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Series: Only Connect
"Thank you for watching. If you enjoyed it, please join us again; or, if you prefer something a little easier to work out, try the Arab-Israeli conflict."

Only Connect (2008-) is a BBC Game Show hosted by Victoria Coren Mitchell in which two teams compete in the following rounds:

  • Connections: Identify the connection among four items, revealed one by one. Points are awarded based on how many items are revealed before an answer is given. Most sets of items are in text form, but in each round one set will be of pictures and another of music or sounds.
  • Sequences: Identify the fourth item in a sequence of items revealed in a similar manner to the above (again including one picture question).
  • Connecting Wall: Sort the grid of sixteen items into four connected groups of four. Often includes items which could fit into more than one of the categories, or into a red herring category.
  • Missing Vowels: Reinsert the vowels into a word, phrase or name from which the vowels have been removed and spaces have been arbitrarily inserted or deleted (they come in connected sets, and this time the contestants are told the connections before the words appear).

Each team, in keeping with the show's theme, is named after something its three members have in common.

The quiz is unapologetically difficult and tests both knowledge and lateral thinking, each to a high standard.

Game Show Tropes in use:


This show provides examples of:

  • Author Appeal:
    • Victoria is a professional poker player. Several questions and clues on the show have been related to poker. Music theory also seems to come up in a rather disproportionate number of questions, although there's not quite such an obvious reason for it.
    • One Missing Vowels round had "Presidents of Footlights" as a category, seemingly just so that one of the answers could be David Mitchell, who is, of course, Victoria's husband.
    • Victoria's father, Alan Coren, has also been a clue on the show; one set of clues in the 2011 Children in Need special was "Lemon, Coren, Muggeridge, Bird":
    Victoria: All editors of Punch: Mark Lemon was the first editor of Punch, Alan Coren the best.
    • Victoria's brother, Giles Coren, has also been a clue in a couple of episodes.
    • Victoria herself has appeared in at least two clues - "People named Victoria", and when "OC trivia" was used as an anagram as part of a cryptic crossword clue (the connection was that all four clues had "Victoria" as their answers).
  • Bait and Switch:
    • From the end of the 100th episode:
    Victoria: And teams, to mark our hundredth, we've got seven lovely glasses of sherry here. So I'm just going to give out the trophy, and then get on with drinking them.
    • From an episode intro:
    Victoria: Hello, and welcome to Only Connect, the quiz that's like a gym for the mind. Let me explain what I mean by that — for all you hardcore quizzers out there, a gym is a sort of building full of sports equipment...
  • Bilingual Bonus: In the first appearance of the Celts, a team whose common connection is that they're from Wales, Victoria conducts the pre-game chat with the team captain entirely in Welsh, with no subtitles nor any other concession to audience members who don't know the language. (In the following episode, she attempts the same thing with the captain of the Francophiles, only for him to admit that despite admiring the French he doesn't actually speak their language.)
  • Cross Over:
    • A January 2011 special pitted Only Connect Series 1 and "Champion of Champions" winners the Crossworders with the 2010 University Challenge champions from Emmanuel College, Cambridge. The Crossworders won.
    • A January 2012 special saw the Crossworders facing three former Mastermind champions (Stephen Allen (1991), Gavin Fuller (1993), and Nancy Dickmann (2009)). The Crossworders won again.
    • A January 2013 special set three of the title quiz aces from Eggheads (Chris Hughes, Pat Gibson, and Barry Simmons) against three members of Only Connect series-winning teams, all named David (David Stainer of the Crossworders (Series 1), David Bill of the Gamblers (Series 3), and David Lea of the Analysts (Series 5)). The three Davids won.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Victoria Coren Mitchell.
    Victoria Coren Mitchell: Hello, and welcome to Only Connect — the show described by the Daily Mirror as "weird". It is a bit strange — There are two teams; I ask them questions, and if they get the answers right they get points, and at the end of the quiz, whichever team has the most points, they're the winners. It's a revolutionary idea, but someone had to try it.
