Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Only Connect Post Mortem: Children in Need Special!

Scroll down for this week's Question of the Week poll!

Warning: the following contains spoilers for the Series 10 Children in Need special of Only Connect, first broadcast on BBC Two on Monday 10th November. If you haven't seen it yet go and watch it on iPlayer! (And maybe, like, give some money to charity or something? I think they said something along those lines.)

Missed last week's recap of the Wandering Minstrels vs. the Chessmen? I haven't written it yet but you can still check out the poll here!

It's time for an Only Connect special where celebrities (but that's the BBC 4 definition of celebrity, mind you) are somehow persuaded to appear on a quiz show famed for its difficulty all in the name of charidee. Tonight's volunteers are the Noggins (Sophie Grigson, Robert Peston and Patrick Marber) and the Curiosities (Kevin Eldon, Kate Mosse and Steve Jones). Let's see how they get on.

Round 1: What's the connection?

The questions
1) Music: Devil's Trill Sonata; Devil's Gallop; That Ole Devil Called Love; Better the Devil You Know
2) Epoch succeeded by hardon epoch; Curd cheese equivalent; Deep Space Nine's Ferengi; Elementary particle
3) Pictures: John Legend; Louise Mensch; John Diamond; John Goodman
4) Words such as 'basket'; Chambermaid references; Parodies of Christmas carols; Jokes about lavoratories
5) Ris a l'amande; Greenland; Lego; Sandi Toksvig
6) Theos; Hercules; Endeavours; Ellerys

The answers

Our thoughts
1) A fairly standard music connection, but by no means an easy one, and the Noggins came up with a good educated guess seemingly based solely on That Ole Devil Called Love. Some top level Only Connecting there to pluck out the plausible link, I thought.
2) My initial presumption that this would be an easy show was being brought into serious question early on, as that tricky musical opener was followed by one that required some pretty specialized knowledge for anything more than a point. The Curiosities missed the elementary particle (I'm sure Steve Jones will be stressing that quarks don't come up much in genetics...maybe) but the Noggins were able to snatch a point. In what is possibly a first for the show VCM offered a bonus point to the Curiosities if they could tell her where the word 'quark' comes from (James Joyce's Finnengans Wake, elementary particle fact fans) which was duly added to their total and caused me considerable confusion when double-checking our scores.
3) Another impressive spot from the Noggins for 1 point here, in what seemed another tough set. You need at least two or three, ideally with one of those being Diamond, to stand a chance here, I think. At home, meanwhile, our recognition of Mensch and Goodman didn't get us anywhere. (I was unfamiliar with Mensch, which apparently means "a person of integrity and honour".)
4) I wondered with this if the setters were hoping the celebrity guests may have come across this particular topic in their televisual travels. As it was we, like the contestants, were nowhere, and while Parodies of Christmas carols puts one in mind of bans, the rest just didn't really seem to fit a group like that, let alone the specifics of the BBC.
5) We were into more familiar Only Connect waters here, however, with Greenland and Lego quickly sending most trivia fans to Denmark. The Noggins needed Sandi Toksvig to be sure (and briefly considered some more classic Only Connect strategy by starting vague with 'Scandinavia') and took another point in what was proving a hard-fought contest.
6) A really lovely question to finish the round. At a basic level it has a real kick yourself moment when the penny drops (particularly for us at home, as we'd both considered Endeavour Morse but nevertheless taken the last clue before realizing the connection), but there's also an elegant link between Theos (Greek for God) and Hercules (the Roman demi-god) to distract at the start. The Curiosities found their way to the answer to pick up their first point (James Joyce bonus notwithstanding) of the show. 4-2 to the Noggins!

Round 2: What comes fourth?

