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The News Quiz Book

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Robson Books, London, 1981
(112 pages)

The blurb on the back:

After such journalistic delights as lurid Luncheon Vouchers, the descaling of the BBC's musical mountain, the ascent of the Biggles of Bwussels, tarnished Golden Delicious, a smaller World Service, a larger Royal Family and shock horrors too numerous to mention, THE NEWS QUIZ BOOK brings you the assembled wit, wisdom and wise-cracks of Alan Coren, Richard Ingrams, Simon Hoggart, Joan Bakewell, Michael Billington, Hunter Davies, Russell Davies, Nigel Dempster, Clement Freud, Valerie Grove, Simon Jenkins, Jonathan King, Ann Leslie, Bel Mooney, Stan McMurty, Claire Rayner, Gillian Reynolds, Angela Rippon, Gavin Scott, Douglas Stuart, David Taylor, Polly Toynbee, Jill Tweedie and John Wells: with illustrations by cartoonist MAC of The Daily Mail
All the thrills and spills of BBC's radio's irreverently topical mind-twister are here in this action-packed companion to one of the most actionable programmes on the air. Join in the quiz, test your knowledge against the panel or just sit back and enjoy the funniest interpretation of the news since
Complete with its own Barry Took, chairman.

What a peculiar idea: a topical weekly news quiz publishing a book of questions and answers from the programme. And - even more peculiar - reading it 20-odd years later.

Nonetheless, The News Quiz was always at its best on the trivial foibles of humanity, which don't date very much; it never did do much in the way of biting satire, and particularly not in the old days before Jeremy Hardy and Andy Hamilton took over. The cast back then comprised Barry Took as chairman (originally it had been Barry Norman), and regular team captains Alan Coren and Richard Ingrams. It was always most entertaining when Ingrams was accompanied by John Wells: the two of them would bumble their way through the half-hour, knowing not a single thing of what had happened over the past seven days, but indulging themselves in Beachcomber-esque flights of whimsy. The show's got a lot tighter and more professional since then.

The book's fun not for the quotes from the shows, so much as for the misprints and silly stories from the papers, such as this advert in the Radio Times:

Right now at WH Smith you'll find not only trains and tracks, but coachloads of Hornby and GMR accessories, too. Even waiting-rooms complete with fictitious timetables that make any model railway set seem more like the real thing!

And, of course, the last round, where the teams bring in their clippings still works. Here's Richard Ingrams:

This is another little item from The Daily Telegraph, concerning the infamous Red Robbo, the Leyland shop steward who appealed to an Industrial Relations Tribunal. It says: At a resumed preliminary tribunal hearing in Birmingham yesterday, Mrs Phyllis Robinson said that, after he was sacked, Mr Robinson became difficult to live with. 'He did strange things, like being deep in thought.'

Alan CorenBarry TookRichard Ingrams
The regulars: Coren, Took & Ingrams