Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Only Connect tonight

Monday, 13 July 2009

Back in beautiful rainy London! Miraculously, despite not getting anywhere in the WSOP events I played, I’ve managed to struggle back here with a decent profit on a very good trip. This year’s Vegas sojourn was better, more enjoyable and certainly more lucrative than it has been the last two years, so I’m very glad I went, and even glad that I stayed two weeks longer than I was supposed to - not, traditionally, a sensible strategy.

  I got back just in time to join a two-hour queue for immigration at Gatwick, snaking down a baking hot corridor which appeared still to be under construction. When I got to the front, I suggested to the customs official that someone might like to go down the queue, offering chairs or glasses of water to the older people who were looking miserable and faint. “You can fill this in”, snapped the lady, handing me a brightly-coloured form labelled FEEDBACK.

  “Yes.. thank you..” I said, “But by the time it’s got through the postage system, that might be a bit late for people who have flown for 11 hours and are now swaying on their swollen feet in this boiling room with the straps of their hand luggage slicing into their exhausted shoulders.”

  “The address is on the form”, said the woman, waving me through.

  Good old England. I do hope nobody died.

  Anyway, I’m also back in time to see if I can answer any questions in the new series of Only Connect which starts tonight (Monday) at 8.30pm on BBC Four and continues every Monday for the next couple of months. I think I can confidently state that it is the world’s hardest quiz. I doubt I’ll get a single point if I watch it, even though we’ve already recorded the series so I’ve seen (and indeed asked) all the questions before. So.. you know.. good luck..



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Smylers at 8:04 am on July 13th, 2009

Yay!  I was late discovering ‘Only Connect’ (I think it was the first quarter final), so had been hoping for a repeat of the first series, but a new one will do.

If you could keep plugging it for the next few Mondays until it’s ingrained, that’d be helpful — especially since it clashes with ‘The Daily Show’.

Brian at 10:40 am on July 13th, 2009

Looking forward to Only Connect and glad to see taunts of elitism have had no effect on the choice of teams for the first show. Actually I’m only replying because the captcha is “wife18”. How can typing something so wrong feel so right? (Also, glad & surprised you made a profit in LA. I clearly understand even less about poker than I thought because it seemed to me you were losing again and again.)

AndytheDealer at 1:15 pm on July 13th, 2009

So, no win in the Bellagio Cup then?

Malc at 2:57 pm on July 13th, 2009

I`m of the same opinion as you, there is no common sense left in this country!
Glad you turn in a profit!
I`m sure there is bracelet with your name on it soon!

MarkP at 7:37 pm on July 13th, 2009

You got a preview in the local evening paper “Presenter Victoria Coren keeps things entertaining, in the show which makes Eggheads’ contestants seem positive thickies.”

David R at 10:48 pm on July 13th, 2009

“Berlin. Of course, Berlin. Berlin. Yes, we think the connection is doughnuts.”

Luckily, with the other team winning 19-18, it wasn’t a close game, so that answer didn’t affect the outcome.

Si at 10:52 pm on July 13th, 2009

I have to admit I stumbled across “Only Connect” on iPlayer tonight purely by accident (sorry!) - but I stuck with it and I’m glad I did. Very challenging, and certainly different from the numerous other quizzes I’ve watched, I look forward to catching it again.

PS Also liked your take on the Daniel Craig Bonds elsewhere on the site, although in spite of the too-long poker game I still prefer Royale to Quantum.

adam at 12:06 am on July 14th, 2009

Damn, I thought there’s nothing on monday nights, will have to catch a repeat. Love that show in a perverse kinda way. If i watch it twice O can get about half the questions right, although the big board seems to be easier sat at home than it must be in the studio. But then, I feel I should do much better than I do on the missing letters round.
Do you play a part in making up the questions? I bet that’s more fun than actually doing the quiz.

David R at 2:07 am on July 14th, 2009

I’m really bad at quizzes, and all the contestants on Only Connect do far better than I could ever do.

I’m quite good at the music questions though, and that’s the only time I can compete with the teams on pretty much equal terms.

James at 9:47 am on July 14th, 2009

Absolutely brilliant show my flatmate and I had a thoroughly enjoyable time watching it and even managed to complete both walls!

Well presented and held together, I think that those who cry elitism should realise it’s on BBC4 and safely out of the way of those who find Eastenders taxing (not enjoyable, taxing!). The BBC is about diversity and part of diversity is perchance enjoying a little mental exercise.

“brilliant”, “esoteric”, “thought provoking”, “fun”

Guess the connection

Colm at 9:03 pm on July 14th, 2009

Hi Vicky,

Great to see “Only Connect” back, even after watching the repeat I struggled with the questions.

