The Whitaker's Almanack quiz of 2009

For nearly 150 years, Whitaker's Almanack has been the most comprehensive compendium of facts, trivia and ephemera in the English language. So who better than its team of expert compilers to test your knowledge of 2009?
Click to follow
The Independent Online

Art & Literature

1) Which artist gave members of the public the chance to spend an hour on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square this year?

2) Who, "as a painter, is at about the level of a not-very-promising, first-year art student", according to Tom Lubbock's Independent review of his October exhibition?

3) What is the name of the companion painting to Titian's Diana and Actaeon, bought for the nation for £50m this year?

4) Ed Ruscha's I Think I'll, has been loaned to which distinguished couple to add to the art collection at their new residence?

5) Which sportsman displayed a collection of abstract art called From Crease to Canvas?

6) Which children's author was the subject of a TV drama starring Helena Bonham Carter?

7) What links Sebastian Faulks, David Benedictus, and Eoin Colfer?

8) Carol Ann Duffy became the first woman to be appointed to which post this year?

9) Which prolific writer of American literature published his 30th novel this year?

10) Which children's classic formed the basis of a new novel by Dave Eggers?

11) What is the name of the central character in Dan Brown's latest novel, The Lost Symbol?

12) According to the most recent Public Lending Rights figures, who is the most borrowed author from UK libraries?

a) J K Rowling

b) Agatha Christie

c) James Patterson

d) Stephen King

Film & TV

1) Which of the following films, released in 2009, was an original screenplay?

a) The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas

b) The Time Traveler's Wife

c) In the Loop

d) The Men Who Stare at Goats

2) What is the English title of the French film, Entre les Murs, which won the Palme d'Or at Cannes in 2009?

3) What did illusionist Derren Brown fail to predict in the finale of his The Events series on Channel 4?

4) The film Bright Star is about which poet?

5) Which cult sci-fi sitcom returned for three new episodes after a break of 10 years?

6) In the film Public Enemies, which American Depression-era criminal did Johnny Depp play?

7) The younger selves of which two British political figures featured in a More4 docudrama broadcast in October?

8) Name the 2009 Terry Gilliam film that features four actors playing the same character?

9) Which British playwright and screenwriter wrote and directed the 2009 film Glorious 39?

10) "What don't you fucking understand? You got any fucking idea about, hey, it's fucking distracting having somebody walking up behind Bryce in the middle of the fucking scene? Give me a fucking answer!"

Name the angry actor and the film he's trying to shoot.

11) Which actor was cast as Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili in an upcoming film set during last year's Russia-Georgia war?

a) Andy Garcia

b) Benicio del Toro

c) Jim Carrey

d) Mickey Rourke

Business & the Economy

1) Which two mobile phone companies announced the merger of their UK businesses in September?

2) Which statesman's son was forced to withdraw his candidacy for chair of the development corporation which runs Europe's largest business district?

3) At the beginning of September, BP announced it had struck oil in the Gulf of Mexico. What is the name of the new oil field?

a) Elbe

b) Danube

c) Tiber

d) Dordogne

4) In the UK, what decreased by 0.4 per cent in the third quarter of 2009; its sixth consecutive quarter of decline?

5) Former financier Bernard Madoff pleaded guilty to 11 charges of fraud in March; how many years imprisonment was he sentenced to in June?

a) 60 years

b) 115 years

c) 150 years

6) In which month did the Bank of England begin its "quantitative easing" scheme?

7) The 11-member board of which UK company agreed to work for free for the entire month of July?

8) Which rail franchise was nationalised on 13 November?

a) East Coast Main Line

b) West Coast Main Line

c) Great Western Main Line

9) The Vestas factory on the Isle of Wight announced it would cease production in July. What did it manufacture?

10) What did British Airways announce it was cancelling on all short-haul flights from 1 August?

International Affairs

1) In which country did a 34-year-old former DJ take power in a military-backed coup in March?

2) And in September, which country's deposed and exiled president sneaked back across the border and took refuge in an embassy building?

3) Which country imposed direct rule after suspending the government of the Turks and Caicos islands?

4) Who selected his audience based on their stature for a public engagement at a car- parts factory?

