Only Connect, BBC4

Did we like it?
While it’s presented by the lovely Victoria Coren, don’t bother tuning in unless you have a degree from Oxford University in Senseless Trivia Useful to People Who Live in Chiswick and a Masters from Cambridge University in Stuff Only Posh People Care About and Is Otherwise Utterly Useless in the Evolution of Humankind.

What was good about it?
• Victoria Coren is such a cherishable treasure. In much the same way as God expelled all of the evil from his being, forming from that evil Lucifer Morningstar before condemning him to eternal damnation in Hell, it’s almost as if Anne Robinson has sieved out all the milk of human kindness and from it sculpted Ms Coren before exiling her to an eternity on BBC4.
• Watching it, there is a faint urge deep inside the most atavistic chambers of the mind to scuttle down to the local train station, purchase a copy of the Times and embark on a needless trip to London, all the while sitting cross legged filling in all the crosswords, occasionally ejaculating a condescending chuckle at your own stupidity for not instantaneously knowing the name of Tchaikovsky’s tailor.
• We did get one question right – the sites of the Seven Wonders of the World.

What was bad about it?
• The fact that the two teams must choose from question board labelled with letters from the Greek alphabet gives a pretty good idea of what type of school you need to have attended in order to participate in the guessing – it makes University Challenge resemble GMTV phone-in quizzes.
• The gentle but awkward geniality of introducing two teams in a studio that is emptier than a vacuum.
• There are a few concessions to the proletariat in the way of questions about Thunderbirds and the Seven Plagues, but by that stage you’ve already become so accustomed to esoteric circumlocution about “Pythagorean triplets” that you just don’t anticipate something as ‘low brow’ as unrealistic puppets would be considered for this show.
• Even when we got a connection – the Seven Plagues – we soon realised that we needed to guess the next one in the sequence rather than simply guessing the topic itself.
• The last Missing Vowel round contained some words we wouldn’t have known even if the vowels had been put in.

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32 thoughts on “Only Connect, BBC4

  1. For me it was the worst type of contrived, “look at how clever we are” nonsense, I have ever seen on the Beeb.It was like they’d tried to expand on the QI formula, but without the Alan Davies stooge character.Expect it top be dropped before too long.

  2. For me it was the worst type of contrived, “look at how clever we are” nonsense, I have ever seen on the Beeb.It was like they’d tried to expand on the QI formula, but without the Alan Davies stooge character.Expect it top be dropped before too long.

  3. Somebody wrote something NICE about me on the internet! I thought that would never happen! Thanks so much xxx. But I can’t believe you think people have to be posh to know stuff. Why? You only have to be curious, and read a bit! It’s so unfair to say that TV and pop music are “proletarian” but art and literature aren’t – not true at all. I admit the Greek letters are a bit ‘classical education’, and posh schools do spoonfeed a bit, but generally, people know as much as they can be bothered to find out and remember. That isn’t a class issue. If anything, toffs are lazier. I went to a posh school, and Oxford, and spent time with some clever knowledgeable people and also some of the biggest morons I ever met. Now I spend most of my time in a casino with people who aren’t posh at all, and they know a million times more…. Self-taught people are always the smartest. But thanks so much for being nice, and good luck with your site, VC

  4. Somebody wrote something NICE about me on the internet! I thought that would never happen! Thanks so much xxx. But I can’t believe you think people have to be posh to know stuff. Why? You only have to be curious, and read a bit! It’s so unfair to say that TV and pop music are “proletarian” but art and literature aren’t – not true at all. I admit the Greek letters are a bit ‘classical education’, and posh schools do spoonfeed a bit, but generally, people know as much as they can be bothered to find out and remember. That isn’t a class issue. If anything, toffs are lazier. I went to a posh school, and Oxford, and spent time with some clever knowledgeable people and also some of the biggest morons I ever met. Now I spend most of my time in a casino with people who aren’t posh at all, and they know a million times more…. Self-taught people are always the smartest. But thanks so much for being nice, and good luck with your site, VC

