Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

New Only Connect Starts Monday!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

T -32 hours for a new series of Only Connect!

But you don’t know what time I’m writing this, so a simpler way of putting it would be: at 8.30pm on Monday, the quiz returns.

It kicks off with the Epicureans v. the Courtiers, two brilliant teams; it’s one of those episodes where I didn’t want either side to be knocked out. Interesting biographical note about the Epicureans: their captain is married to the captain of the Crossworders, our series 1 champions and subsequent Champion of Champions team. Mr and Mrs Stainer are clearly the Posh and Becks of the quizzing world. If they have a child, I imagine its first words will be “Red Rum, Isaac Newton, how many fingers had Anne Boleyn?”

  There’s one part of the new series where I definitely want feedback. A change has been made to the way in which the questions are asked. I won’t tell you what it is in advance, but I will tell you that I woke up in the middle of the night with this idea, about three months ago, and fell so in love with it that I DEMANDED its instigation, like Mariah Carey insisting on white kittens in the dressing room. There were some sceptics but I shouted and stamped my feet until it was done. I said that everyone would love it. Secretly, I had no idea. So… I hope it makes you smile.

UPDATE: Now the show’s been aired and it’s too late to spoil any surprises: here is the original cartoon that inspired the idea, by “Stephen Friz Frizzle” (or so he claims his name is on Twitter, anyway @frizfrizzle…).

Facebook Google Digg Reddit Yahoo! StembleUpon Newsbine LiveJournal BlinkList

Add Comment


Bill at 1:43 pm on September 5th, 2010

As long as it’s still you asking the questions, why should we mind how it’s done?

Tony Stratton(aka SpringerCharlie) at 1:43 pm on September 5th, 2010

I shall watch out for it. My experiences with the online version at the moment mainly consist of you telling me “No-that’s not a group!” & “You’re out of time -better luck next time!” Ho hum!

Phil at 2:26 pm on September 5th, 2010

You attractive girls always end up turning into divas. Did you have unreasonable rider demands in the dressing room and flounce onto set with a chihuahua in a handbag as well?

  Looking forward to the new series a great deal. That and Question Time are the only things I watch on TV, so congrats on being 50% responsible for teasing me out of my Luddite lifestyle.

The new site looks great btw. Very classy. Glad you put more video links in, though the Amazon one seems to be dead.

Victoria Coren at 3:28 pm on September 5th, 2010

Hi Phil. If you mean the link to the reading on Amazon (from the poker page), it isn’t dead - but you do have to press play when you get to the Amazon page.

  It might take a second for the little video box to come up on the Amazon page - but when it does, if you press the > button, you get the reading…

Andrew Fisher at 3:56 pm on September 5th, 2010

What happened to the Champion of Champions show? I never saw it, so the blog post could be considered to contain a spoiler…

Phil at 4:07 pm on September 5th, 2010

My mistake; you are totally right. Ta :)

dg at 4:18 pm on September 5th, 2010

Well, I hope it isn’t tension building music, accompanied by tension building repetitions of “are you sure you don’t want to change your mind?” punctuated by long tension building silences…

Now, if it was tension building music accompanied by extreme close ups of the contestant’s eyes, with the odd shot of Victoria looking mean and chewing a matchstick thrown in, that’d be OK.

Personally I’m hoping that, periodically, and for no particular reason, questions are asked by a computer generated version of Patrick Moore, but I expect I’ll be disappointed, as usual…

Victoria Coren at 4:47 pm on September 5th, 2010

A spoiler? It was 18 months ago! The Crossworders beat the Rugby Boys. But there will be a new Champion of Champions special at the end of this series, don’t worry about that….

And dg: good guesses, though it is neither of those things, which is a shame because your second idea is BRILLIANT. Roll on series 5!

The Tim at 6:08 pm on September 5th, 2010

Are you dispensing with the Geek letters and replacing them with something more modern?

Victoria Coren at 9:42 pm on September 5th, 2010


T -22 hours now. Enjoy the quiz…

(PS. Not sure if that was a deliberate spelling in your post, Tim, or a Freudian slip… ;-)  )

The Tim at 10:41 pm on September 5th, 2010

I don’t think it was paraplaxis - I’m just a lousy typist (though some people would regard me as a geek).

Mike at 8:47 am on September 6th, 2010

Oh Vicky, you are a tease by keeping us in suspenders until we see how differently you are asking the questions in the new series of Only Connect this evening.

