On the box · Trivia · Word of the week

Word of the week: rumbledethumps

Another week another quiz show. Last Friday Channel 4 launched “One Question” hosted by Claudia Winkelman. As its name suggests, this is a show in which contestants can win money (in this case up to 100,000 pounds) if they know, or guess, the answer to just one question.

In total there were two questions on the show, and two pairs of contestants. The second pair won 55k by working out the answer to the question “What is a potato?” from 20 possible answers. The first pair gave a wrong answer to the question “What is a circle?” and won nothing.

Among the incorrect answers to “What is a potato?” we had the following: the food known as “brinjal” in Indian cookery (aubergine), the hat worn by fans of the American Football team Green Bay Packers (cheese) and the main ingredient in the eastern European brandy slivovitz (plum).

In theory the contestants could know the correct answer when it appears and not have to see all 20 options. In practice, it looks like most of them will see all 20 before making their choice. As the answers appear, the contestants can remove any that they know are incorrect and later (when they have reduced the number of answers to 12) they can “buy” clues to help eliminate others.

For example, by reducing their pot by 10k, the contestants received the following clue about slivovitz:

The main ingredient in slivovitz has types called Mirabelle and elephant.

That wouldn’t have helped me much, but I already knew that slivovitz is made from plums. It has featured on quiz shows from as long ago as February 2001 (a 125k question on “Who wants to be a millionaire?”).

There were other clues and offers, which is how the initial 100k was reduced down to the 55k that they won. They were left with the following three options:

An essential ingredient in the Scottish dish ‘rumbledethumps’.

The name of the spoof UK award which rewards deliberately bad modern art.

The main diet of the beetle known as the boll weevil.

They could have removed one of these options by halving their prize (to 27.5k) but they went for the correct answer. Long before this point in the show I was shouting it at the TV. I knew it from previous quiz questions. It’s certainly been on “Pointless” and I think it’s been one of the options in “The 100k Drop” or “Impossible” (maybe both). It’s rumbledethumps, described in this recipe from the BBC website as a “traditional Scottish dish of buttery mash, cabbage and swede”, similar to bubble and squeak. For the record, the spoof art prize is the Turnip Prize and the main diet of the boll weevil is cotton.

I have never seen a dish of rumbledethumps, and have never tasted slivovitz. As with so many things recorded on this Blog, I only know about them from TV quiz shows. Thanks to “One Question” I now also know the name of the Official Residence of the Vice President of the USA: Number One Observatory Circle. It was the correct answer to “What is a circle?”, the very first question asked in Series 1 Episode 1.


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