Monday, 29 December 2014

Sleb Mastermind - Show 5

My first thought when looking at the line up for last night’s show was the Rob Deering would be the out and out winner, with the others vying for second place some distance behind. Rob Deering, as well as being a stand up, is a quizzer. In fact his first ever adult TV appearance was on William G. Stewart’s Fifteen to One. He has also won a sleb edition of The Weakest Link, without getting any of his questions wrong. So there was no doubt in my mind that he’d be the pick of the bunch anyway in GK, but also I was sure that he’d leave nothing to chance with his specialist. To be fair, he didn’t Answering on the 6 novels of Jane Austen, he ripped through 12 questions in 90 seconds giving a correct answer to every one of them. Now, the only realistic hope that the other contenders had going into the show was that Rob would underperform on the specialist round. Well, to paraphrase bad western films – they only had two chances – slim chance and no chance – and slim chance had just left town.

I wasn’t previously aware of Amy Willerton’s work. A quick Google revealed that she is a model/beauty queen, probably best known for appearing in a recent series of ‘I’m a Celebrity – Get Me Out Of Here’. Fair enough. Her specialist subject was Anne Boleyn. Fair play to her for taking such a traditional Mastermind subject – according to her inter round chat with John she is a big fan of the 16th century one-time Queen consort. Takes all sorts, I spose. Now, following Rob’s round, the other GK rounds were going to be put in the shade anyway, but actually Amy’s round wasn’t that bad. She had obviously put some work in, since some of the questions she actually got were the more difficult ones in the round. Nonetheless 6 wouldn’t put her in contention at half time.

I will have to apologise to Andy Bell, our third contender, since, until he told us before his GK round, I had no idea that Erasure are apparently still going strong. Well done. I managed 6 on Rob’s round on Jane Austen, 5 on Anne Boleyn, and again, 5 on Andy’s round on Blondie. Ah, Debbie Harry – sorry, I was getting all unnecessary there for a moment. Andy levelled out at 6 – again, a decent enough score, but not one that gave him any chance of being in the shakeup at the end.

Finally Jason Watkins. Now, if you’re thinking – Jason who? – well, let me tell you. If you saw him, you’d know him. Jason is one of those very fine character actors we seem so well blessed with in these isles. Never the top of the bill – although never down among the wines and spirits either – he’s one of those actors who producers rely on to do a fine job time and time again. Jason was answering on the actor/manager David Garrick. He did a good job too – 8 points off 90 seconds, and in another show, on another day, he’d have still been in the shakeup at the turn. As it was though, this was a one horse race.

Before the one horse left in the race got a chance to work himself up to a gallop, though, we saw Amy Willerton return to the chair. Look, she’s obviously making hay while the sun shines – doing the rounds of the various opportunities open to slebs, and nobody should blame her for that. But GK is not her thing, and she scored 2. Andy Bell achieved respectability by adding 8 to his own total. Well done. Jason went even better, getting himself into double figures, with 10 for a total of 18. Rob, though, as I knew he would do, ripped his own round to shreds, adding a relatively effortless 15 to finish on 27.

The Details

Rob Deering Parkins UKThe Novels of Jane Austen12 - 015 - 227 - 2
Amy WillertonMilestones TrustAnne Boleyn6 - 22 - 78 - 9
Andy BellNational AIDS TrustBlondie6 – 28 - 714 - 9
Jason WatkinsLocal GivingDavid Garrick8 - 010 - 218 – 2

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Sleb Mastermind - Show 4

Well, I’ve little doubt that the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Slebs were on standby last night, after the ordeals we’ve seen being meted out to 3 of the celebrities in the last two shows. Was their vigilance necessary, though? Well . . .

Prime candidate for a rough ride was last night’s first celebrity Andy day. I say this because Andy was the seemingly obligatory CBBC/CBeebies presenter. Andy is apparently one of the main men on CBeebies. Well done! For his specialist subject he answered on the Back to the Future trilogy of films. Very well he did too, just narrowly failing to get into double figures. But then the specialist rounds are rarely a problem for CBBC/CBeebies/BBC Radio presenters. The GK, on the other hand. . .

Long before we cross that, bridge, min, let us pause for a minute to consider Ann Cleeve’s round on the Shetland Islands. Ann Cleeves is a crime writer, who, among other works, created the character Vera Stanhope, the main character in the TV series Vera. Her round was a wide ranging one – basically anything and everything connected with the islands was fair game. Now, having been one answer away from a perfect round myself in my semi final SS, I know just how frustrating that is. At least mine wasn’t the last question of the round, as was Ann’s. Nonetheless, a very fine round it was, and she finished on 11.

Now, I did know that Tom Rosenthal plays one of the sons in Friday Night Dinner – the one who isn’t played by Simon Bird. What I didn’t know was that he is also the son of Jim Rosenthal. I haven’t personally seen Jim on TV that much since ITV started to give up on all sport except the Champions League, but he really was the face and voice of ITV sport back in the 80s and 90s. That’s the dad, though. The son, Tom, was answering on Flags of the World. Now, that was tempting fate. This was Jesse’s specialist subject when he set the all time 2 minute round record – well, all time record for a round length of any duration actually, unless I am very much mistaken. In his first round heat of the 2010 Champion of Champion’s series Jesse scored 23. Now, Tom didn’t actually do very badly at all, but he levelled out at 7, which put him some way off the lead.

Finally Robert Peston – in celebrity terms probably the biggest gun in this particular heat. People from BBC Current Affairs, or from the ITN equivalent often tend to do well in Sleb Mastermind, and I quite fancied that Robert Peston would continue this record. His specialist – on David Bowie from 1966 – 1976 – certainly gave him a decent platform upon which to launch his bid for victory. He didn’t quite match Ann’s round, but it wasn’t far off, and with 10 it meant that all he had to do would be to set a target which was a couple of points more than Ann could match.

In the meantime, though, Tom Rosenthal returned to the chair. The chances that he would be able to overhaul such a substantial lead looked unlikely, and every time he gave a correct answer he sounded as if he couldn’t quite believe it was right. Nonetheless the points kept racking up steadily, and by the end of the round he had managed 11 to take his score to 18. Would it win? Well, in terms of what we’ve already seen in this series nothing was impossible, but it still looked unlikely.

