Thursday, 31 October 2013

Chaplins Smilers vs Eggheads - Friday - 6pm - BBC Two

Well, after months of waiting (8 months to be precise) our episode of Eggheads airs at 6pm Friday 1st November. Chaplins Smilers, representing a pub in Sunderland, take on the Eggheads. 

I may have mentioned it a few times.....but it's my first TV appearance, of I hope many more to come. My account of the day is a few posts below and after the show my account of the contest itself will appear.

Revenge of the Egghead - New TV Show

Firstly read the official contestant call below which is also on this site HERE

Revenge of the Egghead (working title)

| BBC Two

The makers of Eggheads are looking for lively, intelligent and competitive personalities who would like to take part in a brand new BBC Two quiz programme.
Thousands of pounds could be won and we're holding nationwide auditions now.
Revenge of the Egghead (working title) is produced for the BBC by 12 Yard Productions.

It appears that this show is going to star CJ in a show that sounds similar to The Chase. There was an email sent round with a better description that indicates that is the kind of show it will be but I can't seem to find it in my inbox!

Either way this will be something of a controversial choice in the quizzing community as CJ is, either rightly or wrongly, considered to be one of the weaker Eggheads in terms of general knowledge and already a few moanings have emerged on Facebook. It will be interesting to see how this pans out and whether it will be a replacement of Eggheads or run alongside it.

Liverpool Echo Article on European Quiz Championships

The European Quiz Championship takes place this weekend in Liverpool and there is an ineresting article in the Liverpool Echo HERE

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

I don't want to be the moaner but....

When it comes to playing in pub quizzes I tend to keep quiet if I notice any cheating etc. I have a little mumble to my girlfriend who is usually my only team-mate and all is soon forgotten. Two weeks ago however at the local quiz I attend on a Thursday I broke a habit of a lifetime.

The quiz is usually chat free with evenly matched teams and a friendly atmosphere. Although the quizmaster disappears between rounds very rarely does anyone cheat. Every team can just about see each other, most teams play every week and I know of at least 2 teams who would challenge any cheating. All's well and good.

The quiz was very busy 2 weeks ago and a team of students came in at the last moment. Huddled round a small table in the only part of the quiz not visible to all teams. The first round of the quiz is a tough set of 20 written questions which you are given 30 minutes to do. Usually 14-15 points wins the round as it is  very hard indeed in places. The students clearly took one look at the tough questions and almost in sync, all 8 of them began googling. Incidentally they scored 18/20 winning the round by 3 points over some very good teams. Only two teams noticed this cheating, the quizmaster was absent.

So prior to handing my first round sheet in I decided to write "Obvious cheating for team in the corner" on the bottom. It is too close an environment for me to have a word with the quizmaster without anyone hearing and a) I don't want to be seen as a moaner and b) I didn't want to annoy the team of students and create an atmosphere.

Because we are regulars the quizmaster made an announcement after the round...the students scored 1 in the next round and ended up last in the quiz by a long distance.

Without my intervention I imagine they would won every round, the jackpot and the quiz itself!

However, this week something happened again which gave me the moan or not to moan? I don't my moaning to became an irritation for the quizmaster, I don't want to look like a bad loser and I certainly don't want to be known as the moaner of the quiz. A music round, worth 10 points in a 50 point quiz, comes last and the dominant teams are all of a certain age. Prior to the music round the quiz gained about 10 new players who these teams had drafted in just for the music round. No entrance fee, no part in the rest of the quiz.

So the question is, should players moan/raise issues within a quiz even if it means annoying other players and getting a reputation of "taking it a little too seriously"? Or should we let it slide?

Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Five Faces

Hopefully a new feature of the blog. "Five Faces" is a simple picture quiz. Identify the famous faces!

Answers in the comment box below.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #9

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #9

9 - History Year by Year

I am a huge fan of the DK series of works and was given this book as a gift earlier in the year. If you are thinking "another history of the world" then maybe it is worth having a look at this title. As with all DK books its superbly presented, full of colour and life with plenty of illustrations, diagrams, maps and timelines to back up the facts given. Like many of you I am sure, I have a wide range of books on the same "History of the World" theme but I happen to think that this title is much more accessible, interesting and enjoyable than some of the more heavy tomes.