Is it just me or is it somehow reassuring to have a quiz show where the contestants are obviously smart and the questions difficult instead of everything being distilled to some lowest common denominator?

After all, intelligence should be rewarded, even if it is the ranks of the members of the A-Team.

Victoria Coren at 1:00 am on July 15th, 2009

Hi Adam - I contributed some of the questions on the last series, but don’t think I have any on this one. I did submit a couple of connecting walls but they didn’t use them… I think they should’ve done cos they were quite funny and marginally easier than the ones used; I personally think the questions are slightly TOO hard on this series, and might need a small tone down if we do another one. Don’t get me wrong, I love that it’s difficult, but I think it might have gone slightly too abstruse in a few examples. (Having had my own grids rejected, I can’t deny I felt rather satisfied after having a bet with Mr Bodycombe, the question-arbiter, that one of the walls in the show was so difficult that the teams would get no more than 2 points. In the end they got 0 points and I won twenty quid…)
  So, anyone who can answer more than 3 or 4 questions per show on this series, for God’s sake apply to be on the next one!


IanR at 10:00 am on July 15th, 2009

NIce Quiz, I hadn’t seen it before.

I think I would have got a (very) few answers, but it kinda seems as though the questions are of quite mixed difficulty most notably the first one involving having to count to 24 quickly.

I read a paper the other week on the subject of Japanese RPS games from the C19 and shamingly still wouldnt have got the clue. The best thing about the paper was that there seem to have been a lot of whole body variants rather than just hand shapes, taking the game to a whole new level.

As one criticism, even as a pretty central member of what the target audience must be, the Cello intro and especially the greek-letter numbering system was a bit annoying. A little too deliberately high brow, perhaps. Still, i’ll be iplayering again next week. Thx for the link.

David Bodycombe at 3:08 pm on July 15th, 2009

Without spoilering anyone, I’ve looked at my stats and the average series 2 team scores 0.6 points less than series 1. Most of the other stats I calculate are wthin 1 point either way between series.

The grid round was made harder because there were far too many 10’s last time, but the vowels round was made easier to compensate. Each round now contributes more evenly to the overall total as a result. (The two tough and perhaps overly clever grids I think you’re referring to were put in the 3rd-place playoff for that very reason.)

Also bear in mind that, with 9 shows, we have effectively have no heats this series.

David Bodycombe at 5:16 pm on July 15th, 2009

And since VC was good enough not to take my money, and if she’s game for a rematch, I’ll give £50 to a charity of VC’s choice for each of these VC-penned grids solved perfectly by this group within 24 hours of posting. I think they’re harder than the ones on the show, but we’ll let the public decide.


GRID 2: 


adam at 6:31 pm on July 15th, 2009

loved the show, but sorry to see you made the vowels round easier, i thought i was getting clevererer. it’s still a great mix of interesting stuff no one has a right to know and oh of course i should have got that moments.
why not post your connecting walls here Vicki and let us judge. maybe say what time you will post them first so we can compete.

Rad at 2:40 am on July 16th, 2009

Grid2: Boyz/Cobra/Robin/Knight: Hood?

Beth at 9:29 am on July 16th, 2009

Grid 1: Maybe Fruit? - Fruit Bat, Fruit Bowl, Opal Fruit, Sharon Fruit?

That’s all I got so far!

alex at 9:47 am on July 16th, 2009

They are definitely harder than those on the first show. Grid 2 is done, but the other 2 are less than started.

spanther22 at 10:22 am on July 16th, 2009

grid 2 (and im not 100% sure)

garter rattle grass king TYPES OF SNAKE
cobra boyz battleship robin (associated with) HOOD
chocolate room horse knight (can be preceded with) DARK
castle pawn bishop rook CHESS PIECES

castle and rook under chess pieces is worrying me and ive tried swapping them round with knight and king but i’ll stick with this.

Miche Doherty at 11:06 am on July 16th, 2009

Here’s my take on grid 3:

Iron, lime, soap, sand (stone);
Saffron, Bath, Chelsea, London (buns);
W. Ham, Lady Rothermere, Michael Jackson, speech (Bubbles);
Lord Edgeware, Lord Mullion, Lord Peter, King Solomon (crime/adventure fiction).

And a go at the first one:

Sand, opera, post, shoes (horse);
Frankie, banana, Bowl, film (Hollywood);
Gum, bat, dish, stone (preceded by fruit);
Sharon, star, bread, opal (followed by fruit).

