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'You will amount to nothing in life': The IoS celebrity school reports quiz

Nobel laureate Sir John Gurdon was told in one school report that studying science would be 'a waste of time'. So who else was wrongly written off by teachers? Matthew Bell is your quiz master

1. Of which bouffant-haired politician was the following written?

"He is rebellious, objectionable, idle, imbecilic, inefficient, antagonising, untidy, lunatic, albino, conceited, inflated, impertinent, underhand, lazy and smug"

a Boris Johnson

b Michael Heseltine

c Michael Fabricant

d Tony Blair

2. Which novelist "has set herself an extremely low standard, which she has failed to maintain"?

a Fay Weldon

b E L James

c J K Rowling

d Jilly Cooper

3. Which actress was told this at drama school?

"With so much in her favour, the student is hampered by weakness of voice. She seems to lack the confidence to project and make the most of the voice she does possess... otherwise it will be 'the films' for her, and that would be such a pity!"

a Julie Christie

b Helena Bonham Carter

c Joan Collins

d Keira Knightley

4. Which Jeremy?

"Stubbornness is in his nature, and could be an asset when directed to sound ends. But his flying off the handle will only mar his efforts, and he must learn tact while not losing his outspokenness."

a Vine

b Clarkson

c Paxman

d Kyle

5. Which Beatle was this?

"Certainly on the road to failure... hopeless... rather a clown in class... wasting other pupils' time."

a George Harrison

b John Lennon

c Paul McCartney

d Ringo Starr

6. Which newsreader received this faint praise?

"He ought to be humble enough to realise that he is the bottom boy in the lowest stream and that this is certainly not the right place for a boy of his ability."

a Jon Snow

b Trevor McDonald

c Huw Edwards

d George Alagiah

7. Which future star of the stage was told that she "would be a very good pupil if she lived in this world"?

a Miriam Margolyes

b Frances de la Tour

c Judi Dench

d Prunella Scales

8. Which Eric was written off thus?

"I hate to say this, but this boy will never get anywhere in life."

a Cantona

b Clapton

c Idle

d Morecambe

9. Which short comedian came out of an army education course with this assessment?

"The boy is every inch a fool, but luckily for him he's not very tall."

a Norman Wisdom

b Ian Hislop

c Ronnie Corbett

d Jimmy Krankie

10. Which much-loved do-gooder got this report?

"She must try to be less emotional in her dealings with others."

a Mother Teresa

b Diana, Princess of Wales

c Florence Nightingale

d Sister Wendy

11. Which prime minister received this assessment?

"If he were to exert himself, he might yet be first at the end of term. Is a constant trouble to everybody and is always in some scrape or other. He cannot be trusted to behave himself anywhere."

a David Cameron

b John Major

c Harold Macmillan

d Winston Churchill

12. Which Python was "just a teeny bit pleased with himself" at school and, according to his report, had "a slightly put-on manner of affectation, perhaps a sort of aftermath of his fine performance in the school play"?

a John Cleese

b Michael Palin

c Terry Gilliam

d Terry Jones

How did you score?

10-12 Alpha plus. Suspiciously good result.

7-9 Beta plus. Potential for greatness.

4-6 Worrying lack of application. See me.

0-3 Gamma minus. Passport to Sweden.


1. B, 2. D, 3. C, 4. C, 5. B, 6. A, 7. C, 8. D, 9. A, 10. B, 11. D, 12. B.