Sunday, 30 December 2012

#Galapagos3D with David Attenborough - dive into islands of wonder

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I've just taken delivery of my new 3D TV just in time to experience the start of Galapagos 3D on New Years Day. This groundbreaking series starts at 7pm on Tuesday 1st January with the following episodes airing on Saturday 5th and 12th January. The series will also be simulcast in 2D on Sky 1/HD.

Following in the footsteps of the highly acclaimed 2009 BBC Two series 'Galapagos', each of the 3 episodes of 'Galapagos 3D' will cover different chapters in the fascinating history of these remote islands. Origin (1st January) looks at how the islands rose explosively from the ocean four million years ago, with episode two, Adaptation (5th January), investigating the evolutionary innovations which helped life develop into unique and spectacular form.  Evolution (12th January), explores the fact that no two islands in the Galapagos are the same and we see the final footage of the islands’ world-famous giant tortoise Lonesome George, the last survivor of his species, who sadly died earlier this year. 

“After Kingdom of Plants, David and I were sitting contemplating future projects, and I mentioned the Galapagos. David turned to me, paused, and then his face just lit up. I knew immediately that we had our next film.” “This was one of the most challenging 3D documentaries ever undertaken; it involved working in extremely difficult locations on land, in the air and under the sea using custom built kit.  But the resulting 3D allows you to step into the Galapagos as if you are actually there with David Attenborough, experiencing the extraordinary wildlife and discovering the history of these magical islands.” - Anthony Geffen, Producer and CEO of Atlantic Productions

"It’s only now that the latest developments in camera technology have given us the possibility of filming the full range of wildlife in 3D, and the first place I wanted to put that to the test was the Galapagos. I mean, lizards that swim, swim down to the bottom of the seabed and graze seaweed, has to be really an extraordinary thing. Galapagos is full of dramas, and it is also full of very, very charismatic animals." - David Attenborough

One of the things that make them even more extraordinary is that because the islands were not discovered by human beings until relatively recently, and they had remained isolated for so long, the animals still haven't become frightened of human beings. You can walk among them carrying your own snap shot cameras or even carrying a 3D rig and they won't go away. They continue behaving in just the way that they would do naturally. Galapagos is full of drama, full of charismatic creatures which you can film; it is a natural for 3D" - David Attenborough

The Episodes

Origin (1st January) 
The islands of the Galapagos rose explosively from the ocean four million years ago. Although life would not seem viable in such a remote Pacific outpost, the first arrivals landed as the fires still burned.  David Attenborough explores the islands for the animals and plants that descend from these pioneers: from the sea birds carrying the seeds that made a tentative foothold on these rocks, to equator-dwelling penguins and a dancing bird with blue feet.  

Adaptation (5th January)
Once life arrived in the Galapagos, it exploded into unique and spectacular forms.  David Attenborough investigates the driving forces behind such evolutionary innovations.   We learn that life must be able to adapt quickly in these ever-changing volcanic landscapes.  It has resulted in species found nowhere else in the world, such as giant whale sharks and marine iguanas that can spit sea-salt from their noses, dandelion seeds that grow into tree-sized plants and spiders that can blend perfectly into the darkness.  

Adaptation has been the key to survival in these islands so far, but the story of life in the Galapagos doesn’t end here.  The catalyst that triggers these explosions of life remains in place.

Evolution (12th January)
No two islands in the Galapagos are the same.  The imperceptible drift of a continental plate keeps each island biologically isolated.  David Attenborough explores this evolutionary crucible, encountering tortoises that weigh up to half a tonne, finches that use tools and lizards that communicate using press-ups; for Darwin, this was all evidence for his theory of evolution.  We see the final footage of the world famous tortoise fondly known as Lonesome George, the last survivor of his species. David Attenborough was the last person to have ever filmed with him. 

Darwin’s famous visit had a downside – the arrival of man.  David investigates the impact we’ve had in these islands, as our influence is a double-edged sword.  We’ve disrupted the natural balance but he also believes Darwin would be thrilled with the advances we have made in science.  We’re also now uncovering evidence that evolution is more rapid than Darwin could ever have imagined.  Whatever wonders the Galapagos Islands hold today, they are only a hint of what awaits them in the future.