5) According to the International Energy Agency, which country overtook Saudi Arabia as the world's largest oil exporter in August 2009?

6) Which country's cricket team was caught in an ambush by Islamist militants in Lahore, Pakistan, in March of this year?

7) Which nation celebrated a major 60th anniversary in the same year as a 20th anniversary that went virtually unacknowledged?

8) Name Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's main opponent in Iran's presidential elections in June 2009.

9) What was Jacob Zuma's unofficial campaign song during South Africa's elections in April 2009?

a) Bring Me My Machine Gun

b) Run Me A Shower

c) Let's Dance

d) More Than A Feeling

10) Which country, suffering from massive inflation, suspended its currency in April of this year?

11) Name the newly-appointed (and first) President of the European Council.


1) Which long-running EastEnders actress announced she was to leave the series after 16 years?

2) Who was top of this year's Forbes Magazine list of highest-earning dead celebrities, or 'delebs'?

a) Elvis Presley

b) J R R Tolkien

c) Yves Saint Laurent

d) Michael Jackson

3) Who was lined up by the BBC to take over Terry Wogan's Radio 2 breakfast show in 2010?

4) Name the two celebrity Hamlets who appeared on stage in London in 2009.

5) What do Katie Price, Camilla Dallerup and George Hamilton have in common?

6) Who replaced Arlene Phillips as a judge on 2009's Strictly Come Dancing?

7) Which Hollywood actor was named as "least value for money" in a film-industry survey in 2009, making just $3.29 (£1.97) at the box office for every dollar he was paid?

8) Which singer's success did Britain's Got Talent star Susan Boyle aspire to?

a) Enya

b) Elaine Paige

c) Britney Spears

d) Shirley Bassey

9) Who was said to have snubbed Alexa Chung and Pixie Geldof during London Fashion Week?

10) Whose restaurants attracted opprobrium for serving pre-prepared "boil -in-the-bag" meals?

a) Gordon Ramsay

b) Gary Rhodes

c) Jamie Oliver

d) Rick Stein


1) What is the name of the BNP's record label?

a) Great White Records

b) Anglophone

c) Hope and Glory Records

d) White Riot

2) Which band was this autumn announced as the headline act for Glastonbury 2010?

3) Who finally followed through on numerous threats to quit his band in August of this year?

4) As of 10 December this year, what was the most popular Michael Jackson song on

a) Man in the Mirror

b) Smooth Criminal

c) Black or White

5) Which X Factor competitors did Simon Cowell describe as "vile little creatures who would step on their mother's head to have a hit"?

6) Which recently reformed indie band will hit the streets in 2010?

7) Whose acceptance speech at the MTV Video Music Awards was interrupted by Kanye West's stage invasion?

a) Katy Perry

b) Miley Cyrus

c) Taylor Swift

d) Beyoncé

8) Who enlisted Flea, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist, in October to join him and a nameless band to play tracks from his 2006 solo album?

9) Stefani Germanotta is the real name of which quirky pop star?


1) A large number of world records fell at the swimming World Championships in Rome. What was the widely accepted reason for this?

2) In the World Cup play-off between France and the Republic of Ireland, Thierry Henry's infamous handball led to a decisive goal, scored by which player?

3) Which female tennis player was fined for a verbal tirade against a line official during the US Open?

4) Who will captain the European team in the 2010 Ryder Cup golf tournament?

5) After how many seconds did Louis Saha score for Everton during the 2009 FA Cup final, which they eventually lost to Chelsea?

a) 45

b) 35

c) 25

6) What was unique about the first Ashes Test match this year?

7) Which horse did Liam Treadwell ride to victory at odds of 100-1 in the 2009 Grand National?

8) Jenson Button clinched the Formula One world championship in October. How many British drivers have won the title?

9) In which event did Beth Tweddle win a gold medal at the Artistic Gymnastic world championships?

a) Floor exercise

b) Vault

c) Uneven bars

10) Which rugby player's autobiography is called Just For Kicks?

11) Which team did the England women's cricket team beat in both the World Cup and the World Twenty20 final?