As I have probably mentioned before, OC is one of the jewels in BBC 4’s schedule and I think that your change to the asking of the questions procedure (however that may be) cannot fail to add lustre to the necklace of the programme’s success.  Roll on 8:30pm!

Lacey at 11:58 am on September 6th, 2010

At the tender age of 18 I should probably be watching ‘Skins’ re-runs and setting alight someone’s Burqa. However, watching Only Connect will do just fine.

Unless my peers ask of course, then I am most definitely watching ‘Skins’...

MisterBob at 1:33 pm on September 6th, 2010

I hope the connections board will stay in one place and not keep jumping about,so moi can read the clues in same time as the contestants.
Will you perhaps have a real damocles sword above each team, this time ?

Jo at 3:17 pm on September 6th, 2010

At last, the quiz double of University Challenge and Only Connect is back…  or ‘University’ and ‘BBC4’ as my mum calls them.

RomanticRecluse at 5:53 pm on September 6th, 2010

In order to add a satirical element to the quiz, have the letters of the Greek alphabet been replaced with pictures of famous men who have been caught with prostitutes?

“So, Epicureans, Rooney, Grant, Archer, Deayton and Edwards have gone so you’ve been left with the other one neither of you recognised which is Jimmy Swaggart.  It’s a good job there are no questions on disgraced American evangelists tonight.”

That idea would wake me in the middle of the night and make me want to stamp my feet.

Jelliphiish at 7:34 pm on September 6th, 2010

Egyptian hieroglyphs. Of course. the third would be sanskrit?

The Tim at 7:43 pm on September 6th, 2010

What do you mean ‘nope’ when I correctly predicted you’d be getting rid of the Greek letters? Are you claiming I was wrong because hieroglyphics are older or because I spelt ‘Greek’ wrongly? Pedant!

I was lying awake last night trying to think of something else – I needn’t have bothered.

Dim Sum Jon at 8:02 pm on September 6th, 2010

Genius change. Thank you Victoria for the best laugh I’ve had today, and that’s including listening to Adam and Joe!


PS. I know it’s not really the point of the show, but i do like the dresses that you wear.

PPS. Also, thank you for writing your books. I got them for my birthday and really enjoyed reading them.

Julian at 8:04 pm on September 6th, 2010

Great show this evening. The new look is great! Two really great teams and a phenomenal score by the victors! I’m glad the format hasn’t changed, as the missing vowels round is my favourite, only because that’s the only one I’m good at.

A. at 8:05 pm on September 6th, 2010

“Liz Taylor’s eye please.”

Ollie Davies at 8:10 pm on September 6th, 2010

Genius idea. I very much hope that the volume of complaint letters goes through the roof.
As for pretentiousness, correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t it the secret, underlying point of a quiz show (although we hate to admit it) to boast about at least implied intelligence.
Or is this just me being pretentious rather than self-aware?

Pete Galey at 8:17 pm on September 6th, 2010

I LOOOOVE the change! As much for the wonderfully dry way you introduced it as for the idea itself. LONG LIVE ELITISM!

Pete M at 8:39 pm on September 6th, 2010

loved the hieroglyphics so well worth the footstamping.

so glad it’s back

The Tim at 8:42 pm on September 6th, 2010

And another thing, you looked beautifully tanned – though the surgery you mentioned in the previous blog will now have to be done to your previously-perfect nose as it must now have got longer after all that fibbing to me. BTW, I never thought the Greek letters silly or pretentious – it was just time for a change – great idea of yours.

I’ve now seen the whole program and, like you, feel really sorry for the affable Courtiers who were just plain unlucky to be drawn against such a good team – don’t they seed the best teams apart from each other?

Gizensha at 8:53 pm on September 6th, 2010

A very enjoyable show, and a very good first match, although I am slightly concerned with the sign of dumbing down from the replacement of the high brow, intelligent and deserving Greek Letters with this… Egyptian Graffiti.

...Still, the Eye of Horus is certainly doing a good job of keeping watch over proceedings in the absence of Epsilon.

(More seriously - The change is a fun one which would have been funnier 1-2 series ago, back when people were still moaning about the elitism of the greek letters, which I thought mostly stopped during the second series or soon after… For the first couple of questions they were a little distracting, but that soon passed)

Clyde at 9:02 pm on September 6th, 2010

In my capacity as an ancient history student i starting screaming at my TV the moment i heard you say that the Greek letters were being abandoned. However my objections promptly stopped the moment that i saw their replacement. Egyptian hieroglyphs. What genius!

