The Joy of Quiz | Penguin

17 May 2016

Update 2 Nov 2017: Now in paperback.

My book The Joy of Quiz has been published. Here’s the blurb:The Joy of Quiz, Alan Connor

• An absolute must-read for anyone who loves quizzes. Alan knows everything, knows everyone, and writes beautifully too. I loved it! (Richard Osman)

• Alan Connor has the mind of an entertainer and the soul of a quizzer. I can’t think of anyone better placed to lead readers through this weird, wonderful, competitive and dastardly trivial pursuit (Victoria Coren Mitchell)

A jaunty journey into the world of the quiz, from the question editor of BBC2’s Only Connect, sometimes in the form of 300 excellent quiz questions

In 1938 Britain started to quiz. Since then, quizzes have become ubiquitous entertainment from pubs to primetime, suffered major criminal investigations, created unlikely folk heroes and been subjected to the rigours of question checkers.

The Joy of Quiz tells the history of quiz and its makers, wonders how we came to make a game out of remembering scraps of information, looks at the tactics of professional quizzers and reveals the shadowy worlds of setters and checkers.

Along the way, it asks questions such as ‘What is a fact, anyway?’ and ‘Whatever happened to prizes like sandwich toasters?’

You can order from your local bookshop, or from Penguin, Waterstones, Amazon, on Kindle, at Google Play etc…

★★★★★ Connor, like all the best quiz masters, is a genial, companiable host… He writes with wit and fluency… Above all, Connor succeeds in communicating the joy of quiz without taking it all too seriously. An absolute delight. — Simon Humphreys, Mail on Sunday

Book of the Day: Connor, whose last book was a charming look into the history and culture of the crossword, has again succeeded in explaining the enduring popularity of a curious pastime. The Joy of Quiz offers an entertaining sideways social history that takes in debates over quizzing and public morals, government oversight, and – I’ve started so I’ll finish – the strange things otherwise ordinary people will undergo to win a round of drinks. — John Gallagher, Guardian

Book of the Month: Alan Connor’s hugely entertaining book… gives us a cheerfully fascinating history of the whole quizzing business — Reader’s Digest Recommended Read

An absolute treasure trove of good stuff — Stuart Maconie, BBC 6Music

Today programme, Radio 4, 25 Oct 2016, with John Humphrys and Anna Ptaszynski [audio] [video]
Radcliffe & Maconie, 6Music, 4 Nov 2016
Mark Forrest BBC Radio show, 7 Nov 2016
Signing at Blackwells Holborn Book Quiz, 6.30pm, 10 Nov 2016
Talk, Richmond Literary Festival, 7pm, 24 Nov 2016 [slides]
Playful Book Quiz, Waterstones Guildford, 7pm, 1 Dec 2016
The Monocle Weekly, Monocle Radio, 4 Dec 2016
Playful Book Quiz, Waterstones Birmingham, 6.30pm, 7 Dec 2016
Playful Book Quiz, Waterstones Brighton, 7.30pm, 14 Dec 2016
Mid-Morning Show, BBC Radio Leeds, 5 Jan 2017
Radio 2 Book Club, Radio 2, 6 Mar 2017
Boring Conference, 6 May 2017 [tickets]
Kew Bookshop Playful Quiz Evening, Tap on the Line pub, 8pm, 11 May 2017
Talk, Festival of Learning, 7pm, 7 June 2017 [tickets]
Chiswick Book Festival, Waterstones Chiswick, 7pm, 13 Sept 2017 [and prize quiz available at all events]
Weekend, World Service, 4 Nov 2017
Mid-Morning Show, BBC Radio Leeds, 13 Nov 2017
Post-Christmas Quiz with Boatman, 6.45pm, 25 Jan 2018, Blackwells High Holborn [tickets]

alan_connor_bbc_radio

Here’s a playlist of the music mentioned in the book:

The Joy of Quiz

Hotel California | BBC News

23 August 2018

030301gold_house.JPG

A Smashed Hits about (the) Eagles’ Hotel California:

“Vaguery is the primary tool of songwriters,” Frey told a journalist during a 2003 pro-am golf tournament in California’s Pebbel Beach, where he was partnered with Huey Lewis. “It works, it means whatever the listener wants it to mean.”

Sources: History of the Eagles; Hit Story: It All Started Because Of Rattlesnakes; Rockin’ ‘Round The Round, SF Gate; Jennifer Parker’s McBusted: The Story of the World’s Biggest Super Band and this lovely data collection from Southern California Public Radio.

Trump, double-negatives and politics | BBC News

23 July 2018
double negative

A quick piece for the BBC about double negatives:

It’s hard to understate how often we find ourselves using two negatives when we don’t mean to – in fact, this sentence begins with a common example

See also:

The Lion Sleeps Tonight | Financial Times

3 July 2018

IMG_0940

A piece by me for the FT’s Life of a Song series on “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”:

Solomon Linda recorded the spine-chilling isiZulu-language ‘Mbube’ in Johannesburg in 1939. Some he improvised as the tapes rolled. And for those moments, the song belonged to Linda.
 
Then he was bought out for ten shillings by Eric Gallo, the Italian wideboy who owned the studio, and who now owned ‘Mbube’. Even when it became a local hit, Linda could have had no idea what he had given away.

I am indebted to Rian Malan’s collection of essays, and we are all indebted to his indefatigability.

Here’s a playlist of the music mentioned:

Richard Osman’s House Of Games | BBC2

29 May 2018

Series two begins on BBC2 today.

particularly pleasing… This is trivia, plus; it requires a bit of wit, and imagination, even, certainly silliness — Sam Wollaston, Guardian

…just how much I loved BBC2’s new quiz show Richard Osman’s House of Games… Like all the best TV quizzes, ROHOG scores very highly on the playalongability chart – so the half hour fair flies by — Ian Hyland, Mirror

the BBC’s new infectiously funny prime time show… deserves praise for finding a sweet spot which fits all audiences — Adam Bloodworth, Metro

it shouldn’t be a surprise that [Richard Osman’s House of Games] is terrific… The victor gets to choose between a dartboard, pasta maker, cushion and dressing gown, but really, we’re all winners hereRobert Epstein, Independent

viewers couldn’t stop laughing… The show’s debut was a success by all means as fans loved Richard’s new format — Helen Daly, Express

Stand By Me | BBC News

21 May 2018

081102grace_church

A piece for BBC News about the use of Stand By Me at the royal wedding:

That’s why Harry and Meghan’s choice of song meant more than if they’d gone with, say, Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You. And the performance by the Kingdom Choir takes Stand By Me back further still, re-infusing it with the defiance as well as the devotion of gospel.

Read the rest of this entry »

Heat Map | BBC Radio 5Live

4 May 2018

I am a panellist on Heat Map this Sunday.

IMG_0568

Under discussion: cultural appropriation, Kanye West and The Communist Manifesto.

My choice of intro music:

Arts Club with Will Gompertz | BBC Radio 5 Live

29 January 2018

I am a guest on the first episode of BBC Radio 5 Live’s Arts Club. Tickets for the recording are available from The Bill Murray club in Islington.

Update: More episodes with me —

  • 2 Feb 2018: Art for Trump, Dylan v Cohen, What does Banksy look like and is The Bayeaux Tapestry a bit rubbish? (My sacred cow: The Laughing Cavalier)
  • 16 Feb 2018: Florence, portraits and the music of our youth (My sacred cow: The Great Bear)
  • 18 Mar 2018: Awards Shows, the NME, and TV shows for the Obamas (My sacred cow: Julius Caesar)

071020rwa_exhibition02.jpg