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Becoming a peer of the realm


Round Britain Quiz
John Julius Norwich Writer
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And then we did a thing called Round Britain Quiz, which turned into Round Europe Quiz, and Trans-Atlantic Quiz, which were sort of cryptic clues and there was a wonderfully funny man who subsequently became President of Trinity College, Oxford, called Tony Quinton, and he used to set the questions, but the questions, as he set them, were extremely long. They had sort of four or five parts which you had to sort of remember. And they were... I would've found them very difficult. Well, I did find them quite difficult, but there was a wonderful lady always with me called Irene Thomas, who looked like a tiny Mrs Thatcher and was always exquisitely dressed with her little white gloves put down to one side on the microphone, you know. And she knew everything. She became a great star of radio. Everybody knew her name. Everybody used to ask me about her for years, you know, 'Tell me about Irene Thomas.' And she was... you know, she sung in virtually every choir. She knew everything there was to know about music, everything there was to know about literature. She'd read every novel and remembered it and every poem and remembered it, you know. She was quite extraordinary so... and she and I used to sort of fire questions to each other to try and sort of give each other ideas and it eventually worked rather well. That went on for about 10 years, I should think, and I think that really, more or less... I mean, I've done quite a lot of other sort of radio things as well, but those were the only sort of regular programmes that I went on doing, you know.

John Julius Norwich (1929-2018) was an English popular historian, travel writer and television personality. He was educated at Upper Canada College, Toronto, at Eton, at the University of Strasbourg and on the lower deck of the Royal Navy before taking a degree in French and Russian at New College, Oxford. He then spent twelve years in H.M. Foreign Service, with posts at the Embassies in Belgrade and Beirut and at the Disarmament Conference in Geneva. In 1964 he resigned to become a writer. He is the author of histories of Norman Sicily, the Republic of Venice, the Byzantine Empire and, most recently, 'The Popes: A History'. He also wrote on architecture, music and the history plays of Shakespeare, and presented some thirty historical documentaries on BBC Television.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: Irene Thomas

Duration: 1 minute, 55 seconds

Date story recorded: 2017

Date story went live: 03 October 2018