  • Dissimile: From an episode intro:
    Victoria: Our teams will be facing only a series of heavy and exhausting questions, with me as their personal trainer, shouting encouragement and occasionally nipping off to the vending machine in the caf. The vending machine is literal, by the way. Only it's not in the caf, it's in my dressing room. And it's not a vending machine, it's a varsity rowing team holding its own weight in pork scratchings.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Victoria Coren Mitchell is wonderful at this.note 
    Victoria Coren Mitchell: Now we're into the semi-finals the questions get harder, though because it's only a semi not much harder.
  • Hevy Mtal mlaut: The connection in a musical question in series 9, where the answer was Grtts mlts.
  • Lady Drunk: Among other things. Victoria Coren Mitchell likes to play up the idea of herself as a drunk in comments during her introductions and asides.
    Victoria Coren Mitchell: Join us again for the quiz with more twists and turns than the route from the bar to the studio. I swear they keep on adding more corners.
    • Occasionally she'll add casual drug use to that. While talking about uses for Amyl Nitrate, she murmured "That's not what I use it for..."
  • Name's the Same: Invoked in a sequence question in the 2011 Comic Relief special, where the four items in the sequence were Peter Gabriel's first four solo albums: 'Peter Gabriel', 'Peter Gabriel', 'Peter Gabriel', and 'Peter Gabriel'.
    Michael Bywater: 'Peter Gabriel' was the best, though.
    Victoria: I liked that one... By 'Peter Gabriel', he'd kind of gone off.
  • Nerds Are Sexy: Victoria counts herself among those who see University Challenge ace Alex Guttenplan as an example of this; when he and two of his Emmanuel College, Cambridge teammates appear in a 2011 special against Only Connect Champion of Champions winners the Crossworders, Victoria keeps trailing off during her opening interview with Guttenplan.
  • Nintendo Hard: Only Connect prides itself on being the toughest quiz on television.
  • Overly Narrow Superlative: From the opening of a 2013 episode:
    Victoria Coren Mitchell: Hello, and welcome to Only Connect, BBC 4's hardest quiz. It's also BBC 4's easiest quiz. Not only that, it's BBC 4's only quiz.
  • Red Herring:
    • In the first two rounds, it's not uncommon for the first two clues in a question to suggest a spurious connection that will be utterly demolished by the third clue, to catch out teams who try to answer early.
    • The Connection Wall will almost invariably have a couple of items that could belong to multiple themes but will only be accepted as one.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The "horned viper" hieroglyph often gets picked last, and Victoria sometimes mockingly wonders why.
  • Running Gag: The seventh series, which introduced a new system where teams who lost their first match got a second chance and could still end up in the final, had a running gag about Victoria being unable to get her head around it.
  • Small Reference Pools: Inverted. There have been questions involving knowledge of everything from the Kubler-Ross model of grief and the odes of John Keats to the creator of Beavis And Butthead, the Twilight novels, and types of Pokmon. This kind of behaviour is actively encouraged on the website's "Create Your Own Connecting Wall" feature.
  • Speed Round: The Missing Vowels Round.
  • Take That, Audience!: Closing the show on 3rd December, 2012:
    Victoria Coren Mitchell: Watch us next us unless you have a social engagement. If you do have a social engagement, don't worry about it, I'll understand. I'll be surprised, but I'll understand.
  • Take That, Critics!: In the first three series the teams chose from sets of clues identified by Greek letters. At the start of the fourth series Coren said that viewers had complained that the use of Greek letters was snobbish, pretentious and silly. She announced that the Greek letters had therefore been abolished...and invited the first team to choose an Egyptian hieroglyph.
  • Wiki Walk: Word Of God, courtesy of the question editor, is that this is a useful tool for question writing Only Connect questions. Complete with a link to the relevant xkcd strip. That Other Wiki, however, is not accepted as a credible source for OC question writers.

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alternative title(s): Only Connect
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