What started as a Monday night activity to pass the time during the first ACT lockdown has now grown into an online community with members from countries around the world.
Joe Mcgrail-Bateup, aka the Canberra and Queanbeyan town crier, has started polling family and friends with a short series of 20 questions via his personal Facebook page each week. Soon he thought he would amp it up by inviting a guest to join him; comes Scott Radburn of Australian band The Four Kinsmen. Scott had so much fun he decided to come back every week.
“He had so much fun that we started the Joe and Scott trivia game but then we decided to bring in someone whenever we could,” Joe said.
Some of the guests the couple have hosted include classic TV stars like the show’s Larry Wilcox Fries, Mod Teamby Michael Cole and Steven Tandy of The Sullivans. However, once the world began to reopen, Scott had to revert to his previous commitments and could no longer co-host. Joe reached out to one of the show’s previous guests, Simon Fisher-Becker, who is best known for his roles in Doctor Who and Harry Potter, to see if he would be interested in coming on board, which he was but not for all the shows. Now a member of the show’s community, Paul Boultwood from Wollongong NSW, shares co-hosting duties with Simon on a rotational basis.
With Scott no longer on the show, Joe’s show needed a name change. While considering his options, JJ Cohen (aka Skinhead from Biff’s gang in the Back to the future movies) suggested the Unnamed quiz – and Joe loved the idea.
Simon has been suggesting possible guests since his first appearance on the program and it continued when he became a co-host, bringing in other Doctor Who alum like the Seventh Doctor, Sylvester McCoy — though not all of the guests are from TV and film. Some of their favorite visitors are ordinary people.
“The guests are not always known; they can be someone with an interesting job or a life story. Viewers say how much they enjoy hearing the life stories of non-famous guests,” Simon said.
Simon is known to members for his tricky questions, often researching topics that require specific or obscure facts. During the thematic week on dwellings, he asked the difference between a domicile and a resident, and the origin of the word bungalow.
“It’s surprising how many people get almost the right answers. When I first started asking my questions, I was convinced that my questions were too difficult.
The show now runs for 90 minutes every Monday night (often when caught up in conversation with guests) and has nearly 900 people tuning in for the live stream or watching the video later. The show has reached audiences in the UK, Spain, France and America, with jet lag proving no obstacle to their engaged fans.
“It’s wonderful that we have viewers from all over the world. Canberra is about 9 hours ahead; it’s 11 a.m. or, when the clocks change, 9 a.m. here,” said Simon from the UK.
Many of the original 30 members still tune in weekly, commenting on posts, interacting with the live stream and volunteering their time to help out. Originally, Joe did all the behind-the-scenes work besides hosting; now there is a whole team working behind the scenes. Some tally up the scores while the show airs, others prepare all the graphics and intro videos.
The Unnamed quiz evolved into a more complex game show over its two years; special guest Paul Bevan performs magic tricks in a recurring segment, smaller games are often played throughout the stream. However, at the heart of it, there are still anecdotes.
The show even has its own sponsor; Highland Titles, a conservation organization in the UK, which names each guest a lord or lady on their own 1 square foot plot in the Scottish countryside.
What does the winner get? Nothing. The show is about having fun.
As many of the guests are sci-fi fans, it seems only fitting to end our conversation by asking the two men what their favorite sci-fi franchise is: Joe is a huge Dr Who fan while Simon enjoys the star trek franchise.
Join the fun at Unnamed quiz every Monday evening via their Facebook page: www.facebook.com/groups/thenonametriviashow
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