The great Christmas Eve quiz

The presents are under the tree, which means that it's time to try your hand at Simon O'Hagan's fiendish brainteaser. If you dare...


1 Olya, Masha and Irina. Which play?

2 Who was the daughter of Oedipus and his mother Jocasta?

3 Which sibling pop act hailed from Gary, Indiana?

4 James Bond's family motto is also the title of a Bond movie. What is it?

5 Which pair of businessmen brothers bought the island of Brecqhou?


1 Shadowlands told the story of which 20th-century author?

2 John Williams made three appearances in the American Film Institute's list of top 25 film scores. For which films (made in 1975, 1977, and 1982)?

3 Pierre Boulle wrote the book in 1952. Five years later the film of it won seven Oscars (including Best Film, Best Director and Best Actor). Which film?

4 He made his acting debut in What's New Pussycat? in 1965. His most recent appearance was in Scoop in 2006. Who?

5 Henry Fonda in 1939, Simon Ward in 1972. What's the connection?


1 In 1949, which leading British novelist pseudonymously entered a New Statesman competition that invited parodies of his own style, and won second prize?

2 The Twenty-Seventh City (1988) and Strong Motion (1992) were this American writer's first and second novels. What were his third (2001) and fourth (2010)?

3 Who is to chair the judging panel for the 2012 Booker Prize?

4 What distinction is claimed of the 17th-century novel Artamène, or Cyrus the Great, by siblings Madeleine and Georges de Scudéry?

5 Which bestselling author survived two plagiarism lawsuits – one in America in 2005 and one in the UK in 2006?


1 In 1957, which was the first alcoholic product to be advertised on British television?

2 Which beer was first brewed in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire in 1847?

3 In October 2004, why, in the western United States, did merlot sales drop by 2 per cent while pinot noir sales increased by 16 per cent?

4 In 2007, which leading Frenchman's reluctance to drink led to complaints from the wine industry that he was sending out a negative message?

5 William Hogarth's Gin Lane has a companion print depicting a thoroughfare called what?


1 Luath, Bodger and Tao go on which journey?

2 In 1869, the French Empress Eugenie, travelling in the Imperial yacht Aigle, was the first person to do what?

3 Cheriton and Coquelles. What's the connection?

4 What was invented by Keith Mills in 1988?

5 The ship was called The Fram and it set sail with 19 men and 97 dogs on board. Which voyage?


1 Which TV programme has been most often represented on the cover of The Radio Times?

2 Which broadcasting body was founded at a conference in Torquay in February 1950?

3 In 2008, which TV theme was voted the most recognisable piece of music in the UK?

4 Of the 40 series of University Challenge since the first in 1962, which university has more wins to its name – Oxford or Cambridge?

5 Jamie Oliver's first TV series was called what?


1 Which record label, prominent in the late 1970s, billed itself as "The World's Most Flexible Record Label"?

2 Aged 41 when the First World War broke out – and therefore free not to serve – which composer instead chose to enlist, enduring a gruelling time as a stretcher-bearer?

3 The chanter forms a part of which instrument?

4 Which songwriting duo, responsible for more than 30 albums since they started out in the late 1960s, never work in the same room?

5 Since the Mercury Prize was founded in 1992, the most nominated band is also a band that has never won it. Which band?

Stocking fillers

1 The Old Bailey, Arundel Castle, Hampton Court Palace. All said to be what?

2 Club founded by Francesco Bianco; record sleeve designed by Richard Hamilton; 1942 song by Irving Berlin. What's the connection?

3 Samuel Pepys attended a puppet show telling a story destined to become a popular pantomime. Which panto?

4 Jabberwocky, Napoleon and Sheepshead are all types of what?

5 Quentin Crisp delivered what broadcasting first in 1993?