Tuesday, 9 March 2010

TV Watch - Only Connect

Only Connect – Quarter Final Match 2/4 - The Brasenose Postgrads v/ The Hitchhikers

I’ll be honest, I needed another dose of Only Connect last night. I’d had the unedifying experience of turning over to BBC Two for University Challenge a couple of minutes late, and my immediate thought was that all the contestants were wearing a set of very fetching matching woolly jumpers. Then I remembered that UC had been postponed to accommodate Kate Humble commentating on sheep giving birth – a sort of Hatch of the Day Live, if you like. I didn’t, so I turned the thing off for 25 minutes.

So then, to tonight’s show. Brasenose Postgrads you might remember for their international line up of Amy Koenig, Chris Lustri and captain Chris Tudor.They beat the choirboys in round one by a single point, relying, if I remember correctly, on a fine performance in the last round to pull them through. As for the Hitchhikers, the trio of Chris White, Fiona Constantine and captain Tom Scott are all fans of Douglas Adams, and they defeated the Philosophers quite comfortably in Round One. So much seemed to suggest a most likely win for the Hitchhikers, but time would tell.

Round One – What’s The Connection ?

The Hitchhikers managed to find the music connection with their first pick.The second clue, an excerpt from the song Funiculi Funicula suggested railways or trains to captain Tom Scott. The next clue, Kraftwerk’s Trans Europe Express didn’t help, not did the Monkee’s Last Train to Clarksville. So with seconds remaining he went with instinct, and scooped the point, despite only recognising one of the pieces of music. Good play. The first clue was John Coltrane’s Blue Train. Behind Alpha the Postgrads found a set of pictures – the second , number 30 in bingo, and the third, DBC Pierre, and even the fourth, Clint Eastwood failed them. The Hitchhikers saw Dirty, as in Gertie from number 30, ‘Dirty but Clean ‘ Pierre, and Dirty Harry. The next set , of Midnight 1st January 1970, Brightness of Vega, Temperature of ice/salt mixture, and sea level at Newlyn saw both teams skate around the answer without quite getting that all of these were the starting point of various scales of measurement. For their second set the Postgrads chose beta, and were offered Die – Refer to Someone by Name – Accuse someone of lying and speak between the red lines. They knew it was a set of things you can’t do in a particular place, but didn’t get the place. The Hitchhikers did, though, knowing that it is the House of Commons. Apparently, if you expire in the House of Commons, you enter a strange Schrodinger’s Cat-like state, where you are not actually alive, but not actually dead until your body is taken to St. Thomas’ Hospital ! The Hitchhikers’ last set gave them a lovely set of connections, which I’m delighted to say I had after Westminster Abbey, and Turold the Messenger. ( Pedant alert - nobody can say with 100% certainty that Turold is actually a messenger. The strange trousers he wears, and the fact that he is portrayed as significantly shorter than the other adult figures in the Tapestry point to the fact that he may well have been a jongleur - see Andrew Bridgeford's most excellent book 1066- The Hidden History of the Bayeux Tapestry ) This was followed by Halley’s Comet and William the Conqueror. The Hitchhikers offered 1066, but this was close but no cigar. The Postgrads knew that all are depicted on the Bayeux Tapestry, which Victoria correctly described as an embroidery. The last set of all for the Postgrads gave them PJ Tracy, Nicci French, Ellery Queen and Grant Naylor. They didn’t get it , and neither did the Hitchhikers, who looked suitably ashamed at failing to recognise the last name as the writing partnership that produced Red Dwarf. All were pseudonyms of writing teams. So the Hitchhikers led by 3 to 1.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth ?

