Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player


Only Connect specials

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Updated thanks to helpful comments on this blog: this coming Monday (January 10th) there will be a new Champion of Champions special on BBC Four at 8.30pm, with the winners of Only Connect  series 3 (The Gamblers) against the fresh winners of series 4 (The Epicureans). The week after, Monday January 17th, aha yes: at last the special episode where our former Champion of Champions team (The Crossworders) take on a star team from University Challenge !

  Read this blog post if you want to know how I felt about those special guests at the time of recording - but more importantly, put the date in your diary for a FEROCIOUSLY difficult quiz with some very top answerers.

  answerers…. is that a word…?

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jim carr at 5:47 pm on January 5th, 2011

victoria, your obvious affection for alex gutenplan is charming and heart-warming, so much so that i managed to keep my envy in check and I don’t hate him one little bit. I have to ask, if jeremy paxman had enthused (drooled?) in such a way about a female contestant on UC, would he have been labelled a “dirty old man” ? or would he have been given the benefit of the doubt, would his affection have been seen as lust? most men would cheer your out-pouring of love, but women viewing an older man treating a young woman in this fashion would be united in their condemnation.


Victoria Coren at 7:06 pm on January 5th, 2011

Ah, but it’s not *sexual*. It’s *maternal*.

Yes, it might be a bit creepy if done by a man rather than a woman. But that applies to lots of things. Using the ladies’ toilets, for example.


Alan C at 9:26 pm on January 5th, 2011

Hi Victoria, I’ve never heard of maternal flirting before, is this a new thing. Have you had any of the contestants flirt with you during the show or are those bits cut.
From your photo at the end of your Gutenplan fan Blog with the UC team can I assume that they win.


Ginger Pogue at 10:27 am on January 6th, 2011

Somehow I feel that out of pure childish jealousy I’ll be rooting for the Crossworders!!!  Mind you, at 32 I’m a bit past any chance of getting any “maternal flirting”.  Ho hum.


Mike at 11:22 am on January 6th, 2011

Hi Vicky,

I am very much looking forward to the special episode of OC with Alex Gutenplan, if only to see you looking cool and sophisticated in another nice frock (or should it be dress). The word frock, said carefully, without doing a James Naughtie, sounds to me a bit old fashioned, but at the same time more feminine. Sort of Barbara in The Good Life.  So I shall be interested to see your own posh frock on the 17th, and of course your maternal instincts.


FMD at 5:30 pm on January 6th, 2011

jim carr was being serious? I see a bright future at the Guardian comment pages…

Besides, it’s clear to see that Paxman is a massive flirt, with both sexes. As long as the contestant is: pretty/handsome, erudite, somewhat “cultured” and from an approved institution, then they are odds-on to get: “that look”, “that laugh” and “that closing comment”.

Wow, I thought everyone knew that University Challenge is all about the simmering subtext and predicting which “Special One” gets summoned to dinner? Don’t be fooled! The questions are merely a fa├žade for a timeless drama of: animal attraction, raw passion and burning desire.

People watch University Challenge for the questions? Yeah, right…


Arkady English at 9:19 pm on January 6th, 2011

Victoria: I’m curious about something. When you put on make-up to go and play your favourite card game are you putting on your poker face?


Alan Gibbs at 9:52 pm on January 6th, 2011

Just for those who may be interested, late change of BBC4 OC schedule for next Monday; it will now be the winners of series 3 v series 4 (Gamblers v Epicurians). Shame that it’ll be in all the listings magazines etc as a repeat, and will probably therefore get a smaller audience than otherwise, but still.


jim carr at 11:35 pm on January 6th, 2011

FMD i would be obliged if you could fix me up with a job at the GUARDIAN,the money would supplement my modest pension. i hope i wasnt to serious,the reason i log onto VCs blog is the humour she brings,even to the serious topics. i dont think i will be replacing NAOMI WOLFE anytime soon. i have to say i dont think PAXOS flirting,and VCs hymn of praise to to alex gutenberg were on the same par. i hope my poor writing skills didnt suggest i think victoria has become a cougar!


KlooRhee at 12:45 am on January 7th, 2011

Sexual? Maternal?? Hey, that’s teasing! Outraged but cannot wait. :)

Answerer is a word. It’s the “Are you sure you want the answer to what you’ve just attempted to ask?” contempt questioner.


David B at 4:48 am on January 7th, 2011

In a late-breaking schedule change, the Only Connect episode going out on the 10th will be the Series 3 vs Series 4 Champions of Champions playoff, with the Gamblers taking on the Epicureans. UC vs OC is still the week after.


Hugh of Bardfield at 1:18 pm on January 7th, 2011

Jenny and Vicky… mmmmmmmmm


Ken Singtone at 1:02 am on January 8th, 2011

Only Connect seems to have been removed from iPlayer although it says it is still available until 31st January.  Had hoped to catch up on episode 15.

Still I caught most of the final.  Delightfully entertaining as usual and Victoria looks stunningly gorgeous .  Now I understand why this is the image that appears behind the iPlayer start button.


Chris at 11:47 am on January 9th, 2011

Are you still there VC?

