TV of the Day: Only Connect

Heartbreaker of the day: Victoria Coren

BBC4’s latest highbrow (read: impossible) game show is Only Connect, broadcast on Monday evenings and hosted by the… by Victoria Coren. I was going to precede her name with an adjective of some sort, but I feared picking an appropriate one would leave me paddling doe-eyed into the choppy seas of admiration and, let’s face it, nerdy schoolboy lust. So, just “Victoria Coren” it is. I’m not happy about it, but I’ll have to go along with it. Ich nichten lichten

Anyway, the theme of Only Connect is lateral thinking. Although mostly it’s so dumbfoundingly difficult it leaves me literal-blinking. The first round is (deceptively) simple enough. Two teams take turns to find the link between four seemingly disparate clues – be they words, numbers, phrases or pictures. These clues are often rather reminiscent of the kind of cryptic crossword that makes you swear never to buy that fucking newspaper ever again!! And to make matters worse, they are only given the first clue automatically. The following ones are then revealed at the team’s request, and the fewer clues they use to guess the connection, the more points they receive. For example; bowl / cistern / brook / beagle. They all end with the names of birds, see? Tricksy ain’t it…

The second round involves identifying the fourth item in a sequence, the points again decreasing as the teams request more clues. For example; shoe / horse / rider… (Even I got this one, amazingly enough. It was “battle”. For want of a nail the shoe was lost and so forth.) Then there’s THE WALL, in which the teams arrange a grid of sixteen items into their respective groups of four. Points are awarded for arranging the groups correctly and identifying the connections. The frustrating thing about it is that certain items could fit into multiple categories: Does Marlowe mean Kit or Philip, so does it go with the playwrights or the fictional detectives? Is pound a measurement, a coin or a cake? Will our heroes escape unharmed in time for next week’s adventure? Is there a God? (Probably not.)

I love Only Connect, as it’s one of the few quizzes that doesn’t have me screaming answers at the television. I am often genuinely impressed by the contestants’ feats of lateral thinking. And if I ever do find a connection from my own tiny mind, I can enjoy that overwhelming sense of smugness that comes with being proven right. And the whole thing is hosted with great wit and charm by the endlessly attractive, intelligent and altogether wonderful… Stop. It’s all hosted by Victoria Coren who is good.

2 Responses to “TV of the Day: Only Connect”

  1. Ha … Victoria Coren is, I presume, sister of Giles.

    So I guess the adjectival combination for which you were searching was ‘fortuitously well-connected’?

    Corens are taking over the media!

  2. She is indeed sister of Giles and daughter of the late Alan. Rather talented family, that.

    Gosh I do think she’s rather super. I’ll just nip off and shoot m’self.

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