Attenborough with Lonesome George, shortly before the tortoise died (Colossus Productions)

David Attenborough's Natural Curiosities on @EdenChanel - Freaky, Bizarre, Fascinating

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David Attenborough's Natural Curiosities, Eden Channel, January 29th 8pm

Just when we thought wildlife couldn't get any weirder than Chris Packham's Nature's Weirdest Events, Sir David Attenborough brings us his own curious celebration of the eccentricities of Nature (January 29th on Eden Channel).  Surely Eden is the real Dave channel?

He's been fascinated by nature ever since he was a small boy and when asked 'when did you first get your curiosity for nature' he turned it around and said 'my dear boy, when did you loose yours!?' This curiosity has never left him and he has communicated his enthusiasm for nature to hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Now, in a special series, David Attenborough focuses on what he considers to be some of Nature's most wonderful animals -- creatures that have amazed, baffled or fascinated us since their discovery and still do today. Each episode will feature two creatures with curiously distinctive adaptations that link together with a common theme. From the curious ‘hoax’ of the Platypus’s discovery to the Narwhal, the creature that inspired myth of the Unicorn, and the Mole Rat that defies the age limits of all other rodents and lives for 30 years, Sir David will discover how nature has found a way of turning the ordinary into the extraordinary. Find out more on the Eden Channel website

"This is an extra dimension to animals which I think is particularly fascinating. It has certainly fascinated me ever since I was a kid, ever since I picked up a reproduction of a 17th Century natural history book and saw these fantastic animals, monsters, dragons and mermaids, all of which people thought actually existed and some of which have a really good basis for making them think that. This extra dimension to animals sets you thinking about them as to why they are the way they are, which is something which I don’t think we have done on television before." - David Attenborough

David and the Mole Rat

"They are quite the most disgusting animal! Actually, they are amazingly fascinating. They are long, like a sausage, and they are absolutely naked! They are blind and have incisor teeth, one of which arches down from the top and the other which arches down from the bottom. They gnaw their way tunnels underground in Kenya to dig to look for roots on which they live. As you can see that would mean that as they gnaw earth, if they’re not very careful, they would swallow it! But these teeth are so huge that their mouth meets behind so the animal can gnaw with its mouth shut, which is quite a trick!" - David Attenborough

"When we started researching the things across the series we were looking at elephants’ wrinkly skin, but we also looked at mole rats – a creature on a completely different scale but interesting in its own right because they share this feature with the elephant. I remember we had to go and film mole rats and I was quite taken by these creatures!" - Stephen Dunleavy, Producer

(Mole Rat Photo: Eden Channel)

David and the Chameleon

When I was working in Madagascar a few years ago, we were travelling round the island in a Land Rover catching animals for the London Zoo, and I caught one of these big ones which we kept in a cage. One night our car was broken into and the window was smashed, so it was quite a bit of a worry as to what we were going to do with all our valuable stuff in the car. Could we ever leave it? So what I did was get this very big animal and put him on the steering wheel! When people walked round I’d watch them scream - nobody would dream of breaking into the car and stealing things with that thing there, so it was very useful! 

A beautiful animal. But actually they are very frightening; when they fight one another they do so physically, but before that they try and scare the wits out of each other. They do that by sucking in lots of air to expand their bodies and they go black with rage, hissing at one another. Finally they engage until one of them says “OK, I've lost”, immediately changing its colour from a black to an almost pallid colour, dropping off the branch as if to say “OK, I give up”!"

Attenborough's Favourite Natural Curiosity - The Platypus

"It’s very difficult. Of the lot I think I’d have to vote for the platypus. It is the most wonderful, extraordinary, breath-taking creature I've ever seen! The nice thing about it is everybody said it’s one of the rarities in Australia, no one ever sees it and it needs protecting. But they've now been studied and there are lots of them in the south east corner of Australia. In most of the rivers, certainly, a great number still have populations of platypus, and of course the attitude towards the natural world has changed even in my life time. And now in Australia they recognise that they have a great treasure and they guard it very carefully and are very proud of it. 

