The Quiz of Rassilon

The Oxford Doctor Who Society team with a print of Stuart Manning’s poster for The Woman Who Fell to Earth

Rogan Clark reports from the Oxford team’s latest visit to the legendary Doctor Who quiz night

The date was Sunday 13 January. Seven members of Oxford WhoSoc made the long bus journey (with a short trip via the tube) down to London for the latest Quiz of Rassilon at the Sebright Arms, E2.

Joined by an old friend, and calling ourselves “Five Quiz Rounds Rapid!”, we had one mission – to win the first Quiz of Rassilon of 2019. We arrived with plenty of time, ordered our drinks and chips, and were presented with the first round: a picture round, where we were given the names of ten things found on the TARDIS console throughout the classic era, and had to name the story they played a role in, and label where they were on the picture. Some, like the “Time Ram collision override” were alright (assuming you’ve seen The Time Monster and not wiped your own memory afterwards), but despite James’s hard thinking, we never figured out the origin of the “Mark Three Transceiver”  – The Creature from the Pit, apparently. When everyone was settled in, the Bumbag of Rassilon was returned, and the quiz proper began.

The first round was on Resolution. None of us had rewatched it recently, having been busy with collections [Oxford jargon for start of term exams – Ed.], other quizzes, or just not having the time for Chris Chibnall in our lives. Ian managed to remember the island where a chunk of Dalek found its way to (Anuta); we knew Lin was going 103mph before she was pulled over, which the host helpfully reminded us as illegal; and we recalled what GCHQ actually stands for. We did, however, miss the number labelling a skull – it was 6, for anyone else who doesn’t remember. Equally unfortunately, doing this quiz did mean we had to have a ‘conversation’, as the episode so warned us against.

Next up was Kinda, and after the gift of Kinder eggs, we started this round, written by Luke Spillane. This time we had watched it, so were more prepared to answer what ILF stands for (Intelligent Life Form), who the last colony member to disappear was (Roberts), and a quick browse of the wiki page on the bus told us the story was going to be called “The Kinda”. We even knew why Nyssa disappears with a headache in the first five minutes – the script was written for only Adric and Tegan, so Nyssa gets to sit it out. The crowning moment was the entire pub shouting the answer to Question Ten – “You can’t mend people!” as made famous by Twitch.

The Unquiet Dead moved us back into the twenty-first century, and we did pretty well with Rose’s first trip into the past. We could remember the Doctor was aiming for Naples, 1860, until he ended up in Cardiff. Rebecca caught the name of Sneed’s horse (Samson), and we could namedrop just as well as the Doctor as to where he’d been before in his life – The Fall of Troy, World War V, and the Boston Tea Party. We didn’t, however, know that The Time of Angels was the only story filmed in Brecon – the museum at the start, to be precise. You learn something new every day.

Pip Madeley’s video round came after, and it had a simple premise – “Fact, or Fatuous?” Of course the questions weren’t so simple, with knowledge needed about everything from an early Billie Piper advert (in which Francis’s knowledge of all things Series One paid off) to Bonnie Langford in 1990s Blue Peter, with a quick stop for Colin Baker’s many interviews. While the questions themselves were tough, the answers, also in video form, were the true delight, although Sylvester McCoy has never seemed so risque.

Moving into the second half, Teddy’s TARDIS Tunes was a round I hadn’t expected, but thoroughly enjoyed – as anyone at St Catz can attest, a music round is a good round. Ian and Will tried to pin down the year of Puppet on a String (1967, Season Four, during The Faceless Ones), while the group turned out to be simultaneously too old and too young to remember when Maneater by Nellie Furtado made its Number One debut (2006, the day after The Satan Pit). Ed Sheeran, meanwhile, continued his list of surprising cameos, with our guess a year out (2014, the day after Missy revealed herself in Dark Water).

Back to the episodes, and we had The Dæmons, potentially the story title which takes the longest to type on Word. Thanks to a frantic google on the tube before-hand, we got the show reporting on Devil’s End (“The Passing Parade”, on BBC3), while UNIT’s technical officer for once got to outlive his later namesake. Wonderful Osgoods, all of them. Overall, I think this is the round on which we did best. Not bad, when half the team hadn’t seen the serial before we watched it for the quiz.

Finally, back to Season Eighteen with Earthshock. While we didn’t know which word the Cyberleader hadn’t said (aroused, actually from The Tomb of the Cybermen, along with hundreds of Cyberfanfics), we did know how many times he said “EXCELLENT!” – thirteen times, and yes, it does need to be in all-caps. Philip and Rory were able to name a sauropod, and the former even drew it for me! James remembered Adric’s bedroom contained a star chart, while Ian could tell us that it also contained props from Black Orchid and KindaThe Visitation, on the other hand, escaped us. Not that it mattered in the end however.

The penultimate round was the Quotes round, and while we couldn’t remember Rosa Parks’s words of wisdom, we could tell you what Sharaz Jek was raving about. We confused Time Heist with Into the Dalek, but we didn’t confuse Dragonfire with anything. The final round was Production Codes, which everyone but Ian was dreading. Thankfully, we were given two hints – the answers spelled a Season Nineteen villain, and An Unearthly Child (aka Letter A) came up twice. What else could it be but the Mara?

We gave in our answers, and waited, nervous with anticipation. Or maybe just nervous at having to get back on the tube. In the end, the teams were read out, and there was a tie for first place between us and “Three to Doomsday”. After a little mild ribbing at the size of our team compared to theirs, we were given one final, tiebreak question – the viewing figures of Earthshock, Part Four. We put down an answer. Hesitated, crossed it out, changed it back, but eventually committed. The other team, presumably, did the same. And, in the end, we were the closest!

Hands were shook. Twitter posts were made. We were given the Bumbag of Rassilon, and were already deciding how to customise it, but while we wanted to stay as long as we could, we were aware the tube didn’t run forever. James and Will bid us farewell to stay in London, and the rest of us made the return to Oxford, arguing about Hell Bent.

The Quiz of Rassilon was a great evening, and I wish I’d gone to one sooner. I’m already wondering if it’s worth coming to the next one, or if work should take priority. Hopefully, my tutors might understand if my problem sheet has a few notes on Boom Town scribbled in the margins.

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