Colm at 9:07 pm on September 6th, 2010

Hieroglyphics instead of the Greek letters, brilliant!

Still, I wonder what could happen next, one taste of your demands being met and now what, Axl Rose-like delays before filming begins, no blue smarties, insisting Tony Blair goes out and does all your book shopping for you?

Have BBC4 created a monster?

dg at 9:15 pm on September 6th, 2010

Well done for resisting the urge to slap Mr. Bell.

I think, just to really annoy the critics, you should insist that people only use the Ancient Egyptian term for the glyphs (assuming anyone has the faintest idea what that was), rather than ‘twisted flax’ or ‘squiggly lines’, or whatever.

Inspired by the online OC wall, I thought a nice idea for the next series might be if the letters were replaced by quarks (up, down, charm, strange, unpretentious and arbitrary) which would be illustrated on the board, simply, by photographs.

...or go with the Patrick Moore contingency, or would that be jumping the shark?

MarkP at 9:22 pm on September 6th, 2010

I loved the Hieroglyphs, very funny, really made me laugh. It reminds me of Spinal Tap and how much louder than ten can you get. You have taken pretention up to eleven with the hieroglyphs. 

Mike at 9:26 pm on September 6th, 2010

Hi Vicky,

I very much enjoyed the new series of Only Connect.  Like meeting an old friend after a long absence and feeling better as a result.

You idea for the hieroglyphs was excellent - will you be having different ones for each programme? Wish I knew what they all meant.

What a fantastic team the Epicureans were.  I always have some trouble with the missing vowels round.  I think one’s brain has to be wired in a certain way to see the answers within a few seconds; or maybe my brain had not completely recovered from Jeremy Paxman in Uni Challenge,  but the Epicureans just kept on pressing that buzzer.

Wonderful stuff. Thank you!

The Tim at 9:44 pm on September 6th, 2010

Another idea would be calling the last round ‘Coren’s Conundrum’ (or maybe we could spice things up if the host took off an item of clothing every time someone got top marks).

DG, I think the Patrick Moore idea would indeed be a case of squalene saltation.

Aaron at 12:04 am on September 7th, 2010

Yes, thank you for not slapping me.

But will the title credits have hieroglyphics next week?

Bill Green at 1:43 am on September 7th, 2010

The Tim needs to go back and re-read his original comment. “...replacing them with something more modern? ” The correct answer was, “Nope.”

Tonight I found out that answering Only Connect questions is even more difficult when one is restringing a guitar at the same time.

dg at 9:24 am on September 7th, 2010

I’d apologise for potentially causing any offence, but that would imply that I regard the potentially offended party as having no sense of humour, and I wouldn’t want to do that, for fear of potentially causing offence, so I won’t. Congratulations and commiserations to all concerned!

Aaron at 11:50 am on September 7th, 2010

I’d say, “none taken,” if there were anything to take.  Though the sense-of-humour accusation would have been crossing a line…

dg at 2:18 pm on September 7th, 2010

My point, exactly.

The Tim at 4:14 pm on September 7th, 2010

Bill Green should also read my comments more carefully – I conceded that hieroglyphics were older – I just meant that a simple ‘nope’ was misleading as I’d been partly right. Using an extreme example to prove a point, Bill Clinton gave a straight ‘no’ when asked if he’d had intercourse with Monica Lewinski - his answer was technically true but misleading – that’s all I meant – I really should have been a barrister.

I’m not getting at VC – she was probably sworn to secrecy – my original comment was meant to be tongue-in-cheek – I was not, in fact, kept up all night – don’t worry, I’m very thick-skinned.

RomanticRecluse at 4:59 pm on September 7th, 2010

Mike, we all have the same brain structure (cerebrum, cerebellum, limbic system and brain stem) but the effectiveness of the different parts of our brains varies for various reasons (genetics, diet, disease, injury etc.,).

If you don’t know when The Economist or Horse & Hound were founded you can still work out they’re the answers in the missing vowels round using your cerebrum (which deals with reasoning and problem solving), especially if you know they are long-established magazines.  If they were clues in round 1 you’d have no chance of getting the connection between them because that round relies on the limbic system which deals with memory.