  5. Our reviewer writes…Whenever classical music appears on television it exudes a superiority complex as though those untouched by its alleged majesty are little better than servile scum. A milder allusion of this appeared in Only Connect with the use of the Greek alphabet to select questions; it was like a door slamming in my face – and this was the root of my irritation with some elements of the show. On the subject of thinking that only “posh people know stuff”, I did make a distinction that Only Connect dealt with “Senseless Trivia” and knowledge that is “Utterly Useless in the Evolution of Humankind” rather than the art and literature that is essential to “the Evolution of Humankind”, perhaps being a little more hostile as I had already felt excluded by the Greek alphabet. A case in point was the question about the Pinter play Betrayal, the film Memento and Time’s Arrow. I am quite familiar with Pinter, but didn’t know he wrote Betrayal, found what little I saw of Memento quite dull and while I knew Amis wrote Time’s Arrow I refuse to read it on the basis that he comes across as such an insufferable human being (although I don’t always adopt such a militant embargo, John Lydon is similarly vile but Metal Box is fantastic). While I knew quite a bit about some of the elements of the question, I felt an absence of immersion in ‘classical education’ precluded me from having the breadth of knowledge to properly participate – which is a crucial part of any good quiz. And I assume, perhaps wrongly, that such broad, if somewhat shallow, erudition is only possible through an extended grounding in a ‘classical education’ that simply isn’t taught at comprehensive schools, and is unconsciously picked up by ‘the posh’ in the same way a bee collects pollen. For those of us bereft of such an schooling, we pick and choose the best of this alien(ating) world – classical literature and art for example, but not elitist classical music or coma-inducing opera. And it is through a “curiosity” and that we “read a bit” that enables us to appreciate its finer elements. Indeed, it’s only because of my “curiosity” in obscure music that I was able to savour the snippet of Labradford on this week’s Horizon. Oddly, the other part of Only Connect that got my goat was the last round which featured food dishes. My irritation is obviously exacerbated through my own culinary expertise standing several fathoms below that of a new-born child, but one of the most baleful trends in TV is the intellectualisation of food and efforts to elevate it to the same level as art and literature, bizarrely through populist programming. Overall, I am actually in favour of ‘intellectual’ quizzes – especially in an era when 50% of the population seem to confuse “your” and “you’re”, and blissfully toss their vocabularies into a semantic black hole, condensing them to such a point that in comparison Newspeak reads like Proust – but I just wish Only Connect was a little friendlier.

  6. Our reviewer writes…Whenever classical music appears on television it exudes a superiority complex as though those untouched by its alleged majesty are little better than servile scum. A milder allusion of this appeared in Only Connect with the use of the Greek alphabet to select questions; it was like a door slamming in my face – and this was the root of my irritation with some elements of the show. On the subject of thinking that only “posh people know stuff”, I did make a distinction that Only Connect dealt with “Senseless Trivia” and knowledge that is “Utterly Useless in the Evolution of Humankind” rather than the art and literature that is essential to “the Evolution of Humankind”, perhaps being a little more hostile as I had already felt excluded by the Greek alphabet. A case in point was the question about the Pinter play Betrayal, the film Memento and Time’s Arrow. I am quite familiar with Pinter, but didn’t know he wrote Betrayal, found what little I saw of Memento quite dull and while I knew Amis wrote Time’s Arrow I refuse to read it on the basis that he comes across as such an insufferable human being (although I don’t always adopt such a militant embargo, John Lydon is similarly vile but Metal Box is fantastic). While I knew quite a bit about some of the elements of the question, I felt an absence of immersion in ‘classical education’ precluded me from having the breadth of knowledge to properly participate – which is a crucial part of any good quiz. And I assume, perhaps wrongly, that such broad, if somewhat shallow, erudition is only possible through an extended grounding in a ‘classical education’ that simply isn’t taught at comprehensive schools, and is unconsciously picked up by ‘the posh’ in the same way a bee collects pollen. For those of us bereft of such an schooling, we pick and choose the best of this alien(ating) world – classical literature and art for example, but not elitist classical music or coma-inducing opera. And it is through a “curiosity” and that we “read a bit” that enables us to appreciate its finer elements. Indeed, it’s only because of my “curiosity” in obscure music that I was able to savour the snippet of Labradford on this week’s Horizon. Oddly, the other part of Only Connect that got my goat was the last round which featured food dishes. My irritation is obviously exacerbated through my own culinary expertise standing several fathoms below that of a new-born child, but one of the most baleful trends in TV is the intellectualisation of food and efforts to elevate it to the same level as art and literature, bizarrely through populist programming. Overall, I am actually in favour of ‘intellectual’ quizzes – especially in an era when 50% of the population seem to confuse “your” and “you’re”, and blissfully toss their vocabularies into a semantic black hole, condensing them to such a point that in comparison Newspeak reads like Proust – but I just wish Only Connect was a little friendlier.