And so to Andy day. I doubt that much pressure needed to be put on Andy to take part. He looked as if he was taking it all in good spirit, and you can see the appeal of appearing. It’s all in aid of a good cause, it’s something to eventually tell your grandkids, and in the case of a children’s TV presenter it gets your face seen by people who would probably never have seen you before. Only – the thing is, if you’re not a quizzer, and don’t have a great general knowledge – well, just check out some of the less temperate comments around the web to get an idea about what you can be letting yourself in for. OK, then, let’s cut a long story slightly shorter. Andy scored 4.

The two horses still in the race, then, took their places in the stalls. First out of the starting gate was Robert Peston. He didn’t do as well as I thought he would, scoring 11 and 6 points. I wasn’t that impressed with his talking over John’s attempts to give him the answers to his passes at the end, although let’s be charitable and say that this was due to his annoyance with himself for getting things wrong that he knew. But Robert, that’s the point – that’s what the chair does to you. It’s not just about what you actually know – it’s about what you can recall when you need to under those conditions.

Coming up on the rails, then, was Ann Cleeves. Her round was an interesting contrast to Robert’s. Robert , basically, if an answer didn’t come within a second, then he passed. Ann just kept answering, even if it meant that she had to take a couple of seconds to think before she gave an answer. This meant that she got through fewer questions, and only scored 10. However, it also meant that she only accrued one pass, and when the contest was revealed as a 21 – all tie, the countback went clearly in her favour.

The Details

Andy Day AngelsThe Back to the Future Trilogy9 - 04 - 813 - 8
Ann CleevesMindThe Shetland Islands11 – 0 10 - 121 - 1
Tom RosenthalWillow FoundationFlags of the World7 - 211 - 318 - 5
Robert PestonSpeakers for SchoolsDavid Bowie – 1966 - 197610 - 111 - 621 -7

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Sleb Mastermind - Show 3

Well, another sleb show, and after this one the production team must be worrying that they’ll be getting a knock on the door from the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Slebs. I’ll say more about that later on.

The show often invites broadcasters from BBC Radio, CBBC and CBeebies to take part, and first into the lists last night was Mary Anne Hobbs. I wasn’t previously aware of her work, but a quick google revealed her to be a BBC Radio 6 broadcaster. It also revealed that we were born in the same year – and I have to say that she is, without wishing to appear ungallant, wearing a hell of a lot better than I am. Mary Anne’s specialist subject was the late great Barry Sheene. By jingo she knew her stuff as well. 9 points, and only a stumble kept her away from the magical double figure barrier. A good round.

Neil Fitzmaurice is one of those people whose name you might not know, but whose face you probably recognize straightaway. Well, anyone who had a hand in writing Phoenix Nights has my respect. Neil was answering on the films of Robert De Niro, and that’s a hell of a wide subject when you consider that he’s made getting on for 100 of them. All of which probably goes some way towards explaining why Neil was unable to squeeze his way past 6 points. Not by any means a score to be ashamed of, but there was a rueful look on his face as he left the chair, and he surely thought that his chance of taking home a piece of glassware had just disappeared.

Katie Thistleton was the seemingly obligatory CBBC presenter in this particular show. Her subject was The Life and Times of Rachel Green. If that name doesn’t mean anything to you, well, basically Rachel Green was the character played by Jennifer Aniston in Friends. Now, I can already hear the naysayers preparaing their green biros for this one. My 2007 heat of regular Mastermind was leapt upon as an example of the show’s so-called dumbing down because Stacy Mitchell on the same heat chose the Life and Career of Jennifer Aniston. Well, here we a contender not only taking Friends – but only one of the main characters. All I can say is that things change for the Sleb shows. Leeway has to be given with specialist subjects – with good reason too, as we would see later. Having picked what I found to be the easiest of last night’s specialists, at least Katie did justice to it, scoring 11.

Finishing the round was dear old Johnny Ball. Johnny’s position in the pantheon of Children’s TV greats was secured with his brilliant Think of a Number TV series, and its successors. Later on in the show Johnny would reflect ruefully that nobody has come along to make such programmes for children since. He’s probably right, but then who else could do it? His specialist round was on Michael Faraday. He struggled manfully with it, but a misfiring recall system didn’t help, and he levelled out with 6.

Neil Fitzmaurice, freed from the pressure of being in a position where it was realistic that he might actually win the show, gradually relaxed into his round. Picking up speed in the second minute he managed to break through the double figure barrier to notch up a decent round of 11, to finish on 16. Johnny Ball’s misfiring recall did him no more favours in the GK than it had in the specialist round, and indeed he did confess to being in panic mode. He fought his way to 5 points for 11.

Now for the cruelty to slebs. At the halfway stage it really was a two horse race between Mary Anne and Katie, who were way ahead of two gents. Mary Anne returned to the chair, and . . . well, there’s no nice way of saying it. She got one right in her GK round. So now the worst that Neil could come was 2nd. Katie returned to the chair, and she actually did better than Mary Anne. She scored 2 points.

Look, at the end of the day I know little more about how this has worked out than any other viewer. I don’t know whether Mary Anne and Katie volunteered to go on the show – I don’t know whether they were invited and agreed immediately and enthusiastically – I don’t know whether they were invited and were a little reluctant but allowed themselves to be persuaded because its for a good cause – I don’t know whether they were put under pressure to appear by their BBC superiors. We don’t know, and we can’t know. I don’t know whether both or either suffered dreadfully from brain freeze because of the pressure of being in the chair, or whether they just don’t have a huge amount in the way of general knowledge. So anything I say must be viewed in that light. Still – IF pressure was put onto either or both to appear, it’s a pretty sad thing. Yes, I know it’s only a bit of fun, but doing badly on Sleb Mastermind, I would imagine, is still a lot worse than being first out on Sleb Pointless, or being caught by the Chaser in a couple of steps on Sleb Chase, to name but two. I really don’t know that it’s that entertaining watching a couple of perfectly nice minor celebrities squirming and suffering their way through a GK round which they maybe just aren’t suited to. Pah. Humbug.

The Details

Mary Anne Hobbs ShelterBarry Sheene9 - 11 - 710 - 8
Neil FitzmauriceZoe’s PlaceThe Films of Robert De Niro5 - 711 - 216 - 9
Katie ThistletonFOP FriendsThe Life and Times of Rachel Green11 - 12 - 713 - 8
Johnny BallAction for ChildrenMichael Faraday6 - 45 - 711 – 11

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Sleb Mastermind - Show 2

You know what it’s like with celebrity shows. Sometimes there are people you know on them, and sometimes there aren’t. Last night’s show was a particularly good example of the genre.

