Christmas quiz 2012: have you been paying attention?

Dec 23, 2012

Test your grasp of current affairs and general knowledge with The Week's Christmas quiz

The answers are at the bottom of the page

Looking back on 2012

1. Whose remains were apparently found buried under a council car park?
2. Which Hollywood star's baffling public appearance prompted this joke on Twitter: "[He] is now backstage arguing with a vending machine."
3. Of whom did the Daily Mail write: "Eschewing the bikini favoured by some who have gone before her – most memorably Ursula Andress and Halle Berry – she decided on a salmon dress."
4. Which British politician was asked by an interviewer: "And how long have you been cutting your own hair?"
5. In August, a minister in Vladimir Putin's government dismissed which global superstar as "a moralising slut"? Why?
6. "I seem to remember that I was in Leeds at the time, and the choice was whether to have one of their small ones or large ones… I've got a feeling I opted for the large one." Who said this, and what was he talking about?
7. Why, during the US presidential election campaign, did some activists wear T-shirts and badges bearing the slogan "Dogs aren't luggage"?
8. Whose flight from justice was described as a "fiasco" – "a cross between Passport To Pimlico and the Libyan Embassy siege"?
9. In March, which country overtook Britain to become the world's sixth biggest economy?
10. Which two words did Ed Miliband repeat more than 40 times in his conference speech?
11. Dallas returned to TV screens in 2012, after more than 20 years. In which year was the very first episode broadcast?
12. What was the collective term for the common people of ancient Rome?
13. The daughter of which legendary rock 'n' roll star was reported to have been seen working in a chip shop in East Sussex?
14. In 2010, he became the shortest serving cabinet minister in recent history, when he resigned as Treasury Secretary after 17 days. This year, he returned as Education Minister. Who is he?

History and politics

1. Which language was spoken by the members of the RAF squadron that scored the most "kills" during the Battle of Britain?
2. The Queen recently became Britain's second-longest reigning monarch. Queen Victoria is first; who now ranks third?
3. Volgograd was the sight of which battle, one of the deadliest in history?
4. Which future prime minister was wounded at the Battle of the Somme?
5. This museum, which opened its doors in 1683, describes itself as the world's first purpose-built public museum. Which is it?
6. When the Taliban ruled Afghanistan, they banned all outdoor sports, with one exception. Which was it?
7. Who was the only US president to be elected four times?
8. Which country was one of Europe's largest states from the 14th century to 1795, but disappeared from the map until 1918?
9. Sir Isaac Newton invented a simple household device, still used by animal lovers today. What was it?
10. When asked what he was like at school, which British politician told an interviewer: "I was very good at the Rubik's Cube."
11. Who defeated Antony and Cleopatra at the Battle of Actium?
12. Which two of his six wives did Henry VIII have beheaded?
13. Which neutral country was invaded by an Anglo-Soviet force in 1941?


1. Minsk is the capital of which country?
2. This place, visited this year for the first time since 1960, is more than a mile deeper than Mount Everest is tall. What is it called?
3. Between which two bodies of water does the Caucasus lie?
4. Which is the only station on the London Underground with just one syllable in its name?
5. Which European river flows through four capital cities? What are the cities?
6. In which country would you find the ancient city of Timbuktu?
7. What is the only English place name to appear in the title of a Shakespeare play?
8. By what name is the Gravelly Hill Interchange in Birmingham better known?
9. What is the Thames called when it passes through Oxford?


1. Who are the three athletes referred to in this joke, posted on Twitter on Saturday 4 August: "A Muslim, a mixed-race lass and a ginger bloke walk into a bar. And everyone buys them a drink."
2. Which British female Olympic gold medallist is currently doing a PhD in medical law with a dissertation about serial killers?
3. Which are the five sports in modern pentathlon?
4. At the 1932 Olympics in Los Angeles, which law was bent for French athletes at mealtimes?
5. Which team sport, a classic of village fêtes, was discontinued after the 1920 Olympics?
6. Who came second in the men's 100 metres at this year's Olympics?
7. What linked the Olympic Opening Ceremony to the horror movie The Exorcist?
8. Who designed the 2012 Olympic cauldron?
9. Which two countries were suspended from the 1948 Olympics in London? And which country was invited but chose not to send any athletes?

Literature and the arts

1. Which impressionist artist said: "When I've painted a woman's bottom so that I want to touch it, then [the painting] is finished"?
2. Joseph Anton was Salman Rushdie's pseudonym while under the protection of British police. Why did he choose it?
3. What does MP Andrew "Thrasher" Mitchell have in common with the fictional bully Flashman?
4. Who wrote a) Hotel du Lac b) The White Hotel c) Hotel New Hampshire d) Hotel?
5. What is Beethoven's Bagatelle in A Minor commonly known as?
6. The following lines are spoken by which Shakespearean characters:
a) "If music be the food of love" b) "There is a tide in the affairs of men" c) "Once more unto the breach" d) "All the world's a stage" e) "Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises" f) "Now is the winter of our discontent" g) "Why, there they are both, baked in this pie."
7. Which famous French artist worked as a labourer on the Panama canal?
8. Which book did Travelodge report was the most frequently discarded in its hotel rooms this year?
9. Which author has been shortlisted the most times for the Booker Prize (six)?
10. Which artist was known as Jack the Dripper?
11. "Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day" is a lyric from a song by which band?
12. Which controversial opera about a terrorist attack was staged in London for the first time this year?
13. In which novels would you find the following characters: a) Stephen Dedalus b) Jim Dixon c) Briony Tallis d) The Snork Maiden.
14. Which Victorian novel describes the rich and poor as "two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts and feelings, as if they were dwellers of different zones"?
15. Which character from children's literature makes his first appearance in The Little White Bird (1902)?