  7. i was a team captain on this week’s show. us colourful travelwriters lost to the nerdy science writers. if there had been more populist questions, say on football, soap operas or rock music of the late seventies, we would have walked it.i suppose it has a place deep in the recesses of BBC4 but watching it this week i was struck by what a cold format it has. during the recording we made a lot slightly humorous asides but these must have been ruthlessly edited out to preserve the formality of proceedings.i couldn’t answer most of the questions… even second time around.

  8. i was a team captain on this week’s show. us colourful travelwriters lost to the nerdy science writers. if there had been more populist questions, say on football, soap operas or rock music of the late seventies, we would have walked it.i suppose it has a place deep in the recesses of BBC4 but watching it this week i was struck by what a cold format it has. during the recording we made a lot slightly humorous asides but these must have been ruthlessly edited out to preserve the formality of proceedings.i couldn’t answer most of the questions… even second time around.

  9. I find it really fun to watch. Gets your brain working a bit. Sometimes I haven’t a clue, sometimes me and/or partner are yelling the answer at the TV while the contestants are baffled.Knowing stuff isn’t about class or education – we do equally well and are from totally different backgrounds. I guess it’s just about being interested in more than what celebrity is shagging who.

  10. I find it really fun to watch. Gets your brain working a bit. Sometimes I haven’t a clue, sometimes me and/or partner are yelling the answer at the TV while the contestants are baffled.Knowing stuff isn’t about class or education – we do equally well and are from totally different backgrounds. I guess it’s just about being interested in more than what celebrity is shagging who.

  11. I enjoyed it.Actually I’m doing a quiz at the moment with missing vowels and I was hoping someone could help. These are book titles apparently,1) MM2)VNH3)WRDPC4)JNYRThanks.

  12. I enjoyed it.Actually I’m doing a quiz at the moment with missing vowels and I was hoping someone could help. These are book titles apparently,1) MM2)VNH3)WRDPC4)JNYRThanks.

  13. I enjoy the programme immensely and get very excited when I get one right but what's puzzling me tonight is the captain of the rugby players.Is he the same Gary Dermody who I once knew,who hailed from Briton Ferry,near Neath and who's Spanish grandparents lived in Abercrave where I was brought up.I'd love to find out if only to boast that I know someone who's in the final of “Only Connect”.
    Terry Walters (patterwalters@talktalk.net)

  14. I enjoy the programme immensely and get very excited when I get one right but what's puzzling me tonight is the captain of the rugby players.Is he the same Gary Dermody who I once knew,who hailed from Briton Ferry,near Neath and who's Spanish grandparents lived in Abercrave where I was brought up.I'd love to find out if only to boast that I know someone who's in the final of “Only Connect”.
    Terry Walters (patterwalters@talktalk.net)

  15. It's not a class issue, it's an issue of personal interest. I'm proudly working class, I'm nineteen, went to a comp in the grim north east and I love only connect. I don't know the greek letters – except the six they use on the quiz, which are actually the ones you use in maths and science at school anyway so not too esoteric…. Yes it's hard, I barely ever get a question right… but I'm actually happy when I do, and I come away having learned something… I'd rather watch OC and get one in 15 answers right than watch idiots on certain other TV quizes I shan't name who couldn't spell bob backwards.
    Even if you don't enjoy it, there's no need to grumble, it's only half an hour a week on one of about nine hundred channels – I'm sure something else to your taste will be available somewhere.

