Answers are child’s play for the kids

– says Jeremy Hawk of Junior Criss Cross Quiz

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From the TVTimes for week commencing 26 January 1958

THE future shines bright for Criss Cross Quiz interrogator Jeremy Hawk. Next Friday he makes his 74th appearance in the game which he launched on television seven months ago. And both the senior and junior versions seem likely to last for a long time to come.

Criss Cross Quiz has raised Jeremy Hawk to the top ranks of TV personalities. This winter his services are eagerly sought to open new stores. And no doubt when summer is with us he will be asked to do something similar at garden parties.

Needless to say, Hawk is immensely enjoying his sudden rise to fame. He loves his work, the chance it gives him of continually meeting new and interesting people, the drama of a well-fought game, and the tension and excitement when the total in the winnings box passes the four-figure mark.

Jeremy Hawk

He told me in particular how delighted he is at the success of Junior Criss Cross Quiz.

“I’ve met all kinds of contestants in these two programmes,” he said. “But I can say quite confidently that the children taking part in the junior edition are far easier to work with — and I should think, from the expressions on their faces, they are often much more enjoyable to watch.

“They are not nearly so inhibited as their elders. They are bright, cheerful, confident. And they get a kick out of the game.”

Hawk himself is relieved to find there are no difficult tongue-twisters among the junior-sized questions prepared for the Wednesday game.

“I’ve had to contend with quite a few in the adult quiz,” he recalled. “The most difficult of all was when I asked a contestant to give me the common word for … sorry, but I still find the name absolutely unpronounceable. Fortunately the man was a scientist and when he saw me getting hopelessly tongue-tied with it he said, ‘Do you mean acetylsalicylic acid? The answer is aspirin.’

“Gilbert Harding, an old friend of mine, once ticked me off for mispronouncing the name of the French mixed fish dish — bouillabaisse. And mother told me off — and quite rightly, too — for not pronouncing Haydn correctly.

“In both cases I was conscious I had said it wrong, but was too late to correct myself. Of course, I never see the questions before a programme, so I have no means of checking these things.

“A number of the questions include foreign words, so it is perhaps just as well that I have a smattering of a few languages. But I still came unstuck when I had to read out Prokofiev. It is a wonderful Russian name, but I had so much trouble that in the end I had to spell it out!”

Judging by the size of his fan mail, however, viewers don’t mind these occasional slips. “Yes, I get lots of letters,” he agreed, “and they have taught me that I have to be careful what I say during the programme.”

An important part of Hawk’s work is putting contestants at their ease. “It starts when I meet them for the first time at supper,” he said.

“Then we have a run through the programme – with dummy questions, of course — to get them used to the cameras.”

Hawk has received many letters from contestants after they have been on the programme thanking him for the considerate way he looked after them when they were facing the cameras.

But on only two occasions has he met them later. “Once, I was visiting my mother in a London hospital and I bumped into one of our winners there to see his father, who was also a patient.

“Then there was an out-of-work salesman we had on the programme. I mentioned this fact in the hope that it might help him get a job. The other day I was walking down a street and just by chance saw the young man in a showroom window and now he’s a car salesman.”

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