I don’t watch a lot of quiz programmes on TV but I do still enjoy University Challenge and Mastermind, hence Monday night is quiz night.
I always watched Mastermind when I was younger and rightly or wrongly assumed that the contestants were there to display and test the knowledge that they had gained in some particular field. Of course they would have brushed up on the subject before coming on the programme, but essentially it was about the knowledge that they had gained in the course of their lives.
Not so nowadays. Last week I was stunned to see one of our neighbours on the programme. ‘Look!’ I said excitedly. ‘It’s that woman from down the road!’ Turned out it wasn’t as she lived in Manchester and when I thought about it I realised that her hair was different too. So why did she look so familiar? Eventually I worked it out: she’d been on Mastermind before, and probably other programmes as well. Last year’s winner had not only been a contestant in previous years but had also appeared on other quiz shows. People are in quiz leagues and clubs: they go quizzing up and down the country. It’s almost a profession.
The only quiz that does seem to be a genuine test of knowledge is University Challenge.