Thursday, 31 December 2009

My New Quiz Resolutions

Quiz Resolutions

Last year I made 8 quiz resolutions and posted them on New Year’s Eve. Earlier this month I revealed that I have managed to , just about , keep five of them. So this encourages me to give it another go. So without further ado, here are my quiz resolutions for 2010 . Lets start with a couple of carry-overs which I didn’t manage to keep in 2009 : -

· I resolve to stop moaning about handicaps in Newport. If they get on my nerves I shall bear it with a cheery grin, and if it gets up my nose that much I shall just not go.

· I resolve to stop saying that any team who beat us in a straight pub quiz must have cheated, even when they have actually been using their phones in front of us.

OK, that’s the rollovers. Now a few new ones -

· I resolve to apply to other quiz shows in the coming year. A similar resolution made for 2009 has brought me a lot of fun in the past 12 months.

· I resolve to try to become a better quizzer, and to work a bit more on my weak areas, rather than just always trusting to luck.

· I resolve to try to be a little more positive when I’m quizzing, and look for the positives in a quiz BEFORE I start going on about the negatives.

· I resolve to try to get involved in a quiz league – it’s a good few years since I played regularly in one, and I loved it when I did.

· I resolve above all else to enjoy my quizzing throughout the next year.

So that’s my resolutions for 2010. Happy New Year, and I hope that the last resolution comes true for you too.

Sleb Mastermind - Show 4

Celebrity Mastermind show 4 – Wednesday 30th December

Show 4 of the series brought 3 familiar faces, and , since I’m not a devotee of Emmerdale, one not quite so familiar face. First into the chair was former King of the Jungle Joe Pasquale, representing the British Forces Foundation. Joe’s subject , Vampires in films, was actually a much wider one than you might think, and Joe’s performance , up until the last question, was amazing. However, just as he was tottering on the brink of a perfect round, he passed on the very last question. He didn’t get through quite as many questions as he might have done, asking for a mid round repeat, but nonetheless 16 and one pass was formidable.

Tony Audenshaw was the contender I knew least about tonight. Apparently he plays a character called Bob Hope in Emmerdale. His chose charity was leukaemia research, and his chosen subject was British Birds. This, as I recall, was the subject that Mastermind Finalist Richard Smyth took in last year’s first round, where he scored 17. Tony Audenshaw didn’t quite manage this, but his 14 and 2 passes put him well in contention with Joe .As an aside, one of his only two passes was the question about which bird has the latin name “buteo buteo”. It’s a buzzard. However there is a bird also which has the latin name – subbuteo ! Its absolutely true, and its where the name of the football game comes from . How ? Well, its because subbuteo is the latin name of the bird called the Hobby !

If you look in the OED under the word ‘nice’ it will probably say ‘Diane Louise Jordan’ . She was the mainstay of Blue Peter when my oldest kids were viewers, and I have a lot of time for her. Representing Action for children, she answered questions on the American TV series Brothers and Sisters. I’ve not heard of this series, let alone ever seen it, so I’m afraid I make no other comment except that Diane managed to score 10 points.

Roger Black offered us the Life and Music of James Taylor in support of the Treloar Trust, which is a charity which aims to provide first class education and support for young people with disabilities. Roger Black was an integral part in one of my favourite sporting moments, when he ran the first leg of the 4x400m relay in the 1991 world championships, where Kriss Akabusi anchored GB to an unexpected gold. So a formidable competitor then. As ably shown by his 17 and no passes.

So, once again it seemed that just maybe we were about to witness a sleb breaking through the 30 point barrier. At the halfway stage you’d have put your money on the thoroughbred Roger Black. However there was a dangerous outsider in the field . It wasn’t Diane Louise Jordan, though. After explaining that she is tone deaf, and has to have her microphone turned down on Songs of Praise if she starts to sing along, she managed another 5 and 2 more passes. Tony Audenshaw discussed the changes in Emmerdale over the years. All sorts goes on there, apparently. Well, Tony Audenshaw turned out to be the surprise package in tonight’s show , as he showed very few areas of weakness rattling off 16 points and only 1 pass, to take him up to the magical 30 points.

Lets back track a minute. At the half way stage you would have said that it was a two horse race between Joe and Roger, with Roger looking the odds on favourite. Suddenly, though, this had change. It was now a race to see if either of the front runners could get past the hefty target set by Tony Audenshaw. Joe Pasquale was the first to try. He rubbished his own chances in the chat, and with some good reason, since he soon started to flounder, and so began to play it for laughs. To be fair he got he biggest laugh of the series so far when he suggested that Joseph Ratzinger adopted the name Pope Kevin when he became pontiff. Still even Joe couldn’t resist taking advantage of some of the very easy questions he was asked, and his final score was 21.

So only Roger Black could beat Tony Audenshaw. Before the round started, he explained how his silver medal in the 1996 olympics represented the peak of performance he could have managed, his career coinciding with a candidate for the greatest runner of all time, one Michael Johnson. This was a tortuous round, where he crept rather than sprinted towards the target. He’d reached 28when the buzzer went, allowing him to get the next question right, but still end up a point behind Tony Audenshaw. To be fair to Mr. Audenshaw he seemed quite pleased with his win, practically leaping out of his chair to bound over to JH for his trophy. Good on you, sir. Nothing wrong with feeling pleased with yourself at all.

The details

Joe Pasquale Vampires in Films16 - 15 - 221 – 3
Tony AudenshawBritish Birds14 - 216 - 130 - 3
Diane Louise JordanBrothers and Sisters10 - 45 - 215 - 6
Roger BlackThe Life and Music of James Taylor17 - 012 - 229 – 2

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Sleb Mastermind - Show 3

Sleb Mastermind – Tuesday 29th December

Show three, and surely we weren’t going to see the same kind of pyrotechnics that we saw in the first two shows of this series ? Tonight’s lineup were : - venerable newsreader Alastair Stewart, naturalist and wildlife broadcaster Steve Backshall, Radio One’s Comedy Dave Vitty, and original Apprentice runner up and broadcaster Saira Khan.

Alastair Stewart, whose chosen charity was Action for Children, kicked off tonight with a popular culture subject in the shape of The Rolling Stones. Somehow I would have always thought of Mr. Stewart as more of a Frank Sinatra or at a pinch, an Elvis Presley sort of a guy, but he knew his stuff on the Stones. It wasn’t a perfect round, but it wasn’t bad, and 14 and no passes would surely give him a chance.

The Really Wild Show’s Steve Backshall gave us the charity with the longest name tonight, as he was donating his fees to Deeping St. James Exotic Pet Refuge. He didn’t offer us a wildlife subject, though, instead settling for Judo. Unlike Judo, there’s no way in Mastermind that you can use your opponents’ own strength against them, and so Mr. Backshall was left to his own strength to score 11 and no passes.

‘Comedy Dave’Vitty , poor chap, was taking the subject which had been chosen by his Radio One Listeners. They obviously have a good sense of humour, since they chose the unlikely, and rather unentertaining subject of British Motorways. Comedy Dave presents a show with Mark ‘Chappers’ Chapman, who competed last year, but this subject gave him little or no chance of matching Chappers' total score of 25. Representing Cancer Research UK, he scored 6.

Saira Khan is living proof that sometimes to be runner up on a reality TV show can bring you every bit as much success as actually winning, if not more so. Representing the charity Children in Need, she offered us the life and works of Coco Chanel. I knew that Coco Chanel’s Christian name was Gabrielle – so did Saira. Unlike me, she also answered another 9 , although I think she knew a few more than that, but just couldn’t quite get them out.

So by the end of the SS rounds we could see that this was much more of an ordinary sleb MM show than we’ve had in this series so far. When Comedy Dave returned to the chair JH commiserated with him over the subject that his listeners had chosen. Despite being a self confessed nerd about service stations, he found learning for this subject to be ‘mind numbingly boring’. Oh well, he fared better in this GK round, getting into double figures. He ended with 17, a score which JH described as very respectable. Saira Khan explained how much she wanted to earn £50 million to set things up for future generations. I will confess it. I like Saira. I thought she had a few strokes of genius in the Apprentice, and I like her CBBC show Beat the Boss. But for a smart cookie, which she undoubtedly is, she didn’t cover herself in glory with a mid round pass spiral, leading to a round of 6.

So then to all intents and purposes it was Steve v. Alastair for the trophy. Steve agreed with JH that he had the perfect job, after describing his joy at finding a foot long rat. Oh well, it takes all sorts. He was three points behind Alastair after the first round, and so he needed to really pour on the points if he could. He earned a laugh for suggesting that the 1986 film “Blood Simple” was the first film of the Marx Brothers rather than the Coen brothers, and finished with 22 points, thus equalling his specialist score. So Alastair only needed 8 and no passes to be sure of a win. 12 points and 2 passes brought him a comfortable win in the end, with a total of 26 and 2 passes. Which incidentally made him the first person in this series of sleb MM to be in the lead after the specialist round, and to go on and win the whole show. Well done sir.

The Details

Alastair Stewart The Rolling Stones14 - 012 - 226 - 2
Steve BackshallJudo11 - 011 - 222 - 2
Dave VittyBritish Motorways6 – 5 11 - 217 - 7
Saira KhanThe Life and Works of Coco Chanel10 - 46 - 516 – 9

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Sleb Mastermind - show 2

Sleb Mastermind – Monday 28th December

Another day, another four slebs taking on the chair. Tonight, first up was Strictly Come Dancing star Darren Bennett, probably best known for winning Strictly series 2 in tandem with Jill Halfpenny. Stuart Maconie is a well known DJ , broadcaster and writer. His best known book is probably “Pies and Prejudice : In search of the North”.
I will admit that psychologist Dr. Linda Papadopoulos has not registered on the Clark radar before tonight. A quick google reveals that she has made numerous ‘guest expert’ appearances on TV shows such as Big Brother and Celebrity Fit Club which doubtless explains why she hasn’t registered on the Clark radar. In like fashion I haven’t watched The Bill since Bob Cryer was in short trousers, so Andrew Lancel, who plays DI Neil Manson in said show was also unknown to me. However, I concede that neither of them really qualifies as a whothe’ell just because I didn’t know them.

