If you don't keep one eye on The X factor, forget about any pub quiz victories

There's too much reality TV at the moment to stay abreast of it all

Share
Related Topics

It was quiz night in my local pub the other night, and there's nothing quite like a pub quiz to leave you shame-faced about what you don't know.

The general knowledge rounds presented few problems. We were all right with naming obscure capital cities, and identifying characters from Shakespeare, and we even knew that the Roman God of Summer was Aestas. On history, we were equally sure-footed.

But when it came to the questions on what had happened just this past week in the realm of popular culture, we looked at each other blankly while all the other tables were scribbling away. You may say that it doesn't matter if you don't know who provoked a Twitter storm by appearing on TV without his wedding ring (I believe it was Ant, but it may have been Dec) or the name of the Premier League footballer going out with an X Factor judge (still don't know) or who left the jungle through ill health (someone called Brian Conley although I'm not sure what he does), but, to my mind, this ignorance is not bliss.

It's not just that it leaves you at a serious disadvantage if you're someone who takes part in one of the 22,000 pub quizzes that happen every week in Britain. It is the unsettling sense that there is a whole segment of modern life of which you don't have a basic grasp.

I don't want to spend too much time watching The X Factor or Strictly Come Dancing, and I certainly don't feel the need to read about Tulisa's boyfriend or Brian's medical state, but I think of it like office gossip: I want to know what's happening without going to the trouble of finding out. The problem is that there's just too much of it these days: too much reality TV, too many talent shows, too many judges throwing wobblies, too many contestants having breakdowns. And if you're not absolutely clear where one show starts and another ends, you might as well give up.

Millions and millions of people – across all demographics – seem to know this stuff, and yet here I am like a High Court judge faced with a reference to a rock star. Is it an age thing, I asked myself? Well, yes, as it turns out. My friend Marcus Berkmann, who is the undisputed king of the pub quiz both as contestant and question-setter, says that these days knowledge is a generational issue. “People who are 25 years old know very different things from those who are 50,” he says, adding that he has also had my experience of realising that, while we might be able to recognise Edgar Allen Poe, we are ignorant of something that happened five minutes ago.

In the end, we came fifth in the pub quiz, and left with a serious vow: not to devote more time to reality TV, but next time to get someone on our team under the age of 25. By the way, Marcus's favourite question of the moment: Alistair Cooke (of Letter to America fame) married Ruth Emerson in 1933. Who was the best man who failed to turn up at the wedding? I'll leave you with that. Answer tomorrow.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Doctors - Dubai - High "Tax Free" Earnings

£96000 - £200000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Looking for a better earning p...

Recruitment Genius: PHP Developer

£32000 - £36000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A rapidly expanding company in ...

Recruitment Genius: PA

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A PA is required to join a leading provider of...

Recruitment Genius: Car Sales Executive - Franchised Main Dealer

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity for...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Any chance the other parties will run their election campaigns without any deceit or nastiness?

Nigel Farage
 

The digital world is incredible – but it’s human bonds that make us who we are

Joanna Shields
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee
World War Z author Max Brooks honours WW1's Harlem Hellfighters in new graphic novel

Max Brooks honours Harlem Hellfighters

The author talks about race, legacy and his Will Smith film option to Tim Walker
Why the league system no longer measures up

League system no longer measures up

Jon Coles, former head of standards at the Department of Education, used to be in charge of school performance rankings. He explains how he would reform the system
Valentine's Day cards: 5 best online card shops

Don't leave it to the petrol station: The best online card shops for Valentine's Day

Can't find a card you like on the high street? Try one of these sites for individual, personalised options, whatever your taste
Diego Costa: Devil in blue who upsets defences is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

Devil in blue Costa is a reminder of what Liverpool have lost

The Reds are desperately missing Luis Suarez, says Ian Herbert
Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Ashley Giles: 'I'll watch England – but not as a fan'

Former one-day coach says he will ‘observe’ their World Cup games – but ‘won’t be jumping up and down’
Greece elections: In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza

Greece elections

In times like these, the EU has far more dangerous adversaries than Syriza, says Patrick Cockburn
Holocaust Memorial Day: Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears

Holocaust Memorial Day

Nazi victims remembered as spectre of prejudice reappears over Europe
Fortitude and the Arctic attraction: Our fascination with the last great wilderness

Magnetic north

The Arctic has always exerted a pull, from Greek myth to new thriller Fortitude. Gerard Gilbert considers what's behind our fascination with the last great wilderness