So are OC, UC and Mastermind tests of intelligence?  I’d say that they are primarily tests of memory rather than intelligence.

Geoff Todd at 5:14 pm on September 7th, 2010

If the complaints about Greek letters were genuine, then I thought that the use of Egyptian hieroglyphics instead of them was priceless!!

Victoria Coren at 6:23 pm on September 7th, 2010

Oh stop bickering all of you, or I’ll have to make you sit separately.

Tim - as another poster mentions, your exact question was “Are you dispensing with the G[r]eek letters and replacing them with something more modern?” and I laughed as I typed “Nope”, which I considered to be a completely honest answer…


The Tim at 7:35 pm on September 7th, 2010

Ok, let’s call a truce – can I please come off the naughty step now, Miss Coren? I don’t believe in exactitudes. Bill, I hope your guitar is in better tune than my overloaded mind.

Romantic Recluse, if you think Round One is all about memory then you can’t approach it in the same way as I do. I have dreadful memory (have I said that already?) - due to my suffering from adrenal fatigue - but regularly find myself shouting the answers at the contestants in the first two rounds. You have to get into the setter’s mind and ask what is unusual or unique about the first item or two and why you would include them if you were setting a puzzle.

RomanticRecluse at 8:09 pm on September 7th, 2010

Miss!  Miss!  Is discussion of brain structures and their functions, their relevance in particular situations and the definition of intelligence “bickering”?  I’d have thought that Ofsted would approve of lessons which resemble a university seminar and single out the teacher for special praise.  I can stay behind after the lesson so we can talk more about my knowledge of sociology, psychology and neuroscience.

Or we can go to a pub as I’m old enough to buy drinks.

Greenman at 11:19 pm on September 7th, 2010

Hooray you’re back and a new frock too :D

Lovely to see this back - that Epicurean David Brewis, I’ve seen him before on another quiz show but can’t place it yet. Tried first wall - got all the right clues but the wrong answers!! Oh well, welcome back and I like the new hieroglyphs too. GM.

dg at 12:05 am on September 8th, 2010

Are OC, UC and Mastermind tests of intelligence? Partially, occasionally and maybe, in that order. The rest is memory/education.

But the question is: what’s in an IQ?

I’ll leave you musing on that point, while I play with google…

RomanticRecluse at 12:26 am on September 8th, 2010

Tim, I’d say round 1 is mostly about memory because you need knowledge of the subjects in order to spot the connections.  Later intelligence becomes increasingly important because if you don’t have the knowledge you can use reasoning to complete the sequence, solve the wall and find the vowels.

Overloaded mind?  Adrenal fatigue?  You have my sympathy.  My memory has always been very patchy (sometimes brilliant, sometimes terrible) but then it depends what you mean by memory.  I find recalling things very easy but my problem is remembering things in the first place.  My memory is like a hard object which is mostly shiny: very little sticks to it and it takes a lot of force to stick something in it.  You may be amazed at some of the things I haven’t remembered or I have remembered.

RomanticRecluse at 11:23 am on September 8th, 2010

Miss Coren, I’ve just read your latest piece of Applied Maths and Psychology (Poker) homework which came through my letterbox on Wednesday morning in a copy of The Guardian and I have to say I’m disappointed, especially with the workings you showed.  It shows little evidence of intelligence that you have and lots of evidence of flawed assumptions and indecisiveness.  How long have you been studying this subject?  How much attention have you been paying?  Who has been teaching you all that time?

I suggest that you come to the front of the class, show everyone your homework and write “My river boat trip in Vilamoura - What did I do right and wrong?” at the top of the blogboard to start a debate.  Indeed, I dare you to.

Victoria Coren at 12:17 pm on September 8th, 2010

I don’t really know what you mean. You’re daring me to write something about this to kick-start a debate, based on something I have written about it to kick-start a debate? That’s not much of a dare, is it; I’ve already done it, just (modern girl that I am) on my laptop rather than a blackboard.

RomanticRecluse at 2:45 pm on September 8th, 2010

Vicky, thanks for replying and sorry I wasn’t clear enough.  I was suggesting you start a new thread here about your latest Guardian poker column.  Poker content is usually a popular topic and perhaps if you invited analysis of the set you underplayed in Vilamoura (and maybe the set you overplayed in Edinburgh) you might learn things which will come in useful.  I’d have worked through the Vilamoura hand in a very different way, I’d have moved in with a full house and I think I’d have got called and doubled up.

