The new football season is nearly upon us. This weekend my wife and daughter will be off to Wembley for the Community Shield between Arsenal and Chelsea and I’ll be deciding whether to watch the Leeds United game (away at Bolton) in a pub or on NOW TV, as I did on the opening weekend of last season. The new trivia season is already upon us. I hadn’t really thought of it that way until three quiz shows that I record and watch regularly all reappeared on my series record list in the last few weeks. All three are working towards their finales in March or April next year.
The first was “University Challenge”, which began on 17 July. Like the start of the football season it feels like this rolls around earlier each year, but it’s had a mid-July start date for a while now. You can check what’s happening on Shaun Blanchflower’s excellent “University Challenge” page. Like me, Blanchflower was at Trinity College Cambridge but unlike me he is a “University Challenge” champion, from the first series presented by Jeremy Paxman in 1994/95. Our old college is almost certainly out of this year’s competition, defeated 230-95 by Bristol on 24 July and therefore unlikely to make it as one of the highest scoring losers. “Mastermind” and “Only Connect” both returned on 28 July, back-to-back from 8pm on Friday night on BBC2.
Other quiz formats continue to have a pre-season break. “Fifteen to One” has not returned to Channel 4 since its series final at the end of June. It was replaced by something called “The Question Jury”, which we have caught snippets of. There’s too much chat, too much reality-TV-style drama and not enough questions for my tastes.
The highest-rated daytime quiz shows of recent years, “The Chase” and “Pointless”, are not currently screening new episodes. The former has been replaced by “Cash Trapped”, presented and devised by Bradley Walsh, and the latter is showing repeats from late last year. We have recorded and watched a few episodes of “Cash Trapped”, which pits 6 contestants against each other. Only one of them can escape with the jackpot in any given show, and if they’re unsuccessful the same 6 contestants return the next day. This can go on for some time.
As I have noted a few times (like this piece in March), quiz shows form a large part of our family viewing and we have started watching shows on “Challenge” (Channel 46 on our multi-channel box). Who’d have thought that programmes like “Supermarket Sweep”, “Bullseye” and “Goldenballs” would live on, over 20 years after their original broadcasts? We have become regular viewers of the 9pm episodes of “The Chase”, some of which were first screened back in 2009. Having missed them all first time round (we first watched “The Chase” back in February) every episode is new to us but watching these repeats is a bit like watching old editions of “Match of the Day”. There is curiosity value but we don’t have the same level of interest as we would for a brand new episode. Which reminds me, I must set up “Match of the Day” to record on Sunday night.