Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell wedding to the Arab Spring: Are you a 2011 Mastermind?

From Macca”s bride to the Arab Spring: Are you a 2011 Mastermind

The real joy of presenting Mastermind on the BBC, after so many years of interviewing politicians, is asking people questions and knowing that they actually want to answer them.

I can’t pretend all the questions in this New Year Quiz will be as demanding as some of those in Mastermind’s specialist subject rounds, but I reckon that if you’ve been paying a reasonable amount of attention to the news during the past year you’ve got a fair chance of getting them all.

So let’s begin by borrowing the Mastermind format and putting you under a bit of pressure.

There are roughly the same number of questions that a typical Mastermind contestant will manage to get through

There are roughly the same number of questions that a typical Mastermind contestant will manage to get through

You won’t have the black chair or the bright lights shining into your eyes to intimidate you, but you will need a watch with a second hand. That’s because you have only two minutes to answer this first round.

There are roughly the same number of questions that a typical Mastermind contestant will manage to get through.

The trick is, of course, not to spend too long agonising over a single question. If you think you don’t know, it’s best to move on pretty swiftly.

So, good luck — and no cheating!.


1. Who was the president of Egypt until he was forced to resign in February

2. Who captained the England cricket team that won the Ashes in Australia

3. Where did Hugh Grant, Steve Coogan and Max Mosley all appear in front of a judge

4. What was the name of the nuclear plant in Japan that was hit by the earthquake and tsunami

5. What two initials caused the Liberal Democrats a good deal of grief in May

6. Who was the infamous Bosnian Serb military leader who was brought to book after eight years on the run

7. A Scottish couple found themselves 161 million better off in July. What had they done to earn it

8. When Rupert Murdoch appeared before a parliamentary committee of MPs, the hearing was brought to an abrupt halt by somewhat un-parliamentary proceedings. What happened

9. Staying in Parliament, who caused many raised eyebrows because she was accused of lowering the tone — first with a bedsheet and then by entering a certain notorious house

10. Who was revealed to have signed a 400,000 book deal for her tips on how to throw a party

11. Why was there a gap on newsagents’ shelves all over Britain on July 17

12. An allegedly foxy young woman had great cause to celebrate in October. Why and who was she

13. Another Fox was also in the news this year, but his story ended rather less happily. Who was he and what job had he held

14. What did a small group of protesters in tents manage to achieve that had not happened since the Blitz in 1940

To whom did a Beatle not only say

To whom did a Beatle not only say “I wanna hold your hand” but also put a ring on her finger

15. To whom did a Beatle not only say ‘I wanna hold your hand’ but also put a ring on her finger

16. What famous Hollywood couple took precisely the opposite step just one month later

17. Which small country became the 17th to join the eurozone

18. Which country does everyone expect will be the first to leave it

19. Which TV personality was brought in to rescue Britain’s ailing High Streets

20. Who was the pop star whose adopted son ended up in jail after he’d been seen swinging from a flag on the Cenotaph

21. The Queen made history on May 12. Why

22. Who was the famous footballer who tried to keep his name out of the papers by taking out a superinjunction

That’s it. The buzzer has gone. You’ll see the answers printed below.

If you got half of them right…not bad at all. If you got 14 you should be very pleased with yourself.

And if you got 18 in the time allowed you should be logging onto the Mastermind website right now and I look forward to seeing you in the black chair for the next series, and handing you the trophy at the end of it.


Now to the second half of the quiz. And in this round there’s no time pressure. You can take as long as you like — and you get to choose from three possible answers.

A. Who resigned from his job at No 10 because of what he called the ‘continued coverage of events connected to my old job at the News of the World’

1. Alastair Campbell.

2. Andy Coulson.

3. Larry the cat.

B. What happened on January 4 that made it a touch more expensive to go to the shops

1. The VAT rate went up.

2. Petrol prices hit yet another new high.

3. Inflation started to kick in.

C. In which country did the so-called Arab Spring begin

1. Egypt.

2. Morocco.

3. Tunisia.

D. What was the incident that sparked it off

1. Rioting in the streets over the price of food.

2. A market trader setting fire to himself.

3. Violent demonstrations by people demanding the right to vote.

Which megastar died on March 23

Which megastar died on March 23

E. Which megastar died on March 23

1. Michael Jackson.

2. Elizabeth Taylor.

3. Frank Sinatra.

F. An influential Eurosceptic MP quoted these lines from T.S. Eliot following a dramatic EU development: ‘The last temptation is the greatest treason/To do the right deed for the wrong reason’. What was ‘the right deed’

1. Imposing a three-line whip to stop Tory MPs voting for a referendum on Europe.

2. Kenneth Clarke recommended teaching La Marseillaise to British schoolchildren.

3. David Cameron vetoing a non-existent EU treaty.

G. Which of the following claims were made on behalf of Kim Jong Il, North Korea’s ‘Great Leader’ who died on December 19

1. He invented the hamburger.

2. When he played the inaugural round on Pyongyang’s first golf course he managed no fewer than 11 holes-in-one.

3. He had more than 200 official titles including ‘Guiding star of the 21st century’ and ‘Glorious general who descended from heaven’.

H. Why did scientists at the nuclear research organisation Cern think Einstein might have got one of his most famous theories wrong

1. Because they timed a particle travelling at what appeared to be faster than the speed of light.

2. Because they thought they’d found the mysterious Higgs boson particle.

3. Because they thought they hadn’t.

Which famous couple are being encouraged to become MUCH more friendly

Which famous couple are being encouraged to become MUCH more friendly

I. Which famous couple are being encouraged to become MUCH more friendly

1. David Cameron and Nicolas Sarkozy.

2. Nick Clegg and just about any other Lib Dem MP.

3. Tian Tian and Yang Guang (otherwise known as giant pandas).

J. Which artist was invited to provide an artwork for No 10

1. David Hockney.

2. Tracey Emin.

3. Jack Vettriano.

K. Which fictional character has David Cameron been likened to because of his approach to Prime Minister’s Questions

1. Fagin.

2. Captain Haddock.

3. Flashman.

L. What did Nigella Lawson wear on Bondi Beach that led to some puzzled comments

1. A burkha.

2. A bikini.

3. A burkini.

M. To which country did William Hague suggest Colonel Gaddafi might have escaped after the first attacks on Libya

1. Burkina Faso.

2. Iceland.

3. Venezuela.