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Eurovision Tuesday

May 12, 2009 in Culture

Lordi win the EurovisionThe 2009 Eurovision Song Contest takes place this Saturday evening in Moscow. Or rather the final does. The main event is preceded by two semi-finals, the first of which takes place tonight (Tuesday), with the second semi occuring on Thursday night.  After the semis, the field of 42 countries will have been whittled down to the 25 competitors who will take part in ‘the world’s biggest television programme’.

The first Eurovision took place in 1956 and, in the 53 years since, it’s become something of a cult. Nothing else combines culture, popularity and negative street cred as the ESC does. In its time, it’s managed to spawn a GrammyRecord of the year‘, a revolution and, perhaps most famously of all, ABBA.

Unsurprisingly, it’s also something of a quizzing gold mine, with venues, hosts, interval acts and gaffs all being viable themes for quiz rounds before one even gets to the acts and their songs.

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All hail Gail answers

February 25, 2009 in Quiz Show

Here are the answers to the questions from the final of 2009 University Challenge, as posted at the end of the All hail Gail post.

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All hail Gail

February 24, 2009 in Quiz Show

gail-trimbleThere is a theory that resurfaces from time to time that there is no better tool for the promotion of an event or sport than the individual brilliance of a superstar performer. News stories grow up around their rare (maybe even freakish) abilities and, through them, the general public are thus introduced to, or reminded of the existence of, the event.

Some off-the-top-of-my-head examples of this phenomenon would include: Tiger Woods in Golf, Torvill and Dean in Ice Skating and either/both Stephen Roche and Seán Kelly, who turned Cycling into one of Ireland’s most popular sports in the 1980s.

The effect was seen in action again this week as the build-up to the final of this year’s University Challenge seemed to focus entirely on Gail Trimble, captain of the Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

Is she the cleverest contestant ever?” wondered Paul Gallagher in The Guardian as, en-route to the final, she had scored 825 of the team’s 1,235 points.  The writer also informed us that one of her opponents likened her style to “intellectual blitzkrieg”.  In the quarter-final, Corpus Christi were so dominant that they only allowed the University of Exeter 15 points – a new low-score record for the current series under Jeremy Paxman.

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Where in the World is Teresa Lowe?

February 13, 2009 in Back in the day, Quiz Show

rte1des90Sunday nights in the author’s childhood home had a metronomic regularity to them. Before 9pm (the dreaded “bedtime”) arrived, the following schedule was obeyed: homework had to be done by 7pm so that the Sunday night bath could be fitted in before 8pm. This was so we could then watch Where in the World? (8pm, hosted by the lovely Ms Lowe) and Glenroe (at 8.30) before vanishing up the stairs so our dad could watch the Nine O’Clock News in peace.

WitW? may be the show that got me into quizzing.  To paraphrase JFK this was not because it was hard, but because it was easy.  In fact, the ease with which I could answer 90% of the questions asked each week led to a love/hate relationship with the show.

Unlike Countdown in the UK, WitW? had a minimum age requirement of 18 for entrants. This seemed horribly unfair at the time. I quite fancied the idea of winning a holiday to Rio de Janeiro! Also I knew someone who had appeared on it. One of my former primary school teachers took part, along with the rest of his table quiz team. I’ve forgotten how they got on now, all I can remember is that they all had to adopt the one surname (to preserve the illusion that they were members of a family). His appearance showed that, if you were good enough (i.e. did the odd quiz), you could get on – it wasn’t a closed shop. Except if you were under 18.

What happened the year I did reach the magical age of qualification? RTÉ cancelled the show.

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