1. Which lyricist, who died in September, wrote the line: "Why do birds suddenly appear, every time you are near?"
2. "Once you get rid of the integrity, the rest is a piece of cake." Which fictional character, played by an actor who died this year, uttered that line?
3. Which late historian said in his memoirs: "The dream of the October Revolution is still there somewhere inside me."
4. Which American hero, described as the most famous man in the universe, preferred a life of obscurity, teaching engineering at the University of Cincinnati?
5. Which American comedienne quipped: "Housework won't kill you, but why take a chance?"
6. Nicknamed "Mr Ugly", this actor specialised in playing sadistic bullies, yet won his only Oscar in 1956 for his sensitive portrayal of a loveless butcher. Who was he?
7. Which petty criminal famously pleaded in 1989: "Can we all get along?"


1. Which American actor, who made his name in the 1970s playing good old boys from the South, holds the record for most years as the top box-office star (five years in a row)?
2. Which British-born actress gave the longest acceptance speech in history at the 1943 Oscars – so long that presenter Joan Fontaine had to sit down?
3. The film My Week with Marilyn was about the making of which 1957 movie?
4. Which film studio was founded by Charlie Chaplin, D. W. Griffith, Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks?
5. In his recent memoir, Rupert Everett described this film-maker as being "to Blair's Britain what Leni Riefenstahl was to Hitler's Germany". To whom was he referring?
6. Which 1944 film noir begins with the line: "I killed him for money – and for a woman. I didn't get the money. And I didn't get the woman. Pretty, isn't it?"
7. In Casablanca, Humphrey Bogart never utters the line "Play it again, Sam". What does he tell the nightclub pianist? And who played him?
8. In the late 1930s, actor Buddy Ebsen had to give up a plum role because he was allergic to the aluminium in his make up. What was the part?


Looking back on 2012 1. Richard III 2. Clint Eastwood 3. The Queen (referring to her appearance with James Bond at The Olympic opening ceremony) 4. Boris Johnson (on the Late Show with David Letterman) 5. Madonna, after she used her Moscow concert to express support for jailed feminist punk band Pussy Riot 6. David Cameron; pasties. 7. In response to the revelation that on a family holiday in 1983, Romney strapped a crate containing his Irish setter to the roof of his car for a 12-hour journey 8. Julian Assange 9. Brazil 10. "One nation" 11. 1978 12. "Plebs" 13. Elvis Presley 14. David Laws
History and politics 1. Polish 2. George III 3. The Battle of Stalingrad 4. Harold Macmillan 5. The Ashmolean in Oxford 6. Cricket 7. Franklin Delano Roosevelt 8. Poland 9. The cat flap 10. Ed Miliband 11. Octavian 12. Anne Boleyn and Catherine Howard 13. Iran
Places 1. Belarus 2. The Mariana Trench in the Pacific Ocean 3. The Black Sea and the Caspian Sea 4. Bank 5. The Danube: Vienna, Budapest, Belgrade, Bratislava 6. Mali 7. Windsor (Merry Wives of) 8. Spaghetti Junction 9. The River Isis, from the Latin Tamesis
Olympics 1. 10,000m runner Mo Farah, heptathlete Jessica Ennis, long jumper Greg Rutherford 2. Rower Katherine Grainger 3. Fencing, swimming, show jumping, pistol-shooting, running 4. Prohibition – they were allowed to drink wine at meals 5. Tug-of-war 6. Yohan Blake of Jamaica 7. Mike Oldfield played Tubular Bells, the theme music for the film 8. Thomas Heatherwick 9. a) Germany, Japan b) The Soviet Union
Literature and the arts 1. Pierre-Auguste Renoir 2. It is an amalgam of his two favourite writers: Joseph Conrad and Anton Chekhov 3. Their Alma Mater, Rugby. Mitchell gained his nickname at the school and Flashman was a character in Tom Brown's School Days 4. a) Anita Brookner b) D.M. Thomas c) John Irving d) Arthur Hailey 5. Für Elise 6. a) Orsino in Twelfth Night b) Brutus in Julius Caesar c) King Henry in Henry V d) Jaques in As You Like It e) Caliban in The Tempest f) King Richard in Richard III g) Titus in Titus Andronicus 7. Paul Gauguin 8. Fifty Shades of Grey 9. Iris Murdoch 10. Jackson Pollock 11. Time by Pink Floyd 12. The Death of Klinghoffer 13. a) A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses by James Joyce b) Lucky Jim by Kingsley Amis c) Atonement by Ian McEwan d) The Moomin series by Tove Jansson 14. Sybil by Benjamin Disraeli 15. Peter Pan
Obituaries 1. Hal David 2. J.R. Ewing in US soap Dallas, played by Larry Hagman 3. Eric Hobsbawm 4. Neil Armstrong 5. Phyllis Diller 6. Ernest Borgnine 7. Rodney King, whose beating by police in 1991 sparked the Los Angeles riots
Film 1. Burt Reynolds 2. Greer Garson (for Mrs Miniver) 3. The Prince and the Showgirl 4. United Artists 5. Richard Curtis 6. Double Indemnity 7. He tells Arthur "Dooley" Wilson, playing Sam: "You played it for her, you can play it for me. Play it!" 8. The Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz

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this was so much fun!!!