You’ve shown us yours, if you want I’ll show you mine and I’d like others to show theirs so we can all compare and see who has got the best.

James at 5:02 pm on September 8th, 2010

The new symbols really made me laugh, having only just caught up today.

Then I got to thinking that actually this is one of those 4 in a row connections.

Greek alphabet
Egyptian hieroglyphs
Mesopotamian cuneiform
Roll on series 10 for the answer. I wait with bated breath

Rob at 1:04 am on September 9th, 2010

And there I was hoping it was going to be Arabic letters. Or perhaps quarks (U, D, S, C, T, B). Oh well.

Tigz Mordan at 8:44 am on September 9th, 2010

Victoria you’re a genius. The first time I watched Only Connect I was thrown by the lack of an audience, but I got used to it very, very quickly. But that’s not what I wanted to say - your new way of asking questions is genius! I laughed out loud, which is something I never expected to do to Only Connect. Please keep it up! :)

Greenman at 5:58 pm on September 9th, 2010

Ah Victoria I’ve just remembered where I’ve seen David Brewis (Epicurean team) - Brewis was on the Oriel College, Oxford team that lost in the 1998 Final of University Challenge - I knew I’d seen him somewhere before. Serial quizzer perhaps now like the dim past’s Olive Bean (she was on everything)!

The Tim at 9:42 am on September 10th, 2010

Talking about serial quizzers, did anyone notice that the blind woman who won last week’s Mastermind was on University Challenge last year?

FMD at 10:54 am on September 10th, 2010

Re. Vilamoura Hand

Victoria, although you said you underplayed the hand (and who am I to disagree), I think you played it fine really.

Info missing was the SB’s stack and character? Hard to say what his range was — any suited king?  I know I like to take advantage of the SB position for check-raise semi-bluffs against a small stack… ;)

I won’t bore the blog with a big ol’ analysis but essentially I think the SB was the one who played it badly! He really thought you’d call the flop bet, and beyond, with anything that wasn’t beating him, lol?

As for not going all-in on the river: I’m cool with that. The way he played it kings full or fours full was a strong possibility. For me it wouldn’t be worth risking the tournament for an extra 7.5 BB’s when you’d be getting 100+ by calling.

FMD at 11:00 am on September 10th, 2010

Oh, and apologies, I forgot my manners.

I’m really stoked to see the return of the best TV show evar!!! You were on sparkling form as usual.

I can’t believe people actually complained about the Greek letters! The hieroglyphs are a cool response to that sort of whinging though…

Long live Only Connect!

RomanticRecluse at 1:02 am on September 11th, 2010

FMD, the point I was playfully/clumsily making about the Vilamoura hand is that you can re-raise all in on the river if you follow a very different line of reasoning.

When the second king comes on the river to give you a full house what are the chances the SB has the other two kings and quads?  I’d say they’re 989 to 1.  The chances he has 44 and a bigger full house aren’t much higher (329 to 1).  Add in the other winning hands he could have (77, K7, K4 and K2) and his chances of winning are just over 2%.  Once you’ve worked out what hands could be beating your full house and what the chances are he’s got one then think through how he’s played the hand and decide what you think he’s got.

If you do the maths you see it’s a great chance to double up.

Victoria Coren at 10:45 am on September 11th, 2010

RR, you’re slightly missing the point my column was making. It’s not about doubling up - I’m going to effectively double up anyway - it’s about winning an extra 1500 or getting knocked out. I’ve written my thinking about the hand in more detail than fits in that Guardian column on this website here and with that I’ve probably said enough on the subject!

FMD at 12:21 pm on September 11th, 2010

Victoria, yes those posts you made were pretty much what my thinking was.

RR, as Victoria just said, the main point was whether the risk of getting knocked out was worth the, relatively, small reward.

Yes, there are theoretical odds to consider. But I see the odds get beaten all day long… ;)

I generally prefer to let the information the opponent is giving off be the guiding factor. The river bet could only really be read as he thought he was good. IMO.