First off was Ore Oduba. Actually I have seen Ore presenting sports reports before, but also he’s the John Craven of the 2010s, presenting Newsround. His specialist subject last night was David Beckham. Well, yes, we all know that the difficulty level of the Sleb specialist rounds is not as high as it is for contenders in the regular series, not should it be, so it’s not that much of a boast that I managed 5 of these. Ore doubled this, scoring 10, and remember that these specialists are 90 second rounds, so anything in double figures is a great round. Well done.

Second up, and one of two real ‘A’ listers in last night’s show was Olympic Winter Games 2014 Gold Medal winner Lizzy Yarnold. Now, Lizzy’s round illustrated what I would think must be a quandary for the production team. You see, while it might provoke a certain amount of schadenfreude amongst a certain cross section of the audience, I’m quite sure that the team don’t actually want to see a celebrity suffering in their round. After all, they are doing the show out of the goodness of the hearts, for their chosen charity, and really don’t deserve to feel humiliated. So the team probably do feel a duty of care towards their slebs. How hard, then, I wonder, did they try to persuade Lizzy out of taking such a wide subject as The Archers 2000 – present? The round just didn’t work for her – and despite putting a brave face on it she looked most uncomfortable as the round progressed.

Not so Alex Riley. Now, I can’t say that I was familiar with Alex’s work, but a quick google revealed that he’s a TV and radio presenter who’s been around for a while, presenting this and that (stop me if I get too technical). Now, when I was about 11 or 12 there was a guy down the road who had a Triumph TR7 in British Racing green outside his house morning, noon and night, and I must admit, for a while I though he was the bees knees. I guess that Alex maybe had a similar attachment since he took all the Triumph TR models as his specialist subject. He did so jolly well, too. 11 points off 90 seconds is quite an achievement. I think Michael Edwards was the only one of these that I managed – mind you they never asked the name of the bloke down the road with the green TR7.

Our final contender – well – now our final contender really was a genuine celebrity. Ken Dodd. It’s probably fair to say that Ken Dodd is the last of the great stand up gag men I grew up with in the 70s, and whether you like that sort of thing or not, you have to give the man some respect – for staying power if for nothing else. Oh, and you maybe knew that his song Tears was one of the highest selling singles in the UK in the whole of the 1960s as well. And that he’s acted in and lectured upon Shakespeare. Sorry – this is not actually a meeting of the Ken Dodd Appreciation Society – but I was amazed and delighted to see him having a go. Talking about comedians I grew up with, Ken’s round was on Theatre Comedians since 1950. Ken had just the one wrong, not knowing that Frank Randall used to thrown his false teeth at hecklers. Now that’s entertainment. This gave me my best round of the night, as I only had two wrong, the Frank Randall one, and I didn’t know that Arthur Askey had been a choirboy in Liverpool Cathedral.  

As for the GK – well, I don’t know whether John was under orders to bump Lizzy’s score up, but he refused to accept Pass for an answer on one, and kept badgering her until she got the right answer to take her up to 5 for the round, and 8 in total. Look, the lady has an Olympic Gold Medal, she doesn’t need to prove anything to anyone. Doddy did slightly better, adding 6 to his score to go to 15. Realistically we were left with a two horse race. Which, without wanting to be horrible in any way to Ore Oduba, it soon became clear was really a one horse race. I don’t know if GK is just not his thing, or whether it was nerves, or what, but the round didn’t come off for him, and he finished with 15, same as Doddy, although had it gone to count back Ken would have won having had no passes. Alex Riley then didn’t need a great round to win. Well, he might not have produced a great round, but it was still a pretty good one. Alex scored 14 on GK alone. Putting that into perspective, had he only scored 2 on specialist he would still have won. But that’s always the way it can work out on a sleb show.

The Details

Ore Oduba Macmillan Cancer SupportDavid Beckham10 - 15 - 315 - 4
Lizzy YarnoldScene and HeardThe Archers 2000 - Present3 - 45 - 28 - 6
Alex RileyDisasters Emergency CommitteeTriumph TR Sports Cars11 – 0 14 - 125 - 1
Ken DoddParkinson’s UKTheatre Variety Comedians since 19509 - 06 - 015 – 0

Monday, 22 December 2014

Sleb Mastermind 2014 - Show 1

Sleb Mastermind 2014 – 1

Well, a far more friendly and less intimidating opening to the shows in this set of sleb specials was the first thing I noticed. Rather than being filmed sitting quaking in their chairs as John reminds us who they are, each is introduced and clapped onto the stage. Quite right too. OK, then, a quick reminder of the format – we must remember that this is Mastermind – Lite, so the slebs all faced 90 seconds on specialist, and 2 minutes on GK – not unlike the semi finals in the regular series, although the questions in that tend to be quite a bit harder.

First up was Emma Barton – probably best known as Honey in Eastenders. Answering questions on behalf of The Downs Syndrome Association, Emma offered us the Carry On Films. If anyone was looking for omens, this is the subject that Sally Lindsay took when she won her Sleb show back in 2009. You have to say that Emma didn’t manage to show quite the same depth of knowledge that Sally did all those years ago. 6 doesn’t sound like a particularly good score, but you have to remember that this was achieved off 90 seconds, and so was actually a bit better than it looked.

Tony Marshall, batting for the African Caribbean Leukaemia Trust, has been a regular feature on BBC’s Casualty for the last 8 years, and his specialist subject was Richard Pryor. Back in Ian’s regular series we saw this being taken as a specialist subject. Tony perched intensely on the end of his chair, and while he didn’t quite rattle off a perfect round, in the context of the show you couldn’t help thinking that a score of 8 didn’t look too bad, and would at least give him a shout.

I think that I can say with some degree of confidence that Zoe Lyons is – so far – the only person to be a contender in both Sleb Mastermind, and Survivor. Remember that show? I guess the best way of describing it was that it was sort of - I’m Not A Celebrity – Get Me Out Of Here. Well, she wasn’t a celebrity back then. I won’t go on about the show – if you want to know more, just google it. Zoe was representing The Sussex Beacon, and answering on Quentin Crisp. I once had a meeting with the Englishman in New York in a street in Chelsea. That’s another story, and it didn’t feature in the questions. Zoe managed to answer 7 of these correctly.

