Category Archives: Dr Paul’s Blog

The Chase Audition

The Chase, ITVLast Sunday I was in Glasgow to audition for The Chase, which piloted on ITV 1 last year and is back this year for a full series.

Unfortunately the audition clashed with Old Firm day, so although I got a whole table to myself at Waverley, the train filled up at Haymarket with a herd of tattooed fellers who spent the rest of the hour growling “We Arra Peepel” and bragging about how late they were out last night.

I’ve been to a few of these quiz show auditions now and a fairly standard procedure is emerging which involves two parts:

  • Personality: You talk about yourself in an attempt to prove you are NOT REALLY REALLY BORING
  • Quizzing: You prove you can actually answer  a question or two.

This time the talk-about-yourself bit was a straightforward 2-minutes speech from each punter as we moved around the semi-circle of 9 hopefuls.

auditioning for The Chase
Waiting to hear who's got the nod

Talking about how great you are to the panel of 3 production staff, eight potential rivals all in two minutes is rather like a super-condensed job interview. Here’s a tip: don’t go for this if you’re the kind of person likely to go to pieces.

To add to the pressure, first up was Brian from Edinburgh pub quiz legends THE DUDE ABIDES who had co-incidentally shown up on the same day. I already knew Brian is a top quizzer but I did not know that he’s got loads of stories to tell, including a border incident in war-torn Sierra Leone. Brian nailed his 2 minutes, filling it up with rat-a-tat nuggets of real interest, leaving me in no doubt that there would be a big green tick beside his name and wondering how to follow it.

I was next and my contribution was unprepared and therefore felt a bit meandering and woolly. I tried a few funnies but wasn’t really getting the laughs. The panel had asked us to mention evidence of risk-taking in our lives so I told them about the time I was Naked Elvis.

This appeared to get no reaction and at this point I was wondering if I had fucked up. And that was my two minutes.

The rest of the group included an extremely bubbly woman from Fife, a woman from Nigeria who now lives in Glasgow, a big friendly bald bloke, a Glasgow cabbie who once won a car on Real Radio, a copper who had previously won £50k on 1 vs 100, a self-employed woman from Helensburgh, a student-y bloke and a full-time mum (“the hardest job in the world – and the least paid”).

The quizzy part of the audition involved filling in a sheet, exam style. No talking! I felt good with the questions and I knew that some others didn’t – the extremely bubbly woman kept screaming that she didn’t know any of the answers. No talking!

Also, I know that Brian knows more or less everything but when we were chatting afterwards he revealed that he didn’t know which Sesame Street muppet lives in a bin.

There followed a slightly ludicrous game of outburst/scattergories which involved a lot of shouting and a final episode where we mimicked the final part of The Chase by answering questions “as a team”. In reality, this was me and Brian taking turns to shout out the answers. This was filmed as well and I suppose they were looking to see how confident and how quick you could be.

I understand that at most contestant auditions, they will send you away and let you know later. However, on this occasion, the prodcution team told us on the day if we had been successful.

waiting to  hear
Expectancy and Fear: waiting to hear...

We all filed back to the other room and had about five minutes to guess what was going to happen before the woman came through and told us who had got through. Six of the nine got through and I thoguht this did not include me  but my name was the last one. Phew.

This means I am on a shortlist of 240, from which they will need 160 contestants so from here I’ve got a 2/3 chance to get on the show.

Yvonne, the very very bubbly woman was not picked. I thought they would take her because she was so bright and bubbly but it looks like the trivia knocked her out. She thoguht she scored maybe one or two out of twenty on the quiz and the drama in The Chase depends largely on how close the contestants can run The Chaser. It was a shame because she’d be great on-screen. I think she said she’d been on Golden Balls. That seems about right. She should apply for Deal or No Deal.

The full-time mum also didn’t make it and she seemed pretty aggrieved. I don’t know what her trivia was like but perhaps the chatty bit let her down as she was determined in insisting that her life was not as interesting as the others – perhaps not a great tactic. Also, maybe the full-time-mum-hardest-job-in-the-world thing didn’t strike a chord with the all-female panel who are obviously “career types”.

Anyway – the hardest and worst-paid job in the world would be in some kind of chemicals factory in Western China?

The Jenny Ha’s Fag Break

Jenny Ha’s has a lot going for it. The staff are friendly. You can always geta beer. The banter is slightly weird sometimes, but that’s all part of the fun.

But one of the unique faceets of the pub on quiz night is the

Jenny Ha’s Fag Break!

Not many pub quizzes have their own dedicated fag break but Jenny’s does. If you’re a smoker, its the ideal opportunity to catch up with friends and take a break from the fact that you just did quite badly on the music round.

Check it out:

Fag break time at Jenny Ha'sOf course, thanks to the smoking ban you can also enjoy the break if you are a non-smoker. It really is the best of both worlds!

How The Other Half Live: Serious Quizzing for Serious Quizzers

Thanks to Brian from THE DUDE ABIDES who sent me some papers from last year’s quizzing Grand Prix in Cardiff.