Dan at 2:01 am on September 12th, 2010

Yes but in the long run, taking account of the theoretical odds will determine whether you make any money or not.

pestlett at 10:57 pm on September 12th, 2010

I quite like the new hieroglyphs, but still prefer the look and feel of the Greek Alphabet.  However, you could make an ungrammatical sentence with these hieroglyphs by using the squares in this order (Upper Left = 1 and Lower Right = 6): 3, 4, 6, 1, 2, 5… It’s a cheat by using English words purposefully, but someone might like it, H(o)f the one who does eel(water determinate)  i.e.  Hof, the one who does the water-eel.  You should have made a sentence up, it would have been fun trying to figure out what you say each episode.

Conrad Zimmer at 7:55 pm on September 13th, 2010

What you call 2 reeds is actually 2 feathers!!!! The feather Ma’at (pron. Mu-at) was used for the word truth or the Goddess of such.
Obviously you cannot change this for this series but if you still use the hieroglyphs next series, could you please change this. :-)))

RomanticRecluse at 12:40 am on September 14th, 2010

Vicky and FMD, I got the point about the 1500 but I was looking at the reasoning which to me valued assumptions about the action over information such as the cards.  The river card was good but the assumptions made it look bad and made the river bet decision harder than it should have been.  Ignoring assumptions, conventions and stereotypes and going over the hand again using maths first and then psychology might have made the decision easier.  From the flop onwards or even before it wasn’t a coin flip situation: it was a matter of who was way ahead and who was way behind and needed a lot of good luck.

Got a pocket pair, flopped a set and made a full house on the river and you’re still not happy?  What more do you want?

Some people are never satisfied.


David J B at 11:32 am on September 14th, 2010

@Conrad, the feather hieroglyph is much more curved (more like a capital B or the scharfes S used in German) than the reed, and in any case usually faces to the right while the reed faces left.

Howard Guppy at 11:04 pm on September 14th, 2010

Loving the new series of nl ycn nct, but please bring back the greek letters, I don’t think I can stand learning a new ancient language with each series

thepoisongarden at 4:50 pm on September 15th, 2010

I realise I’m coming late to this, but just had to say I laughed out loud in programme 1 when you introduced the change.

Is there an opposite to ‘dumbing down’?

AndytheDealer at 8:54 pm on September 15th, 2010

‘Ere, even us commoners watch quizzes from time to time.  I’d be calling the hyros, “Bunny Wabbit ears.”  “The Slug”, “The Smug Cat”, “Bad reception on the telly.” “The Hairdo” and “The Bawling Eye.”  All suffixed with ...please Vicky. Much easier than Greek letters for us simple folk!

Greenman at 10:24 pm on September 19th, 2010

According to Google, David Brewis’s brother is musician Peter Brewis-I remember that name from a comedy show but I forget which one. Re the Hieroglyphs, you should see what some wrote in the Sunday Times You Say bits in Culture magazine-what a bunch of idiots!

David at 7:23 pm on September 25th, 2010

Hi V, can I call you V?

just caught up with episode 1. We didn’t really mind the greek alphabet and don’t mind the glyphs either. Difficult to see why so many people are getting worked up over it either way. Either way I find it educational as I couldn’t previously be sure which was called what.

David at 7:25 pm on September 25th, 2010

It’s our understanding that one person is supposed to buzz and answer in the final round, and if they fail to do so within a few seconds the team then loses points.
In episode 1 can you be sure that the person from the Epicurian team who buzzed first, actually answered the question - it’s often the case that buzzees freeze and forget the answer - and wasn’t drowned out by their fellow contestants answers. 

Can I suggest that in future rounds it is insisted that only the person who buzzes that gets to answer. Answers from the other contestants should equally result in a lost point.

Still an excellent show. Having vented my spleen I will now retire to calm down with a warm blanket and a hot cocoa.

D x

Aaron at 9:22 am on September 27th, 2010

Hi David - since there’s only one buzzer for the team there’d be no way of telling who’d actually buzzed.  Our hands were literally on top of each other’s.

Though you are quite correct in your supposition - on “THJ WSHC HRN CL” both David Brewis and myself instantly buzzed thinking “The Wall Street Journal” and you can see us both go blank as Katie helpfully steps in with the right answer.

Best, Aaron

david at 9:41 pm on September 27th, 2010

Thanks Aaron. I wasn’t aware that there’s only one buzzer - i had assumed from viewing that each contestant has a buzzer, otherwise when a contestant freezes and is about to be told “too late” why wouldn’t one of their fellow contestants jump in with the answer. It can’t always be that they don’t know.
You can see how it is unfair though, if by buzzing that fraction earlier you (and I am assuming this is the way it works) block your opponents buzzer.
Maybe something for the producers to consider??

