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"Personally, I learn things by turning a fact into a question..."


Exclusive Interview With Daphne Fowler »

Interview by Jamie Miller



She has won Fifteen to One twice and holds the record for highest score ever achieved on the show by a female. In 1997, she was crowned Brain of Britain and in 1998, she beat off MENSA champions to win Whitaker's Almanack Champions' Challenge! Her spectacular quizzing capabilities have even seen her take home a car on Sale of the Century!


Nowadays, Daphne sits as one of the seven quiz goliaths who make up BBC's 'Eggheads', where she regularly trumps would-be competitors with her seemingly infallible fountain of knowledge! Whether it's answering questions on prehistoric dinosaurs to 2010 pop, this lady knows her stuff - and pity the unsuspecting competitor who falls for her charming smile!


When all her quizzing achievements are stacked up, it is a wonder how Daphne manages to stay so modest! But Daphne is modest and an incredibly nice person as we found out when we interviewed her!


When did you first realise your general knowledge was above average?

I’d been asked to join a team from my branch of Nat West back in the 1970’s with the reasoning from the Branch Accountant that I could spell and therefore even if the answers we gave were incorrect, at least they would be properly spelled.  That was when I found out that I could answer most of the questions none of the others had any clues about.  As this was a yearly competition, I decided to try and get better and listened to radio quizzes and bought quiz books.


What sort of things did you do when you started entering quizzes professionally?
I always made sure I knew what the format was – when I won the very first Going For Gold, it was because I’d realised the key to winning was the who/what/where am I/ slot at the end and so I learned 2000 dates, birthplaces etc to give me an edge – and it worked!  When I did Sale of the Century, I recorded lots of previous programmes to see what bankers there were – e.g. they usually asked at least one question on currencies, capitals etc so I made sure I had learned those – I also practised buzzing in early – the questionmaster usually carries on asking the questions and in those vital few seconds, you can give the correct answer.


How is the lifestyle of an 'Egghead' different from regular folk? Do you revise general knowledge daily?

Yes I do.  I spend most mornings at the computer, researching facts, reading the newspapers, trying to outguess the question setters for Eggheads with what I read and whether it could be used as a possible question in the future.  Once quizzing was a hobby – now it’s a job!


How does answering questions in a studio differ from answering questions at a pub competiton?

Well for one thing, you are on your own in the question room, so no help from your team unless it’s in the final.  Some people freeze and their mind goes blank but I never get nervous.  If I don’t know the answer, then I just have an informed guess if there are options and if I really have no idea, then I just say so. There’s no shame in that – you can’t know everything!


What tips do you have for anyone who wants to be as good as you?!
It’s just a matter of finding out what works for you personally and being disciplined.  Personally, I learn things by turning a fact into a question and then put the answer.  For instance, this is the only way I can learn sport so I would phrase the question like this: -

Nigel Pearson is the new (July 2010) manager of which Football League Club?  HULL CITY


Have you ever been tempted to play a quiz machine at your local pub?!
I don’t go to pubs, Jamie, but in the late 1980s when they first came out, I did go to Clacton on Sea for the day and won £50 on a quiz machine.  The manager was very relieved when I told him I was only there for the day!



Interesting fact »

Daphne was series champion of the show 'Going for Gold' and also bagged £2,000 when she appeared on Jeopardy!




Want to become a quiz brainbox in as quickly as a week? Check out Jamie Miller's new book, in which he reveals the ‘brain tricks’ and techniques he used to make a living out of quizzing. Read here




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