Trivia talk

January 24, 2011 in Quiz Show


Trivia is a six-part comedy-drama series, which starts on RTÉ One on February 3.  In the build-up to the first episode, I had a chat with writer Damien Owens about the show and his own quiz experiences.

Damien Owens is a writer of many talents.  The author of four published books, he even writes Chick Lit under a cunningly ambiguous pseudonym.  Trivia, which explores the relationships between the four members of a table quiz team, is his first TV show.

So what gave him the idea for the show?

“I had the idea for the lead character, Lawrence, first. He’s basically just an exaggerated version of myself. He’s obsessed with learning trivia.  I wanted him to have a crazy goal and I hit upon the idea that he’d want to win the table quiz in his local pub for 52 weeks in a row – a full year.  No-one else even knows he’s doing it but, to him, it’s the most important thing in the world.”

So you must be a quizzer yourself then?

“I was. I’ve stopped going entirely, lately. I took them too seriously.  The questions would invariably annoy me.”

It's Paris, by the way.

The questions?

“Yes! They’d either be too easy or strangely difficult” he replied, before clarifying “Questions starting with ‘According to a recent survey…’ used to bother me only slightly more than ‘What is the captial of France?'”

Glad to hear that we shared similar opinions on question writing, I pressed Damien on the slight fear I’d had since hearing about the show.  What will regular quiz-goers think of Trivia? Does it resort to cliché?

“I hope people will see that it has an affectionate, sympathetic view of quizzing. David Pearse is brilliant as Lawrence,  frothingly excited at times.  His team though are all pretty regular people.  In fact, his team-mate (and only friend) Adam, is actually quite cool but he spends a lot of time telling everyone that ‘(Lawrence) is a nice guy – honestly’.

Do you think people will say “I know a guy like that”?

“I think people will definitely recognise someone they know in the team. We’ve got two guys and two girls – the ABBA setup – and they’re all very different characters.”

Will there be a quiz in every episode?

“Yes. The opening episode features the team’s 46th quiz in Lawrence’s attempt to go the full year undefeated. We then follow the team each week as they head towards the 52nd quiz.”

So, will any of your questions be too easy or strangely difficult, then?

“Oh I do hope not! Still, I’m convinced that I’ll have left in some terrible error…”

Really? I’d have presumed everything would have been double and triple-checked for TV.

“I’m afraid not. I actually realised that one of the questions was wrong – but unfortunately the show was recorded and edited by then!”

I interupted at this point. What was the question?

“Ok, as I’d written it, it was ‘Complete the sequence: Venkman, Stantz, Egon, …’

Who you gonna call?

Erm, Venkman rings a bell…

“It’s the Ghostbusters but I’d included two surnames and a first name.”

Of course, I said, trying to get back into the game – Egon’s surname is Spengler.

“Exactly.  So I rang up the director, frantic, telling him that the best thing we could hope for is that no-one would notice.”

‘Don’t worry about it’ he said, ‘The guy operating the boom mic noticed it was wrong and we changed it.’

“So there you go.  Far from no-one noticing, one of the random five members of the crew in the room spotted it! Still, it went into the show correct… which was a relief.”

To end, I wished Damien every success with Trivia. Particularly so, as he told me he was sorry he hadn’t found this site when he was writing the show. So, let’s hope there’ll be demand for Trivia 2 – I am available for consultancy services!

Trivia debuts on RTÉ One at 10:15pm on Thursday, February 3, and will run for six weeks.

2 responses to Trivia talk

  1. Can’t wait, looks great! This is the first I’ve heard of it as well.

  2. Update: you can find out more about Trivia on its Facebook page:

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