Victoria Coren at 12:00 pm on July 16th, 2009

Grids 2 and 3 are SOLVED! Hurray for my clever bloggers. (Duplicates or wrong answers that came in later haven’t been put up). A lot of you should be applying to be on the next series. (I did love that “Bubbles” category. And how topical it would have felt…)
  Grid 1 not yet solved. Miche, here’s a clue, you would not have got NO points. So others (remember on the show there’d be three of you anyway) might want to build on the early start… But “horse” does not I think go with “sand” or “opera”, so that may be a false category.
  Still, two out of three solved overnight - David, you might have to start preparing that £50 for the Macmillan Nurses…

Ooh, no, hang on, you said £50 for EACH grid solved. Hurray, that’s £100 for the nurses already. Come on quizzers - a few hours to go, to solve that first one.

Bridget Orr at 12:19 pm on July 16th, 2009

Bat, Banana, Post, Sand = all end with “Man”
Stone, Opera, Dish, Star = all preceded with “soap”

bowl, stone, shoes, bread = all can be preceded with “sand”

Which leaves opal, sharon, frankie and gum? No connection here.


James Ogley at 12:28 pm on July 16th, 2009

Incomplete grid one:


Maybe another “team” member can complete it if I’ve made a good start?

Zebedee B at 12:29 pm on July 16th, 2009

Ok This is my take on Grid 1

Sand, Sharon, Frankie, Bowl = STONE
SAND stone, SHARON stone FRANKIE Stone, Stone BOWL.

Post, Bat, Star, Banana = MAN. (Post Man, Bat Man, Star Man, Banana Man)

Opera, Film, Stone, Shoes - BUFF (Buff shoes, buff stones, Opera Buff, Film Buff)

Opal, Gum, Bread, Dish = FRUIT (Opal Fruit, Fruit Gum, Bread Fruit, Fruit Dish)

AM I close?

Jo at 12:47 pm on July 16th, 2009

Here goes on Grid 1:
opera/stone/shoes/dish -soap
bat/sand/banana/post - man
opal/sharon/bread/gum - fruit
frankie/star/film/bowl - Hollywood

Victoria Coren at 12:59 pm on July 16th, 2009

ALL GRIDS SOLVED! (Grid One successfully solved by Jo - nice try Zebedee, but “Frankie Stone” ? I’ve managed to find one who’s a character on an obscure American soap opera, but don’t think that goes. Also not sure “stone bowl” is really a phrase by itself, and “buff stones” doesn’t quite work because “stone” is in the singular and “buff stone”... bit too windy and circuitous a link). Anyway, all done, well within Mr Bodycombe’s required 24 hours! Hurray! Submissions no longer required. Thank you very much, all clever contributors - and thanks David, you will find the Macmillan Nurses at
and I’m sure they’ll be delighted with the £150! Excellent, very generous.
  I’m also hoping that if we get another series, we have several brilliant new contestants *and I might get one of my grids onto the show*..  ;-)

But that was quite fun. I’ve got a couple more grids in reserve, I might put them up here at some point in the next couple of days.

David Bodycombe at 1:28 pm on July 16th, 2009

Well done everyone, a receipt for £150 has been emailed to VC. Harnessing the use of FOUR THOUSAND Twitter followers might have spoiled the scientific basis of the experiment, hence the people who’ve arrived here from out of nowhere.

Anyway, I’m happy to be told I’m wrong. How did everyone find these compared to the ones on the show?

P.S. The character may be obscure, but All My Children is not obscure - 10,000 episodes and counting!

Zebedee B at 1:43 pm on July 16th, 2009

Ach, Nuts! Never mind, the ones on the show were easier, I managed to get them!! hahaa. Look forward to some more tantalising teasers soon! :D

Take it easy,

alex at 3:09 pm on July 16th, 2009

With a time frame and lives to use up - definitely harder. Though it would become easier if it was possible to know if you already had four correct (as in cobra, grass, rattle, garter not being the correct snakes).

Good fun though - I look forward to the next show.

Jo at 3:20 pm on July 16th, 2009

I am a VC blog reader, but didn’t see the grids until this morning, when there was only grid 1 left.

There seemed to be more groups of twos and threes than the ones that are featured on the show, but it is pretty satisfying when you manage to sort them all out.

AndytheDealer at 9:28 pm on July 16th, 2009

Good heavens, I haven’t looked at your blog for a couple of days and while I’m away you’ve raised £150 smackers for a great charity.

I watched Only Connect on bbc iplayer and all I can say is it’s fiendish.  If it can throw the Oxford Librarians into a tailspin I hate to think what it would do to me.

Cindy at 2:24 pm on July 17th, 2009

Well having read all these comments I have never seen ‘Only Connect’ but now I want to watch it!  That’s Monday evening’s tv sorted.
Now you are back from WSOP, if you are missing your poker there is an event this Saturday 18th July in London that may interest you;
A few less runners that you faced last week!

Victoria Coren

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