Broadcast date: 12th September 2007

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Rear: the Eggheads
Front: the Hooprunners, left to right
David Kitson, Jonathan Toye, Gerry Varndell,
Feargal Smith, Peter Allnutt, Mike Percival

On the morning of Monday August 6th five of the keenest minds in East Anglian croquet met at the BBC's television studios to challenge the Eggheads in one of the long-running series of quiz programmes on BBC 2. Making up the team of Hoop Runners were Peter Allnutt, Jonathan Toye, Feargal Smith, Gerry Varndell and Mike Percival with me as travelling reserve. Opposing them the five Eggheads represented a formidable line-up of winners of just about all the major quiz programmes on television and radio. To add a bit of interest each programme has a prize of £1,000 but if the challenging team loses that is rolled over to the next contest. By August 6th the prize stood at £62,000.

For each of the first four rounds the chairman Dermot Murnaghan picks a subject which he offers to the challengers. They choose which member of their team should answer the questions and also which Egghead should oppose them. The first three questions on each side are multiple choice followed by sudden death. First subject out of the hat was Arts and Books. Feargal gallantly accepted the challenge and chose Mastermind winner Chris as his opponent. Questions on Harry Potter and William Blake were safely negotiated but Verdi's operas proved a blind spot giving the first round to the Eggheads.

Next subject was Science with Gerry as the Hoop Runners' champion against Millionaire winner Judith. With Judith getting into a tangle trying to convert kilometres to miles and Gerry correctly answering his opening three questions the teams were now 1-1.

On to Sport with Peter against Brain of Britain winner Daphne. After a fairly easy opener Peter was offered the choice of Mike Conley, Mike Powell or Larry Myricks as the man who broke Bob Beamon's long jump record. Peter successfully negotiated that one (Mike Powell), only to fall at the next (who scored the most runs in Tests). Fortunately, Daphne also failed her next question, leaving Peter to say who was arrested for obstructing the police who were trying to take his dog into quarantine. Not surprisingly Peter didn't know it was Jose Mourinho (he was probably expecting a question about sport) and with Daphne getting an easy question about the Marquess of Queensbury the score was now 2-1 to the eggheads.

The last specialist subject was Politics with Mike Percival up against world quiz champion Kevin. Mike's very first question was more society gossip than politics (who had a fling with a Cheeky Girl). I thought Mike's answer Boris Johnson was a good guess but sadly not right (Lembit Opik) but luckily Kevin also guessed wrong when asked which was the Labour's largest ever majority. On to sudden death when Mike just couldn't remember the name of the new French president. Not surprising, given the pressure.

So, at the final stage the Hooprunners were down to Jonathan Toye who had been kept in reserve and Gerry Varndell against the four Eggheads who were still standing. Jonathan and Gerry correctly answered all three of the multiple choice questions but came unstuck when asked the whereabouts of the Mappa Mundi.

Altogether a very good try which with a bit of luck over which side got which question could so easily have been successful.

Report by David Kitson