If you sit on a river bank very quietly, in the evening or the morning particularly, you’ll suddenly see this little dimple in the river where the platypus has come up to breathe. We managed to use a thing called an optical probe to go into the tunnel of a platypus, and we were able to put a radioactive tag on one of the animals being studied by a scientist. We could use the radioactive tag to plot where it walked down the tunnel into the bank, about 10 yards, and finally it came to a stop. This was its breeding chamber! So now all we had to do was very carefully probe into the chamber with a gun to insert an optical probe into the chamber to see a tiny little platypus supping milk. Wonderful!"

Read more on the Eden channel website.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Africa - a New Year treat - It's big, beautiful and full of surprises.

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AFRICA starts Wednesday 2nd January, BBC One

A few weeks ago I was privelidged to see a preview screening of episode one of Africa - Kalahari. I was part of an audience packed with fellow wildlife filmmakers and we were all blown away. The film is jam packed with unbelievable moments of animal behaviour and jaw dropping landscapes - rhino romance, giant lost lakes beneath the desert, lizards summersaulting off the backs of lions, and... DO NOT SWITCH OVER - an epic giraffe battle finale that you will never forget.

The opening scene filled me with immense anticipation. It sees 86 year old Sir David Attenborough set the stage standing at the top of a remote mountain. He reminds us of the scale of this vast continent...

"I'm standing where the equator cuts right across the middle of the continent. To the north of me there's an immense desert the size of the united states of America, to the west a vast rainforest the size of India, behind me for thousands of miles the most fertile savannahs in the world. From the roof of Africa to the deepest jungle, rarely seen places and untold stories. There's nowhere in the world where wildlife puts on a greater show. This is the last place on Earth where you can come eye to eye with the greatest animals that walk on the planet. This is Africa." - Sir David Attenborough

If you still can't comprehend the size of Africa then here's a fascinating image to help, in a word it's BIG!

Music, Comedy, Awe & Spectacle

One thing that stood out for me was the music - a mix of the traditional big orchestral scores with an injection of fresh contemporary beats - a musical treat of wonderful variety that happily carried me along, even at 30-40 minutes in (a danger zone when people like myself are prone to becoming fidgety and easily distracted). Rather than the gobsmacking, but unrelenting and exhausting emotional high of many big wildlife series, the music of Africa wonderfully compliments what is a roller-coaster of sequences featuring just the right balance of awe, spectacle and humour. When it's WOW, you really feel the WOW, and when its OOOH, you know its time to sit back and enjoy the cute baby animals. Listen for the little ditty that accompanies the tiny ostrich chicks as they bounce along - adorable. Hats off to editor Matt Meech and producer Hugh Pearson, for the clever comical timing that, for me, adds a new dimension to blue chip wildlife films.  My favourite funny moment was when a small rodent looks shocked and drops a nut when he realises a cheetah is looking at him - a head-nod to Pixars Scrat maybe? The most beautiful scene in the film is when we discover a colourful gathering of some of Africas most majestic animals - elephants, antelope, lions, zebra, all drinking from a water hole in the middle of the Etosia salt pan in Namibia. I was hooked throughout and by the time the behind-the-scenes section started I was disappointed that we were nearing the end. We talk a lot about 'landmark' films in the history of wildlife television, but I think AFRICA will be considered a genuinely revolutionary series. Official BBC AFRICA website

An African elephant towers above herds of antelope and zebra as they congregate at a precious waterhole on the Etosia salt pan in Namibia. Photo: BBC

Sneek Peak

Romancing Rhinos

"In these landmark series, sumptuous photography is something we know our audience expects - yet it relies on oblivious wildlife and on the patience and skill of the camera operators. No great shot is ever a given. And few great shots come without great effort. We helped drive the development of a new HD starlight camera system, used in the opening episode to film a night-time rhino party in intimate detail." - James Honeyborne, Series ProducerRead more about the secret rhino party on BBC Nature

Sitting amongst the sharks

Behind the scenes - Richard Matthews shares his experiences filming great whites. To get the perfect shot he had to sit in the water beside a dead whale while it was being eaten by 30 great white sharks.