Wales’ finest, Jamie Baulch, stepped up for Barnardos, answering questions on Prince. It may just have been me, but it seemed to me that for a 90 second round there was a noticeable bias towards Prince’s early stuff, which really put Jamie onto the back foot from the start. Points were not easy to come by, and Jamie finished with 3.

It can’t have been easy for Jamie to have to walk back to the chair so soon after his previous round, but he did so with a smile on his face, and he gave it a lash – and I’ll be honest, that’s pretty much what you’re looking for in a sleb round. He finished with 7 points. Emma did slightly better, managing to add 5 more points to her total to finish with 11. I had a feeling that Zoe Lyons might well be the pick of the contenders for this show. While we’ve seen a few comedians make a bit of a dog’s breakfast of their own appearances in the past, the majority have done pretty well – I’d guess that an ability to think upon your feet is pretty much an essential for a successful stand up. Zoe whacked in 10 points. It wasn’t a monster of a round, but it put her way way into the lead, and certainly gave Tony Marshall something to think about. As for Tony’s round – well, it wasn’t great. I think he realized early doors that he wasn’t going to do it, because he started arguing a bit with John, which is always entertaining for the audience. In the end he finished with a total of 13. So, well done, Zoe.

The Details

Emma Barton The Downs Syndrome AssociationCarry On Films6 - 25 - 511 - 7
Tony MarshallAfrican Caribbean Leukaemia TrustRichard Pryor8 - 15 - 413 - 5
Zoe LyonsThe Sussex BeaconQuentin Crisp7- 110 - 217 - 3
Jamie BaulchBarnardosPrince3 - 34-47- 7

Sunday, 21 December 2014

LAM Christmas Podcast

A Merry Christmas to all!
In this show: -

Christmas Questions
How ill do you have to be to give the quiz a miss?
Court of Public opinion
Letter to Santa
A Toast to Absent Friends
Answers to last week's questions

In The News

In the News

Who or what are the following and why have they been in the news?

Ben Haenow
Clara Amfo
Sebastien Chenu
Devon Alexander
Gemma Steel
Kerry Smith
Rolene Strauss
Man Haron Monis
Anthony Small
Chris Denning
Steve Hanson
Imitiaz Dharkar
Libby Lane
The Interview
Michael Garcia
Jazz Carlin
Georgie Thompson

In Other News

Who finished 5th, and then who finished 4th in Strictly?
Who was the surprise viewers choice for Sports Personality of the Year?
Who came third?
Where did a Magical Wonderland open on Weds 13th, close Thurs 14th, reopen Fri 15th, then close for good a couple of days later?
Whose time capsule was discovered in Massachussetts?
Where was the UN climate deal struck?
What was the score between Man Utd and Liverpool?
– and Spurs and Swansea?
In Sports Personality – who was Coach of the year?
– and Overseas Personality ?
– and Young Personality?
– and Team of the Year?
Which organization has objected to planning permission being given to the London Garden Bridge project?
Which owner accepted an FA misconduct charge over anti semitic and racist comments?
An Ofcom investigation is looking into whether Radio 4’s Today programme promoted the use of what?
After a go slow protest, France is promising to ban which App?
Which European country underwent a General Strike?
In which city did the appalling Taliban school massacre take place?
Who was awarded the title King of Comedy at the British Comedy Awards?
Capital One Cup ¼ finals – what was the score between Chelsea and Derby?
– and Sheffield United and Southampton?
– and Liverpool and Bournemouth?
– and Newcastle Utd and Spurs?
Which formula 1 team found 20 trophies which had been stolen from its HQ in a lake in Berkshire?
USA is to restore diplomatic ties with which country?
Which organization has been removed from the EU list of terrorist organisations?
Which family have been removed from Gogglebox after father Michael announced that he wishes to stand as a UKIP General Election candidate?
An EU court ruled that in some cases, what can be seen as a disability?
Which longstanding celebrity couple married on 21st December?
A public urinal in which city has been given grade II listed status?
Which England second row forward has been ruled out of the 6 Nations with injury?
Who was reappointed to the job of Chief Executive of F1?

Who actually won Strictly Come Dancing?

Saturday, 20 December 2014

Only Connect Match 15

Match 15: Orienteers v. Gamesmasters

The Orienteers - Paul Beecher, Simon Spiro and Sean Blanchflower – defeated the Romantics first time out. Standing between them and a semi final berth were the Gamesmasters - Filip Drnovšek Zorko, James Robson and skipper Frederic Heath-Renn – who comfortably beat the Coders in their own last match. Here’s an interesting fact – both of these teams bosted a University Challenge winner – Filip and Sean. Filip earned Kudos – although no extra points – by proving he could solve a rubik’s cube in less than 18 seconds prior to the first question.

Round One – What’s the Connection?

Captain Sean of the Teers picked twisted flax to start. Now, we started with Renaissance woodwind instrument. I must admit that the word serpent came to mind. It came to Sean’s mind as well. Italian croissant was the second. Now, it did idly occur to me that I was once asked what you’d get if you asked for a cornetto in an Italian restaurant, and the answer was actually a croissant. Bearing in mind you can see where a cornetto could be an instrument, I went for it off two. The next clue was Frost/Pegg Trilogy. Well, I didn’t know that Shaun of the Dead etc has come to be known as the cornetto and blood trilogy, but the Teers did, and this was where they went for it. The clue they didn’t need was the rewrite of O Sole Mio. Captain Frederic of the Gams gave due weight to the second vowel of Hornèd when opting for the viper. This meant they had syphilis, should you pardon the expression. – Rejected names for the 7 Dwarves? – I wondered. Sweating Sickness came second. Rickets was third. I’ll be honest, I didn’t hae it until the last – Football Hooliganism. So obviously they have all been called the English disease. The Gams had it practically the same time I did, and by waiting they salvaged a point and prevented the Teers from taking what would surely have been a bonus. With Lion the Teers wwere presented – North Korea. Too many possibilities to guess for that. The State of Israel came second. Now, this made me wonder if we were looking at something along the lines of – came into being in 1948.Hells Angels for me neither confirmed nor denied it. The Teers were working on stars on their flags. National Health service – the last clue – for me confirmed my 1948 hypothesis. Wavering between 47 and 48, the Teers zagged with 48, correctly so. The Gams then opted for Eye of Horus and the pictures. We saw a motorcyclist – the symbol for the artist formerly known as the artist formerly known as Prince – Wilson from Castaway – and Anthony Head from the Gold Blend ads. I didn’t get it – neither did the Gams. A good shout from the Teers saw them take a bonus with manufacturers of tennis equipment. Joey Dunlop was the motorcyclist.Now this was very unusual for OC. You see the fact that they used Wilson was a bit more of a clue than usual, since the ball takes its name from the sporting equipment company. The Teers last choice was Two Reeds, and the music. I recognised the third – music from the Royal Fireworks – and the Teers kindly informed me that the last was Firework by Katy Perry. The Teers had it off four. Having thus dodged the music, the Gams were left with water. Estonia offered nothing in the way of a five pointer – then The Author of the Enormous Room. That was the famous punctuationophobe e e cummings. Mc2 mc2 – (that should look like squared) – meant nowt to me, but it did enough to give the Gams EE. Actually, although I didn’t see it, it makes perfect sense. That meant that they trailed the Teers by 3 to 5.