Darren Bennett , representing The Caron Keating Foundation, took the Star Wars films as his specialist subject. Taking a strictly personal point of view, I’m very glad to say that many of the questions were about the first three movies, since I haven’t actually seen any of the others. I’m particularly pleased with having known that the third movie – which is actually episode 6, “Return of the Jedi” was directed by the late Richard Marquand. A double figure score is a respectable mark, and Darren achieved this scoring 10.

Stuart Maconie offered one of tonight’s more traditional MM subjects. On behalf of Sightsavers, he was to answer questions on 20th century British poets and poetry. I may be an English teacher, and I may have a degree in English Literature, but I was always much more of a medievalist, and to be honest was never that fussed on 20th century poetry, so I was quite proud of myself making it into double figures on this set of questions. I didn’t get as many as Stuart Maconie did, though, since he put on an impressive 14 and 1 pass, after kicking himself for saying George Davies rather than W.H. Davies. If he’d just said Davies I bet they would have given him the point.

Dr. Papadapoulos, looking stunning, I thought, was representing The Leukaemia Society. She gave us our second slice of popular culture questions of the evening, as her SS was Nirvana. She whizzed through her set, looking positively disbelieving that she could be asked such a simple question as where does the baby appear in the album “Never Mind”. Even I knew it was on the front cover. That was it for me, but not for Dr. Linda, as she managed a total of 16 and 1 pass.

Andrew Lancel’s chosen charity was Bat-I About Kids, and his chosen subject was “The Academy Awards”. He won no prizes for not knowing that Slumdog Millionaire won 8 Oscars in 2009, including Best Picture. Likewise he didn’t know that Liza Minelli was the first Oscar winner with 2 oscar winning parents. Oh well, 11 was a respectable score , on a round which seemed very fair to me.

Darren Bennett returned first, and was given the chance to explain what Strictly has done to popularise dancing, and I’m sure he had a fair point. Other points proved rather harder to come by in his GK round, and he scored 6 for a total of 16. Andrew Lancel , whose nasty copper on the Bill apparently watches Strictly and listens to Nirvana off duty, explained that the Bill is as realistic as it is possible to make a 30 minute show. He turned out to be a bit of a surprise package on GK, scoring a very useful 16 and no passes. Alright, these are not the sort of questions that would give a serious quizzer heart palpitations, but that’s the point. These people are not serious quizzers.

So then, in order to take the lead, Stuart Maconie needed to score in the mid teens. No pressure there, then. Apparently not, since Stuart absolutely breezed through his set, scoring the highest individual GK round ever recorded in the history of Sleb MM. His 19 points not only gave him a magnificent 33, it also beat Loyd Grossman’s performance in the first show – and I honestly did not think that was going to happen. So Dr. Papadapoulos had a mountain to climb. However first she had to put up with JH asking her to interpret his body language towards her. Look, John, you being a heterosexual male, it certainly didn’t take a degree in psychology to work out what you were thinking about the Dr. Still, lets concern ourselves with the round. The fact was that she already had more passes than Stuart did, and so needed 18 points. Dr. Linda is Canadian –Cypriot, hence her accent. So there are questions, with British cultural references which would be simple to anyone who has lived here for 20 years, but very difficult to anyone who hasn’t. So unless you’re exceptional, like reigning MM champion Nancy Dickmann, this is always going to work against you. It proved a little too much for Dr. Papadopoulos, although she managed double figures to take her final total to 26.

So well done, Stuart, and well done all of you for that. So will tonight bring us an even better score than 33 ? Surely not.

The Details

Darren Bennett
The Star Wars Movies
10 – 2 6 – 3 16 – 5
Stuart Maconie20th Century British Poets and Poetry14 - 119 – 0 33 - 1
Dr. Linda PapadopoulosNirvana16 - 210 - 326 - 5
Andrew LancelThe Academy Awards11 - 216 - 027 – 2

Monday, 28 December 2009

BoB Supplementary - First Round Review

Before you read this analysis of the first round of BoB, and preview of the semi finals, I want to give you a warning. Firstly, I missed the start of the series. So I didn’t get to hear the first heat in the series, and I don't know the contestants or the scores. So the semi final line up I’m going to give only includes 15 players – for the winner of the first heat I can only apologise. Secondly, the semi finals have already been recorded, and so I must be very guarded in what I say, for I have no wish to spoil the semi finals for any listener. So I will really try to limit my comments to what has happened in the first round.

Performance of the round was surely that of Ian Bayley. His 33 was a remarkable score. I was also impressed with Chris Quinn, whose 21 wasn’t just a very good score, but had the added bonus of having been achieved against some extremely formidable opposition. Bernard Fyles, Mastermind 2004 finalist Jim Cook, and 1990 Mastermind champion David Edwards all scored in the 20s as well. Everyone who reached the semis is worthy of praise too – even me – but I would particularly draw your attention to Rob Hannah, whose cool nerve to win a tie break on the buzzer was another of the highlights of this very enjoyable first round of shows. Even if you take the lowest winning score, 13, that of Martin Boult, you have to pay tribute to the fact that he had to battle past reigning Mastermind champion Nancy Dickmann to do it.

Speaking of Nancy, who was the first woman to win either MM or BoB since 1997, it reminds us of the fact that there are 3 ladies in the semi finals. Of them all, the most impressive was Anne Hegerty , whose 18 is comfortably in the top half of scores in this series so far.

No predictions now – as you know if you read my report at the time, I have already promised Ian Bayley that I won’t scupper his chances by tipping him to win, so its only fair that I don’t lumber anyone else either. For the record, these are the 15 qualifiers that I’m fairly sure about : -

Ian Bayley - 33
Bernard Fyles – 22
Chris Quinn – 21
Jim Cook – 20
David Edwards – 20
Anne Hegerty – 18
David Clark – 16
Anthony Payne – 16
Simon Pitfield – 16
Martin Wyatt – 16
Roger Johnson - 16
Rob Hannah – 15
Jane Anne Liston – 15
Ali Arnold - winner of heat 1 -

Radio Listen - Brain of Britain

Brain of Britain – Round One – Heat 12/12

Here we are at the end of the first round of this series of Brain of Britain. The Radio 4 website bills this week’s heat as containing 4 contestants from the North of England. I’m sure that this came as news to Richard Beatty, who hails from Edinburgh, which by no stretch of the imagination qualifies as the North of England. Oh, I can feel my scots inherited genetic hackles rising. On with the review, though. I have a record of a Richard Beatty playing in the semi finals of Mastermind in 1981. Same man ? I couldn’t tell you. However , our second contestant, Anne Hegerty, is most definitely the same Anne Hegerty who reached the semi finals of Are You An Egghead this year, incidentally knocking me out in the process. I believe Anne has been a semi finalist in BoB before, and she has also twice been a contender in Mastermind. The third contestant was David Smith from Nantwich. Again, I have a record of a David Smith playing in the 1990 and the 2003 series of Mastermind, although again, I can’t say whether this is the same gentleman. Finally Martin Wyatt from Accrington, and yes, I do have a record of a Martin Wyatt competing in Mastermind in 1988. Again, this may or may not be the same person.

On with the show, then. Good first rounds from Mr. Beatty and Mr. Smith saw them score 4, to lead by two points from Anne, and 4 points from Martin Wyatt. Anne began to make her move in round 2, though, with superb work on the buzzer pushing her up to 6 points, and the lead. In the third round she did even better, taking 5 points, to push her score to 11, and her lead to 4. Only two points came her way in round four, but only Martin wyatt managed to drag himself any closer.

The first of the listener’s questions was which Olympic event is contested over a distance of 51.5 km ? The team did very well to work out that we were dealing with the Triathlon. The second question was – what 4th event is most commonly added to the triathlon events to make a quadrathlon ? Again, the team did well to get kayaking. A fitting tribute to the quality of the field in today’s contest.

Anne added a point to her score in round 5, and another in round 6 , but neither Richard Beatty nor David Smith was making any headway at all. Going into the last round, being realistic only a set of 5 and a bonus was going to give anyone the chance of catching Anne. As it was that’s exactly what Martin Wyatt got. However Anne herself had managed 3 points of her own, to push her comfortably over the line for a two point win. As for Martin Wyatt, Russell Davies suggested that his late burst might not be in vain. Well, I can confirm that it was definitely not in vain, since he claims one of 4 highest scoring runner up spots, if my calculations are correct, along with Simon Pitfield, Marie Coyle and Jane Ann Liston. Well done both, Anne and Martin !

The Details

Richard Beatty – 11
Anne Hegerty – 18
David Smith – 11
Martin Wyatt – 16

TV Watch - Sleb Mastermind

Its only been a few days since last Monday, but I have to admit that by last night I was more than ready for anything resembling a serious quiz, so the return of sleb Mastermind was welcome. In this first show we had the treat of actually having 4 celebrities. That’s a little unfair, but its not uncommon for one or two of the line up to be what we in the trade call a ‘whothe’ell “. So, on with the show. First up we had Goldie. Goldie was competing on behalf of the SOS Children’s Villages. The inter-round chat is back, and there are, I think, good reasons for keeping it in the sleb show. After all, these people are giving up their time and effort for no personal gain, so at least they deserve a little air time. In Goldie’s chat John Humphrys paid tribute to his wide portfolio – musician, actor, artist to name but a few. His subject was the films of PT Anderson. Maybe you haven’t heard of him, but I’m sure you’ve heard of some of his films, like Boogie Nights , Magnolia, and There Will Be Blood. Very good on the broad narrative sweep of the films themselves, Goldie fared slightly less well on details and technical stuff such as the name of Anderson’s cinematographer. He scored 10.