Well worth a look, an ideal gift for quizzers too!, and another great entry in the DK series.

Friday, 25 October 2013

My Day Filming Eggheads...Part 1

After just over 8 months the episode of Eggheads we filmed way back in March will air on Friday 1st November on BBC 2. One of my big ambitions this year was to appear on a TV Quiz Show and Eggheads marks my TV debut. The whole process was rather fast from the audition to heading up to Glasgow to film but it was a very enjoyable day all round. I will post another blog entry up after the show.

12 Yard had booked us on an early train from Sunderland up to Glasgow with very little time on the change over at Edinburgh so the trip up to the studio was a little rushed. We did though manage to sort out on the train who was doing what subject. Sport was my strong point and I would have fancied my chances against any of the Eggheads on that subject, but we had to play as a team so I settled on Arts and Books and Geography. Our game plan was to divide the subjects between us and then it was a matter of luck as to who got chance to take an Egghead on one-on-one. I think if we realised how much money was possibly at stake we may have played differently but the stage was set and we arrived at the studio on good time!

12 Yard were fantastic to use all day! I was half expecting to see some other teams competing but we were taken to the green room straight away and given our instructions. We pretty much had the whole room to ourselves with some snacks laid on and an "intimidating" lists of the Eggheads achievements. We were told who the 5 Eggheads would be, wardrobe came in and decided which of our 5 shirts they wanted us to wear and we were given some time to relax. It seemed as if two "runners" (is that the term?) were assigned to look after us all day and make us feel at ease. From the minute we arrived to the moment we left they ensured we have a hassle free day.

"You're very pale"....Gee, Thanks! It was soon into make-up, a first for me, and long after everyone had finished I was still in the chair getting all sorts of bronzer and such like on as, I kept getting reminded by the make up artists, I was very pale skinned. And then without further a do it was into the studio...

It was a little surreal walking into a TV studio for a show I have been a fan of for much of its ten years on air. It was a little smaller than I imagined but much wider if that makes sense. The distance between contestants and Eggheads is, as you can see from the picture above, further than appears on TV. We got seated and settled in, our faithful "runners" making sure everything was fine. Then it was time to film the introductions which is done without the presenter or Eggheads in the studio.

After the introductions were over and done with, it was time to meet Jeremy Vine. He came and introduced himself to the team before the arrival of the Eggheads. It was of course my first experience of Television but Jeremy Vine was a true pro, giving us a genuine greeting, taking time to talk to us throughout the recording about our jobs and interests and made time to talk to us about the game at the end of recording.

Following this was the arrival of the Eggheads who greeted us before taking their seats. I had met a few of the Eggheads before as they attend the GP events I often attend and it was a nice touch that Barry recognised me from this. After the recording the Eggheads came back over and had a good chat with us before our time was up. All very friendly and genuine which made the whole experience even more enjoyable.

We had an excellent day in Glasgow filming our episode and I will post further comment on the actual quiz contest next week after it has aired!

Thursday, 24 October 2013

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #10

Towards the end of last year I ran a series of posts highlighting the reference books I had found most useful the year before. As we are approaching the final months of yet another year I will be repeating the series. There will be some books pop up here that were on last years list as I have continued to use many of the same points of reference but also some new titles that I have found useful.

There will be a separate thread coming up in the next few weeks recommending some other useful reads but this series is purely works I would term "Reference Books".

This year has seen massive improvements in my quizzing and these are some of the books that have helped me along the way.

Most Useful Reference Books 2013 #10

10 - Passing Time in the Loo Volume 1

Funnily enough this years list starts with a book I found out about as a result of publishing my list last year. I was recommended this title and it has turned out to be very much 'quizzing gold'!

I have the Kindle version but the link above is to the paperback version which is the same. In hindsight I would have bought the Paperback version as any reference book on Kindle tends to be rather hard to navigate although the nature of this book makes it a tad more easier than some of the others. 

