Never knowingly undersolved.

Private Eye/Cyclops 407 – Xmas Special, Dumb Britain

Posted by beermagnet on January 4th, 2010


This year the theme is the Dumb Britain section which takes questions and silly answers that contestants to popular quiz programmes have provided.  The trick is to guess what the flailing contestant might have come up with in the heat of the moment. These clues are asterisked in the detail table below.

I haven’t gone searching through the back issues to discover when or which quiz programme the Dumb answers were provided, but I can’t see that we will miss much.

With regard to the Dumb Britain section: I sometimes feel a bit uneasy about some of the answers being labelled “Dumb” – I can easily imagine failing to deal with quickfire questions myself and wildly guessing the first name that springs to mind based on the last words heard. The “Bernard Manning” and “Cheshire Cat” answers here fail into that category. Though I hope and expect I would get such answers right what might I say if I panicked?
Others are where the contestant simply does not know the answer and comes out with something hilarious.  Occasionally I detect this may be intentional for a joke, such as the wonderful “Hillary Rottweiller Clinton” below, in which case top marks for thinking of it so quickly.

I tackled this in three chunks. I carefully ignored the asterisked clues till I had as many of the normal clues in place as possible. First session (couple of pints) I had most of the normal clues in place, many of which I found on the easy side.  I remember the horizontal central third of the puzzle was pretty much full.  Second session I began to make guesses on the Dumb answers, “Kent and Essex” fell first. Third session wrapped it up after I sorted out what unchecked letters I had left to fill in the gaps. It didn’t cause as much strain as expected, then I’m probably getting better at solving these by now. It took a lot longer to do this blog than solve the puzzle! It’s all a bit of fun though isn’t it.

Somewhere in the detail are a few clues I haven’t fully understood so thank in advance for anyone helping with them.

There were 67 letters given in the preamble to use to complete the “Dumb answer” solutions, the unchecked letters:


But I found only 64 gaps to fill
I had three letters left over: E I N
Am I missing something?

Late Edit: I just understood.  Mystery solved! The preamble is not wrong, it is very precise. The 67 letters are “Letters used in these solutions (less those letters that cross with normal solutions)”. These three are not used in normal solutions. There are 3 places where one “Dumb answer” crosses another:
E: StreEt-Porter crosses HammEr
I: Rolf HarrIs crosses PIgeon
N: Jim CallaghaN crossed UgaNda

