Alan Connor is a British writer, journalist and television presenter. First seen on Channel 4's youth entertainment programme The Word in 1995 he later appeared on The Big Breakfast and BBC Radio Five Live and was a BBC News correspondent, appearing on BBC News 24 and The Daily Politics.
His scriptwriting credits include the comedy-drama A Young Doctor's Notebook, starring Daniel Radcliffe and Jon Hamm.
Connor has worked as a writer for programmes including Charlie Brooker's Weekly Wipe, The Jonathan Ross Show and This Week and writes journalism for BBC News and The Guardian.
Do you enjoy quizzes or game shows? If so, then you really need to read this book, which is a history of radio and television quizzes since the 1930’s. If you enjoy quizzes, on any level, then this is a delightful, fascinating romp through the history of quizzes, the scandals, the winners, losers and changes that have occurred over the years.
I am more of a casual watcher of some quizzes, so I had not heard of many of these probably ‘famous’ – or ‘infamous’ – events, but I enjoyed reading about them. The University Challenge team from Manchester who answered every question with the name of a revolutionary, the man who studied the patterns on the board of, “Press Your Luck,” and worked out how to add money to his jackpot indefinitely and how coughing caused a contestant on, “Who Wants to Be a Millionaire,” to end up in court…
Alan Connor’s writing is infectious and he peppers the text with quiz questions. In fact, if you buy the paperback version of this, the paper cover even has perforations, so you can tear it up, with each section having a question (with the answer on the other side). From the prizes, which ranged from fairly large sums of money to ‘Bully’s Special Prize this week’ of a VHS Video Recorder, the various presenters and contestants, this is a brilliant read and great fun to dip into. If you enjoy quizzes on any level, or know someone who does, they will certainly enjoy this fun read.
If you love to quiz, this book won't make you any better at it, but it will make you better informed on this most oddest, yet brilliant, pursuit. Alan Connor has compiled what has to be the definitive history of quiz, and told its story in an easy going manner that makes this book so enjoyable to read. Recommended for the quiz fan and the curious about quiz.
I really enjoyed this insight into the world of quiz. The book takes you through the development of the quiz medium we all know today, with stories of important events, shows, board games, all with quiz questions woven into the prose.
Entertaining and informative book about the history of quizzes. It deals mainly with British and american quiz programmes, on radio and tv, and tries to fathom why people enjoy them so much. Some programmes get more attention than others, a lot of space is devoted to Mastermind for instance, and not very much to the more demanding (I think) Fifteen to One. Some rate barely a mention, for instance Criss Cross Quiz, which I remember enjoying very much as a child, is mentioned in passing without any explanation of the format of the show (it combined answering questions with a game of noughts and crosses - a right answer and you could place your cross or your nought on the board). Nor is there any mention of Double or Drop - the quiz that formed part of the long running children's programme Crackerjack (a correct answer and you got a prize, a wrong answer and you got a cabbage, if you dropped any of them you were out of the game). There is a chapter on the famous scandal concerning the rigging of quiz shows in America in the 1950s. There is quite a lot about Who Wants to be a Millionaire?, the set of which 'looked like the invasion-planning deck of an imperial spaceship." Answers to questions asked on various quizzes are given as notes upside down, so you have a chance to work out the answers for yourself. There is one factual mistake I spotted - the author is not aware that yes, Columbo does have a first name, it is Frank, the name can be seen on his ID card in a couple of episodes. This is an enjoyable book for anyone with an interest in quizzes.
Probably just as good as his book on crosswords , but I'm less interested in the topic and found the question-answer gimmick slightly annoying. (The text is interspersed with quiz-style questions -- often real-world examples from the shows under discussion, sometimes just facts that could easily have been included normally in the text -- with the answers printed upside-down at the foot of the page. In most cases I found this broke my reading flow without adding much interest.) Still good fun though: Connor is a very engaging writer, he bothers to do his research, and he knows how to give the reader an easy time without being boringly shallow or patronising.
I gave this book to my #1 pub quiz mate Rob for his 50th birthday (really late) and then promptly borrowed it off him so I could read it before I left Vietnam. It’s almost a British companion piece to Ken Jennings Brainiac - which I actually its wittier and more charming. The Joy of Quiz is VERY, VERY British, both in content and tone, referencing many quiz shows from the past century that I’ve never heard of. But it moves at a fast clip, is generally quite fun, and as well as delving deeper on lots of famous quiz stuff (Trivial Pursuit, Van Doren, Ingram) the book talks about the difficulties of setting quiz questions and formats. Something I’ve had a little experience with.
This entire review has been hidden because of spoilers.
What an unexpected gem. I won't leave a long review for this one, but I was delighted with this book - was could have been a long, hard slog through (quite literally) a very trivial history turned out to be a) informative b) entertaining and c) excellently written. From the lawsuit and movie star-studded origins of 'Trivial Pursuit' to the challenge of being a question writer for 'Only Connect' to the psychology of a master quizzer, this was just a really great, fascinating little read. And the quiz questions liberally distributed throughout were a nice added bonus.
I expected this book to be a little repetitive and heavily referential. What it turned out to be was the fascinating history of quiz interweaved smoothly with actual quiz questions and answers. In other words, while it tells the history and general existence of quiz as a pastime, radio and TV phenomenon and pub entertainment, the book is simultaneously a quiz in itself, and a very well-done one, too. Alan Connor is a setter of quizzes and an excellent writer who has created an absolute gem for anyone with any interest at all in quiz.
Growing up in a family who enjoyed quizzes, much of Alan Connor's book is a nostalgic saunter through my formative years. However, there is much more to this book. The origins of quizzing are far more recent than I had thought, and the process of its evolution is an intriguing one, as is the development of professional quizzers. Questions spread throughout the text are an added bonus.
Great fun. Alan Connor traces the history of our obsession with quizzing in an informative and highly entertaining book covering everything from the earliest origins of quizzes, to the behind the scenes mechanics of how questions are set (and fascinatingly, how they are checked and verified before they get anywhere near being asked in a television or radio studio), to the great quiz scandals (cough cough) and of course the great characters that quizzing throws up. The book itself is brilliantly designed, with quiz questions forming part of the text on almost every page, and a jacket that is perforated into squares with questions and answers on either side - a ready made quiz for the reader.