Paul O’Grady followed Goldie to the chair. His nominated charity was Save the Children. Paul’s subject was Gypsy Rose Lee. In the chat he explained that he felt an affinity to the famous American burlesque artiste since they had both were animal lovers, and they both had to become used to standing on stage with very little on. He followed this with an anecdote about an experience with the Danish fire service which surprisingly managed to stay suitable for a pre watershed audience. I got the first question – what was Gypsy Rose Lee’s real maiden name – because it’s a bit of an old chestnut. I was out with the washing after that. Paul wasn’t though, and he managed 13, a good score.

Sparks was the charity being represented by Gail Emms. Together with Nathan Robertson, Gail Emms is our most successful ever badmnton player, having been world champion and Olympic silver medallist. Although several months pregnant she has lost none of her competitive edge, having recently played against the lads from Man Utd. – who she beat at her own game. She showed a fine competitive edge in this game too, answering a magnificent 19 questions on Gavin and Stacey, the highest ever individual round in Sleb Mastermind.

Loyd Grossman, our final celebrity, eschewed the more traditional choice of a children’s charity, to represent the churches conservation trust. He was offering a very traditional mastermind subject, though, in the shape of 18th century English art and artists. You wouldn’t have blamed him if he’d been completely blown away by Gail Emms’ performance, but he kept his head, and answered every question to avoid passing, to give himself 14 points and an outside chance.

So by halfway it looked as if two of the contenders would have a job even getting up to 19 to match Gail Emms’ first round score. In Goldie’s GK round we had a question about the establishment opposite Gracelands – which is called Heartbreak Hotel . Also there was a reminder that in the ‘Luton Airport’ ads featuring Lorraine Chase, it was actually campari that she was drinking. Goldie needed 10 to get into the lead, and never quite looked like doing it. He scored 7. Paul O’Grady dashed off 4 points very quickly, and then 2 points to get to 19 much more slowly. Alas, even if Gail Emms had never scored another point she would still have beaten him on pass countback. He didn’t get any more. So he was left to, as he put it, hate himself in the morning for failing to remember that it was The Kinks who had a hit with Dedicated Follower of Fashion.

The competition, then, could begin again in earnest as Loyd Grossmann sat down for his final round. It seems as if 18th century art doesn’t do it for JH, since his inter round chat concentrated entirely on Mr. Grossman’s accent, and his interest in food and haute cuisine. Hau hum. If his chat was less than inspiring, however, his GK round was superb. Yes, its probably fair to say that the level of GK questions in the sleb version is somewhat kinder than the normal series, but nonetheless getting only one wrong was seriously impressive quizzing. 18 points and no passes put him in with a decent chance.

Gail Emms then needed 13 and no passes just to force a tie break. To put this into perspective, in last year’s series only 2 slebs managed 13, and only one, Phillippa Gregory managed 14. So Gail had gone from short odds favourite to unfancied underdog in the space of just a couple of minutes. She gave it a good old lash, and came close, scoring a creditable 12 for 31. So well done Lloyd Grossmann. Its just possible that this might not be the best performance of the whole series, but if anyone wants to beat it they'll have to go like the clappers. Good show.

The Details

Goldie The films of P.T. Anderson10 – 47 - 817 - 12
Paul O’GradyThe Life and Times of Gypsy Rose Lee13 – 26 - 419 - 6
Gail EmmsGavin and Stacey19 - 012 - 031 - 0
Loyd Grossmann18th Century English Art and Artists14 - 018 - 032 – 0

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Legacy Shows

Well, here we are at the end of the Noughties, and what better time to give a little consideration to the eternal question – what was all that about then ? You're right, its a big question, so lets narrow our parameters a little. In fact lets narrow them a lot, and just consider one tiny aspect of this much larger question. What lasting legacy will the Noughties bequeath to the field of TV quizzes, to match or even surpass that of previous decades?

I’ll explain what I mean. Without going into a rambling discourse on the history of the UK television quiz show - you can find one of these on my web site if you’d like to read it – just google Dave Clark’s Quiz Pages and you’ll find it – each decade has left us something tangible behind. So we’ll start with the 40s. Now, in all honesty I don’t think that any TV programme of any genre has survived from the 40s schedule until the present day. However, on good old radio 4 , in 1947 Round Britain Quiz began, and it still returns for a new series every year, making it comfortably the longest running broadcast quiz in the UK. Its not a quiz for members of the public, with only the great and the good being invited to join teams from various regions, but its format has been influential. The heart of the quiz is in using general knowledge to solve several clues, and then finding the connection between the clues. This may make you think of Only Connect, and if you want to think of a show you may have influenced, then you won't find a much better one than that.

The 50s saw the birth of commercial TV, but there are no TV quizzes hanging on grimly from this decade. However, in 1953, Brain of Britain began on BBC Radio as part of a wider programme called What do You Know ? It established itself as the premier General Knowledge quiz on the radio, a title which I amongst many believe it still holds, and the list of winners reads very much like a who’s who of quizzing. The phrase itself “Brain of Britain” is very often applied in an ironic context by people who not only have never heard the show, but didn’t even know that it was on the radio. Has it been influential though ? I don’t know. The 5 question – first one wrong and your go is finished – format has not been mimicked, as far as I know, by anything other than a late sixties TV version.

The finest legacy we have from the 60s is University Challenge. Is it the longest running quiz show currently on TV ? I think that it probably is. The current, second incarnation of the show has been running every year since 1994. That 15 year unbroken stint may well be enough. However if you add Bamber Gascoigne’s 25 year stint from 1962 – 1987, then its been going for over 40 years. The finest team quiz on British TV, as I said in a post a couple of months ago it has added the phrase “Starter for Ten” to the English Language. If you want to be remembered as a decade for a particular quiz show, then you couldn’t do much better than UC.

Not that the 70s are exactly to be sniffed at. In theory, the closer we get to the present day, the more shows may still be running. In the case of the 70s, we have two to mention. Firstly, and inevitably, Mastermind. If you’ve followed my blog any length of time you’ll already know that I am totally biased in favour of Mastermind, so I’ll just content myself with the facts – that it started in 1972, and has run every year since in one form or another – 1998 – 2000 on Radio 4, 2001 on the Discovery Satellite/Cable channel , 2002 Celebrity Mastermind on BBCTV, and from 2003 until the present day on BBC2 under almost exactly the same format as the first 25 years. So far, and not including the current series, there have been 35 champions. Again, the list is an illustrious one, although it does include the odd teacher from Ealing via Port Talbot who got lucky.
Also from the 70s we have the Krypton Factor. The original, Gordon Burns - presented Krypton Factor lasted an impressive 18 years, from 1977, until 1995. Then at the start of the current year, 2009, lo and behold, it was resurrected. The Krypton Factor is worthy of mention, because a general knowledge quiz was the final round of the show for many years, even though the number of questions were curtailed in later series so that you couldn’t win the show just on this one round. The idea of an all-round challenge is a very seductive one, and it has been used in other formats more than once since the Krypton Factor first hit our screens.
Of course, maybe we shouldn’t ignore that granddaddy of celebrity panel quizzes – A Question of Sport, which first saw the light of day in 1970. On reflection, though, its probably better to keep panel games/quizzes separate from our considerations.

The 80s. Ah yes, the decade of Trivial Pursuit, and quiz machines in every pub, and also the decade that . . . well, actually, its difficult to think of hardly any quizzes that started in the 80s, which are still on. You see, our archetypal 80s survivor, Countdown doesn’t meet the criteria of a quiz, as it does not ask General knowledge questions. Or any questions as such at all. Of course, 4 years after Countdown Channel 4 introduced their finest quiz, and possibly the greatest TV quiz ever, 15 to 1. But alas, that ceased to be a good 6 or more years ago, and so cannot be seen as the 80s legacy. Which only leaves . . . um . . . Going for Gold . Actually I’m not even so sure that it even leaves this much. The show was revived last year, but I have no idea whether it will ever be back again, and so nay well be defunct again. Perhaps Family Fortunes, then ? It began in 1980, and ran for the next 22 years. All Star Family Fortunes – the celebrity ? revival seems to be going strong. Least said about this the better, although you have to admit that the format has been influential. In this year both Guesstimation and the enjoyable Pointless both used formats which were reminiscent in some ways of Family Fortunes.

But hang on, now we’re getting closer to the present day, shouldn’t there be more, rather than fewer quizzes still going strong ? You might think so, but look at the 90s. Can you honestly name any quiz show, still in production in the UK, which first saw the light of day between 1990 and 1997 ? There might be one out there, but I can’t name it. Alright, Ken Bruce has been doing his Popmaster quiz as part of his radio show since 1996, and very good fun it is too, but its on the radio, its not a show, only part of a show, and its my blog so I make the rules. However, when the 90s did throw up its legacy quiz in 1998, what a quiz it was, and what an impact it made. I refer, of course, to Who Wants To Be A Millionaire. In format I suppose its genius is its simplicity. Its original enough, yet reminiscent in some ways of Hughie Greene’s old double Your Money. Just with more money. Lots more . Oh, and a phrase which would become part of everyone’s common vocabulary – Can I phone a Friend.

A lot of what has happened since has been bit of a reaction to Millionaire. Its taken TV execs a lot of time to realise that Millionaire is a non-repeating phenomenon. Which basically means that it came along with the right blend of ingredients at exactly the right moment, and there’s no point in trying to do the same with anything very similar, because its not that time any more, and even the slight change in ingredients necessary to avoid plagiarism can work against audience appeal. Which is why shows like The Vault, The Syndicate, The Chair, Come and Have A Go. . ., The People’s Quiz etc. were not a great success. Some of them weren’t good, some of them were, but none of them had anything like the viewer appeal of WWTBAM.