On a lions back

A note on filming animals in controlled conditions

"Macro filming - the filming of insects and tiny animals - is a particularly tricky part of the craft, because you need lots of light and because the faintest breath of wind renders the whole image bouncing in and out of frame. So there will always be a need to control those conditions to some extent, with lights and special lenses. It's not something that we will detail every time but we show an example of this in the Eye To Eye section at the end of episode five, when a five-minute sequence of silver ants is painstakingly built-up over 30 days under the blistering Saharan sun.

We know that there is increasing interest in our various filming techniques and some of you will want to know when we do this sort of filming. So we have adopted a more explicit style of commentary. And throughout the series, we'll illustrate our techniques in more behind-the-scenes clips like the ones in this blog post.

Aside from filming in controlled conditions, we're confident our audience are familiar with much of the wildlife film-maker's craft and don't need to highlight it all, in favour of maintaining the sense of escapism. Our goal is to tell nature's stories in a dramatic and factually accurate way. And what we show is always the biological truth." Read more on the blog post of series producer James Honeyborne

Between a rock python and a hard place

"Pythons have a severe bite, not to mention the power to crush their victims to death. Fortunately we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to film a wild, but rescued snake in a wildlife sanctuary. She'd laid eggs and we carefully recreated her natural environment inside a special filming burrow. Sometimes for safety or welfare reasons we film in controlled conditions, as it's the only way to glimpse some great new behaviour - in this case, her surprisingly tender maternal care." -Read more on the blog post of series producer James Honeyborne

Friday, 28 December 2012

16 Scientists through history - picture quiz

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Scientists Picture Quiz - can you name these scientists from the subtle clues? (Answers below)

1. Archimedes of Syracuse (Rubber Duck) 2. Isaac Newton (Falling Apple) 3. Marie Curie (Radioactive Glow) 4. Charles Darwin (Darwin Fish) 5. Tycho Brahe (Metal Nose & Moose/Elk Antlers) 6. Ada Lovelace (Computer Punch Cards) 7. Alhazen (Pair of Compasses) 8. Rosalind Franklin (DNA X-Ray Crystallography) 9. Florence Nightingale (Lamp) 10. Alan Turing (Poisoned Apple that Possibly Killed Him) 11. Dmitri Mendeleev (Periodic Table in Pocket) 12. Hypatia (Scroll) 13. Erwin Schrödinger (Cat In A Box Thought Experiment) 14. Nikola Tesla (AC DC Badge/Button) 15. Mary Anning (Fossil Hammer and Basket) 16. Louis Pasteur (Pasteurised Milk) Source of this quiz

Prof Brian Cox sings about the greatest discovery of 2012

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Remember the brilliant Symphony of Science with David Attenborough and Jane Goodall singing (see below)? The man behind the symphonies, John Boswell aka Melody Sheep,  has just released his latest mashup - 'The Face of Creation' to celebrate 2012's greatest scientific discovery - that of the Higgs boson or 'God Particle'. Produced in collaboration with 2012:Mashed on Channel 4 this music / science documentary mashup features the poster boy of Physics Brian Cox and friends serenading us with the significance of this historical event - albeit through a touch of autotune magic!

If you haven't seen it before here's 'The Unbroken Thread', which in my opinion is the finest work of Melody Sheep. Pure genius!

Thursday, 27 December 2012

Frozen frogs thaw to life and a polar bear loves a dog! Nature's Weirdest Events is back

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Series one of Nature's Weirdest Events was so well received that the BBC promptly commissioned another series to satisfy our appetites for the freaky. Chris Packham is back digging deeper into the wonderful vaults of nature to unravel even weirder events that would be at home on display in a 'Ripley's Believe it or Not!' museum. Using eyewitness accounts and footage Chris gets to the facts behind each story and spins us a great tale along the way. From frozen frogs that can thaw back to life, real life zombies and a crab invasion, to a polar bear that loves a dog! It's a victorian-esque ensemble of natural curios that needs to be seen to be believed.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

Yikes! Polar Bear tries to eat Gordon Buchanan - 'The Polar Bear Family & Me'

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'The Polar Bear Family & Me' starts Monday 7th January, 9:30pm, BBC Two

Photo: BBC

You might remember The Polar Bear family from Planet Earth Live earlier in the year when Gordon  fed updates into the programme during his time in the field. This new series reveals the full story behind his daring attempts to gain the trust of baby polar bear cubs Miki and Luca as they take their first strides into the frozen Arctic alongside their larger-than-life mum Lyra. Gordon is the first person to have ever filmed and followed a polar bear family over a year, and using little more than a plastic box built by the producers Dad - 'The Ice Cube' - he was able to get up close and personal to a feisty female bear looking for a meal! A dose of adrenalin to kick start the New Year. 

