Category Archives: Dr Paul’s Blog

Chestnuts by Heart

King Henry The Seventh
King Henry the What?

You can’t study for a TV quiz show. Or at least, that’s what I used to think.

Now that I’m actively applying to appear on as many cash quiz-paying quiz shows as I can, I’m watching more of the shows on YouTube and starting to notice certain sets of knowledge which keep coming up.

As a quizmaster of many years myself, I should know this but then I’ve always tended away from mainstream quiz stuff and gone more for material that asks the relative size of various animals’ cocks, and so on.

Anyway, these sets of knowledge, sometimes known as chestnuts, are relied on by quiz writers looking to bulk-out their question databases and are things like:

  • US state capitals
  • The periodic table
  • Succession of English/British monarchy
  • Succession of Conservative Party leaders (other parties too, but the recent chequered nature of the Tories = tricky questions that you think you ought to know)
  • Shakespeare’s plays
  • Classic Horse Races
  • Who wrote which opera

You’re never going to win a competitive quiz on this knowledge alone, you need to have some depth in other areas but in just about every episode of every TV-quiz I’ve watched so far, there is something from one of these lists.

So, I’m thinking: it shouldn’t take too long to rote-learn some of these which won’t guarantee me a million pounds, but should throw me a safety net now and again when I might otherwise be in trouble.

For instance: right now I would be screwed if I got ANY question on the periodic table. I’m just not interested in that stuff.

Q. What element is represented by the chemical symbol Na?

A. I divven’t na

Next job is to find some useful mnemonic devices. So far I found this page for memorising US State Capitals which has some useful ideas:

(Iowa [Des Moines] Picture you borrow some coins. You keep saying to yourself, “I owe dem coins, I owe dem coins.” I + owe = Iowa. Dem + coins = Des Moines.)

And as for the periodic table, there’s always Tom Lehrer:

LEt me know in the comments if you have any other good ways of remembering such lists of info.

Audition for The Chase

The Chase, ITVMy quest to have a go at every single British quiz show that pays a cash prize has taken another step forward with the news that I’ve got an audition at the end of this month for The Chase.

The show is on ITV 1, is presented by Bradley Walsh and is a variation on the Eggheads theme of beating champion quizzers at their own game, except this time there is only one ‘brain’ instead of five.

Here’s the ending of the first show form last year’s pilot series: The Chaser in this clip is Mark Labbett who once won £32,000 on Millioniare and plainly knows his shit. This is what stands in the way.

So, the quizzing looks pretty hard but it might be one of these things where you can take a good guess at the question setters’ preferences. On Eggheads I would have done well to study at US state capitals, and in this case it might be clever to look at Kings of England.

5 Questions from the Deal or No Deal Contestant Application Form

Deal or No Deal (Malaysia)
The girls of Deal or No Deal (Malaysia)

My mission to appear on all of Britain’s cash-prize game shows continues with the Deal or No Deal application form.

As you might have guessed for a show that has no quiz content, the questions on the application form are designed to tease out my ‘personality’ and determine whether or not I will make good telly when I appear.

The form is lengthy but the “save and return later” feature means I can take my time about filling in the form and try to think of something good to write for the trickier questions.

If I get on the show I could end up a quarter of a million pounds better off, so its probably worth taking my time over this (the deadline for submission is the end of March).

There is plenty of the usual stuff about whether or not I would consider myself competitive (please give examples), but here are five of the more difficult moments on the form.

What do you think I should write for these..?

  1. What would be a life changing amount of money and what would you spend it on?
  2. Who is your all time hero and why?
  3. If you could swap lives with someone for a day, who would it be and why? (You can’t say The Banker or Noel)
  4. If you were to take The Banker out for a day or night, where would you take him and what would you do?
  5. Write a 4 – line poem about Deal or No Deal

By the way, if you want to apply yourself, go to the Deal or No Deal website to get started,

For cheats and hints to win Dr Paul quizzes in Edinburgh, get the weekly email.

