It feels like Trivia has been on my mind for much of the last six months so I am surprised to find that there was no Trivia Round-up in May to accompany those for February, March and April. As those earlier pieces noted, quiz shows and game shows form a significant amount of the TV that we watch as a family and have provided us with interesting facts and even the odd catchphrase. In the last few months I have put “The Chase” and “Fifteen to One” on series record. (“Pointless”, “Who Dares Wins”, “Mastermind”, “University Challenge” and “Only Connect” have been there for some time.)
Perhaps it was better to draw a veil over the quiz show scene in May. It was the month in which “Babushka” was introduced to the British public, replacing “The Chase” for four weeks on weekdays at 5pm on ITV. There were 20 episodes of it, described on IMDB as follows: “Rylan Clark-Neal hosts the daily game-show in which a pair of contestants answer questions to open giant Russian nesting dolls, some of which are empty while others contain smaller dolls worth cash prizes”. We didn’t manage to watch a whole episode, we just watched snippets of it open-mouthed in disbelief. Maybe there was a quiz-tastic final round that is as exciting as the two-minute rounds at the end of “The Chase” but as far as we could tell there were about ten general knowledge questions per show (which lasts 60 minutes including ad breaks), and they were all True or False. The contestants didn’t have to know anything. They had a 50:50 chance on every question. It has led us to make up our own “Babushka”-style questions, such as: “The animal that makes a ‘miaow’ sound is called a dog: True or False?” or “Snow is white: True or False?” It’s possible that this show could go on to have a long and illustrious run on TV but it didn’t look like it from what we saw. It’s not really a quiz show of course, it’s more of a game show with the “Deal or no Deal” concept of building up tension and excitement by seeing people opening up boxes (or in this case Russian dolls). It’s about luck rather than skill.
Meanwhile, back in the world of shows where contestants have to do more than open up a few boxes, both “Fifteen to One” and “Countdown” reached their series’ finales yesterday, back-to-back on Channel 4. I put “Countdown” on series record for the last seven episodes (from the quarter-finals onwards), and “Fifteen to One” has been on series record since April. We watched them on Friday night, along with Thursday’s “Countdown” semi-final in which Susie Dent’s 25 years in Dictionary Corner were commemorated with, among other things, a letter from Arsene Wenger. We had no idea that, like my wife and daughter, she is a keen Arsenal fan. It made for an enjoyable Friday night’s viewing.
Our ability to spot 7- and even 8-letter words, and to solve the mathematical problems, has improved after catching up on the show again. We also enjoyed building up to a proper series finale. It’s many years since my wife or I have seen a “Countdown” Grand Final and this was the first that either of our children has seen. Do I need to post a Spoiler Alert here? Surely if you have any interest in the show you’ll already know the result but in case you haven’t seen the Grand Final yet look away now, and come back when you’ve seen it. (The same goes for “Fifteen to One”: I’ll mention the name of the series winner before the end of this piece.)
We caught a few episodes of both finalists’ octochamp performances in the weeks since Easter. Stephen Reed was a worthy winner and The Moose gave him a decent run for the first half of the show.
Currently “Fifteen to One” is one of the few established quiz shows that is broadcasting new episodes. “The Chase” and “Pointless” are showing repeats, and “University Challenge”, “Only Connect” and “Mastermind” are off air. Sandi Toksvig is doing a great job as the host. Max Espensen, a research scientist, won the £40,000 prize, which must be the largest individual jackpot currently available on UK quiz shows. Contestants can win more on “The Chase”, “Who Dares Wins” and maybe even “Eggheads” but they have to work as part of a team in all those formats.
Last weekend I wrote about recording my scores for the last 100 Rounds of Pop Master and I have got a bit carried away with the “Fifteen to One” Grand Final too. The remainder of this piece lists my scores for each round and the answers to the 29 questions that I failed to answer (or guess) correctly.
Opening Round: 20 out of 30 (10 questions wrong)
Round 2 (Question or Nominate Round): 26 out of 39 (13 questions wrong)
Final Round: 34 out of 40 (6 questions wrong, but all questions were on the buzzer so I wouldn’t have buzzed in on the ones I didn’t know).
The answers I didn’t know, or didn’t guess correctly, are given in brackets below:
(The Otter) is a Ted Hughes poem about a “four-legged yet water-gifted” creature.
(The Indus) rises in Tibet, flows past Hyderabad and enters the Arabian Sea south east of Karachi.
(Crevette) is the sea food that can by Grise or Rose in French
In 1922 Ralph Samuelson gave an early demonstration of (water skiing).
The Arabian (oryx) is the antelope that is a symbol of Oman and Jordan.
(Blue John) is another name for Derbyshire Spar, the fluorspar mined around Castleton in the Peak District.
(Ripon) is a small cathedral city in North Yorkshire.
(Smut) is both a grain disease and the word for a speck of coal.
Mount Damavand is the highest peak in (Iran).
(Toledo), about 40 miles south of Madrid, is home to a collection of works by El Greco.
Round 2 (question or nominate)
(Calvados) is the apple brandy named after a department of Normandy.
(Mulligan) stew is mentioned in the first line of “The Lady is a Tramp”.
(Bouncer) was the dog in “Neighbours”, a Labrador Retriever; his dream featured in an episode of the soap.
During the First and Second World Wars the Derby was run at (Newmarket) rather than Epsom.
The Playstation controller features a blue (cross) among its four buttons.
(Cameroon) beat Egypt in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations Final. [I really should have got that one.]
(Little Dorritt) was the Dickens novel published in 1857 that includes chapter titles like “Mostly, Prunes and Prism” and “An Appearance in the Marshalsea”.
(Matisse) was the artist whose painting “Le Bateau” was hung upside down at the Museum of Modern Art for 47 days before anyone noticed.
(Galliano) is a yellow-coloured liqueur named after an Italian war hero.
(The Aleutian Islands) are the southern boundary of the Bering Sea.
(Lamborghini) have produced models called Countache and Diablo. [I should have got that one too.]
(Canasta) is the card game that takes its name from the Spanish for basket.
(Banyan) takes its name from the Sanskrit for merchant and is also known as the Indian Fig.
Final Round (all questions are on the buzzer, no question or nominate in the Grand Final)
The calf bone is the (fibula).
Richmond is the former name for (Staten Island).
(Mr Daydream) is the “Mr Men” character who looks like a blue cloud.
In “Oceans 11” and its sequels Rusty Ryan is played by (Brad Pitt).
The (St Lawrence) River flows through Quebec.
(Helen Marten) is the Macclesfield-born artist who won the 2016 Turner Prize.