The Joy of Quiz | Penguin

17 May 2016

My next book, The Joy of Quiz, is due for release on 3 November 2016. Here’s the blurb:

Alan Connor's history of the best quizzes in the world

• 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 pre-order from your local bookshop, or from Penguin, Waterstones, Amazon, on Kindle, Google Play etc…

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

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

Playful Books Quiz, Richmond Waterstones, 7.30pm, 10 Nov 2016
Talk, Richmond Literary Festival, 7pm, 24 Nov 2016

The Joy of Quiz

Nigel Farage Gets His Life Back | BBC2

25 August 2016

Nigel Farage Kevin Bishop

Kevin Bishop is Nigel Farage, in a programme imagining his life after resigning. Blurb:

“On the 23rd June, Britain voted to leave the European Union,” added the BBC. “Then, on the 4th July, Nigel Farage, the man who had made it all possible, resigned saying he wanted his life back. But what sort of life has he gone back to, and how does a man forever in the spotlight fill his days now he has nothing to do?”

  • BBC2, 10pm, Sun 30 October
  • Script: Alan Connor, Shaun Pye
  • Director: Ben Palmer
  • Producer: Kate Daughton
  • Executive producer: Peter Holmes
  • Commissioned: Shane Allen, Alex Moody
  • A Zeppotron production
  • See also: The Rack Pack

Only Connect | BBC2

11 July 2016

Series 12 of Only Connect, with me in the question-editor chair, begins tonight on BBC Two at 8.30pm.


“It’s a safe space, where a very specifically talented group of people get to show off in their own understated way for an audience of their peers. And this is what makes it so brilliant.” – Stuart Heritage, Guardian

“…that will surely be the highlight of the week for all lovers of uncompromisingly smart television” – James Walton, Telegraph

“What is the link between these numbers? 285,000, 684,000, 1.1m, 2.9m. The answer is they are soaring viewers figures for Only Connect, the toughest quiz on television, which began as a BBC4 obscurity and has now overtaken BBC1 in the ratings.” – Adam Sherwin, Independent

“Only Connect: the best quiz on TV?” – Radio Times

The One Show | BBC1

15 March 2016

I’m on The One Show this evening, discussing spying and crosswords with Gyles Brandreth.


Two Girls One on Each Knee

The Rack Pack | BBC iPlayer

11 January 2016

Update: Luddites can see The Rack Pack on terrestrial TV during the World Snooker Championships c2130, 30 April at 10pm, 16 July, BBC2.

The first drama feature film for iPlayer is out on Sunday [ trailer | playlist ]. It’s about Alex Higgins and these men:

Detailing the complex relationship between Steve Davis and Alex Higgins, and the part played in it by Hearn, the sport’s ringmaster, the film is by turns hilarious and tear-jerking. Its re-creation of an era of quite magnificent sleaze is so precise you can almost feel your shoes sticking to the snooker hall carpets as you watch — Jim White, Telegraph

Delightful… What this is not is a cartoonish romp through snooker’s glory days. For the most part it is very moving. But despite all this, Shaun Pye, Mark Chappell and Alan Connor’s film is still a wonderful nostalgia fest for all us 1980s kids, hearing names you haven’t heard uttered for 30 years — Ben Dowell, Radio Times

Shifts beautifully between laugh-out-loud moments and characters pressing the self-destruct button — Alyson Rudd, Front Row, Radio 4

For 90 minutes of pure nostalgia, this takes some beatingHector Nunns, Times

…hilariously recounts the tension between the pair.
Hearn has seen the film and says it is ‘absolutely fantastic‘. He goes on: ‘It captures exactly the spirit of that time, the conflict between Davis and Higgins and the birth of modern-day commercial snooker. I had to rub my eyes sometimes; it was as though I was watching the real thing. It’s sensational.
‘The film is brutally honest.’ — Tom Parry, Boudicca Fox-Leonard, Mirror

Snooker is famed as the perfect TV sport, but it never looks as good as thisAndrew Collins, Guardian

Snooker fans will have tuned in to the final of this year’s Masters on BBC Two, but over on iPlayer a more thrilling portrayal of the sport was playing out — Rachel Ward, Telegraph

…the only puzzle about The Rack Pack is why the corporation [is] uncertain how to categorise what is simply superb dramaMartin Hoyle, Financial Times


  • A film by Brian Welsh
  • Luke Treadaway, Will Merrick, Kevin Bishop, Nichola Burley, James Bailey
  • Created and written by Shaun Pye, Mark Chappell, Alan Connor
  • Producer Barney Reisz
  • Executive Producer Peter Holmes
  • Executive Producers Shane Allen, Victoria Jaye, Gregor Sharp


Motörhead’s Ace of Spades | BBC News

29 December 2015


Here‘s a quickie Smashed Hits for the BBC News Magazine about Motörhead’s Ace of Spades:

Never mind what Lemmy said – with respect, Ace of Spades can be viewed as a metaphor. You could look at it as the Lemmy philosophy of living just how you want, in the full knowledge of the inevitable consequences.

Read the rest of this entry »

Charlie Brooker’s 2015 Wipe | BBC2

29 December 2015

I am a proud member of Team 2015 Wipe, which is broadcast tomorrow.