this, though, we did lose one match during the season. Altogether we lost 4 times in my first 4 seasons playing in the League. On only one of those occasions would I have said that we weren’t a little unlucky in the way that the questions fell out. That happened to be last season. Back in January 2014 we played the Lemurs, the strongest team in the league back when I started. We’ve had some close matches in the past, and some not so close matches, but they’d never beaten us while I’d been playing until this match. The simple fact of the matter is that on that night, they were just much better than we were. It wouldn’t have mattered in what combination the questions had come out, they would still have won – they were that much better than we were. For that reason, they are worthy recipients of the first nomination for this award.
How can you ignore the claims of Ashford Road A from Swindon, who added the 2014 title to their 2012 CIU National title? I certainly can’t ignore them, and they are duly nominated for the award.
Last year’s award winners, the Lemurs from the Aberavon Rugby Club, are again a decent nomination. This year we were managing to duke it out with them on pretty much even terms until June, but since then it’s been pretty much one way traffic, barring the odd win for ourselves here and there.
All of the above are worthy nominees, and all would be front runners in another year. However 2014 was the first time that I’ve played in the Brain of Mensa competition. Now, I know when you mention you’re a member of Mensa you open up a whole can of worms either with people who never have been members, or people who have been members but left after becoming disillusioned with the organization. It really isn’t my purpose here to open a debate on the rightness or wrongness of the organization. What I will say, though, is I got to play in the semi final and final against Les Hurst, and in the final against Stephen Cooke. I don’t play in many individual as opposed to team quiz competitions, but I have to say that this was the toughest I can remember playing in, and the performances of both these gentlemen were outstanding. Stephen won the competition, and therefore I have no hesitation in awarding him this year’s LAMMY. So the winner is : -
4) The Award for the Most Enjoyable Event in Quizzing
Well, sadly I wasn’t invited to a GetConnected Charity quiz event this year. It’s a shame, but let’s be fair, it’s a great charity, and it’s been a hell of a lot of fun while it lasted.
Seeing that we arrived early this year, the CIU finals in Derby in September were a lot of fun again, although rather bittersweet considering the uncertainty of the event, and the fact that Dave Cornish, who sadly passed away soon after, was too ill to attend.
If you’ve read my post about the Birmingham Mega Quiz in November, then you’ll know that we were well beaten into third this year. Nonetheless, even despite the fact that there was a round specifically on Birmingham it was an extremely well run event again, and if you can’t enjoy a big quiz event like that even when you don’t win, then you’re probably going off quizzes full stop.
There’s nothing quite like finding a new pub quiz you haven’t been to before, where the quiz is home made – the locals are friendly – there’s no prize so nobody gets too upset if you win. Step forward the Ogmore Junction/ Fox and Hounds Sunday evening quiz – an utter joy.
As I mentioned in the preamble to the previous award, 2014 saw me taking part in three rounds of Brain of Mensa for the first time. I certainly clocked up the mileage, as each round involved several hours driving to get to the venue and back. Each of them was great fun though, and involved meeting some delightful people, and some very good quizzers. Coming third overall was the icing on the cake.
Yet for all that, well, for all that my most enjoyable quizzing event of 2014 has to be my appearance on Fifteen to One. It’s a good 4 years since my previous TV appearance in the final of series 4 of Only Connect, and I have to say that the whole experience was a lot of fun from start to finish, and I only hope this came across in my blog account of it. Therefore the winner of the award is: -
Appearing on Fifteen to One
5) The Host With the Most Award
Former winners of this are – 2013: Russell Davies – 2012: Nick Hancock – 2011: Alexander Armstrong. You could go for any of the biggies here, but instead, and I’m sorry if this is seen as a sop, or a consolation prize for not giving the main award to Two Tribes, but the award this year goes to someone who is one half of the best presenting double whammy on TV, and who on his own raises a rather ordinary quiz into something a lot more watchable. Step forward: -
That was 2014 then. I’m sorry if you don’t agree with any or all of the awards, but hey, it’s my blog. Apologies for the fact that we couldn’t hold this in December – thankfully I’m starting to feel just a little more perky now.