contributed by Susan Dennis
Quiz programmes have always been popular on both radio and television. For many years the national school quiz programme Top of the Form was broadcast throughout the United Kingdom. It was introduced by John Ellison and Robert MacDermott in the ’50s, John Dunn in the ’60s and Bob Holness in the ’70s. Later still, the programme also ran on television with question masters Paddy Feany and Geoffrey Wheeler. We understand that ABGS took part in the radio version in 1959*.
On the BBC Welsh Home Service, there were Welsh language quizzes too. One called Am y Gore was featured in the Welsh Supplement of the Radio Times on February 12th, 1960. They chose to illustrate the article with an Aberdare team consisting of Elfyn Williams, then in Form 3a, and Susan Dennis who was also in the third form. The article and a translation into English are below.
Every child in Wales, I believe, is familiar with the programme, “Try your Best”. For a few years, you will have seen the title many times in the Radio Times. It is the name for a series of quizzes that are arranged every now and then between contestants from every part of the country. Every county in Wales from Anglesey to Monmouthshire sends a team of contestants to the studio and at the end of the series two counties remain in the final round.
T.I. Ellis has set the questions and presented “Try your Best” for a number of years and we have of course sought and received the approval of the directors of education in the various counties. Before long, we shall bring you another series.
“Try your Best” is only one of the quizzes on Children’s Hour. Every five to six weeks, we have the usual quiz between teams of children from the North and South and West. On Tuesdays, a boy and girl in Swansea, two in Bangor and two also in Cardiff will take part. As soon as the children come to the studio, they often ask, “Are the questions difficult?” I always answer, “Yes, the questions are very difficult but the answers are easy!” Indeed, I wonder at the wide knowledge of children today. I must admit that unless the answers were in my script, I would not be able to answer half the questions! And despite the care the question master takes, it only needs one little factual mistake to bring to the office many letters starting with the words, “Dear Mr. Williams, I would like to draw to your attention that you were incorrect in saying . . . etc.”!
Quizzes are very popular in our English programmes as well. At present, the series Inter-Regional Quiz is being televised on the programme Playbox. Eamonn is the question master and I’m pleased to say that a team from Wales is holding its own against teams from other parts of Britain. At present, Scotland and Wales are equal top. With good luck, when the final round is held, the Welsh team will win.
Ifan O. Williams
*Lynn Parry Thomas (Aberaman) took part in this event as one of the four panel members for ABGS. On this occasion John Ellison was the question master, and the producer was Joan Clark.