A Sneak Peek

The last time I worked with Gordon we were on the Arctic island of Svalbard where this series was filmed. It's home to the worlds highest density of polar bears and for our own protection we were laden with bangers and heavy rifles - interestingly stamped with the swastika, a reminder of the islands Nazi occupation. When setting up camp at night great care was taken to surround our tents with trip wires that would bang if anything tried to cross - occasionally alarming when one of us would accidentally set it off whilst enroute to the toilet hole. One night I was camping on my own high on a hill and I slept with my rifle just in case.

Svalbard is a beautiful wilderness but you can't help feeling a little nervous  and exposed on the wind blasted tundra. After watching this clip I think I'll grip my bangers even tighter next time. I have no idea how Gordon was able to keep so calm, casually speak to camera, and not swear, while half a tonne of bear hungrily tried to rip him out of his protective box like a child opening a christmas present. Gulp!

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

#SnowBabies - A seasonal cute-fest in the magic of winter

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BBC One, 8.00pm, Wednesday 18th December.

Snow Babies cunningly taps into the magic of Frozen Planet and the cute-fest that was 'Planet Earth Live', to bring us the ups and downs of life in the freezer. Featuring an adorable cast of plucky baby penguins, snow monkeys, polar bears, arctic foxes, caribou and otters, this heartwarming film is the wildlife TV equivalent of a Michael Bublé album. Forget the last minute Christmas cards, put away the wrapping paper, pour yourself a whisky, and relax - It's Christmas! 

For those who like to open presents early I've posted a few clips below. Enjoy!

A baby snow monkey emerges from its hot bath (Photo: DuChamp)

For all the monkeys I've had the pleasure of spending time with the snow monkeys of Japan are one of the most entertaining. One jumped on my back and seemed to enjoy the piggyback before diving off into the steamy springs that they are most famous for - so I'll be looking forward to seeing what mischievous antics they get up to in this film. 

The Arctic Fox cub that came and joined me on an Arctic cliff top (Photo: Paul Williams)

I have a soft spot for Arctic foxes since one joined me when I was photographing geese on an isolated arctic cliff top. He sat a few metres away curiously looking at me before running of with my cheese sandwich! Adorable.

 New born Caribou shiver violently to dry of their wet fur (Photo: BBC)

Sneak Peek

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Sometimes Beautiful, Often Freaky 'Miniature Britain' - You'll be itching to watch!

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Wednesday December 12th, 8pm, BBC One

George McGavin goes on a journey around the British Isles to uncover the extraordinary, sometimes beautiful, often freaky, little wonders that we share our island with. Harnessing the power of a revolutionary new microscope, seven thousand times more powerful than the human eye, George dives into miniature Britain. 

His enthusiasm is infectious as he reveals a hidden world - from hooks on a caterpillars' foot that allow them to anchor upside down on a leaf, to the kaleidoscopic beauty of a butterfly wing. He's stung trying to film a beehive, but manages to capture unique footage of the venom pumping into his hand before getting back to business to film close-ups of the pollen-collecting hairs on the bees’ legs. From creatures grazing the moss on pavements to the legions of dust mites scavenging for food in everyday homes, and the bed bugs feasting on our dead skin flakes. This is a film you'll be itching to watch!

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Sir Patrick Moore tribute tonight, BBC One - may he shine amongst the stars

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Following the sad news on Sunday of the death of Sir Patrick Moore, BBC one has scheduled a special tribute programme tonight at 10.35pm. (On BBC Wales this will be at 11.05pm).

