Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Only Connect - Grand Final - and an apology

Yes, an apology. I was outvoted on Monday night by the family, and so we didn't actually watch the final as it was broadcast. No problem, we thought, since we can catch it later on On Demand. Well, here we are on Wednesday morning, and it still hasn't been offered as an option on On Demand ! No problem , we thought, since it'll be on the iplayer. Yes, except that my flipping laptop has got some horrible virus which means I have been able to download my files from it, but not use any programs at all. I'm posting this via my ancient PC, which is so incredibly slow it makes watching anything on the iplayer virtually impossible. Well, that and the fact that it hasn't got any speakers either. All of which is a very long winded way of saying that I'm sorry, but a detailed analysis of what happened in the match is going to have to wait until I can get to watch it. Not entirely sure how - hopefully On Demand will get itself together in the next couple of days. So what follows is my journal I wrote on the same day of the final.

The Final

In a mere few days Gary , Neil and I had come through 3 matches, none of which had been a foregone conclusion. As I arrived at the studios on the very next day after the semis, I was confronted by Neil and Gary and a problem. The winners of the final were due to stay on for an extra day to play a match against the series 3 winners, our friends The Gamblers. This would not be a problem for me, or for Neil, but it would be a huge problem for Gary, who simply could not have any more time from the practice where he was working as a locum GP. Now at this stage I have to stress that ‘throwing’ the match so that we didn’t win was NEVER going to be an option. None of us would ever have done it. We couldn’t, we’re far too competitive for that. Not only that, but I know for a fact that the team who make the show would have no truck with such a thing either. Still, without being able to get an extra day for Gary , we were faced with a problem.

At best our chances of being needed for the next day – that is, by winning the final – were 50/50. Still, understandably Jenny wanted the problem dealt with ASAP, and didn’t want to leave it until after the final. The most obvious solution was to whistle up a reserves player who could take Gary’s place for the next day. Neil’s suggestion was that we asked Kath Drury. Kath had beaten the pair of us in our first Mastermind appearance in 2006, so this was incredibly appealing. However we were unable to raise her by phone. Likewise the couple of good quizzing mates I suggested. Running out of options rapidly, we had to accept that this problem was never going to be sorted out until after the final itself had been played.

As early as the Saturday morning, we had heard rumours of a fantastic score in the first round by a team called The Epicureans. We had to reckon that they were likely to be our opposition. Jenny soon confirmed that this was so. Before our match there were a couple of other matches to be filmed. The play off between the Alesmen and the other semi finalists, the Wrights was by all accounts another nailbiting affair. However the team were also making another special show to be shown for Comic Relief. The winners of the first series, the Crossworders, who had also defeated series 2 champions The Rugby Boys were now to take on a team consisting of three of the magnificent University Challenge winning team from Emanuel Cambridge. This was a great thrill to me, since I already knew Jenny Harris of the team through my blog, and it meant that I also got to meet Josh Scott and the famous Alex Guttenplan. Inroducing myself I was pleased as punch to be greeted by the immortal words – “Ah, you’re the blog man !”

Three quarters of the fabulous Emmanuel 2010 University Challenge Winners – Alex Guttenplan, Josh Scott and Jenny Harris
A quick excursion into the corridor revealed two dressing rooms, with these notices on them –

All of which confirmed my suspicions. We were indeed to play the frighteningly good Epicureans.

Since it was the final we made a late decision to all go with collars and ties. Unfortunately the Legend had the former but not the latter. Still a quick shopping trip to marks and Sparks which was just down the road took care of that. Then the team fed us, made us up, and we finally got to meet each other formally as we were all miked up ready for the show.

Me, Gary, The Legend, David Brewis, Katie Bramall-Stainer , Aaron Bell – The Radio Addicts and The Epicureans – friendly rivals.

