Warning: the following contains spoilers for Series 10, Episode 12 of Only Connect, first broadcast on BBC Two on Monday 17th November. If you haven't seen it yet go and watch it on iPlayer!
Missed last week's recap of the Children in Need special? Check it out here!
After the celebrity hiatus last week we were back with mere mortals battling for survival in the regular series tournament. The last time we saw the Coders they were looking a little shell-shocked after an 30-13 defeat (including an 11-1 missing vowels drubbing) to the impressive Gamesmasters. The Romantics, meanwhile, had been similarly stung as the Orienteers went from a 20-19 post-wall lead to a 33-21 post-vowels victory in their first round encounter. Both of tonight's teams had looked handy earlier in their respective opening matches, so it would be interesting to see who'd come out on top - particularly in missing vowels.
Round 1: What's the connection?
1) AG; SA; SpA; plc
2) Ageusia; Anaesthesia; Anosmia; Deafness
3) Geraldine Estelle; Victoria Caroline; Melanie Jayne; Melanie Janine
4) Pollyanna; Paparazzo; Svengali; Man Friday
5) Music: 'The Littlest Hobo' theme; Old Shep; Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band; The Singing Dogs
6) Pictures: Ring; Bar; Fridge; Horseshoe
2) Loss of senses
3) Spice Girls
4) Etymologies from fictional characters
6) ____ magnet
1) Not a particularly soft start for this loser-loser playoff, with seemingly very little to go on before the final clue. I wondered whether there was some more misdirection intended from the setter here, with an incautious reading of AG suggesting silver, but otherwise this seems a very tall order before the third clue and even with all four we were still lost. The Romantics, though, managed to pick up a point.
2) The Coders took a point back of their own here, with this largely a test of whether you know what Ageusia is. Predictably a certain Dr Karran didn't ("it's not very common!") and we only took 2 at home. Quite an elegant set, I thought.
3) Only Connect proving that nothing is off-limits as the contestants' knowledge of 90s girl bands was given a thorough shake-down. There were probably some die-hard fans who had this on the first clue, whereas for the rest of us it was a fun case of spotting the possible link and then realizing that Gerladine must be short for Geri. The Romantics, alas, didn't see it allowing the Coders to pick up a bonus.
4) Immediately onto something rather more from the 'quizzer' end of the general knowledge spectrum, this, and I was impressed with the doctor for spotting it after just two clues. Both teams, meanwhile, thought they had an idea but neither seemed close on what was another tricky question but some fun trivia nevertheless.
5) The dreaded music question turned out to be a real blessing as the Romantics took a very impressive three points. It's not often we don't hear all four music clues and so it's hard to have much of an opinion on the question itself, but a look at the remaining clips suggests to me many of us would have done well to score at all.
6) This was the second picture question of the series where the connection was a wall-style "can all be followed by...". The last time was, coincidentally enough, in the Romantics first game where they failed to spot that Rabbi Lionel Blue, Jack Black, Jack Straw and Gabby Logan could all be falled by 'berry'. I didn't really blame them for missing that, and I don't blame either team for missing this one, either. The choice of pictures for these sorts of clues seems a difficult decision, and while you don't want it to be too transparent, I think choosing an open refrigerator and its contents as well as a bar with two prominent pints on it was a little bit too distracting. The Coders' guess of 'things on a slot machine' was what we came up with at home, and I think in the studio I may have tried to argue the fruit in the 'fridge' clue similarly fitted in. Still, 4-2 to the Romantics after a challenging first round.
Round 2: What comes fourth?
1) Pictures: The Queen; Florence Nightingale; Elizabeth Fry
2) C over U; CC over US; CCC over USS
3) Slieve Donard; Scafell Pike; Snowdon
4) 1p; 3p; 8p
5) 1: one; 2: three; 3: eleven
6) at Rest; is Rich; Redux
2) CCCP over USSR (Soviet Union initials in Russian and English)
3) Ben Nevis (Highest mountains of home countries)
4) 18p (Add the next value coin)
5) 4: seventeen (Written numbers with 1, 2, 3, 4, 'E's)
6) Run (John Updike's 'Rabbit' nvoels)
1) People on money is typically the preserve of the seasoned pub quizzer, but this particular story made some headlines several months ago. This had some fun balance to it: the first two women are readily recognizable, but the sequence is only particularly easy to spot if you also have Elizabeth Fry who is rather harder to identify. A good question, only a tiny bit spoiled (I think) by Jane Austen not actually being on any notes yet, but it's only because Only Connect is so good that I feel it even worth commenting on that. The Romantics, seemingly thinking of titles (Queen, Lady of the Lamp) went with a Dame, allowing the Coders to come in for a well-earned bonus.
2) From the sublime to the somewhat ridiculous, I felt, as while this is a mildly enjoyable trick it nevertheless seems effectively impossible without all three clues (which is where the Coders took it). I was initially thinking along rebus lines muttering things like "see over you... two see over you... er..." before the final clue was revealed.
3) A pretty standard bit of general knowledge, and I'm surprised it (presumably) hasn't come up before on the show. A lot of viewers will have had this for an easy five, I suspect, while the Romantics took a second clue to be certain.
4) Number sequences always bother me a little, as with enough creativity one can construct a variety of more-than-plausible alternatives. Nevertheless, this was an elegant example and at home I was kicking myself for not taking the punt for three points, instead playing safe (as the Coders did) with the final clue.
5) These two questions, coincidentally appearing back-to-back, sum up so much of why Only Connect is fun. Despite similar appearances the puzzles are both fundamentally different, and in theory so easy a child could solve them while their parents over-think it. This is where the Romantics found themselves, before almost snatching victory from the jaws of defeat by guessing 'nineteen' despite suggesting 'seventeen' in their discussions of prime numbers. The Coders were happy to snag another bonus while the doctor, to my continued astonishment, got it after just two clues at home.
6) Ooh, nasty. Neither team had this last one and I'm not too surprised. All I know about John Updike was that he was the start of a question in the University Challenge Quiz Book the doctor's team used in their preparation for the show. The answer, in case you're wondering, was Sophie Johnson. With the Coders a mere 8-7 ahead going into the walls it was still anyone's game.
The Coders made light work of their wall, picking up a perfect ten and guaranteeing themselves a lead heading into the final round. The Romantics, meanwhile, began with flotation devices but had completely forgotten this possible link when it came to the answers, leaving them with a not-quite-perfect seven. There was some frustrating to watch wall technique here, as early on they identified five types of press (trouser, tabloid, bench, linen and the phony garlic) but only tried three of the five possible permutations before giving up.
With a combined losing record of 24-3 from their first round missing vowels escapades both teams had something to prove here. The Coders, sitting on a four point lead were looking the favourites but the Romantics pulled off the comeback to tie the game at 24 points apiece. The Coders should have been home and hosed by then, however, but captain David let out an inadvertent "the" before one answer to drop a point and allow the Romantics an easy steal. As it was he made amends with the tie-break clue ('Winner Stays On', delightfully appropriate as always) and I was pleased to see how much care he took in delivering his answer. Fantastic composure. With that the Coders sneaked into a final playoff game to try and reach the quarter-finals while the Romantics, despite a couple of commendable performances, were heading home.
Question of the Week
There were three stand-out candidates this week, with 'Women on banknotes' and 'Add the next value coin' both strong contenders. However, our pick of the bunch was Spice Girls. While I suspect this will prove a fairly divisive one, for us it stood out as showing off the range of knowledge Only Connect expects of its contestants, combined with a fun penny drop as you realize Geri is short for Geraldine. Good show.