10 years ago I had the honor to work with Sir Patrick Moore, strangely I found myself narrating an astronomy programme for local BBC radio which featured inserts from Patrick. I spoke to him on the phone several times and his pieces were recorded down the line. It was brief but he left a lasting impression with me. It was like speaking to someone from a long gone age, like having a conversation with Newton or Copernicus. He shared their fascination and awe of the universe and our place in it. He was a kindly eccentric genius who loved communicating science and sharing his passion for the stars. He once said that he would like to be remembered as an amateur astronomer who played cricket and the xylophone. He will be remembered for being so much more. Thank you Patrick.

"Sir Patrick was one of the greats of BBC Television: a man who used the medium to educate and to enthuse new generations with his passion for astronomy, and it’s been an honour for us to have had him presenting The Sky At Night from 1957 to the present day. We and our audiences will miss him." - Roger Mosey, Director, BBC Vision

He was knighted in the 2001 New Year list 'for services to the popularisation of science and to broadcasting', an honour which earned him congratulations from around the world

Celebrating his 88th birthday last year, Sir Patrick, pictured with his 'dear typewriter' on which all of his books have been written.

To many of my generation he is remembered as the GamesMaster, the all-knowing oracle of gaming. "He would quip sarcastically at children as they just wanted to know how to get lots of blood in Mortal Kombat." - Gaming-Centrum

May he shine amongst the stars

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Christmas Audiovisual Quiz 2012 - 'Yule' Love it!

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This year my Children in Need pub quiz was delayed due to filming commitments and so I ran it in December, giving me the perfect excuse for a festive feast. If you want to take this and run your own pub quiz then please do - you can download the answer sheets here. The answers are at the bottom of the post. Please DONATE to Children in Need here.
Hope you enjoy. Merry Christmas.
- Paul
Video Round - Name the Christmas Movies

Round 1. Happy Quizmas

1.  How many las in a line of “Deck the Halls”? 

2. Which beardy character is the ruler of Asgard who rode an eight-legged horse and may have been one of the inspirations for the origin of Santa?

3. Tis the season for Pantomimes, but which one is currently running at the Bristol Hippodrome?

4. In North American tradition, Santa lives on the North Pole, what is the 6 character postcode given to Santa by Canada postal service?

5. Christmas is a time when lots of people practice the art of engastrationhat is it?
A – Eating constantly over a long period of time
B – Stuffing one bird inside another
C – Politely talking with your mouth full

6. The names of which two reindeer mean 'Thunder' and 'Lightning'?

7. Which is the most common type of Christmas tree in the UK?
A. Norway spruce 
B. Nordmann fir
C. Serbian Spruce
D. Scots pine

8. In the animated version of the snowman the boys name is revealed on the gift tag he received from Father Christmas. With which band from Manchester does he share his name?

9. In the 1996 Christmas Special of Only Fools and Horses the duo earned 6.2 million pounds when a watch by which famous clock maker was auctioned?

10. In Victorian England, turkeys were popular for Christmas dinners. Some of the birds were raised in Norfolk, and taken to market in London. To get them to London, the turkeys:
A) Were herded by sheep dogs 
B) Flew
C) Rode in huge wagons called “turkey-vans”
D) Were supplied with boots made of sacking or leather

Round 2 - Around the World

1. Santa Fe is the capital of which American state?

2. In what country do children believe that Sinterklaas (pr. seen - teer - klahs) arrives on a boat from Spain and rides down the streets on a white horse accompanied by his servant, Zwarte Piet (Black Pete) (pr. zvarta peet) ?

3. In which country would you find the amusement park called Santa Park (or Santa Claus Village?)

4. In Sweden, a common Christmas decoration is the Julbukk, a small figurine of a goat. Of what material is it usually made?
A. Sweets
B. Straw
C. Goat skin
D. Fir wood

5. In which country is Christmas celebrated by the largest number of people?
United States - 229,220,000, 73.0%
Brazil - 175,501,000 90.4%

6. Which Island in the Southern Pacific is also known as Rapa Nui?

7. St. Nicholas, who may have inspired the legend of Santa Claus, was born in what country?

8. What was the country of origin of the poinsettia first introduced to the United States by Joel Robert Poinsett? 

9. In what country do children receive gifts from La Befana, a kindly old lady, often portayed riding a broomstick?

10. Since 1955 which organisation has used military intelligence and advanced satellite technology to track Santa Claus' movements around the globe during Christmas?