Round Two – What Comes Fourth?

Lion kicked off for the Teers with 100: Bannerman, Australia. Now, Charles Bannerman was the first cricketer ever to score a test century, and yes, he was Australian. But what would the sequence actually be? I took a punt on 400: Lara, West Indies, Brian Lara being the first, and as far as I know only man to score a quadruple test century. The second clue – 200: Murdoch, Australia looked good for my chances of a 5 pointer. The third was 300: Sandham, England. Well, I didn’t know Sandham or Murdoch, but I fancied my points were safe. The Teers hadn’t made the cricket connection by the time the last clue came up, but at the death Sean tried 400: Bradman, Australia. A noble attempt. Filip gave the correct answer – mine, and took a timely bonus. Would I have gambled in the studio? No. Two Reeds gave the Gams 4th: Butler. Am I the only person whom that name immediately makes me think of the phrase – I ‘ate you Butler? Probably. Second clue was 3rd: Kennedy. For some reason I was thinking Gone With the Wind here. Rhett Butler was Scarlett’s 3rd husband, and Kennedy her second. Charles Hamilton was first. But where then? Unless it was her surnames, in which case it would be 1st: O’Hara. That was my guess off two. Indeed the next clue was 2nd: Hamilton. I don’t honestly think they had a Scooby Doo, and went with US politics. The Teers did something similar. Still, it was their pick next, and they picked Eye of Horus. The first clue was group – the second publisher. I hadn’t a handle on it at this point. Title came third. Having done well with the last two I was out with the washing on this set. So was everyone. Apparently they are all parts of an ISBN number, the last part being a check digit. Fair enough. Twisted Flax began with a picture of Simon Mayo. Irish counties – but which order, then? James Galway came next. What I guessed was Clare college came third. Now, I’ll be honest, I didn’t know which was next – and so guessed Limerick as it could be easily represented. The Gams went for Cork – but it was Limerick as the Teers knew. They were all going down the west coast. The clue example given began with
There once was a quiz host named Vicky . .
Hmm – now there’s a challenge: -
There once was a quiz host named Vicky
Whose game was exceedingly tricky
Her witty corrections
To unsolved connections
Are far more than taking the mickey
No?  Well, please yourselves. Captain Sean showed disdain for the powers of the Horned one by not voicing the second vowel. For this display of insouciance he received estate – and one observation he made was the brilliant one that this was Italian for Summer. This made a lot of sense when the second clue was autunno. Spring then – which is primavera. Not sure if I would have had it off two or three, but the Teers took it from two. Very good shout, that. Now, for the last set, the Gams were given the female gender symbol with (East Coast): dress sense. Fair enough. Then the same symbol and (Southern): Accent. The third clue was the same symbol, with (Midwest): Hospitality etc. Nope, nope and nope. The Teers didn’t have it. Sean decoded it as referring to the Beach Boys’ song - California Girls – East coast girls are hip I really dig those styles they wear etc. Even with this though he didn’t know that it was about Northern girls kissing. Wonderfully nasty set – so clever. This meant that going into the walls the Teers led by 9 – 4.

Round Three – The Connecting Walls

Gams chose Lion to begin. I could see a set of fictional snakes to start, but the Gams worked on separating Henle – Eustachi – Falloppio – Achilles – all of which are in the body – then they worked steadily at isolating the snakes – Mara (from Dr. Who – Kinda and Snakedance) – Sir Hiss – Kaa and Nagini. There looked to be a set of Mediterranean Islands there – and they found Corsica – Hydra – Lesbos and Stromboli. This left Even – Able – Adam and Panama. I was sure they were barking up the right tree with parts of famous palindromes, and they were. 10 points, a full set. Job done.

Water provided the Teers with a set of people who gave their names to diseases. They tried to work out the other connections first before putting any of them in. In fact they started with backing groups first , finding Gang (Kool and the) – News – Four Seasons and Ants. They then took out Hodgkin – Alzheimer – Bell and Huntington as the people who gave their names to diseases. They could see a number of time indicators, but not what linked what was left. I thought it was as simple as they all have homophones, but a closer look revealed that they are all homophones for containers – sort of. With ten seconds left they took out the time ones – whistle – falling ball – pips and Cuckoo. This left - earn – weil – your and pale. They had it worked out by this time, and claimed their own full house. 19 – 14.

Round Four – Missing Vowels

5 points is a significant lead, but it can be overturned. The first set was Novels first published in 1945. These went 3 – 0 to the Gams. 19 – 17. Things which are worth 5 points were worth 2 points to each team – 21 – 19. Same spelling, different pronunciation brought one point each dropped but another point for the Teers. 22 – 19, and the Teers go through, while the Gams have to play again. A great game and well played both. 

University Challenge - Round Two Match 6

Glasgow v. Liverpool

The Glasgow team of Jonathan Gillan, Christina McGuire, Erin White and their skipper, Daniel Hill completed a 190 – 120 win over Bath in the first round. Comfortable enough in the end, although JP did point out that they raced off to a big lead, then allowed Bath to make a comeback before closing out the match. Their opposition, Liverpool, represented by Ben Mawdsley, Jim Davis,  Hugh Hiscock,and their captain, Dachman Crew, did something cimilar against Sheffield, allowing them to finish only 25 points behind. So a difficult one to call.

