English PEN Media-Biz Quiz 2003

The participants (Photo: Jo Paterson)
The participants
(Photo: Jo Paterson)

“What name is given to a female swan?”* The PEN staff in the room breathed a collective sigh of relief. The final question of the final round of the second annual English PEN Quiz Night had been posed, and the results would be flashed onscreen in a matter of minutes. “The answer to this may be closer than you think”, was Quizmaster Clive James’ end of the night hint.


Savoy‘s beautiful Lancaster Room, primed for cerebral action. The 6 rounds of questions aimed to cover a broad range of knowledge – a Guess Who? picture round of writers to identify, Film & TV (questions set by Lord Puttnam), Current Affairs (set by Jon Snow), Gardening (set by James Fenton), Music (set by Tot Taylor) and General Knowledge (Magnus Magnusson). Competition was fierce as the tables endeavoured to get their team name emblazoned on the leader board. Many teams had co-opted famous faces and names, some of the better known participants including Carol Vordeman, David Mellor, Piers Morgan, Richard Harris, Sebastian Faulks, AN Wilson and Vikram Seth.

David Mellor & Francis Wheen (Photo: Jason Brake, Daily Mail)
David Mellor & Francis Wheen
(Photo: Jason Brake, Daily Mail)

There was a welcome hour’s respite between rounds 3 and 4 for dinner; thus revived the teams plunged back into the fray with the Music Round. This, along with the fiendishly difficult picture round, was to separate the wheat from the chaff, as erstwhile high-fliers toppled down to the ‘laggards’ section of the scoreboard. While the scorers furiously collated the results, Clive James took control in the interim, auctioning two Virgin Upper Class return tickets to New York and a cricket bat signed by the County Championship team of Sussex Cricket Club. Blake Morrison then stepped in to help draw the raffle, and many participants walked away with various goodies donated by the likes of Fortnum & Mason and the de Vere Grand Brighton.

Familiar faces from the Mirror's table (Jo Paterson)
Familiar faces from the Mirror’s table
(Photo: Jo Paterson)

The final results in, the scorers table was still a flurry of activity: amazingly, the scoreboard displayed a 3 way tie-break. Fortunately our adjudicator had prepared for this unlikely eventuality, and so the Quizmaster invited the 3 tying teams – The Times Thunderers, The Sunday Telegraph and Old Moore‘s Almanack (The Daily Telegraph) – to nominate one participant to come on stage and play the tie break. This dubious honour bestowed, the 3 assembled to answer the following question:  “Who said ‘A man in the house is worth two in the street?'” John Gross of the Sunday Telegraph was first with the answer ‘Mae West’, securing his team’s victory and the prize of 10 return tickets to Paris on the Eurostar. The question for second prizes was correctly answered by Old Moore’s Almanack, winning 10 champagne flights on the London Eye for The Daily Telegraph, and the Times Thunderers’ graciously exited with no prize but plenty of kudos. Click here for a full list of the results.

The President and the Quizmaster (Photo: Jason Brake, Daily Mail)
The Quizmaster & the President
(Photo: Jason Brake, Daily Mail)


Our heartfelt thanks go to all those who participated and took tables, the team of scorers who took on such an arduous task, all the staff at the Savoy who helped the evening go so smoothly, all those erudite individuals who set questions, our generous sponsors who donated prizes and drinks, the PEN Quiz Committee – particularly Jane Mays at the Daily Mail – and the fantastic Quizmaster, Clive James, who emceed the evening with such aplomb.

The Victors (Photo: Jason Brake, Daily Mail)
The Victors
(Photo: Jason Brake, Daily Mail)

Report by Tanya Andrews

*The answer is, fittingly, ‘Pen’.

Originally posted with the url: www.englishpen.org/events/reportsonrecentevents/penmediabizquiz2003/

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