So much so that the legacy shows of the Noughties, I guess, naturally turn out to be very different to Millionaire. In 2000 the BBC unleashed the full terror of Anne Robinson on an unsuspecting public. The BBC got lucky with this show. I don’t know if they predicted the rise of Mean, or whether they deliberately encouraged it, or whether they just got a break, but the fact is that the show’s bitchiness caught on, and the show has never been off TV since. Influential ? You bet. Look at the shows where meanness and nastiness between contestants has been encouraged since – and there’s been a few – Shafted, Divided to name but two. One of the things that has made TWL successful has been anchoring it in the early evening, where it doesn’t need to get a mass audience, and isn’t seen as competing against Millionaire. Once 15 to 1 ended, it was always likely to attract a loyal audience.

The same can be said of our second legacy show of the noughties, namely Eggheads. You might like it, you might not, but you have to admit that the whole pro- am format of the show is something very original. There have been a very small number of people throughout the years who have gained varying degrees of celebrity through their appearances on quiz shows in the past – Irene Thomas, and particularly Fred Housego come to mind. Yet Eggheads quickly made household names out of the original 5 Eggheads – Kevin, Daphne, Chris, Cj and Judith, and doubtless will do so for Barry and Pat as well. As yet the influence of its format has been slight. As far as I know ITVs The Chase is the only show to pick up the pro – am baton and run with it.

Can you be said to be a legacy show when you only started a couple of years ago ? In the case of “Only Connect “ I sincerely hope so. There are a number of quizzes I never want to miss, and this is one of them. Can it run and run ? Time will tell. If it weren't for my arthritis I would keep one pair of fingers crossed.

So in ten years’ time, what will we look back on as the great successful legacy shows of the Twenty – teens ? Who knows ? One prediction I think I can make with some security , though, is that whatever they are, they will be something quite different to what we’ve seen before. I may well be wrong, but I don’t think that this difference will be in the size or scale of prize, but in the format of the show itself. If I knew what this meant exactly, then I’d be creating TV shows instead of just writing about them, but as yet there has been no interest expressed in the quiz game I invented for April Fool, entitled "Count Your Beans".

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

University Challenge - Review of Round Two - Quarter Final Preview

University Challenge Review of Round Two – Quarter Final Preview

Lets start with the results of the repechage round, and round two : -

Repechage round

UCL 220/345
Emmanuel, Cambridge 280/385

Second round

Girton, Cambridge 170/330
St. Andrews 185/295
St. John’s, Oxford 220/410
Emmanuel, Cambridge 260/445
Imperial, London 280/360
Jesus , Oxford 220/390
Edinburgh 170/320
Manchester 210/300

OK, now, based on these results, and those from the first round, I’ve drawn up a table. For each of the two rounds I’ve shown how many points each of the winning teams scored, and what percentage of the total points scored by both teams they scored. Then I’ve made an aggregate of scores, and % of total points scored from both rounds. So if we take total points scored in the first and second round matches as the basis for positions, then the table looks like this : -

Round 1 score---
% of points--- Round 2 score--- % points---Aggregate---% aggregate
St. John’s 270 752205449065
St. Andrews255 631856344063

Which is all very nice reading especially for the top 4 teams. Yet I’m afraid its not quite that simple. You see, poor Emmanuel have to contend with the fact that they had a losing first round match. If we substitute their repechage performance for the first round match, then in fact their figures are : -

Round 1 score---
% of points--- Round 2 score--- % points---Aggregate---% aggregate
Emmanuel 28073260 5854065

which actually moves them from last place in the table to first ! You can argue that this is fair because in both matches they were playing against teams who were already battle hardened too.

What do these figures show us, if anything ? Well, Girton and Edinburgh look to be off the pace. I’m not saying they can’t win their quarters, but I am saying that their form was fairly consistent in the first two rounds, and they’ll need to improve on this to progress further in my opinion. But if we leave Emmanuel to one side for a moment, how do you separate the other five ? There’s only 55 points between all of their aggregate scores . Even if we use the aggregate %, which is a measure of how much each team have dominated in their matches, it only really throws up Jesus, Oxford as outsiders. So you’d be forgiven for suggesting that it all depends on which team is drawn against which, and who performs on the night. Only it’s a little more complicated than this due to the change in format.

Shaun Blanchflower compiles a brilliant and continually updated UC site, which you can check out here : -
Shaun Blanchflower’s University Challenge Pages
According to his site,
“For the first time since the show returned in 1994, the format has been changed. The quarter-finals will still involve eight teams, but will consist of ten shows in which the four teams that win two games progress to the semi-finals:
– All eight teams play in the first round of four games.
– The four winners from the first round play each other, with the two winners of those games progressing to the semi-finals.
– The four losers of the first round play each other, with the two losers being eliminated.
– The four remaining teams play a final round of two games, and the two winners progress to the semi-finals.”

I think I understand how it works. What this means is that there’s slightly less chance of an upset , since you can lose and still come back and win your last two games. So who will win – well, I’m sorry, but this is very close to call. If I had to stick my neck out, then I’d plump for St. John’s – Emmanuel, the two highest scoring teams, and then Manchester and Imperial, the two teams who have been most dominant in their matches - to make it to the semis, but St. Andrews and Jesus are perfectly capable of making a mockery of this prediction.After all, there are lies, damn lies and statistics. Watch this space.

TV Watch - Only Connect

Champions’ Challenge – The Crossworders v. The Rugby Boys

“Like King Kong and Godzilla they must take each other on", quipped Victoria Coren at the start of this long awaited contest. I’m sure I once saw a film called “King Kong v. Godzilla” where the ape won by a TKO, not that this had any bearing on this contest.

Gary Dermody of the Rugby Boys suggested that they were playing against themselves, as much as the opposition. Believe me, I know Richie Parnell, Mark Labbett and Gary quite well, and they were playing against the opposition alright. Who were the formidable Crossworders. In case you’ve forgotten them since last year, they are captain David Stainer, Mastermind finalist – and he’s through to the semi’s in this year’s MM, Mark Grant – and LAMMY award winning Ian Bayley. A match up to savour.

The Crossworders kicked off, identifying that the 4 seemingly unconnected names were all males who escaped somewhere by dressing up as women. The Rugby Boys took an early lead by only needing 2 clues to identify a set of words commonly used in English that originated in Hindi. They thought that this might have been too obvious. Well, its all the luck of the draw, and the Rugby Boys were going to get plenty of the hardest questions later on to make up for it. The Crossworders answered their next correctly on 3, and then took a bonus as the Rugby Boys failed to put a diagonal line through their letter O for the next connection.I didn’t know that the theme of “Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em utilised Morse Code, but the Crossworders did. My boys had a very tough set of pictures, which the Crossworders didn’t understand either. All of them were celebrities, and if you dropped the last letter of their names, you’d get a different celebrity – eg – Alastair Cooke broadcaster becomes Alastair Cook, cricketer. Tough. At the end of round one, the Crossworders led by 5 points to 3.

In round 2 The Crossworders continued where they left off. They correctly identified the characters played by the Best Actress Oscar winners, and I take some pride that I saw this one for myself before they gave their answer. The bad luck of the Rugby Boys saw them given a sequence of sets of 4 letters – which apparently represented the Westminster Chimes of Big Ben. Even if you knew it, working out the right sequence was harder than the Oscars set. That's the luck of the draw. I also knew the Crossworders next set, of moons of Jupiter. So did they. The Rugby Boys had another blessed picture set, and worked out that a slang term for money was needed, but neither team gave ‘dustbin lid’ which was required, or something of that ilk. The Crossworders’ last of the round was admittedly their hardest, a mathematical question which entailed them working out that they had been given a million seconds, a thousand seconds, so the last answer , dividing by 100, would be 1 second. The Rugby Boys gained a point for seeing a list of amendments to the US constitution, and working out that prohibition would be the end of the list. Good answer, but by now the Crossworders led by 11 points to 6.

The Connections Walls showed that when things aren’t running for you , there’s nothing you can do. The Rugby Boys deciphered a difficult set of sets, but failed to identify that commander, chat, crayon and essence were all words in English, which had a different meaning in French. Now, I don’t know if the other team are in the studio and see you having a go at the connections wall. If they do, then maybe this was what helped the Crossworders identify purse, biscuit, suspenders and jelly. as words in American English that mean something different in Britain. Whatever the case they showed brilliance by finally solving the last 2 sets just as VC was about to announce that time was up. So at the end of round three, their lead had stretched a little further, and the score was 21 to 13.

The final round, as always, was the Missing Vowels round. This often makes a huge difference, but not tonight, I’m afraid. The Crossworders were clearly better, and extended their score to 33, incidentally , the same score that Crossworder Ian Bayley achieved in the first round of this year’s Brain of Britain.At the end of the the wall round VC observed that “our old champions have still got it. “ Haven’t they just! They were clearly the better team on the night. Commiserations to the Rugby Boys , though. The last round aside, they had the bad luck to face many of the hardest questions in the whole contest. That’s just the way it works out sometimes.

The new series begins on BBC4 on January 4th. I’m really looking forward to it.

Monday, 21 December 2009

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge – Round 2 – Heat 8/8 – Manchester University v. Kings, London

Well, here we are at the end of Round Two. Reigning champions Manchester beat the Royal Veterinary College in the first round by 235 points to 60, which JP compared to watching a boa constrictor squeeze the life out of a much loved toy poodle ! Manchester featured LAM’s very own Rach Cherryade , who competes under her real name, Rachael Neiman.I’d love to have just once heard Roger Tilling announce “Manchester – Cherryade” though. The team in full comprised of Tom Whyman, our own Rachael Neiman, captain Jacob Whitfield and Mick Daunt. Their opponents, Kings College London, had, so said JP, a much tougher time in the first round, beating Cardiff by 155 to 140, where he said they spent perilous amounts of time not getting to the buzzer at all. They were represented by Tom Graham, David Willis, captain Brian Murray, and Ollie Crawshaw.

