What you learn from crosswords

This isn’t really about picking up general knowledge, but more the strange things that emerge as a result of setting and solving puzzles.  Last week I popped up in The Independent on Sunday with a puzzle marking the centenary of the birth of Jon Pertwee, who I met once.  The circumstances were the recording of the panel game Whodunnit, in which a short drama was performed, generally involving a murder, and the celebrity panel had to identify the perpetrator.  Implausibly enough, I was on the celebrity panel (aged 16 going on 17) having won a competition in TV Times.  The other celebrities were Patrick Mower, Magnus Pyke and Lindsay Wagner (the Bionic Woman).

This situation seems to be different from being merely a contestant on a quiz show such as Mastermind.  As a result, I learned this week, I have a page on IMDb.  Clicking through to the episode’s page reveals me second in the cast list to Pertwee himself (and ahead of the other celebrities).  I am grateful (I think) to gwep on the fifteensquared blog for bringing this to my attention.

The puzzle I have just put up is from 2013, about a year after the Inquisitor finally settled on a numbering system.  My source for the quotations used was a reminiscence of the last Mastermind ever hosted by Magnus Magnusson, in which one of the specialist subjects led to (perfectly justified) laughter from the audience as the questions were asked.  It seemed a good idea to try the same trick in a crossword.  This puzzle has both a fifteensquared blog and a setter’s blog on this site, and you can click through to them from the solution page (you know, at least make a show of doing the puzzle first…).

A quietish month on the puzzle front, with the most exciting thing being my absence from The Independent on Fridays.  I am still appearing once a week in July, as long as you define week as Saturday to Friday.  But it makes for some odd gaps between appearances.  And why am I doing this?  There’s a five-word phrase in the first paragraph that provides the connection, a connection which leads back to New Zealand for one puzzle…

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