The first starter involved a pharaoh, and had quite a long preamble, but as soon as it mentioned the title of a poem by Shelley Jonathan Gillan buzzed in correctly with Ozymandias. I took a full set of bonuses on names of English Cathedrals. Glasgow managed 2. Nobody got the next starter about E number classifications. For the third starter Jonathan Gillan illustrated the perils of trying to win the buzzer race. Given half of the question about a banking institution he lost 5 for guessing Rothschild, while the next part about its collapse due to rogue trader Nick Leeson made it clear that it was instead Barings. Hugh Hiscock took that one. Words ending in – oid only yielded 5. Jim Davis knew that oscitation means yawning, and this brought a set of bonuses on botany weren’t that helpful either, but did bring another 5 points to the Liverpool total. The first picture starter showed the page of a book, with the last few lines of a famous poem. The teams had to say what the last few words, which had been blanked out, were. In this case it was Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria Mori.Hugh Hiscock was first in for this one. Three more poems from the first world war followed with words blanked out. They didn’t get any of them, and I thought, hmm, JP will have something to say about that. He did. Hugh Hiscock took his third starter, recognising the creators of the London Review of Books. Sir Robert Walpole was the subject for the bonuses that followed, and Liverpool managed one bonus. Liverpool were winning because they were winning the buzzer race, but it did crossed my mind that the profligacy they were showing with the bonuses might well be a cause for regret if Glasgow could find their buzzer fingers.Liverpool led by 55 – 15.

I felt Daniel Hill was desperately unlucky that his answer of Venice as the republic which lost its independence to Napoleon in 1797. The Glasgow skipper was doing exactly the right thing trying to win back the initiative. As it was, there was only one other possible answer of Genoa. Nobody knew it, so Dachman Crew offered Venice again, to JP’s amusement. Some Maths thing followed, to which the answer was 120, as provided by Dachman Crewe. The international phonetic alphabet – not the NATO call signs alphabet I hasten to add – were hard if you’re not familiar with it, and they did well to take 2. Jonathan Gillan managed to get his second starter of the night, knowing that works by Mill and Delacroix are linked by the word Liberty. Bonuses on the city of Aleppo brought them a full set, and meant that for all Liverpool’s dominance on the buzzer, the gap was only 40. Asked for the French composer of a piece of music we were played, Jonathan Gillan gave my answer – Debussy – and we were both wrong. Hugh Hiscock speculated with Ravel, and was right to do so. More pieces of classical music inspired by folk music and fairy tales followed, and Liverpool had to supply the name of the character after whom the piece was named. I recognised the second and third, while Liverpool managed the third. Nobody knew that rabbits and hares are lagomorphs. Nor did anyone know that Paraguay shares its name with a major river that flows into the Parana. Dachman Crew came in with a good early buzz on a definition of a nautical mile. A UC special set on astronomy wasn’t easy, but Liverpool still took 2 of them. Daniel Hill knew that Edward III took the throne at 14 after his mother raised a rebellion to depose his father. Bonuses on people who share their name with Harry Potter characters again brought them a full set. If only they could start getting some starters. They didn’t get the second picture starter. It was Hugh Hiscock who was first in to take a triptych by Francis Bacon. More of the most expensive artworks sold at auction followed, and Liverpool took a full set. That meant that the score at the 20 minute mark – 130 – 60 – reflected the Liverpool dominance a little more than it had a minute or two earlier.

Nobody took a starter on thermodynamic cycles, but Liverpool lost 5. Daniel Hill knew that anyone who founded a paper called The Liberator would either have been interested in Abolition of Slavery, or Blake’s Seven. Thankfully he went for the former. Bonuses on reptiles provided nothing for them. Still, seemingly at home on the buzzer now Daniel Hill won the buzzer race to name the Festival of Britain as the mid 20th century celebratory occasion asked for in the next starter. Back to form they scored a full house on films about the Titanic. The gap was down to 35, but Liverpool didn’t panic, and took the next starter, about the derivation of the phrase – a purple passage- ooh, Matron. Chemistry brought me an unexpected full set of bonuses on radon and noble gases. Liverpool didn’t add to their score. Didn’t matter – they just went on to take the next starter – knowing that halophyte is the term for a plant that can flourish in areas of high salinity. Surprisingly I was also able to get a full set on operas about Orpheus as well, of which Liverpool managed 1. Didn’t matter – they were far enough ahead by this time. Dachman Crew knew Job’s comforters to earn a set on owls in English 18th century and 19th century verse. They didn’t know them, and I only recognised the last. Christina McGuire knew that Wordsworth’s heart leaped up whenever he beheld a rainbow in the sky. That was the last question. I Was glad that it took Glasgow through the 100 point barrier, but Liverpool were comfortable winners with 170 – 105. Hard lines Glasgow. Well played Liverpool. I fancy that they will be outsiders for the semis, but then what do I know?

Jeremy Paxman Watch

JP started early this week. After the first starter was answered he was moved to quote from the inscription on the statue of Ozymandias in Shelley’s poem “Look on my works ye mighty, and despair.” So he was in one of those moods, was our Jez? I did hope so.
When Liverpool failed to take any of the first world war poem bonuses JP sounded personally insulted,
“These are some of the most famous poems of the First World War – you SHOULD know them.”
When asking for one of two British lagomorphs, and explaining what distinguishes them from rodents, he gave Glasgow a splendidly old fashioned look when one of them suggested field mouse.
Time was that Dachman Crew’s suggestion that Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II composed The Mask of Orpheus – would have received a barrage of withering scorn, and indeed JPs initial reaction “WHAT?!!” could have stunned a badger at ten paces. He merely chuckled after this though.
Apparently I’m not the only one who rates Liverpool as outsiders for the semis. He made no bones about telling them “Your’re going to have to smarten up your act a bit for the semi finals.”

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

The word void is the only word ending in – oid in the OED which dates from before 1300.

Mastermind - Round One - Heat 18

A couple of weeks ago a fortuitous set of specialist subjects came together to give me my personal unwikied specialist aggregate record of 26. Well, they do say that lightning doesn’t strike twice, but in this case ‘they’ speak with forked tongue, since another fortuitous combination allowed me to surpass this.