Of course, you’re asking yourself now, who will I have been supporting ? London teams are usually cursed with my support. However the fact that Rachael was on the Manchester team swung it for me. Curse or not, all the support from the Clark sofa was flowing in Manchester’s direction. So you can imagine how delighted I was when Rachael claimed the first two starters to give Manchester the perfect start, identifying Robert Burns from a description by Walter Scott, and then identifying that "Callaghan’s second was Wilson’s first " referred to prime ministers' first names.

JP had expressed concern that Kings had taken a very long time to get into their first round match, and this concern seemed justified when Kings were on a minus score right through until just after the 10 minute mark, when they identified the tree used for building dwellings by early Australian settlers as the wattle tree. They took one of their bonuses on literary prizes, and at least put themselves into credit. This rather encouraged them, as they took the next starter, and 2 bonuses on Titian. Then Kings identified the song Sun is Shining as being performed by Bob Marley, after an impressively short excerpt had been played. Again, they took two bonuses out of 3. So , by the halfway stage they had narrowed the gap a bit, and trailed by 45 to 85.

Tom Whyman claimed the next starter for Manchester, correctly identifying Assumption as the term used for the Virgin Mary’s bodily removal to Heaven. The resulting bonuses took Manchester through the 100 point mark. Tom Whyman weighed in with another good starter, recognising “A Treatise on the Social Contract” as the work of Jean-Jacques Rousseau. Jacob Whitfield really played a captain’s innings, pulling out a couple of starters to push Manchester beyond the event horizon. The team impressed with a full set of bonuses on American presidential assassination attempts.

Rachael managed a very quick buzz on a starter which asked which venetian artist had a name which rhymed with an almond flavoured liquer, buzzing in with “Canaletto “ . Personally I always thought Amaretto was the place for which Tony Christie was asking for directions , but I digress. On the 23 minute mark Kings came back with a starter, but it was too little, too late. Late on Rachael identified Robbie the Reindeer as the star of Hooves of Fire, which pushed Manchester through the 200 point mark.

By the end of the contest Manchester won by 210 points to Kings’ 90. A very good score, and a very impressive performance, where you have to say that you felt throughout the competition that Kings were always going to be second best. So well done, Manchester. All the team played their part in this impressive victory. Its early days still to start talking about a successful title defence, and I shan’t curse you with the Clark tip. Yet you have to say, this is impressive form to be carrying into the semi finals. And Rachael, well done, and thank you for the Christmas Quiz questions ! Much appreciated.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP must have been pleased because this was the last of the second round matches, since he was in an unusually mellow mood for the second week in a row tonight. No outbursts , although a couple of answers provoked rather snotty responses “Malthus ?! No!” When it was suggested that Hitler died in 1939, he replied “1939 ?! Sadly no. “

I could have sworn that he was about to tell Rachael off for turning over her card for a bonus on her own initiative, when he remembered that he should have already told her to do so himself, and so he contented himself with “Yes Miss Neiman, please turn over your card “

Jeremy obviously didn’t fancy Manchester’s astronomical and arithmetical knowledge, when he said.“Manchester, you’re going to enjoy these bonuses, they’re on planetary arithmetic. It was actually a very impressed Jeremy who conceded that they had done well to get two of these right. At the end of the contest he got in a sneering reference to this, saying “Imagine getting all of those ridiculous planetary combinations right !”

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

A long pass thrown in hope rather than expectation in American Football is called a Hail Mary !

Radio Listen - Brain of Britain

Brain of Britain - First Round Heat 11/12

I was delighted to see Nancy Dickmann listed as a contestant in today’s show. As I’m sure you recall Nancy won the last series of Mastermind, beating the mighty Ian Bayley in the Grand Final. Well, Dr. Ian has already claimed his place in the semi final with a magnificent thirty three points in show 9, broadcast a fortnight ago. So, could Nancy join him ? Well, three other contestants would have something to say about that.

All four contestants were billed as hailing from the South of England. They were, in order,
Martin Boult from Basingstoke
Rosanna Day from Newbury
Nancy Dickmann from Oxford
Andrew McNab from London
None of the other contestants were known to me, but that didn’t necessarily mean anything. You don’t get mugs on Brain of Britain. So, away we went. It was almost all square in the first round. In round 2 the scores changed slightly, but one point alone separated all three contestants. Nancy found 2 bonuses before failing to answer that The Great White Hope was based on the life of Jack Johnson. She made up with another bonus, to join Martin Boult in first place with 5 points each. It was nice to hear Russell Davies being quite formal, addressing everyone as Mr., Mrs. or Miss at this stage of the competition. In the 4th round Mrs. Day missed the old chestnut about the jersey worn in the Tour de France by the King of The Mountains. Martin Boult forged a 3 point lead in the 4th round, as he answered a couple of his own and a bonus.

The listener’s questions were – before the establishment of the city of Canberra – which city was the capital of Australia ? The team zigged with Sydney, but should have zagged with Melbourne.
Also they were asked where would you find Goyder’s Line, and what is it for ? The team fancied an Australian state boundary, but it was an imaginary line across South Australia, denoting the line above which crops can’t be grown due to uncertain rainfall.

Back to the quiz. Russell Davies announced that Terry Parsons was the real name of Matt Munroe, who he suggested must have decided to be a singer since his regular route from Highgate to Teddington was a terribly long journey. This round saw a fabulous five points for Andrew McNab put him up into joint leadership with 9. Round Six , though saw Martin Boult answer 3 questions, while none of his opposition managed any. Nancy, who'd been unfortunate with her run of first questions up to this point, put in a late effort, picking up 2 bonuses before her own question, which required her to identify Carly Simon, singing the theme to the Spy Who Loved Me. It was nasty to expect Nancy to identify Radio 4 gameshows which began in the 1970s, and she failed to answer that Barry Norman was actually the first presenter of the News Quiz. It was telling that nobody else knew the answer either. Martin Boult wasn’t out of the woods yet, especially since he failed to answer his first question. However only Mr. McNab could do it after he took a bonus on Nancy’s question, but he failed on his own set, and so Martin Boult , who to be honest had looked the most likely winner all show, came home in front. Tough show today, I thought.

Next week is the last of the heats, and I hope I’m not giving too much away when I say that there’s another formidable contestant just waiting in the wings for us. Watch this space !

The Details

Martin Boult - 13
Rosanna Day - 5
Nancy Dickmann – 8
Andrew McNab – 10

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Answers to Quiz

Here are the answers to the quiz I posted at the beginning of this month : -

1) Who wrote Rebecca , and Jamaica Inn ?
DAPHNE Du Maurier

2) Who was the lead singer of the Seekers ?

3) What was the name of Harry Enfield’s horrible teenage character ?
KEVIN Patterson

4) Who became world 500cc motorbike champion in 1976 and 1977 ?
BARRY Sheene

5) Which british Olympic gold medallist was a co founder of the London Marathon ?
CHRIS Brasher

6) In the original Fall and Rise of Reginald Perrin, what was the name of Reggie’s boss ?
CJ(Charles Jefferson)

7) What is the connection between your last 6 answers ?
The first 6 Eggheads

8) In the news – following the England football team’s losing performance against Brazil, which cartoon character was manager Fabio Capello compared to in the news of the World ?
Homer Simpson

9) Which acid is also known as oil of vitriol ?

10) The city of Venice lies on which sea, which itself forms part of the Mediterranean ?

11) Name the two famous Edinburgh Body Snatchers in the 1820s
BURKE and Hare

12) The 7th President of the USA is usually reckoned to be the first Democrat President. Who was he ?

13) In 1988, who became a Canadian Olympic champion, then within 5 years became a british world champion ?
Lennox LEWIS

14) Name the society osteopath who committed suicide when he was being tried as part of the Profumo Scandal
Stephen WARD

15) What is the connection between your last four answers ?
X- Factor winners

16) Dr. Brooke Magnanti admitted writing the book Belle du jour in November. The book deals with her secret life as what ?

17) Which alcoholic drink takes its name from the second most populous city in Switzerland ?

18) When did the ten shilling note go out of circulation ?

19) Who or what is a tin Lizzie ?
Model T Ford

20) What would a tailor use his plonker for ?
Smoothing out cloth

21) Which building in Northumberland has been used for the exterior shots of Hogwarts school in the Harry Potter films ?
Alnwick CASTLE

22) What is the surname of Emma in the novel by Jane Austen ?

23) Which 20th century Prime Minister introduced the Citizen’s Charter ?

24) Which character , who later returned in his own TV series, was actually shot in the film “The Blue Lamp” ?
George DIXON

25) Which is the largest inhabited castle in Europe ?

26) What is the connection between your last five answers ?

27) During November, which member of the Royal Family offered the opinion that Australia should become a republic ?
Prince Charles

28) What makes a pink gin pink ?
Angostura Bitters

29) Which was the first ever credit card ?
Diners Club

30) What would a Scotsman do with his spurtle ?
Stir his porridge

31) Which character in Last of the Summer Wine was played by Brian Wilde ?
FOGGY Dewhurst

32) From whom did Muhammed Ali, or Cassius Clay as was then, win his first ever world title ?
SONNY Liston

33) Which name links companions of both Tintin and Dick Barton special agent ?

34) Randy Crawford once had a hit with a song about what type of night in Georgia ?

35) In british police radio communication signals, which code is used to refer to someone who is of white European ethnicity?
IC (Icey) - 1

36) Which march is played to herald the arrival of the US president at a public appearance ?
HAIL to the chief

37) What is the connection between your last six answers ?
Weather conditions

38) A statue of whom has just been installed on the 4th plinth in Trafalgar Square ?
Keith Park

39) What is an Edzell Blue ?

