Tuesday, 26 January 2010

TV Watch - Only Connect

Only Connect – Round One Match 4 – Philosophers v. Hitchhikers

You know you’re getting old when quiz teams on TV are looking younger. Well I am getting old, but actually the teams did look a lot younger tonight. Only Connect has been very successful in attracting teams of younger players for this series, and the Philosophers, a team of Philosophy students – well I never – were certainly such a team. They consisted of Ben Walpole, and Cosmo Grant, who combine philosophy with Maths, and captain Peter Berry, who combines philosophy with German. That’s life I suppose. I said they looked young, and I was right, since they are all first year students at Merton College Oxford. Victoria Coren wickedly asked them, since they all studied philosophy, then who would answer the sports questions. The Hitchhikers too were a young team, of two students, Chris White and Fiona Constantine, and a web and video designer, captain Tom Scott.A positively diverse bunch compared with the opposition, you would say. The Hitchhikers apparently don’t hitchhike, but instead all met up in the Douglas Adams society while students at York. I get it now. Being as I am a lover of Adams’ oeuvre, they got lumbered with support from the C.S.

Round One – what’s the Connection ?

The Philosophers’ first connection saw them given Aqua Fortis, then Aqua Regia. It sounded like they were barking up the wrong tree when they started talking about roman names for cities. Cosmo Grant was right that Aquae Sulis is the roman name for Bath, but if you tried to have a bath in any of the 4 clues you’d be in for a shock, since they were all old names for acids. Bonus to the Hitchhikers. They picked up a point on their own connection, just in the nick of time getting the architects who designed the parliament buildings of various countries, while at one time they looked like they might be going for cathedrals.The Typewriter, the Minute Waltz, By the Sleepy Lagoon and Barwick Green might have been a music connection. It wasn’t , and it foxed both teams. Yes, it may be an old chestnut to those of us of a certain age, but if you haven’t heard it before you wouldn’t know that they are themes to radio 4 shows – the last two being Desert Island Discs and the Archers. Tom Scott showed brilliance in getting red book from audio cds and the budget, but also took This is Your Life to be sure. That’s a great connection again. Now , with the picture connection, the Philosophers put some points on the board, identifying rainbows, shooting stars, dandelions and wishbones as things to make a wish on. So with only one left , the Hitchhikers were landed with the sound round. South Pacific, Beautiful South and South Park gave them a point. They led with 5 to 1.

Round Two – what comes fourth ?

I’ll be honest, I didn’t work out that Fear – Surprise – Ruthless Efficiency would be followed by devotion to the pope. It’s the Monty Python Spanish Inquisition sketch ! I didn’t know it, to my shame, but the Hitchhikers did. Good connection again. Then they seemed to be foxed by the letters g – then j – then p. They guessed – a - wrongly , and the Philosophers guessed - s- also wrongly. I wouldn’t have had it. The answer was q, because in the English alphabet it would be the next letter with a small descender. Its absolutely correct, and makes perfect sense when you know it. Just given ‘undo’ the Philosophers had the connection at once, but waited for Cut to be certain. The sequence, from control and different letters for computer word processor functions would go on to copy and then paste. 3 points for a fine answer. The Hitchhikers were given Observation – and jokingly suggested rounds on the Krypton factor. Good thinking ! This was followed by Statement – Hypothesis – which as the Hitchhikers worked out were all stages of the Scientific method, and would be followed by testing or Experiment. Good answer. The philosophers were certainly in the ball park on their next set, following capital and architrave with pediment. Too far down, I’m afraid. Had they gone up they would have found the cornice at the top of the column. Which actually was a question on my first Are You An Egghead show, which that nice Mr. Ashman answered for me. A set of pictures gave the Hitchhikers a blue circle, a yellow circle then a black one. They considered and rejected Olympic rings – then considered them again. They knew the other had to be red or green, but went wrongly for red, giving the point to the Philosophers. The Philosophers then had slightly the better of the round, but the Hitchhikers still led, by 8 points to 5.

Round Three – The Connections Walls

The Hitchhikers went first , and I’m afraid they didn’t find any of the sets. It was a tough wall, but no tougher than last week’s I would say. I had spotted bar – lemon – 7 and bell as terms from a one armed bandit, and when the grid was resolved so did they. They didn’t see a group of words with a silent letter. Neither did I. They had spotted that there would be a set of graphs in there, but never got the right combination. They were also defeated by a set of cartoonists.
The Philosophers rose to the challenge, finding a group of theories in mere seconds. Of the two walls I would have preferred theirs, and had the sets worked out before the end. The team themselves got rather bogged down. Its hard, and when you can’t see them, you just can’t see them. They got points for theories, and also for terms used for judging wine, but missed out on words that go with second. Still, they had won the round, and edged closer to the Hitchhikers, who now led by just 10 points to 8.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

This has been the decisive round for the last three weeks, and it looked like it was going to be so again. We began with a set of endangered mammals. This set seesawed back and fore, but poor Peter Berry of the Philosophers was penalised for giving us Bacterian camel – a correct if rather harsh call since he meant bactrian. As Victoria said, every vowel is sacred. Ooops – I’ve gone a little Monty Python there. Hitchhikers thus now led by 13 to 8. The next set was rulers who abdicated. Both teams weren’t bad at this, and scored 2 apiece. Next category was Hello in different languages. An early incorrect buzz from the Philosophers undid some good work, and by the end of the round the Hitchhikers led by 18 to 10. The next category was Literary works set during wars. .It was pretty much one way traffic until the last of this set. Neither team got The Iliad, but the Hitchhikers did enough to raise their score to an unassailable 20. We moved on to major south American Rivers. Both teams should have rushed to the buzzer on RNC for Orinoco, but they seemed to just sit there for a moment. The rest of them were nothing like as easy. Still, by the end of the round and the end of the contest, the Hitchhikers had won by 21 points to 11.

You have to applaud the producers for getting the younger teams on. The Philosophers never really looked like winning, and alright, the Hitchhikers missed a few, but they also came up with some good answers. Having young teams come and do well on a serious show like this shows people that quizzing is not just the preserve of the forty-and fifty-and sixty-somethings, and if it encourages more young players to take part in quizzing at whatever level, well, in the long term that’s got to be good for the game.

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