Can’t help noting the increasingly large gaps in the blog diary..


Paul Diamond at 10:34 pm on January 9th, 2011

I came across the Phil Harris song “The Darktown Poker Club” on Google the other day.  I remember it being a popular request on the American Forces Network radio show “Midnight In Munich” in 1945 when I was still in the Navy.  If you haven’t come across it you might find it amusing.

With best wishes,

Paul Diamond (John’s Dad)


Guido at 8:23 am on January 10th, 2011

Alex and Vicky up a tree,
C-O-N-N-E-C-T-I-N-G,
First comes love, second comes marriage,
And two points if you can complete the sequence.


Dave Nolan at 12:50 pm on January 10th, 2011

best pair of legs on tv! should be stocking clad though Vic, those opaque “lesbian tights” look like leggings!


Ja at 2:03 pm on January 10th, 2011

In your capacity of proving that game show hosts can be intelligent and gorgeous, I decided to nominate you, Vicky, for the Guardian Women 100. If Beyonce can be considerd for the list, then you certainly should be as well.
(http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/signup/2011/jan/07/top-100-women-nominations)


George at 10:08 pm on January 10th, 2011

After tonight’s special featuring the series’ 3 and 4 winners I feel compelled to make a complaint against The Epicureans. Yes, they are a bit good at the old Missing Vowel round, but they have a deliberate strategy of, when one member buzzes, it’s a free for all as to who can give the correct answer first. Indeed, on tonight’s programme, there was at least one instance of an Epicurean buzzing in when they had no idea as to the correct answer. I trust, Victoria, that you have taken action so that next season only the player buzzing in is able to propose an answer. Love the show, and you, and your insane gags, etc. etc etc.


Michael F at 9:26 am on January 11th, 2011

Another terrific show last night with Victoria looking lovely as ever but what about the Gamblers’ Jenny Ryan? What a glamour puss - she was all brains through series three but now beauty as well after the makeover of the year!


Ja at 9:35 am on January 11th, 2011

I agree with George- they were robbed! I demand an official enquiry! I think some sort of set up where if the person who presses the button doesn’t answer the question- a (mild?) electric shock is administered through their chair! That’ll sort out those pesky Epicureans.


Aaron at 8:33 am on January 12th, 2011

Hi George

Re the Missing Vowels round - we’ve already had this discussion in the comments on Victoria’s 5 September post.

In short, there’s one buzzer - we all had our hands on top of each other’s.  It’s very easy to “go blank” since we were often buzzing on sight (you have to, to get in there first - NB the on-screen graphic is shown fractionally before we saw the questions in the studio) and in the time it takes VC to say “Epicureans?” you realise you are wrong.  There’s no point saying a wrong answer so you might as well be silent and hope a team-mate helps you out.

That said, I think there was only one instance in the final of this successfully occurring - on the first q when David buzzed and then I answered “Nine Men’s Morris”.

Best regards, Aaron


Victoria Coren at 2:41 pm on January 12th, 2011

Hi George. This was arguably a problem in our first series, when there were no penalties for wrong answers or silences. Now we have a system where teams lose a point if they give the wrong answer - so buzzing in without one and hoping somebody else will speak is definitely NOT a free shot at points.

  As Aaron says, there’s only one buzzer and we can’t police who’s used it, so it is fine for team-mates to answer if the initial buzzer goes blank. With the new points system, teams are unlikely to just press wildly and think afterwards - and if they do (given the risks of their score slipping downwards) it’s just a gambly strategy and I say good luck to them!


Ja at 4:53 pm on January 12th, 2011

So you’re saying my idea of a mild elecrtric shock is out?
Spoil sport!


Robbic C at 1:42 am on January 18th, 2011

Waaaay back in August your blog spoke of 16 episodes and 4 specials.
We’ve had Children In Need, the Epicureans vs. The Gamblers and now the University Challenge one.
So is there another one due, or have I missed one?
If I have miscounted, then I will retrospectively claim to only have 3 fingers and am only able to count in Base 3.


Victoria Coren at 1:47 pm on January 18th, 2011

Hi Robbie. The last special is for Comic Relief, which will be on around the time of the main BBC 1 show (I think March).


Ken Singtone at 2:37 pm on March 6th, 2011

As promised, Uni. Ch. OC rewatched( >=6x ); considered response..
Watching OC, with brain in quizmode overdrive, the “maternal flirting” seemed to drag on, 
overstayed its welcome, and felt contrived - not disastrous, but didn’t quite work.
“Gutenfans” may get it, but they were more topical when the recording was made than at broadcast.  It would have helped if his fanbase was mentioned when introducing Alex.
I’m being pedantic about comic quality/timing. This sort of thing is difficult to pull off alone without a studio audience, co-host, or co-operative quizzers to provide feedback.  It could possibly have been improved by editing the recording, but that is then in someone else’s hands.  Your strength is in your words.  It probably would have been better if you had called him “poppet”.


rob le hood at 7:34 pm on January 10th, 2012

come come vicky, it’s obvious you have your maternal and your sexual wires crossed (only connect?), mothers don’t melt, they only simper.


Victoria Coren

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