Some of the cleverest brains in broadcasting were at the point of exploding. Tom Cruise's wedding. That castle in Italy. What the hell was it called? Arrgghh!
No matter that you might be charged with delivering news to the nation. Recalling the details of big stories can be beyond even the likes of Kirsty Wark, Jon Snow, James Naughtie, Kay Burley, John Suchet, Dermot Murnaghan and Fi Glover. They were just some of the household names doing battle at the Ultimate News Quiz in London on Friday night - the latest in the growing phenomenon that is the celebrity charity quiz night. But when Jeremy Paxman, acting as quizmaster, lobbed them that little tester, could they rise to the occasion?
One man you could surely depend on was Piers Morgan. This was the "Sex, Drugs and Celebrity" round, and so confident was he of his expertise that he had persuaded his teammates from the Tiger Aspect production company to play their joker. But could he come up with the name of the castle? No he could not.
When, after three hours and 140 questions, the dust finally settled, it was a team from ITV News that emerged victorious, pipping Tiger Aspect by just half a point. "We did it!" newsreader Katie Derham declared. "Who says ITV News is dumbing down!"
The person with the most to live down was probably the World at One presenter Shaun Ley. Dispatched to the podium to contest a tie-breaker on behalf of his Radio 4 team, he was asked which organisation was marking its 50th anniversary this year and had 27 members. "The Commonwealth?" A course in EU studies for Mr Ley, perhaps?
The event, including an auction conducted by Rory Bremner, added another date to the increasingly crowded celebrity quiz night calendar, following on from the River Café quiz and the PEN quiz, at which many of the same people could be found.
The Ultimate News Quiz was organised by Chris Shaw, controller of news and current affairs at Channel 5, who explained: "We're a competitive bunch and it seemed a good idea to channel that competition into something constructive."
About £40,000 was raised for charity at the event.
According to Jane Allen, the director of Quizzing. co.uk, there are more than 100,000 pubs in the UK holding quiz nights each week, with nearly three million people taking part. "Every other pub in the country runs one these days," she said.
Television quiz shows are big business. Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, for example, was sold to the Dutch interactive broadcaster 2waytraffic in December for £106m, having already made hundreds of millions for its producers through the worldwide sale of the format.
When mainstream and late-night television quiz shows, such as ITV's The Mint, are taken into account, the industry is worth an estimated £125m a year, set to rise to £1bn by 2010.
Additional reporting by Ian Griggs
* Answer: Odescalchi Castle in Bracciano near romeReuse content