12 * T S ELIOT Clue: Who wrote Peter Pan? (1,1,5) Real Ans: J M Barrie
13 SIEG HEIL ([r]EI[ndeers] SLEIGH)* AInd: transported
14 * ROLF HARRIS Clue: Who’s the only original cast member on Eastenders? (4,6) Real Ans: Ian Beale (Adam Woodyatt) Last Dumb answer I filled in (and I didn’t know the “Real answer” till I looked it up). Given the excess of spare letters, I ended up with AEFINORS to fit into R?L? H?R?I? and couldn’t see what was wrong and thought about scanning old issues of the Eye for the actual Dumb Answer sections but then spotted Rolf.
17 * JIM CALLAGHAN Clue: Which British PM was born in Yorkshire in 1852? (3,9) Real Ans: Herbert Henry Asquith.
Sunny Jim was born in Pompey
18 STONE-COLD SOBER STONE (Jagger) COL (pass) D[ate] (ROBES)* AInd: undone
19 ETHEREAL ([cheri]E LEATHER)* AInd: kinky
21 ADAMANT A DAM (A mother) ANT (TV Presenter) Very rare sighting of a singleton Ant’n’Dec – the other day I heard Ant & dec had given an opinion about something. Not Ant or Dec, but Ant and Dec. Seems they can only have one opinion between them.
24 GREEN-EYED MONSTER GREEN (eco-friendly) EYE (my … organ) D[ead] MONSTER (huge) Def: Envy. A phrase meaning envy / jealousy, from Shakespeare’s Othello (Act III, scene 3) Iago: “O, beware, my lord, of jealousy! It is the green-eyed monster, which doth mock the meat it feeds on.”
26 * JOCKSTRAP Clue: What item of clothing is awarded to a sportsman representing his country? (9) Real Ans: Cap
28 NEWS ITEM NEW (virgin) SITE (position) M[ail]
31 DREAM TICKET CD providing unwanted images of “dream ticket” couplings, e.g. Gordon & Tony
35 SAVED BY THE BELL CD Refering to the 1997 election when Martin Bell wore his white suit to challenge and defeat the sleazy Neil Hamilton in Tatton constituency
38 * KENT AND ESSEX Clue: Which two counties fought the War of the Roses? (4,3,5)
Real Ans: Yorkshire and Lancashire
41 HARRIET HARMAN (I RATHER)* AInd: suspect. HARM (injury) AN (one) Ref. to Ms Harperson’s “You know who I am, you know where you can get me.” moment
43 UNMENTIONABLE UN MEN (peacekeeping troops), O (love) inside TIN (can), ABLE (apt)
46 * GEORGE ORWELL Clue: Which writer based his books on his work as a Yorkshire vet? (6,6) Real Ans: James Herriot
48 EXPLAINING AWAY EX (no longer) PLAIN (simple) (GIN)* AInd: free AWAY (on holiday). Topical surface reading
50 * BILLY Clue: In literature what male name precedes “Sand” and “Eliot“? (5) Real Ans: George
52 * ROTTWEILLER Clue: What ‘R’ is Hillary Clinton’s middle name? (11) Real Ans: Rodham.  Slightly confused by the double L which I suspected had migrated from Hillary, but this is an alternate spelling for that popular canine brute
54 ALCATRAZ A, CAT (whip) inside L[abou]R, A Z (an unknown) Def: can, in the prison sense
56 CRITICISM C[u]R (heartless cur) IT (set) ICI (here in France) S and M
58 A TURN FOR THE WORSE (RT HON EUROSTAR W E F)* AInd: pissed The surface reading makes little sense to me given the only use of “w.e.f.” I know is “with effect from”. Am I missing something? Full clue:
Rt Hon pissed with Eurostar – w.e.f. will see an unwelcome development (1,4,3,3,5)
62 CONGREGATE REG inside CON GATE (Tory party scandal) If the question mark is there to indicate satirical use of scandal/gate then it is unnecessary IMO, but it does help the surface reading
65 PACIFIC P[ressure], then IF I (provided by Cyclops) inside AC (Bill) and C[linton] Def: The main
67 MORTGAGE T[ories] GAG (joke) inside MORE (extra)
69 JOHN THE BAPTIST JOHN (Major) THE (article) BAP (roll – bread) (TITS)* AInd: out
71 * STREET-PORTER Clue: What surname is shared by jazz pianist Scott and rock singer Janis? (6-6) Real Ans: Joplin
Scott and Janis – wonder if they’re related.
This could be a mis-hearing of Janet
73 CLOSE RANKS LOSE (beaten) in CRANKS (nuts)
74 SHOW A LEG (W[omen] SHAG LEO)* AInd: senseless Def: get out of bed. A Naval idiom
75 * MANNING Clue: The Speaker between 1983 and 1992 was Bernard …? (7) Real Ans: Weatherill
1 ASSIST ASS (Behind) IS T[emperature]
2 BLACK EYE B[rown] (Brown’s chief) LACK (deficiency) EYE (us – as in the magazine) Def: outcome of fight? Hands up those like me who put in Blind Eye, which made Jim Callaghan (17A) very hard
3 POLL POLL[y] I had to think about this wordplay even after being sure of the answer from Definition “head” and crossing letters thinking that “Our regular columnist’s first” just gave P (first letter), but I now realise it is first name of columnist Polly Filler, just getting her end away
4 HIGH-HANDED Not sure about this. Full clue:
As Maxwell acted, being pissed with duke and /Mirror/ chief? (4-6)
