Topping From The Bottom: A Universal Script For Every Team Captain Appearing on Only Connect

Previously in this series: Things No One Says After Being Introduced on British Quiz Shows. “Yeah, I’m really pleased to be here.” “We’ve, well we’ve been working hard, and we hope to do well today, we’d like that.” “Thanks, it’s really nice to be on.” “I like quizzing. To me, it’s not an extravagant sort of punishment.” “Yeah, we all chose to be here, deliberately, so this is a good thing, and a direct result of choices we’ve made.”

You’ll never go broke making generalized statements about British self-deprecation. Sometimes the lowest-hanging fruit is the sweetest, all right?

Only Connect is a fun little quiz show hosted by Victoria Coren! Three-person teams try to discover associative connections between seemingly-unrelated clues in three different formats. Almost without exception, team captains are responsible for shouldering the group’s self-effacement. Expressing uncomplicated pleasure or acknowledging one’s own competence is presumably grounds for immediate expulsion and a hasty burial. Occasionally an American makes it onto the show, and if the American is a team captain, they can be reliably split into two groups: A Team, who seem blissfully unaware of category violations, and B Team, who seek to outdo their British counterparts in offering apologies for trying to play a game.

The following reactions and responses are as fixed and time-honored as the Stations of the Cross. The niceties must always be observed.

[Pained-yet-subtle grimace while host recounts charming, small-scale player anecdotes like “Was once ignored at a village fête by a Wellington boot” or “Once stood behind Robin Williams in line at the airport” or “Enjoys knitting for charitable organizations,” as if in apology for having hobbies.]

VICTORIA: So, [Captain], your team did very well in the first heat. Do you think your [relevant interest] helped you?

CAPTAIN: If it did, it was purely accidental — if anything, I think it will harm us from now on — the first heat was a terrible fluke and the gods will punish us robustly for it, of that much I’m certain. Not that I’m certain of anything!! I don’t mean to say I can lay any claims to certainty — please don’t look at me in my eyes. I don’t deserve it.

VICTORIA: Your team is called “The Puzzlemakers.” Do you think that’s your best category, puzzles?

CAPTAIN: No. God, no. I’m so sorry if it came off that way.

VICTORIA: Which do you think is your strongest round? Missing vowels?

CAPTAIN: No. I know in my heart that’s the round where we’ll be exposed as frauds. I can only hope we’ll be put out of our misery quickly and humanely.

VICTORIA: Congratulations on making it to the final round! You’ve been playing very well lately.

CAPTAIN: Perhaps, but that’s all about to change.

VICTORIA: [Captain], your team all share the same last name. Are you by any chance related?

CAPTAIN: Yes. I’m so sorry, Victoria.


VICTORIA: I understand the two of you are married?

CAPTAIN: Yes. I’m sorry. I’m just — I’m sorry.

VICTORIA: And how do you all know each other?

CAPTAIN: I’ve tricked them into being here with me. You do me a great kindness, my lady, by pretending that I could ever attract anyone to me through my own virtues, but it would be kinder still if you cut my throat now, before the great humiliation begins.

VICTORIA: You’re a cardiothoracic surgeon. That must be i—

CAPTAIN: This is the worst thing that’s ever happened to me.

VICTORIA: Do you have any hopes or ambitions for today’s game?

CAPTAIN: To die without dishonor. Is that too braggy? Merely to die, Imperatrix.