500 good sports

Children make better contestants, say the staff at Criss Cross Quiz

TVTimes masthead
From the TVTimes for week commencing 3 January 1960

THE younger generation — often attacked — can take a bow for a change. In fact, one section — the children who appear in Granada’s Junior Criss Cross Quiz — can take several bows.

They have established a reputation for politeness, good manners and, above all, sportsmanship.

About 500 children have been in the programme since it began more than two years ago. What have the people who work on this noughts and crosses game general knowledge learned?

Pam Marsden, head of the contestants’ department at the Manchester studios, said: “Mainly that children are better at taking disappointment than adults.

“In the grown-up quiz programmes, competitors are keyed up all the time. They will retire winning a fairly large sum of money rather than risk losing it on another question or another game.

A boy and a girl compete

“But usually the children, who have a large number of points at stake, representing several prizes, press on to the end. They don’t mind a risk. And they are sporting when they lose.

“That characteristic shows in the early stages of the preliminary test. They are set a paper of 25 general knowledge questions.

“The producer interviews them while the papers are being marked. They are given the verdict straight away. It is amazing how matter-of-fact they are.

“I think they are philosophical because they are used to examinations at school and feel that it is not a matter of life and death; just a game.

Bill Grundy
Quizmaster Bill Grundy at the question box

“We find many adults who see the programme write and say when they think they have seen a particularly well-mannered child in the show.

“This sort of letter usually comes from older viewers conscious of the behaviour of the younger generation.”

Bill Grundy, quizmaster for five months, spoke of a boy in a programme who had won almost 350 points. This entitled him to a canoe or a stereophonic record player.

Said Grundy: “The lad was playing well and wanted a canoe. He accepted a further challenge, played two drawn games.

“On the third, he lost; not only the points he wanted, but those he had piled up. Instead of the canoe he went home with a book token.

“I sympathised. His reply: ‘Oh, that’s all right, Mr Grundy. It was very enjoyable.’ I was most impressed.

“People think girls are bad losers at games. But this is not true in Junior Criss Cross Quiz. I have yet to see a defeated contestant — boy or girl — be unsportsmanlike.”

Over to programme researcher Yvonne Levy. “The children seem to have a leaning towards certain interests.

“‘Pets,’ ‘Is It True?’ ‘Odd Man Out,’ and ‘Nicknames’ are firm favourites with boys and girls. Girls steer clear of engineering, fearing technical subjects. Boys shy off fairy tales. They are keen on science.

“We like letters from children suggesting new subjects, but they must cover a wide field. Pets, say, include all animals, not just one type.

“The contestants like coming to the studio. They enjoy getting stars’ autographs at tea time as much as being in the programme.

“The children, too, get fan mail after the shows. Other youngsters write to I them, and this produces pen friendships.”

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