Media Biz Quiz 2005

Quizmaster 2005 John Sergeant‘Please do be quiet,’ quizmaster John Sergeant urged the rowdy crowd at English PEN’s fourth annual Media-Biz Quiz on November 28th as he prepared to call the tie-breaker question. ‘This is a tricky time,’ he added, ‘careers will depend on it.’ A record number of 36 teams from across the media industry competed for the much-coveted trophy at the Café Royal in Piccadilly in an atmosphere of amicable if boisterous rivalry as contestants debated, cheered, groaned and heckled their way through the evening.

The Quiz was won in a tense tiebreak by a team from Pan Macmillan which included top authors Louis Theroux, Alan Hollinghurst and William Fiennes,

James Walton winning the Quiz for Pan Macmillan (Gabriele Stabile)
James Walton winning the Quiz for Pan Macmillan
although in fact their winning answer was delivered by a ringer, James Walton of the Telegraph, the cousin of their Editorial Director. Correctly identifying Doris Day as the star of Calamity Jane, he saw off the Mail on Sunday, who then took second place in a play-off against Orion. Top prize was a bottle of vintage Dom Perignon champagne for each table member and second prize a return Eurostar ticket.

At the end of the evening Will Self took the stage to draw the raffle and kept the crowd entertained with his signature sardonic irreverence; ‘And the eighth prize is a personal training session with the Guardian newspaper’s editor, Alan Rusbridger,’ he quipped, ‘Who will make you lift his newspaper up and down’. Other heavyweight literary competitors included Nick Hornby on the Penguin team, Vikram Seth who competed for Time Warner Books, Margaret Drabble who played for The Literary Consultancy and Sebastian Faulks for The Random Housers.

The Quiz in action at Cafe Royal (Gabriele Stabile)English PEN are thrilled to have raised just over £33,000 from the evening, which far exceeds the previous fund-raising record. The proceeds will be used to support our work promoting literature, literacy and freedom of expression. The Media-Biz Quiz is made possible by the generosity of so many contributors. We would like to thank our sponsors (click here to see this year’s sponsors) for helping to fund the evening and providing such fabulous prizes, our volunteers for all their hard work on the night, The Bettertones for providing a delightful musical backdrop to the evening, Will Self for bringing his wit to the raffle and, of course, to John Sergeant, for leading the quiz with charisma and aplomb.

Click here to see all of the Sponsors who kindly helped to support the 2005 Media Biz Quiz.


This year’s table takers were…


Association of Authors’ Agents * Baker Tilly * The Biographers’ Club * Bloomsbury Publishing * Charles Russell Solicitors * Colman Getty PR * The Daily Mail * The Daily Telegraph * The Economist * The Evening Standard * Faber & Faber * Foyles’ Books * H.W. Fisher * HarperCollins Publishers * Hodder Headline * The Independent on Sunday * The Literary Consultancy * The Mail on Sunday * Midas PR * New Scientist * The Observer * Orion Book Group * Pan Macmillan * Penguin Group * 3 PEN tables * Poet in the City * Portobello Books * Prospect * Random House * Reynolds Porter Chamberlain * The Romantic Novelists’ Association * TSP UK Ltd. * The Times * Time Warner Book Group *

Report by Sarah Flax and Alice O’Hanlon. Photos by Gabriele Stabile


Selected Media Coverage:


Guardian Online – Monday November 28

‘Fingers on the buzzers’

Bitter rivalry, angry confrontations, and in all probability a demand for a recount. No, nothing to do with a US presidential election but the fourth English PEN Media-Biz quiz, taking place in London tonight. The Times, Daily Mail, Daily Telegraph, Evening Standard, the Observer and the Economist are among the teams competing in the contest, presided over by John Sergeant. What – no Heat magazine? Anyway, Monkey hears that certain organisations have packed their teams with ringers in a bid to take the ultimate prize. Monkey can only hope there is no repeat of the histrionics from one national newspaper editor at last year’s event. Don’t forget fellas – it’s not the taking part, it’s the winning that counts.

Bookseller – Friday 2nd December

‘Pan takes PEN’

To the annual PEN Quiz at Café Royal, which proved something of a cakewalk for publishers. They revelled in obscure questions loosely based on literature and left some of Fleet Street’s finest brains trailing. Penguin and HarperCollins made the top 10, while Pan Macmillan and Orion tied for first place with the Mail on Sunday, the only paper highly placed. In a tense three-way shoot-out, Pan Mac took the top prize, with James Walton the first to blurt out who played Henry VIII in “Carry on Henry” (answer: Sid James). Orion have the consolation of being the highest-placed publishers in the annual BA quiz; no doubt Pan Mac will be looking to do the double in Bournemouth next May.

The Spectator – Friday 2nd December

Diary – Sam Leith

Monday night brought Pen’s annual fundraising quiz at the Café Royal. The idea is that you get a lot of journalists and publishers together to drink and shout and squabble, in order to highlight the plight of those brother writers who are the victims of censorship and torture overseas […] I was drafted on to the Daily Telegraph’s team after a colleague fell ill, and I was, of course, useless, muffing all the Books questions. ‘Isn’t that a picture of Robert Browning’ I’d ask. ‘No,’ a colleague would reply gently. ‘It’s Virginia Woolf.’ I never tired of being told, ‘Call yourself a literary editor?’ Knowing that Paris Hilton’s pet monkey Baby Luv had tweaked her nose during a shopping spree in a Las Vegas knicker shop earned me back some kudos, but not as much as I thought it should have.

The Independent – Sunday 4th December

Media Diary – Vincent Graff – ‘Glittering fixers’

Former Booker Prize winner Alan Hollinghurst gained another laurel last week when he was a member of the Pan Macmillan team that won the prestigious PEN Media-Biz Quiz at the Café Royal, leaving The Mail on Sunday, whose team included David Mellor, cursing in second place. Other luminaries doing battle included Margaret Drabble, Simon Hoggart and Libby Purves. Jonathan Coe and Nick Hornby were Penguin Group team-mates, the latter presumably having no trouble when quizmaster John Sergeant served up a question based on Hornby’s original best-seller Fever Pitch. Fix!

Time Out – December 21st

Bookworm – ‘What you Will’

English PEN’s fourth annual Media-Biz Quiz on November 28, hosted by John Sergeant, raised a record £32,300 which will support the society’s work promoting literature, literacy and freedom of expression. Memorable moments include Will Self’s quip as he drew the raffle that the ‘eighth prize is a personal training session with the Guardian‘s editor Alan Rusbridger, who will make you lift his newspaper up and down’.

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