I think the def. is “As Maxwell acted” and HIGH from pissed, but can’t see HANDED from “duke and Mirror chief”
5 * UGANDA Clue: Which ‘U’ is a South American country, capital Montevideo (6) Real Ans: Uruguay
6 WELSH ASSEMBLY WELSH (dishonourable) ASSEMBLY (erection) Def: Not really “parliament”. I’m not sure I understand what makes this devolved Assembly not quite a real Parliament. At least they have a nice new building.
7 ALLOTTEE LOTTE [Lehmann] inside ALE (booze) Def: “One getting a bit”. Last one in and one where I had to look up the Lehmanns on Wiki to find a candidate. I couldn’t see the answer from just the def. and crossing letters. Allottee – one of the ugliest words I’ve seen for some time.
8 GREECE Homophone: “Grease”
9 ALSO L[arge] inside AS (like), O (hole)
10 SHADDOCK (ODD)< inside SHACK (rough hut) This fruit: Pomelo
The pomelo is also called shaddock after the marvellously named English sea captain, Captain Shaddock, who introduced the seed to the West Indies in the 17th Century from the Malay Archipelago. Is he the inspiration for Herge’s Captain Haddock? I think we should be told.
11 * PIGEON Clue: Which ‘P’ is Britain’s smallest native bat? (6) Real Ans: Pipistrelle
15 ROOM-MATES ROOM (latitude) MATES (condoms – originally marketed by beardy Branson)
16 WAYLAY WAY (street) LAY (shag) Def: “Jump passer-by”. Disturbing clue.
20 ERNST RN (sailors) inside (SET)* AInd: buggered Ref. one of the daddies of Dada, Max Ernst
23 PROST (SPORT)* AInd: rubbished This French speedster
24 GRENADA A (one) inside END (butt) all inside [Via]GRA (Viagra not through). Another where the complex wordplay was only fully understood while writing the blog.
I have not travelled very widely in the world but did visit Grenada in 1998 and found one of the most poverty-striken places I have ever seen with people on the street who looked at us with particularly angry expressions – even 13 years after the invasion it didn’t help arriving with an obviously American boatload of tourists. But the mountainous rainforest in the interior with spice trees being naturally harvested was truly beautiful. It was many years before we finished the nutmeg and vanilla we brought back.
25 OBESE OBEs (those honoured) E
29 SWEARER Hidden in menSWEAR ERrroneously. Def: trooper. I see the modern British soldiers are keeping up the traditions online on the ARmy Rumour SErvice
30 MATCHER THATCHER replace TH with M
32 INK IN Hidden in sIN KINnock Nice indicator: steeped in
33 KUNDERA UNDER (subordinate position) inside K[ama sutr]A The author being Milan of that ilk
34 AND SO ON AN (one) (SOD)* AInd: poor (NO)< Def: etc
36 BREWERY CD Indeed a lovely Cryptic Def. that gets my favourite clue award:
Totally incapable? Forget having a piss-up here, then (7)
37 EARNEST Another I can’t fully understand. How do we get EAR from “Spike mounting” assuming Def. is Ardent and NEST is Den:
Ardent Spike mounting Den (7)
39 ANTENNA TAN shift top to bottom, then (ANNE)< princess’s backing)
40 SEALANT ALAN (Sugar – ref Sralan) inside SET (TV scenery)
42 AGLOW G[ordon] inside A LOW (a depressed state)
44 LEAKAGE Hidden in waffLE AKA GEldof
49 PILAF L[ength] inside PIAF (Edith)
51 LITIGANTS I G (one load of money – a Grand) inside LIT (pissed – drunk) and ANTS (workers) Def: “People like Maxwell, from our point of view” refers to the Bouncing Czech’s keenness to sue Private Eye over the several truths about him they uncovered and published over the years.
52 RASTA S[outh] (pole) inside RAT (arse) then A
53 RE-RECORDED COR (Phwoar!) inside (RED DEER)* AInd: stew
55 COWER COW (objectionable woman) ER (Brenda)
57 * CHESHIRE Clue: What type of cat is said to never change its spots (8) Real Ans: Leopard
This proverb is from the Bible, Jeremiah 13:23 (King James Version):
“Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.”
59 TIPSIEST (PISTE ITS)* AInd: Off, which leaves pissed to be part of the def.
60 * HAMMER Clue: What ballet name is also an instrument used to break open e.g. almonds? (6) Real Ans: Nutcracker
61 ROGERING (ON RIGGER)* AInd: is transferred
63 O’TOOLE TOOL (prick) inside O E (Old English) This actor
Lovely concise irreverent clue – go on I’ll give this joint “best clue” billing:
Actor means “prick” in Old English (6)
64 EXPOSE (POX)* AInd: mangy inside (SEE)* AInd: about
66 FISCAL (IF)< S[enior] C[onservative] A L[oser] (a failed candidate). Can L stand for Loser like this?
70 * BANK Clue: Double Gloucester is a type of what? (4) Real Ans: Cheese
Not sure what that person was thinking of to answer Bank – Is there a Gloucester Bank?
72 PRAT PR[ince] A T[ense]