Round 3 - Ghost of Christmas Past

1. Who is said to have banned Christmas festivities as heathen practice in 1652?

2. Jesus was born in a manger. What is a manger?  

3. Who was the first monarch to broadcast to the people on Christmas day?
Bonus Question: Who wrote the speech: Rudyard Kipling. The opening lines are still used to this day: "I speak now from my home and from my heart to you all..."

4. What disappeared shortly before it was scheduled to land on Christmas Day 2003? 

5. Theres more than 8 billion today, but the first what was launched on Christmas day 1990?

6. Which King of England was crowned on Christmas day?

7. On Christmas Day in 1950 what was stolen from Westminster Abbey?

8. What connects Santa Maria, ‘Nina’ (pr. neenya) and Pinta?

9. In what year did the Queen talk about her `annus horriblis` in her Christmas speech?

10. Benjamin Franklin thought the eagle unsuitable as the symbol of the US as it was a “bird of bad moral character” who “does not get his living honestly”. Which seasonal fowl did he suggest instead?
A – The goose
B – The turkey
C – The duck

Round 4. Ghost of Christmas Present

1. Unlucky for some, on January 13th which cruise ship ran aground off the coast of Tuscany? 

2. On February 11th which american singer was found dead in the Beverly Hilton Hotel?

3. In March what discontinued being printed after 244 years?

4. on April 15th events where held around the world to mark the 100th anniversary of which event?

5. In May a pastel version of which famous painting sold for 120 million dollars in New York - setting a new world record?

6. What event, that won’t happen again until 2117, did stargazers get excited about on June 5th?

7. In July the 2012 summer olympics were held in London but how many gold medals were won by Team GB

8. In August the 2012 Palaympic games were held - what was the final position of TEAM GB?

9. In September the Tennis grand slam singles title was won by Andy Murray … the first British man to do so since who?

10. In October, what was the name of the Hurricane that hit the eastern seaboard of the united states and killed atleast 209 people? 

11. November 29th a South Pacific island, shown on marine charts and world maps as well as on Google Earth, was discovered not to exist. What was its name?

12. Today, it was announced that the earliest Dinosaur - Nyasasaurus parrington- has been discovered amongst the collections at the Natural History Museum - how old is it? 

Music Round
Play the tracks by clicking on the icons. Questions are below. 

a. Name the artist
b. Full title

a. Artist
b. Next line after the song stops 

TRACK 3. Listen to this song before you answer... 
a. Who is the artist singing this version: 
b. What sort of mine does she ask for the deed to?
c What is the first thing she asks for? 

Xfactor Christmas Special
Here’s 4 tracks from X-factor winners -
8. 1 point for each artist you can name:
e. Which did not make it to Christmas number 1? 

a. Name the artist:
b. (This was released in early December 1980, but)  who’s death kept it from the top spot?

12. Name the artist?


8. Name the actress singing this track with Leon Redbone - recorded in 2003?

Listen to these three Christmas carols: 
Name the singers:
d. Which was not originally written as a Christmas carol?
In 1965, two astronauts took instruments into space and performed which song - the first song to be broadcast from space? 
e. Which one of the artists was born on Christmas Day? 

19.a Name the film
b. Who provided the singing voice for this character?

This is the first ever mass produced Christmas card from 1843 but why was it controversial?


1. David Beckham
2. David Tennant
3. Michael Moore
4. Mohammed Fahrer (Mo Fahrer)
5. Englebert Humperdink
6. Nelson Mandella
7. Amy Childs
8. Harrison Ford
9. Robert Pattison
10. Kim Kardashian
11. Prince Charles
12. Terry Wogan
13. Heston Blumenthal
14. Phil Tuffnel
15. Mick Jagger
16. Tiger Woods

1. Eight plus one fa - Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la 2. Odin 3. Aladdin 4. H0H 0H0 5. B – Stuffing one bird inside another 6. Donner and Blitzen 7. B. Nordmann fir - most popular tree due to its needle-holding qualities.  8. James 9. John Harrison 10. D - Were supplied with boots made of sacking or leather