Whose Seat is Arthur’s?

Always on the lookout for local quiz stuff, I climbed Arthur’s Seat last week to see if I could answer the question:

Question: Can you see both Forth Bridges from the Top of Arthur’s Seat?

Dr Paul researcing quiz questions up Arthur's Seat
Dr Paul researching quiz questions up Arthur's Seat

The answer is: yes you can, in fact you don’t have to go that far, you can see them both from even from the top of Sailsbury Crags. But anyway – its a nice little local geography question.

Meanwhle, I’ve had a harder time establishing the origin of Arthur. Whose seat is it anyway? Who is Arthur? The Wikipedia page isn’t too helpful, saying it might be to do with King Arthur and providing an incomplete (as I write) reference about the name being a corruption of Archer’s Seat.

Does anyone know for sure?

More TV – The Chase

The Chase, ITV 1Next on my hitlist of TV game shows to apply for is The Chase which piloted on ITV 1 last June.

The show is doing an audition tour of the UK in February and March to look for contestants.

Audition cities will include Glasgow if there are enough Scottish applications received, so you won’t have to travel far.

I’ve not seen the show myself but it sounds like a distilled version of Eggheads where you have to beat one brain instead of five to win the money.

Perhaps this means the odds of winning money are a better than Eggheads where the rotating panel of ‘brains’ have been known to win 74 episodes in a row!

If you want to get on the show, then send an an email to and ask for an application form.

The Omnipotence of Bovril

Researching a jackpot question for next month about the origin of various drinks (Vimto, Bovril, Irn Bru, etc) led me to this amazing Bovril advert from the early 20th Century.

Bizarre Bovril and Pope ad
Before USA v USSR there was Bovril and The Pope

Intersting. I’m no expert but it looks like The Pope is drinking a two litre flagon of the brown-and-beefy stuff and has just won a game of chess against The Devil (off-camera) by plonking down a massive 50-litre rook with a Bovril prefect’s badge.

I guess this is what people got up to before Facebook.

World’s First: Negative Points!

I’ve been running pub quizzes since the mid-1990s but I have never seen anyone finish a quiz with MINUS points unti lthe other night at Jenny Ha’s when Willie, going under the team name SCOTIA managed this epic feat.

Having built up a flimsy 8 points in the first four rounds, Willie went for beroke in the minefield round, answering all five questions, getting them all wrong and scoring minus 2 for each: total score for the round: minus 10, total score for the quiz: minus 2.


Crap Answers From Last Night

Two spectacular wrong answers last night. First of all at Jenny Ha’s came this question in a round entitled “The Seventies”:

Q. What year in the 1970s were Dannii Minogue, Ewan MCGregor and Gary Barlow all born.

A. 1961

And then, up at the Reverie was a picture question, a night-city skyline full of skyscapers and light.

Q. Which city in Germany in this?

A. Amsterdam.

It’s not 1942 any more, darlings.

Eggheads Die Tomorrow

One more sleep until I take on the Eggheads with the help of Catherine (from the TEAM WITH NO NAME) who comes to the Reverie, plus various quiz geniuses from  the Glasgow days.

Me & CJ - same barber?

The Eggheads die tomorrow morning round about 9am in a Glasgow TV studio, so remember them fondly: the ‘jolly’ one, the glaikit one, the slimy one, the other one and the bird.

Everyone has their own favourite Egghead. CJ de Mooi seems particularly well-liked whenever I bring the subject up.

There are six in the team (five on screen plus a reserve) and the most amount of money ever won is £75,000. If we win that, it’ll be twelve and a half grand each which would buy you a house in the 1970s but makes for a decent holiday now.

However, the prize fund on the show is based on rollovers (+ £1000 every time the Eggheads win), so if they lose the show prior to ours, we’ll be playing for £166.67 each.

No matter – the point is we have a system and we’re going to beat them!

Bring it on!