Ullman’s show, Rasputin’s tune, and Robert Burns’ new year words – take the Thursday quiz

<span>Photograph: Jonathan Hordle/Rex</span>
Photograph: Jonathan Hordle/Rex

Fifteen questions on general knowledge and topical trivia plus a few jokes every Thursday – how will you fare?

And now, the end is near. Not of the Thursday quiz, but of 2021. It will be good to bid farewell to this cursed year, and to look forward to an equally dismal 12 months the way things seem to be going. Never mind. In the meantime, here are 15 questions to tease and entertain you. The quiz master is away and will not be able to join you in the comments today, but you will still have the challenge of a hidden Doctor Who reference, the saintly Kate Bush, the ever-popular anagrams, and the wrath of Ron from Sparks to face. Have fun – and have a happy new year!

The Thursday quiz, No 36

  1. Portrait of Robert Burns
    Portrait of Robert Burns

    SHOULD OLD ACQUAINTANCE BE FORGOT: One of these is NOT a line from the lyrics of popular new year ditty Auld Lang Syne. Which one?

    1. And surely ye'll be your pint-stoup!

    2. And wi' a meikle hazel rung

    3. But we've wander'd mony a weary fit

    4. And we'll tak' a right gude-willie waught

  2. Rome

    ROMAN FIDDLING: 1 January is considered the start of the year due to the reorganisation of their previous chaotic calendar into what became known as the Julian Calendar. When?

    1. 65BC

    2. 45BC

    3. 25BC

    4. AD45

  3. Asterix and Obelix
    Asterix and Obelix

    ASTERIXOLOGY: The second Asterix volume to be published in France was called La Serpe d'or. But what was the title of the English translation?

    1. Asterix and the Golden Fleece

    2. Asterix and the Golden Serpent

    3. Asterix and the Golden Sickle

    4. Asterix and the Big Fight

  4. Leinster House
    Leinster House

    ANAGRAM TIME: You love it. One of these four people has never been the Taoiseach of Ireland. Which one? Enjoy!

    1. Rona arm thong

    2. Ole aardvark

    3. Bare therein

    4. End Kenyan

  5. Beaker

    GCSE SCIENCE CORNER: A flame test is one way of identifying which metal you have to hand. If you have lithium, what colour flame are you going to get?

    1. Yellow

    2. Lilac

    3. Red

    4. Blue-green

  6. Old Tv
    Old Tv

    ENSEMBLE CASTS: It is Tracey Ullman's birthday today. Happy birthday Tracey! What was the name of the comedy sketch show she starred in with Lenny Henry and David Copperfield?

    1. A Kick up the Eighties

    2. Laugh??? I Nearly Paid My Licence Fee

    3. The Fast Show

    4. Three of a Kind

  7. Neptune engaged Trafalgar
    Neptune engaged Trafalgar

    BLOWING THINGS UP, BUT AT SEA: Naval warfare was revolutionised in the 1850s and 1860s making images like this a thing of the past as countries scrambled to launch ironclad and iron-hulled warships. But who had the first ironclad warship?

    1. United Kingdom

    2. United States

    3. Spain

    4. France

  8. Sparks

    TALENT IS AN ASSET: That's a 1974 song by Sparks about how Albert is smart, he's a genius. But that's not important right now. Girls Aloud, featuring the much-mourned Sarah Harding who died earlier this year, were formed on which TV talent show?

    1. Fame Academy

    2. Popstars: The Rivals

    3. The Voice UK

    4. The X Factor

  9. A Dalek from 2022 New Year&#39;s Day special Eve of the Daleks
    A Dalek from 2022 New Year's Day special Eve of the Daleks

    A NOT VERY HIDDEN DOCTOR WHO REFERENCE: The Doctor Who New Year's Day special this year is called Eve of the Daleks. But who created the Daleks?

    1. Sydney Newman

    2. Terry Nation

    3. Nigel Kneale

    4. Douglas Adams

  10. Jules Holland
    Jules Holland

    HOOTENANNY SHENANIGANS: Like many households, on New Year's Eve the quiz master enjoys putting a sledgehammer through the TV rather than watching the Jools Holland Hootenanny. But which year was it first broadcast?

    1. 1991

    2. 1993

    3. 1995

    4. 1997

  11. A War of the Roses re-enactment
    A War of the Roses re-enactment

    ON THIS DAY: They obviously weren't having time off for Christmas during the War of the Roses because on 30 December 1460 it was the Battle of Wakefield. But whereabouts on the outskirts of Wakefield was the actual scene of the battle?

    1. Kirkthorpe

    2. Woolgreaves

    3. Medderton

    4. Sandal Magna

  12. Grigori Rasputin
    Grigori Rasputin

    ON THIS DAY PART II ELECTRIC BOOGALOO: He was big and strong, in his eyes a flaming glow, but 30 December is also the anniversary of the murder of adviser to the Tsar Grigori Rasputin. In which year was Boney M's all-time disco banger Rasputin released?

