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The Great New Year's Day Quiz

Number ones, pioneers and breakthroughs... Test your brain with Simon O'Hagan's quiz of firsts


1. The world's first nuclear power station to deliver electricity in commercial quantities was opened by the Queen in October 1956. Which power station?

2. A Gobron-Brillié in Ostend in 1904. The first what?

3. What first, dating from the 1880s, is the proud boast of Cragside stately home in Northumberland?

4. Dating from 1863, which was the first London Underground line?

5. What medical first occurred in Cape Town in December 1967?

Music firsts

1. Which 20th-century Russian composer's first symphony is known as the Classical?

2. Which band – with a lead singer who died seven years later – headlined the first Glastonbury in 1970?

3. Which major work was given its first performance in Dublin in April 1742?

4. "You're the first, my last, my..." what, according to Barry White?

5. The first act to appear on Top of the Pops performed a John Lennon/ Paul McCartney number – but it was not The Beatles. Which song was it, and which band?

People firsts

1. Who was the first – and so far only – woman to win an Oscar for Best Director?

2. 130 in first-class, 166 in second-class, and 536 in third-class. What?

3. In 1897, George Smith, a taxi driver from London, became the first person to be convicted of what?

4. Conrad Hilton was the first, in 1950, Larry Fortensky the last, in 1991. What?

5. What cricketing first was achieved by Fred Spofforth in Melbourne in 1879?

Literary firsts

1. "Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life, or whether that station will be held by anybody else, these pages must show." The first words of which Dickens novel?

2. Her first novel, in 1999, was Everything You Know. Her second was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and made into a film starring Dame Judi Dench and Cate Blanchett. Which author and which novel?

3. In Around the World in 80 Days the first leg of Phileas Fogg's journey lasts seven days and takes him to where?

4. Number one on Elmore Leonard's 10 rules of writing is: "Never open a book with..." what?

5. Something to Answer For by PH Newby. The first what?

City firsts

1. Which New Zealand city refers to itself as "the first city of the sun"?

2. The first city that was not a capital to host the modern Olympics was an American city in 1904. Which one?

3. In 2002, which city became the first in the UK to introduce congestion charging?

4. David Cameron held his first Cabinet meeting outside London in which Yorkshire city?

5. Which international organisation's HQ and major New York landmark is located between First Avenue and the East River?


1. In 1953, Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first men to climb Mount Everest, but there are only photographs of Norgay at the top, not Hillary. Why?

2. In 1829, Sam Patch – "The Yankee Leaper" – became the first man to do what?

3. Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt were the last men to do it, in December 1972. Who, three years earlier, had been the first?

4. "He was the most extraordinary man I ever knew." The first line of the film that won the 1962 Best Picture Oscar. Which man?

5. Which of the Wright brothers was the first to fly? Orville or Wilbur?

TV firsts

1. The first ad shown on Channel Five was for what?

2. In 2002, which radio legend was the winner of the first series of I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!?

3. The first woman inducted into US Television's Hall of Fame was a comedienne with a self-titled show that was a huge hit in Britain and America in the 1960s. Which comedienne?

4. Which came first – Strictly Come Dancing or The X Factor?

5. The first episode of which long-running TV series was broadcast the night after President Kennedy's assassination?

Miscellaneous firsts

1. What is the First Aid symbol?

2. How much does a first-class stamp cost?

3. In the UK, this 1942 film set in the Battle of Britain was called The First of the Few. What was it called in the US?

4. Which country (population 103,000) was the first to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol?

5. The First Amendment of the US Constitution enshrines what?