I had never actually met any of the Epicureans before the show, but its fair to say that I knew of each of them. David Brewis has amongst many quiz appearences been a finalist on University Challenge, and a winner of Masterteam, incidentally with Crossworders David Stainer and Ian Bayley. Captain Katie Bramall-Stainer has an even closer connection with my friend David Stainer, being married to him ! Family honour to uphold there, then. Katie was also a semi finalist in the 2007 Mastermind series of blessed memory. As for Aaron Bell, well Aaron Bell won a show which you may just have heard of, called The Krypton Factor in 2009 ! When we chatted he informed me that he had originally been a member of the Lapsed Psychologists, the finalists in the first series, but had to drop out before the start of the series.

On paper our credentials weren’t that bad either, but not quite as impressive. Still, there’s absolutely no point thinking about that sort of thing as you’re going in to begin the show. I’m glad to say that the Epicureans were lovely , not too serious, not too intense, just nice decent guys. That and excellent players – but then you can’t have everything. Without being asked I decided to give my team mates the benefit of my experience just before we went in. I told them to enjoy the experience, and to try to find a point during the show to just stop and smell the roses a little. Grand finals don’t come along all that often during a quizzing career, and its as well to remember that winning them isn’t everything. Mind you , I admit that I did stare a little at the trophy when we were finally sat down.

Its never the trophy itself that’s important – its what it represents. Mind you, I wouldn’t have said no to one.

Things were actually a lot closer during most of the first couple of rounds. Neither team managed to really impose their authority on the other, and indeed I think we had a slight lead going into round two. Towards the end of round two it was just pure bad luck that the Epicureans were given the only connection in the show which I would have had a chance of getting decent points on. They took the well deserved points, and this ensured that they would carry a very useful lead into the walls. We were due to go second, so it was out to the holding area we went, and win the post mortem that followed we rationalised that we had actually played quite a bit better than we ‘d played at this stage in the semis. Still, we all knew deep down that lightning rarely strikes in the same place twice.

When it came to the wall we really were out with the washing. I should have seen the London buildings, but didn’t. I should have seen the Spanish words but didn’t. We figured out what the connections were once they were revealed, but you have to say that we had the opportunity to pull back some points on the Epicureans, but didn’t. As it was, we were lucky that they only scored 5 , the same as we did.

So to the Missing Vowels. We knew that they’d be very sharp, and to be fair, they were. We ought a decent rearguard action, and I was pleased on a personal level to buzz in on some of the scat singers, but there was no doubt that they’d had the better of the round, and were worthy and comfortable winners in the end.

Champions of series 4 – the excellent Epicureans

There’s not a lot more to say than that. I made a point of telling Victoria after the show that she looked absolutely stunning – and she did in the Final too, no exaggeration necessary there. Thanks and farewells were said to all the team, and then that was it. What more can I say ? Well, simply that my involvement with the show has been an utter joy from start to finish. I’ve never had so much fun on a team TV quiz, and never been treated better in any show. It’s a great show, and I hope it continues for many, many years to come.


That's it. As I say, I am sorry that I haven't posted any details of the show itself - the fact is that without watching it again I just can't remember the details. So please watch this space, and a proper review will follow as soon as possible.


Jack said...

Aw, hard lines Dave. But very well played anyway. Coming second in a tough show like Only Connect is still a very good achievement.

And well done on meeting that man Guttenplan as well. You only have to go on YouTube or Facebook to get a hint of his appeal!

Londinius said...

Hi Jack

No complaints from me at all. The Eps were better than we were, not just in the final, but across the series as a whole, and you can't argue with that. I'm delighted to have made the finals of 3 out of the 4 finest broadcast quizzes there are.

I knew that Jenny was a LAM reader, since she has commented in the past, but to find that Alex and Josh are too was certainly a huge ego boost !

Have a fantastic 2011, and keep up your good work with the UC stats


HughTube said...

Well done Dave on appearing in yet another final! The Epicurians looked pretty unbeatable from the start of the first show so I think just giving them a run for their money is a good acheivement. Many congratulations to all your team.

