Only Connect Returns

That thoroughly excellent show, 'Only Connect' returns tonight on BBC 4 (TV not radio). It's a fiendishly difficult quiz hosted by Victoria Coren. The show is dry, and difficult - and it doesn't patronise its audience. The questions can seem almost impossible, so that little frission of getting an answer before the contestant is made all the sweeter.

The first round of the show is 'spot the connection'. The teams are presented with four clues, one at a time, and they must spot the connection. The fewer clues, the more points. One clue earned five points, two earns three, three clues gets two points and one clue earns one point.

Here are four clues in order from series three, try and view them only one at a time,

  • Allied D-Day aircraft
  • Dolichohippus
  • Greyhound 6
  • ....

The team got this after three clues. The fourth clue was 'Newcastle United'. The answer? Black and white stripes.

In the second round, the game is to predict the fourth clue. Again, the fewer clues that are shown, the more points (five, three or two).

Here's my favourite question:

  • 1=Central
  • 2=Circle
  • 3=District
  • ... and the fourth?

The team guessed at 4=Bakerloo - and rarely for such a guess, they were right, but their reasoning was wrong. They suggested that it was the order in which the lines were built.

The reason? The colours on the schematic tube map are the order of the scores for snooker balls: Red, Yellow, Green, Brown.....

The third round is a 'connecting wall'. Sixteen clues are displayed, and they must be connected into four distinct groups - and there is significant overlap between groups. There is one point for each correct group, one point for giving the reason for each group, and a bonus two points if everything is right. You can play this online (though the clock is still running when you type the connections, unlike in the show). This is the hardest to 'play along to' at home due to the non-linear nature of the answers, the teams make different guesses to the viewer. It'd be nice if the walls on the show were placed into their online system to allow the viewer to pause the TV, have a go, and then see how the players did (you'd find the right one in the grid by clicking on a menu of the team names).

The last round is quickfire. A theme is given and four answers are displayed one at a time, only with the vowels removed and the letters re-spaced, then it's first on the buzzer.

Thus, if the topic as 'Sherlock Holmes Short Stories' the clues might be:

  • thdvnt rfth spckldbnd
  • th rdhd dlg
  • h slst bw
  • scndl nbhm

I find this round the most difficult, especially as it has to be done fast! Still, I get a respectable number right - not as many as some of the contestants!

The answers for the above are:

  • The Adventure of the Speckled Band
  • The Red-Headed League
  • His Last Bow
  • A Scandal in Bohemia

If you like your quiz shows with a bit of grey matter between the ears, give it a go.