Remotely Interesting – Ben Baker (Book Review)


Who doesn’t love a television quiz?  I certainly do and Ben Baker’s third television quiz-book, Remotely Interesting, manages to entertainingly deliver as even this grizzled television watcher discovered some interesting new nuggets of information (the original title for Goodness Gracious Me, for example).

There’s plenty of variety across the many different rounds.  Eight Word TV Tango sees popular programmes boiled down to an eight word description (“Soft and septuagenarian soil-securers bumble for Britain”) whilst Points of Groo digs out letters sent to the Radio Times, TV Times and Look-In, challenging the reader to guess the programme under discussion.  Sadly (or possibly impressively) I did well here, even though the actual letters were new to me.  They all provided fascinating nuggets of social history (as Ben says, it takes a special type of person to write into a publication in order to proffer their opinion)

Belong in a Presidential Tweet is another entertaining section as Donald Trump (warning, Fake Trump) offers his own unique Twitter-styled take on popular programmes.  Theme from a Hummer Place (challenging you to identity popular television themes from every fourth word is listed) is a simple, but ingenious, idea.  “Don’t, beat, drum, right, not, some, born, of, come, nothing”.  Hmm, I’ll come back to that one.

Another fruitful area for quizzing are the lists of ten facts on various topics (five true, five false) scattered throughout the book.  How can you not love a book which asks you to ponder whether popular-ish Simpsons character Cletus (aka “the slack jawed yokel”) has children called Incest, Q*Bert and Stabbed In Jail?

Although I like to pride myself on my knowledge of television trivia, thanks to Remotely Interesting I now know many more useless factoids than I did before, which makes it a book that informs as well as entertains.  With over fifty sections and a wide variety of questions, it certainly has something for everyone.

As Ben explains on his blog.  “There’s rounds about robots, catchphrases, The Beatles on TV, theme tunes, live programmes, Netflix and the online revolution, game shows, spin-offs, remakes, famous mothers, kids shows, booze, radio transfers, foreigners, Great Telly Years (1969, 1990, 1982 and 1977) and a bunch of Christmas stuff for good measure! The suggested age range is anything from 18 to 65, and probably beyond! Its accessible but challenging where it needs to be with lots of speciality rounds for all the family”.

Remotely Interesting comes warmly recommended.  Further information can be found here.