The official BBC Beat The Teacher quiz book, published in 1985, contains some uncomfortably difficult questions. Were these really the type of thing fired by Howard Stableford at wide-eyed kids from the likes of Brickhill Middle School, Bedford and Monk’s Walk School, Welwyn Garden City (the eventual champions)?
1) What is the maximum number of similar-sized circular coins, placed flat on a table, that can touch the edge of one other coin of the same size?
2) What is the weight of tuppenny rice and treacle in ounces?
3) Four horses run a race. Bright Star came two places behind All At Sea. Give Us A Kiss was in the first three, and Pottipop wasn’t. Who won?
4) What could ‘HIJKLMNO’ stand for?
That last one in particular is ludicrous.
The thing is, nine times out of ten (well, seven at least) the kids faced with such riddles would fire back the responses with face-punching ease. Sometimes the teachers would upstage the lot (and Stableford, or his decreasingly convincing successors) with a look that screamed of staff-room-superiority the next morning.
Anyway, if the series was back on today, with – say – Adrian Chiles presenting (though in reality it’d be someone like Dermot O’Leary) it’s hard to believe this level of questioning would be present. Ditto the show’s creator and question-setter Clive Doig.
What year did decimalisation take place?
would become something like:
What is the four-letter name beginning with E for the currency used in, among others, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Italy, Luxembourg, the Republic of Ireland and Italy?
And they’d still get it wrong.
(Answers to the four questions above will follow)