Not that this is at all important. What is important is that the first of last night’s contenders was Alan Gibbs, a terrific quizzer, and of the initial 96 contenders in the first round a very serious contender for the title. Alan reached the final of 2013’s Britain’s brightest, but eve more than that, he is a member of the Gamblers, champions of the 3rd series of Only Connect. A formidable contender. Alan’s subject last night was One Hit Wonders 1960 – 2000. That’s a great subject, and it makes you wonder why nobody else had chosen it before – alright, they might have done, but I certainly can’t remember it, and have no record of it. I managed 9 of these, either from them being standard quiz questions, or from personal memory of the records. Alan did better, though – he scored 11, and was very unlucky not quite to dredge up Paul da Vinci of the Rubettes at the death. Bearing in mind that Alan will always be a top contender on GK, the others were going to need big scores to be in with a shout.

Chris Baker I don’t know, but as we’ve seen so often that doesn’t mean anything. Chris opted for General elections 1979 – 2000. Now again, like one hit wonders, General elections is another subject which has a certain fascination for quiz setters. As a result, I amazed myself by taking 11 on this set. Already I was on 20, and needed only another 7 to beat my record. Chris had obviously done his homework, and gave himself every chance of success on the GK round by scoring 13.

Our third contender, Stephen Jones, looked very familiar, but searching LAM I could find no previous reference to him, and he’s not on my previous contender database. Whatever the case, he was answering questions on the History of West Brom. Did I get my 7 to push me to a new record? Don’t be silly. I did get 4 though to take me to 14. Stephen, like Chris before him, produced a terrific round of 13. Up to a couple of years ago, anything in the teens was a good round. Nowadays, anything in the teens is a very good round. In the last show or two I’ve felt by half time that the only qualifier from the show would be the winner, since nobody was going to get a high enough score for a repechage slot. In this show we already had three contenders with a high enough SS show to give them a chance.

You might remember our fourth contender, Marianne Fairthorne, from Only Connect, where she skippered semi finalists, the Festival Fans. I’m pretty sure that I met Marianne when I guested for North London once in 2010 in the Summer Quiz League of London. Now, with a league quizzing background, and a good run in OC behind her, Marianne was obviously going to be competitive in GK. So the question was, how would she do in specialist? He answer was splendidly. Marianne offered us the Empress Livia, or Sian Phillips as most of us know her. Now, thanks to my love of Robert Graves’ “I Claudius” and “Claudius the God” I managed the 5 I needed to get to a new record aggregate of 29 – whoopee! Marianne though managed 14. Now that, I reckoned, made her a serious contender for the win.

Alan, then, following his round of 11 probably wouldn’t have expected to be back in 4th at the turn. Still, he’s an old quiz hand, and I reckoned he’d know exactly how to go through a GK round. What followed was a virtuoso demonstration of exactly that. He didn’t agonise over any answer, waiting only until John had finished saying the question before snapping out the answer, most of which were of course correct. He also answered every question. At the end of the round he had scored 16 and no passes, one of the finest GK rounds which we’ve seen all series. To put that into perspective, all three remaining contenders would have to score in the teens and avoid a single pass even to match him. Gauntlet well and truly lain down.

Chris made a very good start to his round. His tone and inflection sometimes suggested that his answers weren’t all given with a great degree of certainty, but they were right and that is all that counts. However the last minute in a Mastermind GK round makes such a difference, and a few wrong answers had robbed him of all momentum going into the home straight. Chris eventually levelled out at 11 for 24. Nothing to be ashamed of in scoring double figures in both your rounds.

Stephen didn’t start his own round quite so well, and after a couple of questions the advantage of his 2 point half time lead over Alan had been wiped out. He struggled manfully with the round, managing to pick off points here and there, and ended with 7 for 20. That total is perfectly respectable, but it is made to look more modest having been scored amongst the calibre of contenders in last night’s show. Marianne, then required 13 and no passes to force a tie break, and 14 and as many passes as she liked to win outright. She wasn’t going quite as fast as Alan had, but then she didn’t need to, having a three point half time lead. Marianne came up with some fine quizzer’s answers, and I honestly couldn’t call it. In the end she scored 13, with 2 passes putting her into second place. She also had the agony of knowing one of the passes by the time that John gave us the answer.

Well played Alan – an impressive performance. Don’t worry though – I shan’t be cursing your (or anyone else’s) chances with the Clark tip just yet – it’s a bit too early. As for Marianne, she resides in 3rd place on the repechage board, and will be extremely unlucky if she doesn’t make it through. Well played both – in fact well played all 4. Great show.

The Details

Alan Gibbs One Hit Wonders 1960 - 200011 – 0 16 – 0 27 – 0
Chris BakerUK General Elections 1979 - 201013 - 111 - 324 - 4
Stephen JonesThe History of West Bromwich Albion FC13 – 0 7 - 220 - 2
Marianne FairthorneThe Empress Livia14- 0 13 - 227 - 2

Answers to News Questions

In the News

Who or what are the following and why have they been in the news in December?

Darren Wilson
These Days
Cressida Dick
It for Others
Stephanie Roche
Massimo Cellino
Myles Bradbury
Olivia Smart and Joe Buckland
Louise Burns
Girl Online
Overgate Centre, Dundee
Stegosaurus Sterops
Adam Peaty
Mark Pritchard
Daniel Anrig
Davy Russell and Phillip Enright
Richard Hollingworth
Zoe Suggs
Sky Swing
Mohammad Hafeez
Nigel Mills
Baroness Jenkin
Ross Taylor
Jeannette Traverso
Heather Cho
Roger Bird
Kailash Satyarthi
Paul Rosalie
Scot Young