What the hell is a quiz “Grand Prix”? Does it smell of petrol and involve small bikinis? Well, beyond the gentle life of pub quiz, real quiz-heads like to regularly get together up and down the country for some serious, tough, hard, difficult and tricky quiz action.

Brian told me that at events like these you will regularly meet various Eggheads and the brains from The Chase and so on.

When it comes to the quizzing, it makes the old Dr Paul stuff look like a piss in the park which of course, it is.

There is no news so far on whether these quiz events end in a dance-off.

Meanwhile, here’s one of the sets of questions. Brian sent me the papers on Sport, Entertainment, Physical World, Civilisation, and Art & Culture but this is the paper I did best on: Lifestyle where I scored a mammoth 17 out of 30.

See how you do:

  1. What are Lomi-Lomi, Esalen and Shiatsu?
  2. Which American two-time Academy Award-winning actress had great success in the 1980’s with her work-out videos featuring elaborate aerobics routines?
  3. What is the name of the hamburger that is the signature product of the restaurant chain Burger King?
  4. Write the name of ONE of the two chinese exercise systems, originally martial arts, but today best known as a slow motion training activity performed in parks all over the world.
  5. What spanish word refers to any hat with a with a brim, but outside of Spanish-speaking countries is used for a wide-brimmed hat made out of straw?
  6. Where in the body is the muscle Gluteus Maximus found?
  7. What is the brand name of Nestlé’s proprietary espressomaker-system, where they market machines that brew coffee from capsules, available in a wide variety of flavours?
  8. What is the name of the prepared childbirth technique developed in the 1940s and named after the French obstetrician who observed the method during a stay in the Soviet Union, and who started teaching it in the West? It is widely taught in the United States, where many couples take such “classes”. The technique has been altered since the beginning to teach expectant mothers to reduce pain during the labour process.
  9. What is the name of the popular line of fashion dolls that debuted in 2001 and is now a major competitor to Barbie dolls? The dolls are portrayed as teenagers with slim bodies and enlarged heads.
  10. What is mixed with rum and lime to create a Cuba Libre?
  11. What is the name of the 105 carat diamond once the largest in the world, and has belonged to a series of Indian Emperors since the Middle Ages, but is now owned by Queen Elizabeth II as part of the crown jewels?
  12. What is the name of the company who owns the brands Always, Pringles, Pampers and Duracell?
  13. What is the name of the online sales company Amazon’s e-book reader, which in February was released in its second edition?
  14. What is the name of the area in France that is widely known for its quality chicken, the first animal food to receive a AOC-classification?
  15. Which French company is the world’s largest manufacturer of disposable razors, and is also a major producer of other disposable products?
  16. In danger of being confused with the Norwegian Quiz Association, the NQF is an older association and is a promoter of a sewing method where two layers of material are sewn together typically with insulation inbetween, and then joined with other double-layers to create a larger one, such as a bed cover. What is the name of this technique, starting with the letter Q as in NQF?
  17. What Japanese word is a name for the sexual practice that features a woman being ejaculated on by multiple men simultaneously?
  18. Which newspaper in India is the one with the largest circulation amongst English language newspapers in the world?
  19. Which city in the Langhe-area in Piedmont, Italy, is known for its white truffles, that grow in the hilly forest areas that surround the city?
  20. What is the name of this super model, who married quarterback Tom Brady on February 26. 2009?
  21. What is the name of this French actor, the only without English as his first language on Cosmopolitan’s Top 25 list of the world’s most sexy men in 2008? He dated Kylie Minogue for 4 years, until they broke up in 2007.
  22. Which artist starred in the reality-series “The Newlyweds” with her then husband Nich Lachey?
  23. What word refers to the silk-like fabric from the Angora goat? The fibres are notable for their high luster and are stronger than wool.
  24. What is the brand name of the Hasbro toy line consisting of coloured toy ponies, marketed to young girls?
  25. What is the name of the former model and singer, more famous as a groupie, who was Playmate of the month in 1974, and who is the mother of actress Liv Tyler?
  26. Popular in East Europe since the Middle Ages, this low-alcohol beverage is made by the natural fermentation of rye bread, and is now being sold in bottles as a soft drink. After Coca Cola captured large market shares after the fall of communism, local breweries fought back and regained their shares with this drink, which is known under what name?
  27. Ever since the category “Best Make-up” was introduced at the Academy Award in 1982, one man has won the award 6 times, inclusively the first time it was awarded. He was also nominated last year, for the movie “Norbit”. What is the name of this Master make-up artist?
  28. Jelly-extracts from this green succulent plant are used in moisturising products in spite of the lack of scientific foundation for its effect; what is its name?

  1. What is the trademark name of this style of sheepskin boots which has been a fashion since the early 2000’s, and popularised by Australian surfers, who used them to keep warm between surf-legs? They are not trademarked in Australia due to a legal controversy.

  1. What is the name of this model and actress, named the world’s most sexy woman by the magazine FMH in 2008?

I’ll post the answers later…

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.