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Fingers on buzzers

25 November 2016

David Winter on a book for quiz connoisseurs


The Joy of Quiz
Alan Connor
Particular Books £14.99
Church Times Bookshop £13.50



”YOUR starter for ten.” “Well done if you got that one at home.” “Is that your final answer?” If you recognise those catchphrases, or owe a Christmas present to someone who would, then this book is for you.

Ever since the “quiz” — a programme involving questions being put and answered in a competitive setting, often for a prize — crossed the Atlantic in 1938, it has grown deep roots in British radio and television. In an average week this year, there were 50 shows of this kind on network television (oddly, none on Channel 5), many during the daytime hours, but some drawing big audiences at peak times.

This book is an informative, funny, enthusiastic, brilliantly researched examina­tion of the whole quiz phenomenon. It all started with “spelling bees”, but only the most senior of us will remember them. This is a richly enjoyable read, even if you are not a quiz addict. It is full of wonderful drops of bizarre information, eminently suitable for dropping into the post-prandial Christmas stupor.


Canon David Winter is a retired cleric in the diocese of Oxford, and a former Head of Religious Broadcasting at the BBC.

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