1. New Mexico 2. The Netherlands.  3. Finland (Lapland is not a country but a region that spans 4 countries - finland, sweden, denmark and russia) - Santas village is in Finland. 4. B. Straw 5. United States - 229,220,000, 73.0% 6. Easter Island 7. Turkey 8. Mexico (also Guatemala, plus unconfirmed sightings in other Central American countries) 9. Italy 10. NORAD - North American Aerospace Defense Command 

1. Oliver Cromwell 2. A trough from which horses and cattle feed  - It comes from a Greek word that means "to eat". 3. George V in 1932 4. The ill-fated Beagle 2 probe, released from the Mars Express Spacecraft on December 19, disappears shortly before its scheduled landing. 5. Tim Berners Lee launched the first web page at CERN 6. William the conqueror 7. The Stone of Scone 8. They are the names of Christopher Coloumbus` ships (on his first voyage). Nina is a nickname for the Santa Clara 9. 1992 10. B – The turkey - which originates in the americas 

1. MS Costa Concordia 2. Whitney Houston 3. Encyclopædia Britannica 4. Sinking of the Titanic 5. The Scream, by Norwegian painter Edvard Munch 6. The Transit of Venus 7. 29 8. 3rd after China and Russia. 9. Fred Perry 10. Sandy 11. Sandy Island 12. 245mya. 15 million years older than previously expected. 

1. Scrooged (1988)
2. Holiday Inn (1942)
3. Love Actually (2003)
4. Bad Santa (2003)
5. Gremlins (1984)
6. Die Hard (1988)
7. Elf (2003)
8. Harry Potter and the Philosophers/Sorcerers Stone (2001)
9. Its a Wonderful Life (1946 - this is the colourised version)
10. Jack Frost (1998)
11. Miracle on 34th Street (1994)
12. Santa Conquers the Martians (1964)
13. A Christmas Story (1983)
14. The Meaning of Life (1983) Monty Python
15. National Lampoons Christmas Vacation(1989)

a. Name the artist: The Darkness
b. and full title: Christmas Time (Don't Let the Bells End) 2003

a. Artist - Johnny Mathis (used in Home Alone 2)
b. Next line: (and mom and dad) can hardly wait for school to start again 

TRACK 3. Listen to this song before you answer... 
a. Who is the artist singing this version: Kylie Minogue
b. What sort of mine does she ask for the deed to? - Platinum
c What is the first thing she asks for? A sable (fur stoal)
Total list: Sable, 54 convertible in blue, Yacht, Deed to a platinum mine 
(duplex and cheques, decorations bought from tiffanys, a ring6. Artist and Next Line)

Xfactor Christmas Special
Here’s 4 tracks from X-factor winners -
8. 1 point for each artist you can name:
a. 2005 Shane Ward
b. 2011 Little Mix
c. 2009 Joe McElderry
d. 2008 Alexandra Burke
e. Which did not make it to Christmas number 1? 
Songs 2 and 3

a. Name the artist: Jona Lewie
b. (This was released in early December 1980, but)  who’s death kept it from the top spot?
Two re-issued songs by John Lennon, who had been murdered on 8 December.

12. Name the artist?: Mud

1977 - Wings "Mull of Kintyre" 
1980 - St Winifred's School Choir - "There's No One Quite Like Grandma"
1984 - Band Aid - "Do They Know It's Christmas?"
1993 - Mr Blobby - "Mr Blobby"
2009 - Rage Against the Machine - "Killing in the Name"

8. Name the actress singing this track with Leon Redbone - recorded in 2003?
Zooey Deschannel from Elf

Listen to these three Christmas carols: 
Name the singers:
9.a JINGLE BELLS (Frank Sinatra) 
b. SILENT NIGHT (Mariah Carey)
c. THE HOLY AND THE IVY (Annie Lennox)
d. Which was not originally written as a Christmas carol?
Jingle Bells written in 1857 for the american Thanksgiving?
In 1965, two astronauts took instruments into space and performed which song - the first song to be broadcast from space? Jingle Bells
e. Which one of the artists was born on Christmas Day? 
Annie Lennox

19. Name the film
A Nightmare before Christmas
b. Who provided the singing voice for this character?
Danny Elfman

Bonus Question.
The Christmas card was controversial because it portrayed children drinking alcohol.