The questions
1) Knowledge is...; ...knowing a tomato is a fruit.; Wisdom is...
2) Pictures: Bush; Dole; Gore
3) Apply salt; Lick hand; Drink tequila
4) əʊn; li; kə
5) Howe; Heseltine; Prescott
6) 28th: The Holy Innocents; 27th: John, Apostle and Evangelist; 26th: Stephen, Deacon, First Martyr

The answers

Our thoughts
1) Not entirely sold on this question, although it's a fun quote (which I'd completely forgotten). There's some entertainment to be had with concocting guesses for the answer once all three clues are revealed (we proposed "not caring" while a certain Mr Carver suggested "a brand of toothpaste") but otherwise it's rather an all-or-nothing know-it-or-you-don't affair after the first two clues.
2) I was worried this would be another one of the dreaded "Austin Powers in Goldmember" style 'picture phrase' questions, but mercifully it turned into a fairly fun "say everything you can think of and we might get it". After both teams blanked on the first sequence they came close here but couldn't quite unravel things. We managed to stumble our way to the answer for 3 points, but as we'd just got home from a pub quiz that had a similar-ish round we were rather well placed for such a question.
3) Trivial for 2 points, this struck me as a question that was testing your nerve. We were pretty sure after the first clue, but took the second to be sure, while the Noggins needed all 3 to be certain they had the order correct (it's fairly easy to imagine one might do the tequila last, for example).
4) Another lovely question, and I'd like to know if any international phonetic alphabet buffs out there got this for 5. A self-referential question is usually good fun, and the gradual increase in information from each successive clue works really nicely here. Like the Curiosities, we got this for 2 points (although admittedly VCM was a touch generous, much to the chagrin of the Noggins - calm down, it's only Only Connect!).
5) Deputy Prime Ministers are becoming something of a quizzing classic, thanks both to the notoriety of Prescott and the novelty of Clegg, and the Noggins took a fairly soft 2. I'll admit that our fancy Canadian lifestyle briefly distracted us at home; we were thinking of Gordie Howe, a hockey player so famous he's been a clue on the show before.
6) I suspect a lot of viewers at home will have had this for 5, but we weren't sure enough about the Holy Innocents clue to rule out the idea of the sequence going up to the 31st or 1st of a month. The second clue gives it away to any seasoned Only Connect fan, I think, while the Curiosities took all three to take 2 points and trailed 8-6 going into the walls. (And while I fully sympathize with the show's lenient stance on these specials, I feel obliged to point out - as VCM hinted - that their initial answer of St. Nicholas was off the mark, as his day is on December 6th. I only mention it as my primary school celebrated St. Nicholas day with a chap dressed up as Old Nick "on the Friday closest to December 6th, unless December 6th itself was a Friday, as obviously on the actual day St. Nicholas is too busy in Holland". Obviously.)

Both teams impressed on the walls, with a perfect 10 apiece (although I was a little unimpressed with the 'receptacles' group of Can, Pail, Pitcher, Scuttle; mainly because we didn't even consider it as it seemed too weak a link). A 2 point gap is nothing in missing vowels, but the Noggins held on for a 22-18 victory. I was intrigued to note a Santa Claus clue here which, along with December's festivals, briefly had me wondering if they'd anticipated a Christmas-time airing. However, with Children in Need always falling at this time of year I can only assume this was a coincidence.

Question of the Week

It was an easy decision at home, with Fictional detectives + 's' a clear winner for both its great kick yourself moment and the elegant Theos/Hercules opening. Of course, we'd love to know what you think, so click things on the poll below please!


  1. I enjoyed the show, and thought the teams did very well. In the music round, I recognised the second piece as the theme from Dick Barton, but had no idea what it was called - I'll remember it now.

    I had an idea about the 'things banned by the BBC' set on the second clue, and guessed it on the third. I think it may have been mentioned in a documentary about Radio comedy at the BBC, or sitcoms, something like that. Like you, I'd not heard the term 'mensch' to indicate a good person either, but then I was getting nowhere with that question anyway.

    1. Yes, I was quite impressed with the teams, really. The celebrity editions often get a bit of a tough reception for being 'dumbed down', but I think this one was rather more like a regular show, and they did quite well considering.

  2. The "fictional detectives" question was one of the best of the series, and far too good to throw away on celebrities!

    1. I'll admit I was surprised by some of the question quality, given the celebrity editions often having the reputation for being the home of the easy/bad sets. Still, the standard this series in general has been so high they can probably afford to let the celebrities have a go at some of the good ones.