Science & Environment

1) Which of the following was Saturn discovered to have in 2009?

a) An extra ring

b) An extra moon

c) Bacterial life

d) Water

2) The "Staffordshire Hoard", which stunned archaeologists on its discovery by a metal-detectorist in September, belonged to which period?

a) Roman

b) Anglo-Saxon

c) Iron Age

d) Bronze Age

3) The fossil remains of Darwinius Masillae are better known by what nickname?

4) A recent study of 60,000 people found that vegetarians were less likely than meat eaters to develop all forms of cancer. By what percentage?

a) 12 per cent

b) 24 per cent

c) 42 per cent

5) Which mammals were reintroduced into the wild in Scotland in May?

6) Plastic bag usage in seven major supermarkets had dropped by what per- centage in May 2009 compared with the 2006 figures?

a) 38 per cent

b) 48 per cent

c) 58 per cent

7) What noxious life-form invaded the beaches of northern France last summer?

8) What is the name of the area confirmed as the 14th National Park in the UK?

9) Which of the following countries did not hold a cabinet meeting in an unusual location to mark concern over climate change?

a) Brazil (Amazon rainforest)

b) Nepal (Mt Everest)

c) Maldives (underwater)

Prize Winners

1) Which Mercury music prize-winner was dropped by her record label?

2) What is the name of the Samuel Johnson prize-winning book by Philip Hoare?

3) Which international award unites Yasser Arafat, Barack Obama and Henry Kissinger?

4) In which historical period is Hilary Mantel's Booker prize-winning novel Wolf Hall set?

5) Shirin Ebadi's Nobel Peace Prize was recently confiscated by the authorities in which country?

6) What instrument does the protagonist play in Departures, winner of the Academy Award for Best Foreign Film?

7) Why was Corpus Christi College, Oxford, the 2009 winner of University Challenge, later disqualified?

8) Which champion racehorse – winner of the 2,000 Guineas, the Derby and Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe – retired this October?

9) Who won the bid to host the Olympic Games in 2016?

a) Chicago

b) Tokyo

c) Rio de Janeiro

d) Madrid

10) The UK's largest-ever lottery prize was won in the Euromillions draw on 6 November 2009. How much was it?

a) £28.6m

b) £37.0m

c) £45.5m

America, America

1) What's the title of Sarah Palin's autobiography, published this winter?

2) Republican congressman Joe Wilson controversially shouted "You lie!" as President Obama delivered a speech to Congress. What was the topic of that speech?

3) President Obama: "That was pretty impressive, wasn't it? I got the sucker." Who or what was "the sucker"?

4) Senator Edward Kennedy died this year at the age of 77. Against whom did he unsuccessfully run for the Democratic Party's presidential nomination in 1980?

5) What is the core belief of the "Birthers"?

6) Which of these US firsts did not occur in 2009?

a) First Hispanic Supreme Court judge

b) First ex-professional wrestler takes office as state governor

c) First transgender mayor takes office

7) In which US state was the first case of swine flu diagnosed?

8) Which world leader did Bill Clinton meet in August, securing the pardon of two imprisoned US citizens?

9) On which British overseas territory in the Caribbean did four Chinese Uighurs – resettled there following their release from Guantánamo Bay – find jobs at a local golf club?

10) According to an ill-informed editorial in the US periodical Investor's Business Daily, which internationally renowned figure "wouldn't have a chance in the UK, where the National Health Service would say the life of this brilliant man, because of his physical handicaps, is essentially worthless".

Births, Marriages & Deaths

1) What is the title of the Queen's cousin, who had a new grandson in September?

2) Known as the father of modern anthropology, who died on 30 October this year?

3) Which flamboyant TV chef, famed for his on-air consumption of alcoholic beverages, died in September?

4) From which African country did Madonna adopt her fourth child, in June?

5) Norman Painting died in October. For how many years did he play Phil Archer in the BBC Radio 4 soap opera The Archers?

a) 39

b) 49

c) 59

6) How is actress Sophie Winkleman related to HRH Prince Michael of Kent?

7) What is the name of the solid-bodied electric guitar, invented by a man of the same name, who died in August?

8) Which top footballer and his wife delivered their "bundle of joy", named Kai, on 2 November 2009?

9) The subject of an extortion attempt which he revealed on-air in October, which US chat-show host married his partner of 23 years in March?