In Other News

Who said she had delivered s House of Commons speech loaded with smutty innuendo for a dare?
Where was the world’s largest Christmas tree unveiled?
Who will provide the voice of Colonel K in the new Danger Mouse?
Which former African leader was cleared of all charges?
What was the score in the Autumn RU international between Australia and England?
And Wales and South Africa?
Who is the British Heavyweight champion?
Who much did shoppers spend in the UK on Black Friday?
What is the most popular boy’s name in the UK for newborn babies?
– and for girls?
Who announced he will stand down at the next election?
Which city was given the UNESCO city of Design award?
Which 3 players were shortlisted for FIFA world player of the year?
Who is to appear in a one off Downton Abbey sketch
Whose term as President of the European Council is coming to an end?
Who was investigated by the FA for an alleged anti semitic tweet?
Name the captain of the Costa Concordia on trial for manslaughter?
Chris Froome announced what last week?
Which Lego set will not be available in shops until January?
Which actor turned up drunk and obscene for a Holocaust Poetry Recital?
Who lost their appeals over their convictions for the murder of Lee Rigby?
Planning permission has been granted for what over the Thames?
Which former party leader passed away aged 85?
There have been allegations on German Tv over a systematic athletics doping programme in which country?
Why was Alastair Cook banned for one match following the 3rd ODI?
Where did the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge visit?
Which bridge celebrated its 150th anniversary?
Where was a video of the making of the Band Aid 30th anniversary single projected?
Nigel Farage used which excuse for being two hours late for an appointment in Wales?
What was the score between Stoke and Arsenal?
– and in the final of the UK Snooker championship?
Which ‘funny’ Christmas card did Clinton’s withdraw from their stores?
Why was the Shrien Dewani murder case dismissed?
Why were Gambian Diplomats jailed in the UK last week?
What was the score between Man Utd and Southampton?
Which actress celebrated her 80th birthday last week?
Who posted Daily Mail journalist Neil Sear’s phone number on Twitter?
Which DJ was rrested over alleged sexual assaults
Who fell off his chair during the Royal Albert Hall tennis exhibitions?
Which institution obtained memorabilia from the estate of Sir Patrick Moore?
Who bought James Watson’s nobel Prize medal so that he could give it back to him?
Which famous illustration sold for £300,000?
Which Hollywood couple confirmed they have split?
What was the Champs league score between Liverpool and Basel?
– and Arsenal and Galatasaray?
– and Man City and Roma?
– and Chelsea and Sporting Lisbon?
Who joined Ospreys from racing Metro?
Who did Angeszka Radwanska appoint her coach?
Who is to have a Lifetime Achievement award in SPOTY?
Why has the Brighton beach Christmas Day swim been officially cancelled?
Who was suspended for verbally abusing Leicester’s Richard Cockerill?
Who or what are Time Magazine’s Person of the Year?
Which area of London has been dubbed Britain’s most normal place?
Who stood down from attempt to become UKIP candidate
Which organization apologized for abuse of children during their time in the movement?
Which club were suspended from all football activity by the FA over ownership problems?
Who signed a new 1 year contract with McLaren F1
Who gave birth to twins Gabrielle and Jacques?
What was the score between Spurs and Besiktas?
And Dinamo Zagreb and Celtic?
And Everton and Krasnodar?
The wife of which politician will be a Booker Prize judge next year?
Whose statue was reinstalled in Morecambe Bay?
Which bird was found to be closest relative to dinosaurs?
What was the score in the Varsity rugby match?
Who became Asia’s first ever world number 1 snooker player?


Who or what are the following and why have they been in the news?

Officer at the heart of the Ferguson shooting in USA – resigned
F1 team wound up
No 1 song for Take That
Left Scotland Yard for the Foreign Office
Turner Prize winning film by Duncan Campbell
On shortlist for the Puskas Prize for Goal of the Year
Disqualified by the League from running Leeds Utd.
Paedophile doctor from Addenbrooks hospital jailed
New British Ice Dance champions
Mother told to cover up while breast feeding in Claridges
Book containing JK Rowling’s Harvard Commencement speech
Fastest Selling debut novel ever
Unveiled a vending machine selling fruit and veg
1st complete dinosaur on show in Nat Hist Museum for 100 years
Multiple British medallist in world short course swimming championships
MP Questioned by police over rape allegations
Title of New Bond film
Commander of Swiss guard dismissed by Pope Francis allegedly for being too strict
Jockeys banned for 5 days for allegedly swapping whips during race.
Immigration judge who said that someone called Patel could only work in a corner shop.
Seat for which Alex Salmond will stand in General Election
Blogger Zoella, who confirmed that her debut novel, Girl Online, was ghostwritten
200ft high Cardiff ride – wind knocked unoccupied cars into each other.
Pakistan all rounder suspended by ICC for suspect bowling action
MP filmed laying Candy Crush in a committee meeting
Apologised for saying that poor people don’t know how to cook.
1st NZ player to hit 3 successive ODI centuries
Judge who freed Shrien Dewani
Korean Airlines VP who delayed a flight because peanuts were not served the right way – since resigned.
UKIP Gen secretary alleged to have sexually harassed candidate – doubt has been expressed over reliability of the claimant since
Shared Nobel Peace Prize with Malala Yusufzai
Wanted to be filmed being swallowed by anaconda in special suit, but lost nerve while it was going on ( don’t blame him)
Entrepreneur who plunged to death.

In Other News

Penny Mordaunt
Rio de Janeiro
Stephen Fry
Hosni Mubarak
26 – 17 England
12 – 6 Wales
Tyson Fury – defeated Derek Chisora who was retired by his corner after 10 rounds
£1.6 billion
Gordon Brown
Manuel Neuer – Messi – Ronaldo
George Clooney
Herman Van Rompouy
Mario Balotelli
Francesco Schettino
He will have the Tour de France as his main focus
Gerard Depardieu
Michael Adebowale and Michael Adebolajo
A new ‘garden bridge’
Jeremy Thorpe
Slow over rate
New York
Clifton suspension Bridge
Houses of Parliament
3 – 2 Stoke
O’Sullivan 10 – Trump 9
10 reasons why Santa Claus must live on a housing estate
Lack of reliable evidence
A scam involving selling tons of tobacco without paying tax
2 – 1 Man Utd
Dame Judi Dench
Russell Brand
Neil Fox
Elton John
Science Museum
Alisher Usmanov
Pooh Sticks illustration
Matt Bellamy and Kate Hudson
1 – 1
4 – 1 Arsenal
2 – 0 Man City
3 – 1 Chelsea
Dan Lydiate
Martina Navratilova
Sir Chris Hoy
Increased drunkenness in recent years
Martin Castrogiovanni
Ebola Fighters
Neil Hamilton
Scout Association
Hereford Utd
Jenson Button
Princess Charlene of Monaco
0 – 0
4 – 3 Zagreb
1 – 0 Krasnodar
George Osborne
Eric Morecambe
Domestic Chicken
43 – 6 Oxford
Ding Jinhui