Do you know when the University Challengers are appearing? I'd be very interested in seeing how well they do against seasoned quizzers seeing how impressive they were a year ago.

They're running out of good shows for you now, you'll have to go back to University!

Anyway, well done.

Aaron said...

Hi Dave, and thanks for the kind words.

I look forward to the full review, but in the meantime may I just say what excellent and gracious opposition you were, and also agree that we were certainly fortunate to find the Monopoly question. (I've said elsewhere that I thought it was a bit too easy for a final - more QF standard perhaps).

Re the Lapsed Psychologists, I auditioned with Jack & Richard (we've have had to be called something else, mind) but then had to drop out since the 2nd stage of filming clashed with my honeymoon. Matthew Stevens proved an inspired replacement; they were only stopped by the [so-far] impregnable Crossworders.

Best wishes, Aaron

PS The ties were a nice touch!

davidbod said...

The University Challengers vs the Crossworders is now scheduled for 17th January.

Andrew B. said...

An interesting, contentious (and, again, non-spoiler-free) write-up in the Radio Times:

"At times tonight it looks like it might be too much for one of the competing trios, who flap and squabble as they try to keep pace with their coolly confident opponents."

Can't say I noticed any flapping and squabbling - any comments, Dave?
To continue:

"In truth you wouldn't fancy either team against the show's previous champions," [bit harsh!] "but the final does throw up a rare, brilliant five-pointer in round two..."

Yes, thanks for giving that away :-( I did work out the monopoly answer, but we had by then heard one of the Epicureans (Aaron?) saying "It's the total price of..." which probably helped!

Well done to the Epicureans, bad luck to the Radio Addicts, and "remember, it's always a lot easier when you're watching at home" to everyone else!

cwj said...

Aaron - I think it would be fair to say that the Lapsed Psychologists (or however we would have been known) would still not have won Series 1 vs the Crossworders with you on the team.

However the Epicureans may not have won without you (and your Wall skills in particular, and of course Monopoly answer).


Londinius said...

Hi Guys

Hugh, thanks for your kind words, and David, thanks for answering Hugh's questions.

Aaron, you would still have won anyway even if the Monopoly question had gone our way, so it didn't make any material difference to the show. Many congratulations again. I look forward to seeing how you got on against the mighty Gamblers - no spoilers please !

Andrew - yes, I was a little surprised at that write up. Rather naughty giving away who the finalists were before either semi had been shown. I think the squabbling thing referred to my d'oh moment in the second round when I kept telling Gary to go for the fourth clue, IIRC ! I was flapping, certainly, although its a little unkind of the writer to point it out so bluntly.

CWJ - I think you are referring to the fact that the Crossworders are seen as the Gold Standard amongst OC teams, and I certainly wouldn't argue with that. Still, I think a match between the Crossworders and the Epicureans would be a very interesting one, not least because of the many connections between the two teams.


Paul Mitchell said...

Hi Dave

Congratulations on making the Only Connect final. You may not have won but getting to the final is quite some achievement and what a semi-final victory you had! I knew from our first round encounter with the Epicureans that their simply ridiculous buzzer speed would make them very difficult to beat and so it proved.

But not to worry - very well done.

Long live the Radio Addicts!

Paul (The Courtiers)

Unknown said...

Just caught this on iPlayer - really well done! Your connecting wall was a real bear - though I was willing you to realize that the Gherkin and the Shard were buildings - that would have been my one useful contribution!

Londinius said...

Hi Paul and Nancy

Thanks for your kind words. At the risk of sounding like a stuck record, I just loved the whole experience, and there's no shame in losing to fine champions, which we all know that the Epicureans are.

Have a great 2011

paulphi said...

A belated congratulations on yourself,Gary and Neil's performance. A good final and a tough one at that.The Epicurians were a formidable opposition,but you all gave a great account of yourselves.Well done!


QuEd said...

Most enjoyable to read your blog and then see you on OC, David. Many thanks!