    1. 1975

    2. 1978

    3. 1980

    4. 1981

  13. Woman in library
    Woman in library

    LITERATURE: Who, at the beginning of their story, was described as 'handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition' and 'seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence' in a novel first published in December 1815

    1. Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre

    2. Emily Brontë's Catherine Earnshaw

    3. George Eliot's Dorothea Brooke

    4. Jane Austen's Emma Woodhouse

  14. Band Aid/Queen/Cliff/Kate
    Band Aid/Queen/Cliff/Kate

    MUSIC: Iron Maiden had their only UK No 1 hit single – Bring Your Daughter To The Slaughter – in the singles chart that ran from 30 December 1990 to 5 January 1991. But who had they replaced at No 1 from the previous week?

    1. Band Aid, with a reissue of Do They Know It's Christmas

    2. Queen, with a reissue of Bohemian Rhapsody coupled with These Are the Days of Our Lives

    3. Cliff Richard, with Saviour's Day

    4. Kate Bush, with December Will Be Magic Again

  15. Peter Hitchens
    Peter Hitchens

    TRUE OR FALSE: Peter Hitchens refuses to celebrate new year because he associates it with the Soviet Union attempting to abolish Christmas

    1. True

    2. False


1:B - That is a line from a Robert Burns poem, but that is taken from A Waukrife Minnie, written in 1789, the year after he wrote Auld Lang Syne, 2:B - The reforms were introduced by Julius Caesar, hence the name Julian. The previous Roman system saw the year have 355 days, but then every couple of years they added an extra intercalary month of 22 or 23 days, meaning that year lasted 377 or 378 days to get back into synch with Earth's orbit. And you think changing the clock for Daylight Saving Time is a chore, 3:C - Getafix's sickle breaks, so Asterix and Obelix volunteer to go to Lutetia – modern-day Paris – to buy a new one. But there is a mysterious sickle shortage our heroes must get to the bottom of, while beating up some Romans for the LOLs, 4:A - As talented as he is, Graham Norton is yet to run the country. Your other options were Leo Varadkar, Bertie Ahern and Enda Kenny, 5:C - Lithium will give off a red flame if you set fire to it. Then you've presumably got burnt lithium, rather than lithium. This seems a very odd way to go about testing things to be honest, and absolutely rubbish if you are a colour-blind scientist, 6:D - The show ran for three series between 1981 and 1983. Ullman and Henry went on to have stellar careers, although David Copperfield didn't go on to have similar success. In his most recent shows he self-deprecatingly bills himself as "David Copperfield – Not the Magician", 7:D - Although the first naval battles between ironclads took place at the beginning of the 1860s during the American Civil War, French ship Gloire was launched in Toulon in 1859, beating HMS Warrior which came the following year, 8:B - Yes. That was in 2002. They went on to have 20 consecutive top 10 singles in the United Kingdom, including four No 1s, and were easily the most successful British girl band of the 21st century so far. You can tell by his face that Ron from Sparks thinks you should have known that, 9:B - Despite the exhortations from senior BBC staff that the original show should not feature "bug-eyed monsters", the second Doctor Who story in 1963 featured Terry Nation's Daleks, as realised by designer Raymond Cusick, and the rest, as they say, was bug-eyed monster history, 10:B - The first Jools Holland Hootenanny was a special edition at the end of series two of Later... with Jools Holland. It was broadcast on 31 December 1993 and featured Sting, Dina Carroll, Paul Young, Chaka Demus & Pliers, Gipsy Kings, Freddie McGregor and Junior Brown, 11:D - Historians are not entirely sure why Richard, Duke of York sortied out of Sandal castle that day, but he quickly found himself outnumbered, surrounded and overwhelmed by Lancastrian forces and was either killed in battle or captured and then executed. At least he didn't have to watch Jools Holland, I guess, 12:B - 'This man's just got to go,' declared his enemies. It was released on 28 August 1978 as the second single from their third studio album Nightflight to Venus. What a tune, 13:D - Those quotes are from the famous opening to the book, which Austen paid to be published at her own expense. The front page of the first edition simply credits 'the author of Pride And Prejudice', 14:C - It was Cliff's third Christmas No 1 in three consecutive years in 1990, after he had hit the top spot in the UK with Mistletoe and Wine in 1988, and had been part of Band Aid II which had been Christmas No 1 in 1989. Queen would be Christmas No 1 in 1991. And Kate? Her festive single December Will Be Magic Again stalled at number 29 in 1980 and *whispers* I don't think I've ever once heard it, 15:A - Hitchens tweeted in 2017 "Thank you but I pay absolutely no attention to the 'New Year', an empty moment which I associate with the former USSR's (failed) attempt to abolish Christmas." Happy new year, Peter, we will raise a glass on your behalf!


  1. 0 and above.

    Happy new year! We hope you enjoyed the Thursday quiz in 2021. Here's to many more next year!

  2. 4 and above.

    Happy new year! We hope you enjoyed the Thursday quiz in 2021. Here's to many more next year!

  • If you do think there has been an egregious error in one of the questions or answers, please feel free to email martin.belam@theguardian.com but remember, the quiz master’s word is always final, and you wouldn’t want to be sent to bed early on New Year’s Eve.