Welcome to the quiz where simply knowing the answer isn’t enough. Hang on a moment – BBC4 – Teams of 3 - am I getting a little déjà vu here? Well, you can’t blame BBC4 for looking for another Only Connect. OC is, by some distance, the finest new quiz of the last decade, and I don’t know how willingly 4 relinquished it to 2, but I doubt very much they were hounding it out of the door. But that’s OC, and this is Hive Minds.
This is a board game, and the board is a giant hexagon, containing 37 smaller hexagons. Each one will show a letter in it. The game simply involves finding answers to questions or clues by tracking along from one hexagon to another. Actually, I say simply, but the game isn’t simple at all, which is all to the good. The rounds did vary a bit, which kept the game from becoming repetitive. The hardest, round three, the Super Hive, involved finding a solution to – for example – a set of fish – which has to involve using every hexagon, and has several, should you excuse the pun, red herrings to trip you up. I’d argue that although a very good general knowledge would not guarantee that you’d do well in this game, a poor grasp of general knowledge would prevent you from doing so, and this was especially true of the last round. This simply involved finding answers to clues – eg a ship used by Columbus. Yes,OK, a ship used by Columbus actually had three possible answers, but at least you knew what you were looking for. As for an Italian Nationalist – well, honestly, who else could it be apart from Garibaldi. Well, alright, Giuseppi Mazzini, but 90 times out of 100 it’s going to be Garibaldi. Likewise, flower of the genus Taraxacum is going to be dandelion every day of the week. No, this isn’t a complaint about the show. I’m afraid that I always rather like it when the best pure quizzers of the bunch are at an advantage. It was reassuring to see names like Jack Whaley-Cohen and Richard Morgale involved with setting and verifying the questions on the credits.
I’m really not sure about Fiona Bruce in the hot seat. According to my wife I was within about 3 feet of Fiona Bruce who was being touched up – ooh Matron – at the same time as I was having my slap applied for my appearance on the Antiques Roadshow last year (apparently I have Queen Anne legs and a walnut kneehole) but I didn’t notice she was there. She’s no Victoria Coren-Mitchell, but then most people aren’t (all bar one in fact). So we’ll reserve judgement for the time being.
As for the overall verdict – well, I didn’t think I was going to like it that much . . . but I did. I found the play-along-at-home-ability was rather high, as with the best shows, and it was generally rather interesting and challenging. Now, I’ve been wrong about new shows more often than I’ve been right, but from one viewing, I’d say it’s got legs. Is it the new Only Connect? No, it’s the original Hive Minds – and that in itself seems to be no bad thing. I shall be watching it again.