I have got a little bit hooked on the TV quiz show Pointless. That might be a bit of an understatement though.I can’t put my finger on what it is that makes it so compelling, but I think it is the fact that you can easily compete at home, either alone or in company. With something like Mastermind or University Challenge the answers are mostly shoved back at such a speed that you only have time to shout out “PG Wodehouse” or “Leningrad” before the contestants if you are really quick. With Pointless you have time to think a bit and even discuss it and compare answers with the family.
On the other hand, it might be that there is never just one right answer. There are plenty of right answers, with some being better than others.
I would love to go on Pointless, butthere is an element of luck involved. For a start you could be playing for £1000 or £20,000, depending on whether anybody won the day before. Sometimes there are topics that are exactly right for you, and then other times there are topics you know absolutely nothing about. On a good day I sit there, supplying the best answer to each round and imagining how brilliant it would be to be on there, but on a bad day I feel really thankful that I didn’t apply to go on and get stuck with that day’s questions.
For example, yesterday and today are pretty much at the extremes. Yesterday there was a round in the head-to-head where you had to identify famous communists from their photos and I blurted out that C was probably Enver Hoxha of Albania which turned out to be right and the best answer of the round. The next question was about Woody Allen films and again I knew the best answer. For the final the question was about London and you had to name tube stations whose names start with a vowel, that nobody in their survey had thought of. There were only about 5 that were pointless and I came up with 2 of them in my list of 3. All those years working for London Underground finally paid off!
Today was a different story altogether. One round was about Spanish names for food. I knew a few which turned out OK. Another was facts about Gary Lineker where I only knew the obvious ones. The final jackpot round was about actors in the two versions of The Ladykillers. I would have been screwed if I got that. I could only think of Alec Guinness and Tom Hanks but suspected Herbert Lom was also in the original. It wouldn’t have mattered because the only pointless answers were people I had never even heard of.
The biggest frustration in the show is that sometikes you never know if your answer was right or how good it would have been. OK you could look up whether it was right, if you were really obssessive (I am not at that point yet) but you wouldn’t know how many points, if any, it would have got. This is because some questions have dozens of answers, and maybe even piles of pointless answers and there is not time for them to give them all so they just give a selection of the highest and lowest answers.
It would be nice f they could publish a complete list on the red button or on the website, but I suspect they are storing them all up to use in spin-off board games or books.
For the record, if I was on there I would love to have questions on Sherlock Holmes or Genesis/Yes album tracks. I would most dread questions about women’s tennis, reality TV, rugby and any modern pop music like Rhianna, Jesse J, One Direction.
I suspect I will be writing more aout Pointless…