I found the first section of this book to be particularity useful as it contains synopsis of famous novels which has helped to get key information about books to stick. From reading through these I have scored points in all ranges of quizzes from pub quizzes to the British Quiz Championships and time and time again on TV quiz shows. Its very easy to read, nicely set out and concise.

Being a quizzer who also works full time I simply do not have the time to read the amount of literature I would like to. I would hope at some point to read the full novels that this book focuses on but realistically that may never happen so a book like this is invaluable. Well worth a look!

Possibly my most read Kindle title of the year!

I look forward to spending time in the future with the further volumes of this...hint hint Santa!

Farewell Millionaire

Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is no more....(Taken from the Guardian site). The last series was pretty darn abysmal!

ITV is to axe Who Wants To Be A Millionaire after Tarrant bows out

Million-pound TV quiz to end after 15 years as host Tarrant calls it a day
  • The Guardian
'It's time for me to move on,' says Chris Tarrant. Photograph: ITV
Who Wants To Be A Millionaire is to be axed after Chris Tarrant said he wanted to step down as the TV quiz's host, announcing: "It's time to take a break."
The 67-year-old has been with the show since its launch in 1998 and said he had reached a point where he wanted to call it a day. ITV has said there will be no further specials beyond the ones which have already been planned.
The groundbreaking show was the first to offer a million-pound prize, even if it was rarely reached, and became a major global hit, inspiring the Oscar-winning blockbuster Slumdog Millionaire.
Announcing his departure in a statement, Tarrant said: "It's been a huge part of my life for 15 years and I've loved every minute of it, but it is time for me to move on from Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
"It's been the most remarkable journey and I consider myself very fortunate to have been associated with Millionaire from its inception.
"ITV have been fantastic in their support from day one and to see its huge success has been thrilling."
The show was a hit when it launched, appearing daily on ITV with Tarrant proving to be a master of building tension.
In recent years, it has been used more as a platform for fundraising celebrity specials.
Tarrant went on: "The calibre of the celebrities like Sir Paul McCartney, George Michael, Sir Alex Ferguson, Simon Cowell, Sir Tim Rice, Sir Terry Wogan, Jonathan Ross, Davina McCall, Stephen Fry, Matt Lucas, etc, is just one indication of how much this show has touched a nerve with everybody.
"But of course so much more rewarding for all of us has been, not just the celebrities or even the million-pound winners, but all of the ordinary men and women whose lives have been changed - sometimes forever - by being on the show.
"Thank you all for sitting opposite me. I am privileged to have been a part of it, but do now feel that it is time for me to call it a day."
Referring to his cliffhanger catchphrase from the show, he said: "I've worked ridiculously hard these last few years and to quote myself, 'It's time to take a break.'"

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Only Connect to BBC 2

Only Connect's continued success on BBC Four, often topping the 1 million mark, has resulted in the series after next earning a spot on BBC 2. Full story below...

Taken from the BBC Site...

Victoria Coren Mitchell (credit BBC/Presentable, part of the RDF Media Group)
Date: 18.10.2013Last updated: 18.10.2013 at 14.17
Category: BBC TwoBBC Four
Only Connect, the hugely popular BBC Four quiz show in which teams compete to find connections between seemingly unrelated clues is to move to BBC Two in 2014.
Hosted by Victoria Coren Mitchell and currently in its seventh series, Only Connect has also had 14 celebrity specials since it began in September 2008. BBC Four will host a further series in the spring of 2014 before the move.
Janice Hadlow, Controller of BBC Two and BBC Four, says: “BBC Four has a proud tradition of growing successful shows and I'm delighted Only Connect is making the move to BBC Two where I hope it will connect with an even broader audience."
Victoria Coren Mitchell says: "I and the rest of the Only Connect team are hugely excited about our Icarus-like flight towards the sun of mainstream broadcasting. If our wings start melting, I'll just flap harder."
Alan Tyler, the BBC’s commissioning executive says: “Victoria and the Only Connect team have set the gold standard in quizzes. We are all really looking forward to seeing the show in its new home, whilst the hunt is already underway for a successor on BBC Four.”
Only Connect is a Parasol production, series produced by Jenny Hawker. Executive producers are Chris Stuart and Mark Hill. The executive producer for the BBC is Alan Tyler, Executive Editor Entertainment Commissioning. The show regularly attracts over 1m viewers, making it one of the most viewed programmes on BBC Four. In the latest run it also achieved its best ever audience to an individual episode with 1.2m/5.0 per cent (29 July 2013). A final series will air on BBC Four in the spring before the move to BBC Two.
BBC Four has tendered for a replacement show and following short-listing is currently seeing run-throughs of three contenders: The Knowledge from BBC In-House entertainment, Enigma from RDF-Parasol, the company behind Only Connect, and Eliminate The Impossible from Victory Television.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Only Connect Audition

