Victoria Coren Mitchell - Writer, Broadcaster & Poker Player

Only Connect On Two (2)

Thursday, 4 September 2014

  Only Connect has now started on BBC Two (see the blog below this one for more on that). If you failed to catch the first episode, then here’s a taste of what you missed.

  It continues on Monday nights at 8.30pm.

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C at 3:36 am on September 9th, 2014

I love the show and your wit
and I don’t know how much control you have over this, but I was disappointed by the intro joke in the episode. Not right to pick on some people. Please no more of that.

Victoria Coren M at 4:41 pm on September 9th, 2014

Hi C. Yes, a couple of people have mentioned this on Twitter but I think they misunderstood the tone of the intro. People who have been watching Only Connect since the beginning will have recognised that as a very inclusive joke for our sort of teams and viewers.

  Quiz fans, for whatever reason, often have compulsive mental tics relating to symmetries, numbers, patterns and so on - as I mentioned during that same intro, I have these myself and one of my particular symptoms involves light switches. Sometimes it’s manageable and sometimes less so, but I don’t get too down about it; I like to think of it as fall-out from an energetic mind and maybe even a positive sign. I can’t do anything about it so I might as well think positive!

  It’s something I know I have in common with a lot of our teams and viewers because I’ve discussed it with them. It is my habit on Only Connect to make jokes about this sort of quizzy, “geeky” thing - mental tics, compulsions, asthma… - and I know our regular viewers understand that it’s about laughing together at the things we have in common. The connections between us, if you like. Making jokes, in my view, is a more powerful way of “owning” something in the teeth of those who might mock or reject, than just talking about it seriously. It’s one of the things I’m proudest of on OC, that we’re unashamed about not necessarily having been the cool kids at school, and confident enough to laugh about it.

  Obviously I’m aware that in moving to BBC Two we are gaining new viewers, not all of whom will get the nuance of everything and certainly not all of whom will be familiar with the tone of the show and this world we’ve created of slightly alternative quizzy people. But (as per the blog post before this one, dated 27th August) I promised not to do anything different when we moved, so, I’m not.

Jinxie at 10:26 pm on September 9th, 2014

I personally like the intros as well as the little comments after certain questions and answers. However, the’ familiar with types of pasta/viewers in HD’ comment was uncalled for. There is no problem with you or your appearance. Stop hating on yourself!!

Louise Butterfield at 6:39 am on September 10th, 2014

Dear Victoria
Without being offensive, I believe you should look at the true definition of OCD.  Your comments below only portray ignorance at a serious mental health disorder in which people have taken their lives.  Your remarks only serve to increase the public perception that OCD is something to be mocked. 

Best regards

Mary hinge at 5:56 pm on September 10th, 2014

Dear Louise,
I think Victoria’s point (and, living with an OCD sufferer, I totally agree) is that there is a difference between laughing about something and mocking something. Some people suspect mockery as soon as they hear a difficult subject mentioned, and the alternative (of total silence, or only serious and grim discussion) is not necessarily better. I am a long-time Only Connect fan and I heard laughter without mockery there, which was very healthy and nice and rare to hear.
Yours sincerely
Mary B

Cameron at 9:52 pm on September 10th, 2014

Love the show Victoria. My wife introduced me to it around series four because for about twelve years I ran a pub quiz where the answers in each round were all linked in some way. She got annoyed though when I said the show had an attractive host! Mind you, it’s her who watches the Dave repeats to see what you were wearing back then! There’s too many exclamation marks in this post! (See told you). Anyway, is it worth my while sending in some of the questions I used in the pub quiz in the hope that they could be used in the show? Keep up the good work.

Victoria Coren M at 10:49 pm on September 10th, 2014

Hi Cameron. It really might be, if they take the form of Only Connect questions - although I don’t know if they’re looking for new question writers. So I wouldn’t send loads, but you could try writing to Chris Cadenne at Parasol Media (her email address will be on their website) and tell her you’d be up for writing questions, and enclose two or three examples you’ve written, and I’m sure she will get back to you and let you know if they’re hiring! Good luck and thanks for your nice email.

Louise Butterfield at 6:18 am on September 11th, 2014

In response to Mary, the reality is that Victoria made a joke about OCD and there comes a time when ‘that joke isn’t funny anymore’.  There may have been laughter but I wonder if any of those laughing suffer from the condition.  I reiterate that there is much public misconception about the disorder and this only serves to fuel those misconceptions.  OCD is not a, and I quote Victoria, ‘sort of quizzy, “geeky” thing’ it is a serious mental health disorder which can leave sufferers completely disabled and contemplating suicide.  I have watched Only Connect from the start on BBC 4 and always enjoyed it and am a great fan of Victoria but I’m afraid I had to turn off on Monday, it’s just one joke too many!

Best regards Louise

Nikki at 12:56 pm on September 11th, 2014

Hi Victoria
I too was disappointed with this joke. The point is, we don’t all have OCD in common. We may all have elements of it - but OCD can leave sufferers unable to get out of their rooms and live normal lives. We don’t joke about being a little autistic, or a little schizophrenic. Joking about being a little OCD is in similarly poor taste - it is not just about checking you turned off the oven or locked a door. Believe me!.