I had to have a tooth out the other day.
The dentist said it would cost £75.
“£75! for ten minutes work” I exclaimed.
He said: “I can pull it out very slowly if you prefer”

10 Responses to “Private Eye/Cyclops 407 – Xmas Special, Dumb Britain”

  1. Alcazar says:

    “37 EARNEST Another I can’t fully understand. How do we get EAR from “Spike mounting” assuming Def. is Ardent and NEST is Den:
    Ardent Spike mounting Den (7)”

    Spike mounting to ‘lug’, ‘lug’ to ‘ear’.

  2. beermagnet says:

    Errm. I can’t see how you get LUG from ‘Spike mounting’ either.
    Thinking about it again now I think it is that ‘Spike’ is an Ear of corn or barley, ‘mounting’, i.e. on top of, Nest.
    I seem to remember Ear/Cob somewhere recently that prompted me to think of this.

  3. Gazza says:

    4d. I presume that duke is hand/fist (as in “put up your dukes”)and Ed(itor) is chief of the Daily Mirror.

  4. beermagnet says:

    ‘Course it is – thanks Gazza.
    And thanks for your comment too Alcazar.

  5. Frank O'Sullivan says:

    Re 66 Fiscal – I interpreted ‘failed candidate’ as AL as in Al Gore for want of a better explanation.
    Thanks for solutions, I only managed about 2/3 of this puzzle.

  6. Jon88 says:

    Aren’t the “dumb answers” originally given verbally? So if Rottweiler has acquired an extra L, isn’t that someone else’s error, after the fact?

    For supplying so much context for the above, many thanks from your cousin across the pond.

  7. Twisted Instigator says:

    I am impressed you can do that without checking the Dumb Britain answers first. It’s always much easier the other way round!

    Agree that 36 and 63D were the lol moments. Oh and maybe the end of the John the Baptist clue but the rest of the clue slightly let it down.


  8. beermagnet says:

    Frank, Yes! Of course. That bloke “who used to be the next president of the USA” is one of Cyclops’s favourite sources for “AL”.

    The double L Rotty: I thought I found a reference somewhere to an alternate LL spelling but I can’t find it now – I don’t know if this is even possible in german, but I am quite relaxed about it as I see it as an echo of the LL spelling of Hillary. Who’s going to search through the back issues to find how it was written in the original Dumb Britain section?

  9. Frank O'Sullivan says:

    It’s not difficult to distract me from doing my tax return, so I had a butchers at the stack of mags I had opened on Dumb Britain page to do the crossword and EYE No.1227 has the answer with a single L i.e. Rottweiler.
    Cyclops may have only one ‘I’ but seems to have one ‘L’ too many. Pedantry corner here we come!

  10. philth says:

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