Victoria Coren at 11:30 pm on September 27th, 2010

Hi David. I really don’t think this is an injustice in the show. Firstly, both teams have equal opportunity to buzz early if they think this is the correct strategy - just to buzz and wait for a team mate to answer. Either side has equal chance to do that.

  Secondly, I don’t think this is good strategy anyway. If they buzz and nobody knows the answer, they lose a point! In series one, there was no point deduction for a wrong answer, so this might have been a cunning way to play it. But now that the penalty is in place, it would be too risky.

HENRY SMITH at 2:54 pm on October 24th, 2010

Just to how much i enjoy Only Connect, one of the highlights of Monday’s television viewing. I especially enjoy your opening and ending joke.

Keith at 5:50 pm on November 20th, 2010

Although my wife & I consider Only Connect to be the only unmissable programme currently on the T.V., we are agreed that there are too many points available in the last round - inferior teams can make up loads of ground by simply reacting more quickly… and to dock a point for a minor error and then give the other team a chance to benefit further is excessive.

Gaylene at 10:24 pm on December 28th, 2010

Hello , thanks for contributing to the perfect nights that are Mondays - University Challenge, and Only Connect.  I know many of your followers comment on the finer technicalities of the quiz, but I have two (fairly idiotic) queries - sorry.. First, you wear the most amazing, flattering dresses - is it beyond the producers to give them a quick steam or press before the Wall challenge, and second, I would kill to know where your gorgeous pink Marilyn dress (final) comes from.


Gaylene P

Victoria Coren at 12:54 pm on December 30th, 2010

Hi Gaylene. That dress was from Karen Millen, but bought quite a while ago so they might not have it any more. Sorry if you think I look crumpled in the wall round! I can’t really leave the teams waiting while I go off and iron my dress, so I’ll just have to hope the occasional crease gives it an atmospheric bluestocking air!

Simon at 9:58 pm on January 1st, 2011

Miss Coren,
Please excuse the ravings of my wife Gaylene, you look fabulous. Not sure how Karen Millen would feel about having their look described as Bluestocking though.

dave at 1:16 am on January 3rd, 2011

I know this is a bit after the event as we haven’t logged onto your site since Sept, but we have just watched the final and in our frustrations decided to have another glimpse at the blog.

Thank you for replying to my post back in September. We fully accept the point that the option is there for both teams to risk the early buzz. We weren’t suggesting that contestants would buzz willy nilly with no idea of the answer, but clearly they can sometimes have the wrong answer, or not have the answer quite right, or they can simply freeze.
As Aaron acknowledged in his previous post, it’s quite possible for the first to the buzzer to ‘freeze’ but then be ‘saved’ by his colleague(s). And it’s not unreasonable to imagine that the second quickest to the buzzer could have been an opponent…

dave at 1:17 am on January 3rd, 2011


Having watched the final, I’m afraid we’re still of the opinion that the round could be made fairer by individual buzzers that cut out all other buzzers, and that only the buzzee gets to answer initially. I suppose if they are incorrect then the question could still be open to all 5 of the others to buzz in rather than necessarily going to the opposing team.

We also agree with Keith and his wife that there are too many points available in the last round that can render all the hard work of one team useless if they’re up against a team that is particularly good at the last round, or as we thought was quite evident through the Epicurian rounds; a team that is as vocal (to put it kindly)

… but eh!, it’s only a quiz :-)


Ken Singtone at 7:52 pm on January 6th, 2011

Mistress Victoria (as a BBC4 fan rather than a poker friend, I will not presume to call you “Vicky”), I collapsed in laughter when I read your brother’s tweet:
It seems perfectly logical if you read the comments in this thread (eg. September 7th), although perhaps you are more school mistress than dominatrix:

A “soft-centred feminist” can’t compete with the “wicked witch of the inferior connections” (we jest- think). 

Congratulations on series 4 (missed 2&3 - assumed they were repeats of 1 : - same Greek grid).
Few women host their own quiz.  I think you are now one of the two great “Godesses of Quizland” together with Sue Barker.

Co-opt someone from Presentable to make up the 5 and lead the OC champions against the eggheads?

Victoria Coren

News: September 2017

September 7th is a big day!

Click here to read more »

Switch Theme

Click here to change colour scheme

RSS Feed

Subscribe to the RSS feed here