40) Which of these once worked as a pastry chef in a top London Hotel ?
Ho chi Minh – Mao Tse Tung – Cho en Lai – Kim Il Sung
Ho Chi Minh

Saturday, 19 December 2009

The LAMMY Awards

Yes, the LAMMY awards. Don’t worry, this has nothing to do with Government Minister David Lammy’s less than stellar performance in the last series of Sleb Mastermind. No, its simply my annual review of the year, and a few awards, the recipients of which are chosen by nothing more objective than my own personal whim. So lets begin, as we did last year, with

1) The Award For The Best New TV Quiz Show for 2009

I have to say that we have had a much larger crop of entrants for this award than we did last year, even if we are devoid of a stand out candidate like last year’s winner Only Connect.

In February Battle of the Brains returned for a second series. It doesn’t qualify for a nomination since the first series aired in the summer of 2008. However its worthy of mention since the second series was a huge improvement on the first. You might or might not like Nicky Campbell, but he does at least let his personality come through, and he does ‘sell’ the show. Gone were the flat £2,000 a show prize, to be replaced by an Eggheads style rolling jackpot, and also the pointless think of a number questions. Having listened to some of the complaints about the first series, the production team came up with a rather slicker and more enjoyable show. Which it seems is the last series that we’re going to get of it. Shame.

March saw the BBC’s first entry to the 2009 new quiz list with “A Question of Genius”. Quite a serious contender this one is too. I liked this show, although I do think that it tries to cram too much format and not quite enough questions into 45 minutes. In another year, it would have been a very serious contender for the title.

March also saw the start of ITV’s The Colour of Money – not a quiz, but rather a game show where making random choices would lead to cash or disaster, after the fashion of Deal or No Deal. It was interesting that this show bombed so badly with the audience that the last few episodes were shelved indefinitely . So perhaps the future of the big money quiz show isn’t quite so bleak as it may have appeared.

Lets move on to June, as ITV introduced three shows in the teatime slot one after another in quick succession. First to hit us was my least favourite of the three, Divided. A large amount of money potentially up for grabs made it interesting, but not enough. Too few questions, and a performance by Andrew Castle stiffer even than his dance routines in Strictly left me unimpressed, I’m afraid. Whereas its successor, The Chase, did hit many of the right buttons. I’m not a fan of Bradley Walsh, but the format kept his worst excesses in check. The individual rounds were a little slow moving. However the Final Chase rounds for me , where either Shaun Wallace or my friend Mark Labbett answered quickfire questions to try to catch the challengers, and prevent them from taking away some cash was genuinely exciting TV. Personally, I think that this is a far better Pro – Am quiz format than Eggheads, and even though I know I risk accusations of favouritism for saying this, I nominate it as one of my top 2 new quizzes of the year.

I liked its successor, the Fuse too, but not quite as much. Austin Healey did a manful job as presenter, but believe me, “Do you want to fight the Fuse ? Then lets light the fuse “ is every bit as irritating as “Don’t Put All Your Eggheads in One Basket”, especially when Mr. Healey has to say it several times a show. Slow moving until the later rounds, but much better than Divided, The Fuse is highly commended, but not a potential winner for me.

In July we saw Nick Knowles new Saturday show sandwiched around the Lottery – Guesstimation. This one was not a bonus ball winner for me, in fact, it didn’t even get three balls out of six. Not really a quiz show at all, and seemingly made up of bits and pieces of other shows I’d seen before. I’ll be surprised if its back .

Knowitalls, at the end of July, wasn’t a quiz as such either. Its basic premise required contestants to regurgitate bits of knowledge that they’s had a minimal amount of time to bone up on, for which they would be awarded at times an arbitrary seeming amount of marks from ‘experts’ in the field. Actually, it was a lot better than it sounds written down on paper.

In August , a month I missed a lot of due to a holiday in Spain, Pointless began a very successful run on BBC2. A sort of reverse Family Fortunes, this involved trying to find members of a list or category which nobody in a survey of 100 members of the public would actually have thought of. Doesn’t sound all that promising, I grant you, but it soon attracted a good following, and the BBC are making a second series. The sheer fact of its popularity with the non quizzing members of my family means that this is the 2nd of my new quizzes of the year.

Fast forward to November, and Britain’s Best Brain. Now, I do have issues with this show. My main issue is that its not very good. However there is also the fact that I auditioned fo it over the phone, and the bloke auditioning me had the kind of reaction to me telling him I’d won Mastermind which told me “We’re not looking for smartarses on this . “ Slow games, obvious plugging for Nintendo brain training games, and a virtually unintelligible scoring system made this a bit of a mess.

So, without further ado – the winner is

The Chase

Yes, I know my friend is the Chaser. Doesn’t matter. I enjoyed the best bits of this show considerably more than any other new show I’ve watched this year.

2) The Award for Quiz Performance of the Year

This is a really tough one. I mean, how can you choose between : -

University Challenge – Corpus Christi

Yes, Manchester won the series because of a technical infringement of the rules, we know that. But the performances of the Corpus Christi team last year, led by their captain the amazing Gail Trimble, were enough to take your breath away at times.

Brain of Britain – Geoff Thomas – Ian Bayley

Geoff became only the 5th person to complete the Mastermind and Brain of Britain double. Needing a five pointer in the final round of his semi to overcome the great Dag Griffiths he pulled it out of the bag, and then went on to win the final very comfortably.

Also I must mention Ian Bayley, whose performance in the first round a couple of weeks ago, when he scored a massive 33, left me absolutely speechless with admiration.

Mastermind – Nancy Dickmann

Nancy Dickmann played brilliantly all series, and scored 30, the highest score of the whole series to win the Grand Final , beating the same Ian Bayley mentioned earlier, and becoming the first lady champion since Anne Ashurst in 1997.

Only Connect – The Rugby Boys

My boys done good ! Richie Parnell, Gary Dermody and Mark Labbett won a title which I feel is of real substance, and will become even more so as the years go by. South Wales’ finest always looked like one of the strongest teams in a great competition.

Are You An Egghead – Pat Gibson – Anne Hegerty

Pat Gibson became the 7th member of the Eggheads, and I don’t think that any quizzer in the country could possibly gainsay his right to that position. I have been privileged to know Pat, and to have played with him in the Cardiff Grand Prix.

A special mention for Anne Hegerty too. Not because she beat me, although she did that too, but because of her stunning performance in the second round match, which saw her drop only one question – outstanding quizzing.

So who gets the prize ? Well, again, this is a personal choice, and so I plump for the one which I actually saw in the flesh, which is

Ian Bayley – scoring 33 in the first round of Brain of Britain.

3) The Award for Best Performance in a non broadcast quiz

This one is easy to award. Still, before I do, here’s a couple of highlights of the year for me : -

Winning the CIU welsh final by a single point, from a team of Mark Labbett, Gordon Galliford, Richie Parnell and Trevor Parry.

Placing third in the CIU National final, by a tie break against the same Maesglas A team.

Winning the Birmingham Mega Quiz, as part of a team including Gordon Galliford, Richie Parnell and Trevor Parry

Almost getting another 100% in the Aberavon Rugby Club quiz, when we were disallowed Sony for Sony Ericsson.

The winner, however is : -

Radford Road CIU of Coventry for winning the CIU Nationals. Gareth Kingston, Craig Element, Nic Paul and Dave Masters
performed brilliantly to take the title from a host of teams representing much of the cream of quizzing. Wonderful achievement.

As for the lowlights – well, no, lets leave them as that . So ladies and gentlemen, that concludes the voting of the LAM jury. Congratulations to all the winners.

Sleb Eggheads - Monday - Thursday

Ok – its been a slack week, so lets have a look at last week’s Sleb Eggheads and see what went on.

Monday - Eggheads v. Eggmasters

Eggmasters ? Did they honestly believe that they were going to master the Eggheads ? Maybe not, since their name came from the fact that each of them had won an edition of Sleb Mastermind. They were –
Shaun Williamson
Kaye Adams
Jan Ravens
Paul Ross.
Paul Ross knew what he was doing when he picked on Chris for film and TV, and beat him 2 to 1. Shaun lost out to Daphne on History on sudden death. Judith took out Spoony on sport– it doesn’t matter whether they are guesses or not, Judith, they all count. Kaye Adams took on the big one, Kevin, on food and drink, and took the great man down, by 3 to 2.
So the Eggmasters had actually taken out two of the big 3, and were looking to be maybe just in with a shout in the final round. More than a shout as it turned out ! They won by 3 to 1. Good answers, perhaps a kind split of questions in the final round, and being very clever about which Egghead they chose for which round brought them a nice prize for their charity, Changing Faces. Well done !

Tuesday - Eggheads v. Blue Peter Presenters

Blue Peter was represented by
Peter Purves
Simon Groom
Janet Ellis
Diane Louise Jordan
Liz Barker
Liz Barker is a little too recent to have featured on the Clark radar, but Peter Purves was a member of the classic Purves – Noakes – Singleton lineup, whereas Simon groom , aka Britain’s wettest man, was where the rot set in for me. Janet Ellis is herself a perennial quiz question – which Blue Peter presenter’s daughter ( Sophie Ellis Bextor ) had a hit with etc. etc.

Simon lost out to Barry on Music. Peter took on CJ at sport, and won by 3 –1. Geography came next , a good subject usually for any of the Eggheads, so Diane was quickly taken out by Daphne. Liz almost inevitably lost to Kevin on Film and TV. So it was Peter and Janet against Chris, Daphne, Kevin and Barry. Alas, neither Peter nor Janet knew that ‘cuisse’ is French for thigh, and so they said that a piece of armour called this would go on the shoulder. So the second question went begging. A classic piece of CJ mugging in the background framed that Eggheads discussion which eventually identified Whistler’s Mother as the painting at the heart of the Mr. Bean film. Janet and Peter guessed correctly that Queen Victoria’s first name was Alexandrina. Still, all the Eggheads needed to do was identify that Mary Warnock was a philosopher, which they duly did. Game over.