  16. It's not a class issue, it's an issue of personal interest. I'm proudly working class, I'm nineteen, went to a comp in the grim north east and I love only connect. I don't know the greek letters – except the six they use on the quiz, which are actually the ones you use in maths and science at school anyway so not too esoteric…. Yes it's hard, I barely ever get a question right… but I'm actually happy when I do, and I come away having learned something… I'd rather watch OC and get one in 15 answers right than watch idiots on certain other TV quizes I shan't name who couldn't spell bob backwards.
    Even if you don't enjoy it, there's no need to grumble, it's only half an hour a week on one of about nine hundred channels – I'm sure something else to your taste will be available somewhere.

  17. I think it's nice (and brave) of the BBC to go for some unashamedly intelligent programming now and again.
    It's the sort of program that would never get put on by a commercial station.
    As Victoria Coren's comment above suggests it really is more about finding the trivia interesting than being a matter of education or background.
    Watching the program reminds me a lot of solving a crossword puzzle, being at least as much about lateral thinking, and knowing the format of the game as it is about the trivia required. For this reason I particularly like the round with the grid of words; I'm looking forward to the release of the promised browser version!

  18. I think it's nice (and brave) of the BBC to go for some unashamedly intelligent programming now and again.
    It's the sort of program that would never get put on by a commercial station.
    As Victoria Coren's comment above suggests it really is more about finding the trivia interesting than being a matter of education or background.
    Watching the program reminds me a lot of solving a crossword puzzle, being at least as much about lateral thinking, and knowing the format of the game as it is about the trivia required. For this reason I particularly like the round with the grid of words; I'm looking forward to the release of the promised browser version!

  19. Our whole family loves the programme and, shock, horror, we are not only Northern but Scousers too!
    It's depressing to think that people need shows to be 'dumbed down' to make them accessibleof 'friendly'. We just need to raise our game sometimes.
    The problem with this country is that it isn't cool to be clever. We view intellectuals with suspicion and accuse them of being elitist. Maybe it makes us feel more comfortable with our own limited horizons?

  20. Our whole family loves the programme and, shock, horror, we are not only Northern but Scousers too!
    It's depressing to think that people need shows to be 'dumbed down' to make them accessibleof 'friendly'. We just need to raise our game sometimes.
    The problem with this country is that it isn't cool to be clever. We view intellectuals with suspicion and accuse them of being elitist. Maybe it makes us feel more comfortable with our own limited horizons?

  21. CONTESTANTS NEEDED FOR BBC4’s ONLY CONNECT

    Victoria Coren presents the fifth series of the popular BBC Four quiz show ONLY CONNECT where, as in life itself, knowledge will only take you so far: patience and lateral thinking are also vital. It’s all about making connections between things which may appear, at first glance, not to be connected at all.

    We’re looking for teams of three players who share a common passion, ability or profession, to pool their combined wits to solve fiendish conundrums and vexing puzzles.

    ONLY CONNECT: the quiz where general knowledge meets lateral thinking.

    To request an application email onlyconnect@presentable.co.uk including a telephone number.
    All entries must be received by no later than Wednesday 26th January 2011 so get your application in as soon as possible.

    If you applied for a previous series, but were unsuccessful, you are welcome to apply again for the new series.
    Auditions will be held in regional centres throughout the UK.
    All applicants must be aged 18+ and U.K. residents

  22. CONTESTANTS NEEDED FOR BBC4’s ONLY CONNECT

    Victoria Coren presents the fifth series of the popular BBC Four quiz show ONLY CONNECT where, as in life itself, knowledge will only take you so far: patience and lateral thinking are also vital. It’s all about making connections between things which may appear, at first glance, not to be connected at all.

    We’re looking for teams of three players who share a common passion, ability or profession, to pool their combined wits to solve fiendish conundrums and vexing puzzles.

    ONLY CONNECT: the quiz where general knowledge meets lateral thinking.

    To request an application email onlyconnect@presentable.co.uk including a telephone number.
    All entries must be received by no later than Wednesday 26th January 2011 so get your application in as soon as possible.

    If you applied for a previous series, but were unsuccessful, you are welcome to apply again for the new series.
    Auditions will be held in regional centres throughout the UK.
    All applicants must be aged 18+ and U.K. residents

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