Joined-up thinking…?


If you’re going to appear on a TV quiz show, you might as well tackle the trickiest on the telly first.


It’s been a while since my last blog post, despite promises that I’ll blog more often. However, 16 months(!) and one PhD graduation since I last blogged, this post isn’t an apology for not blogging; it’s about quizzing – not just quizzing, but quizzing on what is regarded as TVs most difficult show, namely Only Connect.

I’ve been a fan from the beginning. The challenging first-round connections; the slippery second-round sequences; the conniving connecting-wall up third; and, fourth and finally, the mysterious missing vowels. And not forgetting the vivacious Victoria Coren-Mitchell.

Quizzy conversations revealed that I wasn’t alone in the Rochdale & District Quiz League in this regard, with some like-minded quizzers agreeing that going on Only Connect might sound like a plan.

Some family and friends have been a tad bemused over the years, with exchanges going along the lines of:

“We’re applying/auditioning [delete as appropriate] to go on Only Connect!”

“What’s that?”

“You know, that really difficult quiz on BBC4/2 with Victoria Coren – connections, sequences, and all that…?”

“Oh right, I think I know it. What do you win?”

“A trophy. And quizzy kudos.”

“Not money then?”




“ … ”


I guess it’s a quiz thing.


Getting onto the show in the first instance wasn’t easy – not even tipping the winner of the following day’s Grand National at a previous audition worked! However, following several applications and ‘only’ our third audition, we got the nod; we were on!



“And on my right…” (picture source: author’s photograph)

Filming for the 13th series has recently finished, and it was a brilliant experience. It’s hard to go into details about what made it all such fun without giving too much away and spoiling your future televisual enjoyment – so I won’t. Suffice to say that going behind the scenes of a TV programme and seeing exactly how it’s made is fascinating, as I first discovered sitting in the audience for recording of University Challenge: The Professionals and later during games-testing for the short-lived Britain’s Brightest. Actually taking part in Only Connect, however, somehow heightened an oddness that came with half-knowing what’s going to happen next and yet at once not exactly doing so. Or maybe that was just me.

Such oddness, however, was only fleeting. Everyone involved, production crew and rival teams alike, was so nice and helpful and friendly; it was all great craic, and I’ve even acquired some more twitter followers. Staying in a great hotel and visiting Cardiff’s CAMRA-recommended hostelries of an evening between recordings provided the icing on the Connecting cake. I like Cardiff.

How did we do? Well, that’d be telling – you’ll just have to tune in later this year and see…


Rainhill Grand Prix

I realise that the subject of quizzing isn’t related to matters automotive, environmental or geographical. However,though perhaps overshadowed by the F1 equivalent at Suzuka in Japan, this weekend’s Rainhill Grand Prix gives me an excuse to post my first proper, erm, post.

On Saturday, I went to the British Quizzing Association (BQA) Grand Prix at Rainhill in Merseyside. I’ve only been to one other BQA event, held in Horwich near Bolton earlier this year, but had a vague idea of what to expect in terms of the format, the competitive quizzing and, particularly, the prospect of finishing near the bottom of the pile. What I didn’t expect was to be sharing a table with TV Egghead (and eventual winner) Pat Gibson.

In fact there were three Eggheads and one Chaser in attendance – esteemed competition indeed! The morning was taken with an individual quiz consisting of six different subject rounds, each of 30 questions + 10 bonus questions (240 in all) to be completed in 90 minutes and, yes, it is a bit like being back at school! Following lunch, there was a (randomly allocated) team quiz event in which I was randomly placed with two people I recognised from watching BBC4’s ‘Only Connect’ – we finished 3rd in the team quiz (I think) and, insofar as the individual quiz was concerned, I finished 59th out of 68 returned scores, which was further from the basement than I thought I would finish. The result is here .

I wonder if anyone has considered the geographies of quizzing? There’s a thought….