Wednesday – Eggheads v.The Fab Five

The Fab Five were all lady broadcasters and journalists. Its interesting how close Fab Five sounds to Famous Five – and surely Angela Rippon doesn’t want to be reminded of that TVAM fiasco ? Oh well, the Fab Five were : -
Jennie Bond
Jan Leeming
Sue McGregor
Angela Rippon
Rosie Boycott

Angela Rippon highkicked off, choosing CJ to take on in the category of Music. It went to sudden death, and Angela, who I have to say is looking better now than she did when she danced with Morecambe and Wise all those decades ago, won on the 2nd set. Politics should have suited the challengers, and so Sue took on Daphne. Both got the third question wrong, so once again we had sudden death. Daphne picked Sidney Holland as the PM of Australia, while he was PM in New Zealand. So the Fab Five were playing well. Rose Boycott picked Barry for Science. Rosie really didn’t fancy her chances, yet she took out Barry 3 – 2. Mind you, they needed to play this well, since both Chris and Pat were still waiting for them. Jennie took on Pat on Arts and Books. Good luck !Not enough, though, since Pat took his place, and Jennie alone failed to go through to the last round for the fab Five. Pat and Chris are a formidable team, and they took the round by 3 – 1.

Thursday – Eggheads v. the Ones

After the challenge of the seasoned journalists , we face today a team from that haven of hardbitten journalism, The One Show. Oh, lets not be catty. It’s a perfectly pleasant and harmless show. Noticeably short of One Show main presenters, the team consisted of
Gyles Brandreth
Angelica Bell
Lucy Siegle
Mike Dilger
George McGavin
Lucy Siegle took her O Level in History up against Pat. 3 –2 saw her eliminated without recourse to sudden death. Science saw George McGavin try his luck against Daphne. She has probably lost more head to heats in this short celebrity series than she would ever expect to do in a full series of normal eggheads. She made no mistake here, winning by 3 to 2. Film and TV saw Angelica Bell taking on Barry because he has a lovely smile. Gyles called him a ‘middle aged geek ‘ – the words - pot, kettle and black come to mind, Gyles. Angelica managed to take the round to sudden death, here a pair of film questions saw Barry through. In the last head to head Mike took on Judith, who had actually won her previous go on sport. Mike proved to be no better than Judith in the multiple choices, since both only got one right to go to sudden death. He got another one, though, and Judith didn’t. and so he joined burbly old Gyles for the final. What a final it was too. Asked the Italian name for a corkscrew, the Eggheads faltered, and the Ones took a surprising win, having maybe had a little bit of the luck of the draw with the questions. Well done – their money goes to The Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust. Lovely !

Latest News - Only Connect Series 3

Great joy in the Clark household this morning when I received an email from David Bodycombe, informing me that the start of series 3 of Only Connect is imminent. The series begins on Jan 4th.

Lisa, Gary and I did put ourselves forward as a team for the series, but alas we just couldn't make the recording dates, and so there was no point our wasting their time going to an audition. Shame, still, hopefully there's always series 4. Here's the card with all the details for you : -

Tuesday, 15 December 2009

TV Watch - University Challenge

University Challenge – Round 2 – Heat 7/8 – Edinburgh University v. Regents Park College Oxford

Edinburgh last graced our screens back in August, when I was in Spain. In the first round they beat Central Lancashire by 175 to 155, in a close contest.Their opponents, Regents Park, won a good match against Emmanuel College Cambridge, who were good enough to get into the repechage round. Emmanuel, led by the excellent Alex Guttenplan, were good enough to win their repechage match, and then their second round match against UCL. So would their conquerors, Regents Park, be able to join them ?

You may recall in Regents Park’s first round match that I was particularly impressed with Mr. James Aber , who hails from the London Borough of Ealing, where I grew up. His form, and indeed that of the whole Regents Park team seemed rather less impressive for the first part of this contest, as Edinburgh seemed noticeably quicker on the buzzer. First blood went to Edinburgh. Regents Park responded with the next starter, but none of the bonuses, and a miscue for the next starter lost them 5 points of what they’d already got. Edinburgh pulled out a lead as the first half of the show progressed, and there was no reason to think at the halfway stage that this would not be a comfortable win for them.

Gradually Regents Park began to pull back the deficit. With a little over 5 minutes to go Regents Park had closed the gap to a starter and bonuses, and they got them as well. It really was all to play for . All of the Edinburgh team had thus far contributed answers. It was nice to see also Edinburgh represented by one of a dwindling number of mature students in this series in the shape of Alan Kimmet. However I must pay tribute to Andrew Matheson. His buzzing had just seemed that little bit sharper throughout the competition than any of the Regents Park team, and when it mattered in the last couple of minutes he came up with a couple of timely buzzes so that Edinburgh got their noses in front as they passed the finishing post. He wasn’t reticent about showing his joy at coming home in front either. Good on him, I say.

For the record, Edinburgh won by 170 points to 150. A good win against a team whose first round performance certainly showed that they were a team to be reckoned with. Hard lines Regents Park, but you put up a good fightback, and in the end it just could have gone either way.

Next week its regular LAM correspondent Rachel’s Manchester team, in the last of the second round matches. I’m really looking forward to it.

Jeremy Paxman Watch

Every now and then JP will have a real happy pills evening, when he seems to really enter into the lighthearted spirit of the contest, and enjoy himself. This was just such an occasion. There was little for dedicated Paxman twitchers to get excited about. A question was asked about a poem published in 1667, to which the answer “Paradise Lost “was given. “Obviously!” snorted our Jeremy, disgusted so it seemed that such a question even needed to be asked in the first place. Only one telling off for starting to confer over a starter as well. Is he going soft in his old age ? I think we should be told.

Interesting Fact I Didn’t Already Know Of The Week

Well, actually, this is a fact that I already did know of the week. Let me explain. Listening to yesterday’s BoB I recalled that I had answered the question,
“In which game is the Bermuda Bowl contested ? “ wrongly. It was an inexplicable error – I KNEW that it was Bridge, but for some reason. . . well, anyway, imagine my chagrin when pretty much the same question was asked again tonight !

Monday, 14 December 2009

Radio Listen - Brain of Britain - My first round

Following the kind words about my extended accounts of appearing on Are You An Egghead, I though tthat I'd do the same with BoB. So here it is : -

I had stayed the night before the show at my Mum’s in Tottenham. So I took the tube from Wood Green to Oxford Circus.

Wood Green Tube, characteristically hectic

Despite tube problems at Finsbury Park I was the second to arrive, and one by one all the rest of us trooped in. I say all of us, because they record two heats in one go. So, one by one eight of us appeared in the reception of Broadcasting House in London. A show like Brain of Britain somehow could only be recorded in Broadcasting House. Its such an iconic, and reassuringly art deco confection of a building that to look at it is almost to believe that , if you could find your way to the roof without setting off a major terrorist scare, you might still find Arthur Askey and Dickie ‘Stinker’ Murdoch camped out there. ( For anyone under . . . well, basically for anyone still alive, in an old radio variety show of the 1940’s , called Bandwagon, Arthur Askey and Dickie Murdoch supposedly lived in a tent on the roof of Broadcasting House ). Doubtless the ghosts of Tommy Handley, Jack de Manio, et al flit through its corridors at night.

To compare Broadcasting House to Television Centre, when I appeared in “Are You An Egghead” back in May, I found that the foyer of TVC was in many ways very similar to a departure hall in an airport terminal. Security was almost as obvious as well. Lots of people were moving around in a very busy and businesslike fashion, and the ladies at reception had the air that they were very much doing you a favous by acknowledging your presence. Whereas the foyer of Broadcasting House was a lot smaller and more intimate, and rather more reminiscent of a provincial 3 Star hotel, and the atmosphere a lot more friendly, and less impersonal.

Broadcasting House in the late afternoon October sunshine

I will make a confession here. The fact is that I had actually once been in Broadcasting House about a quarter of a century before. When I was a student I worked for a couple of temp agencies in Ealing Broadway, one of whom supplied casual staff for most of the BBC canteens in various establishments dotted around West and Central London. In my student years I washed up in the canteens of the TV Rehearsal Rooms in East Acton, Television Centre in White City, Lime Grove in Shepherd’s Bush, and Greater London Radio just off Baker Street. I also spent one day in late1983 washing up in the Broadcasting House canteen. Not that I could remember hardly anything from that day itself as I presented myself to the reception, and was asked to take a seat and wait.

The first surprise of the day was when Dave Roberts from Newport walked in about five minutes after I had. I’d played against Dave in both the Dynevor Arms Sunday Night quiz, and the Pill Harriers Rugby Club Monday night quiz on many occasions. Dave wasn’t a novice by any stretch of the imagination. I knew for a fact that he’d played in at least one broadcast quiz before, when his team reached the second round in the first ever series of BBC4’s wonderful and tough team quiz “Only Connect”. Now, the fact was that I had actually lost my letter with all of the details of the show in the scrum I’d had to fight my way through outside Oxford Circus tube station, so I couldn’t check whether I was in the same show, heat number 10, as Dave. I couldn’t help thinking it was likely, though, especially since Brain of Britain always used to be run in regional heats.

I certainly hoped that this was the case as I watched Dr. Ian Bayley arrive. Ian had come runner up in the 2008 series of Mastermind, but I think I can safely say that he was by far the most accomplished quizzer who took part in either of the night’s heats. Nationally ranked in the top 10 of quizzers in the UK, in the two Quiz Grand Prix I had taken part in, Ian had achieved scores that were simply outstanding. Its easy to say this now with the benefit of hindsight, but anyone of us in Ian’s heat was playing for second place.

