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Thursday, November 23, 2006


I was so fascinated by the conundrum set by yesterday's Guardian Diary that I carried out my own research. Admittedly this amounted to about 5 minutes on google and wikipedia but it was a learning experience nevertheless.

The Guardian diarist referred to BBC2's documentary last week on the history of university challenge in which a contestant was clearly shown putting finger to buzzer and giving the answer "Michael Howard and Britney Spears." What was the question?

The best that I could come up with was that Michael Howard was once labelled a 'Toxic Tory' by Liberal Democrat MP, Norman Baker. Britney Spears of course once had a hit single called 'Toxic'. This though is far too obscure a connection even for University Challenge.

The correct answer is apparently that both Michael Howard and Britney Spears were declared persona non grata by the Republican Party in 2004. Mr. Howard gave offence for voicing doubts about the wisdon of the war in Iraq (though that did not stop him voting in favour of it) whilst Britney was just condemned for her "all-round white-trashiness."

It is through pieces like this that one gets a rounded education.
Many thanks on solving this little conundrum. I'm sure that the producers left that in deliberately.
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