It was off to Manchester on Saturday for my third TV/Radio audition of the year....this time Only Connect. It has all happened rather quickly, after struggling to find anyone else interested I remember putting a comment on a facebook thread sometime ago and low and behold someone got in touch and a team was formed. It seemed to go very quickly for filling out the form to audition stage.

The audition was pretty straight forward in terms of style. I had spent the day before thinking of as many "interesting" facts about myself ready for that dreaded questions but we simply had a relaxed chat about our TV experience and history and went straight into a game. The team had a laptop set up and a bell as they watched us play a version of the game with all rounds included. My team mates were very strong indeed her and were throwing out answer after answer and all seemed to go well. The wall was slightly different, this time being paper based and no indication of right and wrong. Still we managed it and before we knew it the audition was over.

So ....fingers crossed!

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

New Eggheads Quiz Book

Eggheads celebrates its tenth anniversary this year and well as CJ returning, they are marking the occasion with a new quiz book. My copy is seemingly in the post so I will let you know my views when it arrives but here is the link to Amazon if anyone is interested.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Lightspeed Quiz Round 7

I couldn't make the last Lightspeed Quiz event which was held in Rochdale and just a little too far for me to be able to go and come back in a day without feeling rushed and keeping an eye on my watch all the time. nevertheless here are the videos from the event, some very close games and some cracking questions.

Sunday, 13 October 2013

Quiz League Semi Final

The Gown Scott Memorial Trophy has been taking place in the Sunderland Echo Quiz League over the last few months and I posted a league table up earlier in the month, pleased that we had qualified for the Semi Final. This is the "knockout" curtain raiser before the new season starts in full towards the beginning of November.

Hastings Hill has beaten us in the previous weeks and had finished second in the league so perhaps we were the underdogs going into the contest. It was a very tight game, nip and tuck either way. A strong round from us early on however gave us a four point lead that we managed to keep onto. Indeed, Hastings Hill managed to, I think, win all the last three rounds by a single point but it was not quite enough as we won 38-37. 

Some key points in the quiz included the question...

On October 6th 2013, Keith Bristow became the first head of which organisation?

Hastings Hill spent some time mulling over the answer, they seemed to know it was National Crime xxxx but couldn't work out what the xxxx was. Going for National Crime Union allowed us to sneak in with a valuable bonus point for National Crime Agency.

The Sunderland Quiz League is team based questions and everybody chipped in with a range of points. I will try and post the questions up here (after seeking permission from the setter) but there were several I had no clue with but was happy with knowing where the River Douglas was (Its a boys name....was the path to recalling it) and I don't know how I know Bruno Mars hailed from Hawaii but I did.

So that means now we have a Final against Penshaw (the Man United of our league) on the 23rd October.

If anyone is local to Sunderland and is considering joining the league then the Finals night might be a good idea to come down and mix with players, see a game being played and get the idea of what it is all about. If anyone is interested perhaps send me an email to and I will pass your info onto to the League Chairman.

You wait ages....

....and then it all seems to come together in what is going to be a very busy 6 weeks or so.

I am of course referring to broadcast quizzes. I mentioned at the beginning of the year that my aim in 2013 was to make it onto a broadcast quiz.

Firstly, the Eggheads show we filmed back in March looks like it is going to be broadcast on Friday 1st November. We are a team called the Chaplins Smilers. I will be putting a full report of my day at the BBC up once the show airs.

Secondly, Brain of Britain preparations continue to go well as I prepare for the 29th November recording date.