Hitchhikers kicked off. The first two clues were Phloem –and Cambium – which told them it was layers of a tree trunk , but they went outwards rather than inwards with stomata. The Postgrads were given sapwood, and correctly identified the inner layer as heartwood. Their set of pictures showed a condor, an albatross and an eagle. They tried but failed with vulture. I’ve never heard of a condor in golf, but the Hitchhikers had, and they correctly identified the missing one as birdie. So the honours were even for the round so far. April 1st, August 2nd , December 3rdwas a really nice connection, one of the variety that are actually easier than you might think. They were all the months in alphabetical order, which of course led to February 4th. So the Hitchhikers were on a roll again, as the Postgrads took rerebrace – couter and vambrace. They correctly figured out that the next piece of medieval arm armour would be gauntlet. So the Hitchhikers tried their last set – House in Threadneedle Street, Division of Labour in pin maufacture – at which Tom Scott had the correct link, that they appear in descending denominations of banknotes. He offered a cricket match, but the match between Dingly Dell and Old Mugglethorpe only used to appear on the £10 note before Charles Dickens was superceded by Charles Dawrin. Now its HMS Beagle, which was only the third of the set. The Postgrads could only offer a factory, while it should be of course Newgate Prison behind Elizabeth Fry. So they finished off with their own set , Florence Horsburgh, Barbara Castle, and Judith Hart. “Its not Bond Girls” offered Chris Lustri, and he was certainly right there. As a wild stab in the dark captain Chris Tudor offered Ulrika Jonsson. Incorrect. Poor Victoria had to put her hand in front of her face, but was still stifling the giggles when she turned to the Hitchhikers. They offered Carol Anne Duffy in the hope they might be female poets laureate. No, they were all female cabinet ministers, and the next ( and 6th altogether ) on the list was Margaret Thatcher. So the lead remained at 2 points, as the Hitchhikers now led by 6 to 4

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

The Postgrads began. I’m afraid that they didn’t cover themselves in glory, seeing some of the connections, but failing to unravel any of the sets.They identified a set of questions, and a set of terms for blank space in printing, but alas failed to see types of bond in bricklaying, and names for rests in snooker. So with only 2 points scored, the door was wide open for the Hitchhikers. A setoff typographical marks was picked out in impressively short order. A set of terms for parts of a chimney followed. Then on the first go out of three a set of terms for a young man about town were untangled. All three sets were correctly described as well, which left them on 7, and only comb, zip , gearwheel and saw to link. They couldn’t see it, but they all have teeth. Well, they’re all easy when you know the answer. Still, this gave them a useful lead of 13 points to 6 going into the final round.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

Last time out the Postgrads impressed in the final round, but they were going to have to go some to bridge the gap this time. We began with European National Newspapers. The first blood went to the Postgrads who took the category 2 – 1. Next came Nicknames for Military Leaders. Again, 2- 1 to the Postgrads. Slowly the gap was being clawed in, but 2 – 1 for each set wouldn’t be enough. Next set was High Grossing Films of the 1940s, and the Postgrads obliged with a 4- 0 shut out. The gap then was down to a point, and all the momentum was with the Postgrads. We moved on to attributed famous last words. However the Postgrads were beaten by an enemy even more implacable than the hitchhikers, none other than time itself, which ran out before they Victoria could announce the first of the set.

So, well done you Hitchhikers. On balance you were the better side throughout the competition. But well done to the Postgrads as well. An absolutely splendid death or glory cavalry charge at the end brought you to the very brink. Good show.

BTW - If you haven’t tried the connecting walls in the BBC4 website, I can heartily recommend them.


Unknown said...

I was hugely impressed with my 10 year old daughter getting the teeth connection - I hadn't seen it.

It is strange how knowledge differs - from the second Barbara Castle's name appeared I was exhorting them the say 'Maggie' and couldn't believe how they failed to solve that.

As a brief digression - in 1983 I was working in Oxford when Maggie came to visit Somerville college. There was a fair demonstration outside the college when she was due to leave so it was time for a rapid departure. Unfortunately, 100 yards up the road, an anti war protester did a swallow dive in the road in front of the leading police vehicle. The marked police vehicle stopped sharply, Maggie's Jag stopped sharply and the DPG car behind ran straight into the rear of Maggie's Jag. Cue untold merriment in the gathered throng!!

Anyway, questions definitely more testing than the first round but still quite a lot of gettable ones (although none as good as the London Underground!)

Londinius said...

Hi Chris

The London Underground connection is the kind that is SO good that it only comes along once in a while.

Thanks for your story about Maggie and the Jaguar. It has brightened up an otherwise quite difficult evening for me !

I had a couple on the second clue tonight, and that's always very good for the ego. I would have done better than I usually do on the vowels round, but struggled with the Postgrads wall.

As always, good show.

Best regards