One more quizzer I knew arrived shortly after Ian. Stuart Davies from Swansea was a quizzer I knew, liked and respected. Back in the early noughties, my friend Rob Merrill had invited me to play in the Independent Swansea Quiz League with a pub called the Dillwyn in Pontardawe. We had a good team, and for the three years I played we were always contending for the league title with Stuart’s team, from the Reverend James in Gorseinon. We won a couple of times, and they won a couple of times. Stuart was the team captain, and I had always reckoned him to be probably the strongest player in a very good team. This was more weight to the argument that the heats must be organised on a regional basis, which gave me more of an opportunity to avoid meeting – and losing to - Ian Bayley at this stage. However, as reassuring as that thought might be, the fact was that Stuart was very serious opposition, and Dave R. was not to be lightly dismissed. Who was the fourth going to be, though ?

By 6:20 pm one of the production team, who sadly didn’t introduce himself, arrived, and took us through into the radio theatre. No makeup, no fuss about wardrobe, just straight into the theatre. He gave us a few minutes of talk and instructions, and then it was into the chairs for a brief rehearsal.

The system they have for the rehearsal is a good one. The contestants who are recording the evening’s second show have the first rehearsal. Then the contestants in the evening’s first show have their turn, and this means that they can stay in their seats, and get straight on with the show proper as soon as the audience come in.It turned out that yes, my show was going to be the welsh regional heat, and this was show 10. Ian’s show was designated show 9. So our show was to be rehearsed first.
The other contestant for my show was Dr. Jason Bray from Blaenavon. He modestly described himself as a quiz newbie, and so stupidly I tended to mentally dismiss his challenge. Based on my knowledge and experience of the other three guys I arrogantly mentally made myself favourite, and installed Stuart as the main opposition, Dave R. as the dark horse, and Jason as the outsider. Certainly the rehearsal suggested this to be the case as both Stuart and I scored 5 in a row for a bonus, and I managed to snaffle up a couple of bonuses. If the show itself went as well, then I wouldn’t be complaining.

Of course, there was Ian’s show to take place first. Just before the audience came in we were informed that the 4 highest scoring runners up would be invited back for a place in the semi finals, and currently it was looking as if a score of at least 14 would be needed. I have to say that William, Maya and Chris, the charming and intelligent opposition to Ian in the first heat had little chance of reaching that target without getting a full set of five answers for one of their question sets. Ian was awesome, awesome on his own questions, and awesome on the buzzer for everyone else’s, reaching a ridiculous total of something like 33 ! If you’ve listened to that particular show you’ll have heard the way that he blew away the opposition, with a string of five pointers, and an eagle eye for the bonus. Having said that you won’t have heard the way that he was told off at one point for being just a little too eager on the buzzer, but nonetheless this looked to me like the performance of a champion in waiting.

So it was our turn.

In all my broadcast quiz experiences I can truly say that most of them passed by more quickly than you can possibly imagine. In fact the only one where I can remember really making a conscious effort to stop and smell the roses and enjoy it as it happened was the Grand Final of Mastermind. And I only managed that because at half time I had rationalised that I was highly unlikely to win being two points behind the leader at the time, and so I might as well enjoy myself..

So , my recollections of this show are a little bit patchy, I’m afraid. Jason answered several of his first set of questions. I only managed a couple of mine, and Dave and Stuart only one each of theirs. However, I did have the advantage of knowing from the rehearsal that I could be very quick on the buzzer, and so was only a point or two behind Jason.

I kept on pressing the life out of the buzzer every time one of my fellows was either wrong or ran out of time, and this slowly built me a small lead. I wish that I could have put up a better showing on my own questions, but it didn’t happen. I think that I had one string of 3, but that was it. However, until the final round, neither could anyone else. The fact was that it was the old, old story of wishing you’d had everyone else’s questions. At least this gave me enough buzzer opportunities, and truly it was this which brought me a lead going into the last round. Quick mental calculations told me that the only way either Dave or Stuart could beat me would be for either of them to have a five point and bonus, and answer everyone else’s first question. Jason was the only one really in the position to do it. When he failed his first question, and I buzzed in correctly, then I was nearly home and dry. Nearly. Again, a couple of questions, and then the third one did for me, but even if Stuart had a five question run I thought he was still too far behind. So what did he do ? He had a five question and bonus. Dave failed his first question, which none of us were able to answer, and that was it. A win, but only by a couple of points.

Looking back I wish that I could have had a five point set, and I’m not that delighted with my performance on my own questions. Still, my buzzing in won the show for me, and for that I take a little pride.

Who am I kidding ? I was delighted to have won.

DC with Russell Davies after the show – the host with the most
I absolutely loved playing on the show. It was different from Mastermind in many ways. Apart from the other differences between the shows, it was also different because I couldn’t help having a different mind-set towards it. It works like this : -

When I took part in Mastermind in 2007 I had never won anything on TV. Yes, I had won through the fastest finger on Who Wants to be a Millionaire, and taken home £1000, but the fact was that I had got as far as £16,000, and got the £32,000 question wrong. It was my biggest ever solo prize in a quiz, and yet it felt like a defeat, which to all intents and purposes it was. I had even been in Mastermind in 2006, and lost to the excellent Kath Drury in the first round. So as much as I knew that I was certainly a good quizzer, the fact was that I had no broadcast pedigree at all to speak of. If I had lost in the first round again, well, so what ? Who was expecting any more of me than me ?

Now, though, it was different. Now I was a Mastermind winner, and although it shouldn’t make any difference, at the back of your mind you can’t help worrying about what people will say if you get knocked out in the first round. After I won Mastermind I read Magnus Magnusson’s “I’ve Started So I’ll Finish” which is the official history of the first 25 years of Mastermind, and what worried me is that so many of the winners also went on to get to the final of Brain of Britain. To be Mastermind Winner , but knocked out in Round One of Brain of Britain was not a particularly appealing prospect. All the worst things you wouldn’t like to think about yourself – eg – that you only did so well in Mastermind by a pure fluke, and your name didn’t belong up there with the other champions would seem to be confirmed. Yet to be Mastermind Winner and Brain of Britain semi finalist sounded so much better.

BoB is one of the most convivial shows that I have been on. Top of the tree is “Millionaire”, where we were treated royally all day, and then given pretty much a party in the bar afterwards, with Chris Tarrant standing the drinks for all for the first round. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – he’s a class act. Next would be “Come and Have A Go “, where at least we were given two nights in a good hotel, and very well treated until we lost, when we were given the bum’s rush. Mastermind do make an effort but it can be a little strained. Even if you’re a stand in, they really don’t want you hanging around in the audience for more than one show of Mastermind on any given day, and unless your show is the last one of the day, when you get back to the green room after your own show you are a little bit in the way .
Its not like that with BoB. You all stay in the radio theatre until both shows are in the can, then its contestants, the team who make the show, and the guests all back to the green room for a wee drinkie. As it was I couldn’t stay long, but long enough to get my picture taken with masterful Russell Davies. As for the semi , well, I couldn’t wait.

The Details

Jason Bray - 11
David Clark - 16
Stuart Davies - 12
Dave Roberts - 7

Friday, 11 December 2009

So Santa - Naughty or Nice ?

It’s a little premature to be talking about New Year’s resolutions isn’t it ? Still, its probably not a bad time, in this lull before the Christmas storm to take a look at my quiz resolutions from last year, so that I, you and Santa can see whether I have been a good boy, or whether I am going to be palmed off with a sack of coal on the big day again. So, here they were -

*I resolve to try to be more patient with Little Dennis when he doesn't hear the answers I give him to the questions in the quiz in the Rugby Club. Its not his fault he's deaf. Its our fault for letting him be scribe.

Well, this is a little bit of an easy one, since I did only say that I would TRY to be more patient with Dennis. And to be fair to him, he has been far more willing to relinquish the pen when he just can’t hear the answer you’ve given him – even though all the other teams and half the houses in the same street can.
Verdict – nice – r

* I resolve to try to not greet every announcement of the handicaps in the Newport Quiz with the words "For Christ's Sake !"

Umm – well – since I returned to the Newport Quiz after our win in the Welsh CIU final, I have tried at least to be a bit more humourous about it - and I now say “I’ll get me coat” or words to that effect. Can’t say much more as I quit going to the quiz from February to May last year just because I couldn’t stand the handicaps.
Verdict - naughty

* I resolve to try to stop giving guest question masters a hard time in the rugby club. Even when they are totally incompetent.

Again, semantics allows me to win the day. I HAVE been nicer in the rugby club – just maybe not in other places. Well – not ‘maybe’ at all. Verdict – probably a score draw.

* I resolve to try to stop telling two teams off for using their wap phones to find answers whenever I'm the question master in the rugby club. They never win anyway.

Now here I can say hand on heart that I have not told anyone off for using their wap phone all year – cowardly though it probably is of me. Verdict – nice.

* I resolve to stop slagging off Redtooth Quizzes. Just so long as I don't have to play in them any more.

I haven’t played in a Redtooth Quiz, all year, and therefore I have had no cause, nor for that matter opportunity, to slag them off. Verdict – nice.

* I resolve to stop saying that other teams must have cheated when they beat us. Even when they obviously have.

I have absolutely , completely and utterly failed to keep this resolution.
Verdict – nasty – in fact, positively evil.

* I resolve to try to stop whinging about the fact that my school's Governing Body and the Local Education Authority couldn't be bothered to even send me a letter of congratulation over winning Mastermind.

Alright, maybe I have mentioned it once or twice, but compared to my mega whinging about it last year, that still puts me in credit. Verdict – nice-ish.

* I resolve to take responsibility for applying to get on another show, and not wait for one of my mates to try to put a team in.

Alright, so 12 Yard productions did actually ask me to apply for Are You An Egghead and its not something I did off my own bat. However, the strict lettering of the resolution is that I would take responsibility for applying to get on another show – and I did just that with Brain of Britain. OK, so its on radio 4, but its still a show.
Verdict – very nice indeed.

So with only two utter failures, and one possible failure, that’s rather better than a 50% success rate. So Santa, can we please forget the anthracite this year ? Thanks.