It’s fun being a quiz-kid

Children have fun on Junior Criss Cross Quiz

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From the TVTimes for week commencing 6 July 1958

IT is back to school again for Junior Criss Cross Quiz this week — after a fortnight’s “holiday” for Wimbledon.

Back to a new “teacher,” too. Quizzing quiz-kids in the junior version of this general knowledge noughts and crosses game will be Canadian TV personality Elaine Grand.

Says Elaine, whose mother was once a schoolmistress in Manchester: “I am thrilled and looking forward to working on the show.

“I love doing TV with youngsters. That is why I have always enjoyed myself as chairman of We Want An Answer.

“Children are far more at ease and unpretentious on TV. They are not as much affected by the cameras as adults.

“I always find with We Want An Answer that they ask far better, more searching, questions than any adults would have done. It is the freshness of the vision of youth, I suppose. Instead of asking the questions they feel they ought to ask a celebrity, they ask what they really want to know.

“They ask bluntly, and often boldly, for the facts.

“With a TV quiz like Junior Criss Cross Quiz youngsters react much better than adults. They play it as a game purely and simply, with nothing important at stake.

“When an adult is told his next question is worth £1,000 he is scared. All that money represents a new car or the down payment on a house.

“A child would not see it that way. A sum like £1,000 is beyond his comprehension — it is right outside his experience. So juniors play this as a straight game of noughts and crosses.”

Not that the youngsters get money, anyway — they play for points that are convertible into prizes.

Criss Cross producer Clement Cave likes working on the junior version.

“Youngsters are more telegenic than adults,” he says. “They are less inhibited. They react so much more naturally to things happening around them.

“Age is important, too. We restrict our contestants to the over 12 and under 15 group. And we usually find that the brightest are on the younger end of the scale. Our biggest prize-winner was a girl of 12½ years who built up 850 points. When they are coming up to 14 they are beginning to look at life almost like grown-ups. They are at that awkward between-age, and beginning to get self-conscious.

“Junior contestants seem to go into the game with a firm determination to win as much as they can. Adults tend to be more cautious. They win a few games and then withdraw. The youngsters will press on. Apart from their winnings, I think they want to make the most of being on TV.”

Cave insists on his junior contestants not being called children on the programme. “We call ourselves Junior Criss Cross Quiz. We never remind contestants or viewers that this is a show for children. We want to avoid any suggestions that we are talking down to children.”

Choosing contestants for the junior show is tougher than for the adult version. Contestant-organiser, Reg Marsh, explained: “Children from all over the country write asking to be on the programme. But we have to restrict contestants to those living in a 10 mile radius of the studios; it is important that they should not miss school to be on TV.

“We audition challengers about 20 at a time, and, by giving them a 25-question test paper, make sure they are the standard we need. Then we have to ask education authorities if they have any objection.

“We give contestants the VIP treatment at the studios. A member of the staff collects them from school in a taxi and sees them home after the show.”

Examples of the prizes that can be won: 50 points wins a pair of skates; 100 points a boy’s tool kit; 150 points a record-player; 200 points a cinecamera; 250 points and upwards a portable typewriter.

Biggest prize-winner in the programme so far is 12½-year-old Rosalind Hilson, a doctor’s daughter, from Ashton, near Manchester. Her 850 points won her two prizes — a radiogram and a bicycle. That’s Rosalind in action at the top of the page.

A boy and a girl on set
Where shall I pick this time? What do I know most about?

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