7 questions on quizzes

Midweek quiz

A pub chain has launched a drive to boost trade by encouraging its landlords to hold regular quizzes. So here's your starter for 10: How much do you know about quizzes and their history?

Quiz show host

1.) Multiple Choice Question

The word "quiz" has been with us for over 250 years. But which of these definitions was its early meaning, according to the Oxford English Dictionary?

  1. A High Court cross-examination
  2. An entrance exam at the University of St Andrews
  3. An odd person or thing


Quizzes boomed in popularity in the 1950s as television became widely available. But in the US, the Twenty One scandal shook the public's faith in the format after it was revealed a popular US quiz had been rigged - as depicted in the 1994 film Quiz Show.

1950s US quiz show Twenty One

2.) Multiple Choice Question

Contestant Herb Stempel testified that he had been ordered by producers to answer incorrectly the question: "What film won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1955?" But what was the correct answer?

Filming Twenty One
  1. On the Waterfront
  2. Marty
  3. Love Is a Many-Splendored Thing

3.) Multiple Choice Question

University Challenge has pitted bright undergraduates against each other since 1962. Which of these well-known clever clogs was never a contestant?

The Young Ones on University Challenge
  1. Stephen Fry
  2. Christopher Hitchens
  3. Emma Thompson
  4. Miriam Margolyes

4.) Multiple Choice Question

Mastermind is well known for its ominous-sounding theme tune. But what is this piece of music's title?

Mastermind chair
  1. Approaching Menace
  2. Impending Doom
  3. Looming Catastrophe

5.) Multiple Choice Question

Trivial Pursuit brought the quiz into living rooms around the world after it was created in 1979. In the Genus edition, what colour is associated with history questions?

Trivial Pursuit
  1. Blue
  2. Yellow
  3. Green
  4. Pink

6.) Multiple Choice Question

ITV's Who Wants To Be a Millionaire? was a huge hit around the world, with its format sold to 112 countries. It also made a fortune for a veteran British comedian. Which one?

Who Wants to be a Millionaire? logo
  1. Jim Davidson
  2. Jasper Carrott
  3. Ronnie Corbett

7.) Multiple Choice Question

According to a survey of 805 Scottish bars in 2007, which was the most popular night for pub quizzes?

Pint glasses
  1. Monday
  2. Wednesday
  3. Thursday
  4. Sunday


  1. It's an odd person or thing. The OED cites the phrases "Ay, he's a queer Quis" in The Spanish Rivals by M Lonsdale (1785) and "Where did you get that quiz of a hat?" in Jane Austen's Northanger Abbey (1818).
  2. It was Marty. However, Stempel gave his answer as On the Waterfront - the winner of the 1954 best motion picture Oscar.
  3. It's Emma Thompson. The actress did, however, appear alongside Fry as part of the "Footlights College" team in a 1984 spoof episode of the Young Ones.
  4. It's Approaching Menace. Composed by Neil Richardson, it has unnerved contestants since 1972.
  5. It's yellow. Other colour-coded categories are geography (blue), science and nature (green), entertainment (pink), arts and literature (brown) and sport and leisure (orange).
  6. It's Jasper Carrott. The Brummie comedian sold his shares in Celador, the production company behind the quiz, for a reported £15m.
  7. It's Thursday, on which day 31% of quizzes were held, compared with 18% on Sunday and Monday and 12% on Wednesday.

Your Score

0 - 3 : Trivial

4 - 6 : Runner-up

7 - 7 : Quiz master

For past quizzes including our weekly news quiz, 7 days 7 questions, expand the grey drop-down below - also available on the Magazine page (and scroll down).

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