Victoria Coren M at 2:46 pm on September 11th, 2014

Hi Nikki. No we don’t - but we DO for example joke about struggling with our weight, despite the fact that for some people being overweight is so dangerous that they are trapped at home and unable to go out, their skin tearing, feeling suicidal, even suffering fatal heart attacks. Sometimes it can actually be cheering, whatever your condition, to realise you’re on a spectrum that affects millions of people, even if not all as badly as yours - rather than feeling like an isolated freak.
  Our understanding of mental disorders is at least 100 years behind our understanding of physical ones; I suspect that we will look back on terms like “OCD” and “autism” as primitive and extremely broad brushes that were used to cover what subsequently prove to be a much wider range of conditions.
  I won’t bore you with the full details of my own symptoms (which aren’t just about light switches, obviously, but cover a related nervous breathing disorder and all sorts of things that can and occasionally do prevent “normal” life) but I’m just not sure it’s wise to reject the idea of scales and spectrums and talk about absolute “mental health” and “illness”, as if there is any really helpful definition of “normal” anyway. I know there are big differences of opinion here, among mental health professionals as well as sufferers and their loved ones, but my deep personal instinct is that an open mind about tone, some lightening up and the readiness to make jokes about the darkest things, helps more than it hinders.
  Ultimately, the only real joke from that intro was “puts the OC into OCD - but D by itself wouldn’t make sense”, which is a harmless verbal joke about terminology, and the rest of it was making sure to put that in a confessional context lest anyone think it was pointing from afar.
  Didn’t work for everyone, clearly, but I know those lines came from a kind place and that’s what ultimately matters to me. The fact that very similar lines and ideas have never triggered upset or misreading in nine series on BBC Four, despite reaching a million viewers, but have proved a problem in this case on BBC Two, is something I’ll certainly think about - but whether or how to address it is something I’m just not sure of yet.

Alex at 9:49 am on September 16th, 2014

Hi Victoria
I love the show but I have been disappointed that since the move to BBC2 there have been no walls to complete online. These break up the working day for myself and my boss and help refocus our minds. Please can you ask for them to be reintroduced.
Many thanks, Alex

Jan at 11:52 am on September 17th, 2014

My OCD diagnosed companion fell off the sofa laughing and was delighted to be ‘included’ rather than whispered about. Saw it as a clever witticism rather than a joke. 
Thank you for engaging with comments so that there is a diversity of views to consider, debated in a CIVILISED MANNER.  I was raised in a family where humour was used to celebrate and to help with sadness -  this is not the experience of everyone which may make it difficult to hear jocular stuff which is close to home.
Pang of sympathy that you had to reveal personal difficulties to convince but, then, you’ve always been honest and that is why we know that apparently lighthearted quips have been carefully thought about.

Philip at 6:39 am on September 19th, 2014

Occasionally, just now and again, perhaps on the night of the gibbous moon, I hope that one or other of VCM and her esteemed husband say or do something which isn’t perfectly rational. They’re just making the rest of us look bad.

On the plus side, I got two questions right in this week’s OC. Must be all that dumbing down.

jm carr at 11:05 am on September 19th, 2014

Victoria,im sorry to here you occaisionally suffer from a ” Breathing disorder”, could this be related to 25 years of heavy smoking,rather than OCD?

Victoria Coren M at 4:46 pm on September 19th, 2014

Hi Jim. No. It’s not a respiratory problem, it’s to do with having to breathe in a particular way according to a set of patterns. Cigarettes do a lot of harm, but they don’t do that.

(Philip, please take comfort: it definitely isn’t rational!)

Jonathan Hill at 7:12 pm on September 21st, 2014

I love the programme, and I’m glad it will reach a bigger audience on Two. I’m now steadily working my way through the Walls on the BBC website (with varying degrees of success!
What I would really love to see at the end of the programme is the credits with vowels removed - such as PRSNTR and XCTVPRDCR!

emerson spocket at 10:28 pm on October 2nd, 2014

The picture accompanying the Only Connect link on iPlayer always shows you with the team that loses the game. Nicely done.

jim carr at 3:25 pm on October 4th, 2014

Victoria,what is Edge-Sorting? and is it legal?

Victoria Coren M at 4:04 am on October 7th, 2014

Hi Jim. I don’t really know, other than what I’ve read in the papers - and on the second question, I guess we’ll find out!

jim carr at 2:30 pm on October 8th, 2014

Victoria,having googled “edge-sorting” i am astonished that playing cards used in casinos have small differences on the reverse side which allow set groups of cards to be identified before they are dealt! surely it is not beyond the wit of manufacturers of playing cards to ensure that the backs of the cards are identical? Given the massive sums at stake in high-roller Baccarat and Poker games allowing keen-eyed players even a tiny advantage is unacceptable.

The Tim at 1:40 pm on October 10th, 2014

I’ve heard you’ll be doing something else quite interesting on TV next Friday.

dg at 12:27 am on October 13th, 2014

Hi, Victoria. If your comment in the previous post about people possibly joking about dumbing down was referring, at least in part, to my post, then I should clarify: I was joking. It’s often hard to tell with me. When it comes to humour, I’m very much a trier. If it wasn’t then… well… aren’t I the egomaniac? To clarify further, I’ve never doubted the integrity of any of the team for a moment.

I have one tiny complaint, though. In the first two rounds, when the connection is being explained, the solution often appears on the screen before the explanation is completed, thus spoiling the reveal. This irritates me and you should do something about it for that reason. Thanks!

Frances Oshea at 9:35 pm on October 14th, 2014

Just like to say with regard to the touchstone question, the speech alluded to was made by Jacques not Touchstone as suggested.

Victoria Coren

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