10) What was the name of the upcoming tour for which Michael Jackson was rehearsing when he died in June?


1) Name the incendiary substance – legal under the Geneva Conventions if deployed as a smokescreen, but illegal to use as a weapon in civilian areas – which was used controversially by Israeli forces in Gaza in January 2009.

2) In the USA, which travel and immigration ban will be lifted in early 2010, after 22 years?

3) The USA also lifted a ban on US citizens visiting relatives in which country?

4) Which British children's author was listed second on the American Libraries Association's ranking of books which most frequently faced requests to be banned from the shelves in 2008?

5) What did the Swiss vote to ban from their country in a referendum held in November?

6) Why was Laura Dekker banned from sailing round the world by a Dutch court this year?

7) Fifa banned which football team from signing players until 2011?

8) What did the Alton Towers theme park ban in August, in order to "... prevent embarrassment among fellow members of the public and to maintain the family-friendly atmosphere at the resort"?

Seasonal Albums (Match the album to the artist)

a) A Cherry Cherry Christmas

b) If On A Winter's Night

c) Christmas In The Heart

d) Alma Mater

e) My Christmas

Cheats & Swindlers

1) Which retired sportsman admitted in his autobiography that he had taken crystal meth – and lied to cover up a positive drugs test?

2) Which head of state won the first round of national elections, despite UN fraud investigators dismissing almost a third of his votes, and won the second round by default when his opponent withdrew?

3) Which former Israeli prime minister was the subject of long-threatened indictments in three separate fraud and corruption cases in late August?

4) IFK Gothenburg football player Kim Christensen admitted cheating by doing which of the following more than once?

a) Moving the goalposts

b) Bribing opponents

c) Diving

5) Which three of the following scandals occurred in sport in 2009? Wheelgate, Bloodgate, Whistlegate, Crashgate, Beachballgate, Goalgate

6) Whose party did Michaele and Tareq Salahi (below) successfully gatecrash in an attempt to be chosen to appear on a reality TV show?

Whose Expenses? (Match the item to the MP)

1) Andy Burnham

2) Gordon Brown

3) Sir Peter Viggers

4) Charlotte Atkins

5) Margaret Beckett

6) Jacqui Smith

7) David Heathcoat-Amory

8) Douglas Hogg

9) John Prescott

10) Sir Michael Spicer

I Beg Your Pardon... (match the quotes to the names)

1) "I don't know what the buns would be, but we've gone four sizes up."

2) "I Googled myself without lubricant. I don't recommend it."

3) "She is vague about her methods, but I know she massages you using fluid from a placenta."

4) "I am, and not only in my own opinion, the best prime minister who could be found today. I believe there is no one in history to whom I should feel inferior. Quite the opposite."

5) "I wanted to get a sense of what it might be like to kill someone, a stranger."

6) "I wish they caught me six years ago, eight years ago."

7) 'In Scotland, we are a people who pride ourselves on our humanity. It is viewed as a defining characteristic of Scotland and the Scottish people.'

8) "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels."

9) "You know, Gordon, I should not like you. You are Scottish, we have nothing in common and you are an economist. But somehow, Gordon, I love you. But not in a sexy way."

10) "You ask my opinion. I will tell you my opinion; I'm not going to channel my husband."

a) Kenny MacAskill (Scottish justice minister)

b) Kate Moss

c) Bernie Madoff

d) Robin van Persie (Arsenal striker)

e) Nicolas Sarkozy

f) A. A. Gill

g) Hillary Clinton

h) Silvio Berlusconi

i) David Pugh (Calendar Girls producer)

j) Carrie Fisher

a) Number of people on the national DNA database in April 2009.

b) Usain Bolt's 100m world record in the World Athletics Championship.

c) The size of President Obama's economic stimulus package, signed into law in February.

d) Number of editions of Whitaker's Almanack.

e) The sum of money in parliamentary expenses that Gordon Brown was ordered to repay by an auditor in October.

f) Number of (million) people unemployed in the UK, according to quarterly ONS statistics.

g) The number of games played in the 2009 Wimbledon men's singles final.

h) Dubai World's estimated debt.