Thirdly, next weekend I am travelling down to Manchester to audition for Only Connect! A few people have gave me hints and tips regarding the audition procedure but if anyone else has any useful knowledge to help us get on please let me know!

Monday, 7 October 2013

Quiz Review - Sports Quiz - Fitzgeralds, Sunderland - Wednesday 9pm

Usually Wednesday Nights is taken up with the Sunderland Echo Quiz League, but with a free week last week I headed down to Fitzgerald's for the new Wednesday night Sports Quiz. The pub itself is my usual Thursday night quiz venue and is located in the heart of Sunderland City Centre serving a fine selection of real ale.

The quiz kicks off at 9pm and consists of 4 rounds. Pictures, Current Sporting Affairs, General Sport, Football. Throw in a tie breaker at the end of every round (think nearest the pin type questions) and there is plenty to be getting stuck in with. Each round is handed in after completion, which I always prefer and there were half a dozen teams on hand in what is only the third week of the quiz (so not too bad at all).

The picture round was 12 sporting figures to identify. A nice number as I often find some quizzes give way too many pictures which always a) benefits the bigger teams and b) can turn the whole quiz around. The second round is 10 current affairs questions on sporting events of the week. Far from being a boring recap of the papers there were some fun questions in here, some cleverly worded ones and a nice spread of sport. 

Round 3 involved 15 questions on general sports (except football) which was nice and balanced and varied. The quiz rounded off with 15 questions on football and again a nice range of eras and styles of questions.

In all this was a very enjoyable quiz evening and I always like a themed quiz. In fact this may be the first Sports Quiz I have been too but I do miss the themed Music quizzes that seemed to be common place around here but disappeared.

If this were a different night I would certainly be attending every week but as it happens due to the league clash I will be able only to attend on weeks off. Never the less a great sports quiz, in a great pub.....check it out!

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Book Suggestion (Kindle)

I have spent a lot of time lately revising for Brain of Britain (in the hope of actually managing to get a point!) and in last years show there was a lot of Literature questions so I am focusing on that area. David Clark (Mastermind winner and author of the far superior Life After Mastermind Blog) has a wide number of quiz books available and one of his latest titles is the English Literature Book. Coming from a man with considerable experience in both broadcast and pub quizzing you can count on the questions here being very useful in whatever field you intend to quiz and I have found it very enjoyable indeed! Worth a look.

You don't necessaerily need a Kindle to read it as long as you download the free app for the laptop to allow you to use it!

Friday, 4 October 2013

All About History Magazine

I know I have mentioned this before, but the All About History Magazine which is now into its fourth issue goes from strength to strength. It is perfect for revision, very readable and full of useful facts. there is usually a 15-20 page themed section every week (Explorers being the most recent) which I am finding very useful indeed!

I was a bit sceptical but its been well worth spending time with. I would be very interested to know other peoples opinions on this title?

Thursday, 3 October 2013

Book Suggestion

Yeah Yeah Yeah - The Story of Modern Pop (Bob Stanley)

Picked this up last week and have been struggling to put it down. A very readable, informative and enjoyable account of the history of pop music. Yes, its been done before but Bob Stanley is full aware of that fact and made his account as unique as he can. It essentially covers the history of the Pop from the first charts in the 1950s all the way through to the 90s but the ground it covers in between is fascinating. Plenty of interesting stories, useful facts and information on the subject. Can imagine its going to come in very useful for quizzing purposes too!

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

Sports Quiz - Sunderland

My favourite Thursday Night quiz, and perhaps favourite quiz altogether, in Sunderland is the one in Fitzgeralds in the city centre. I have mentioned it on previous occasions and found a nice interior show of the pub I thought I would share. As you can see its a marvellous pub and the room above is the home to the quiz itself. Plenty of real ales and good crowd!

Anyway, a local quizmaster and league player has now began a Wednesday Night Sports Quiz in the venue which begins at 9pm. It will be a quiz in good hands as it is run by the same guy who used to run the excellent Thursday Night quiz and having seen the questions from previous weeks I can't wait to play! My main trouble is Wednesday Night is league night so its only going to be a dozen or so times a year I can make this. I will post my views up after this week!

9pm - Wednesday - Fitzgeralds, Sunderland