£250 Red Cross Radio Contest



Ronnie Waldman


BBC Home Service, 31 May 1941 to 22 June 1945


Regular fundraising spin-off from Puzzle Corner. Each edition featured twelve puzzles, many of them introduced by celebrities, each with a choice of three answers. Listeners sent in their list of answers (say, "ABBB-CACB-BAAC") with an entry fee of one shilling and ninepence, which went to fund the Red Cross Benevolent Homes.

Some of the questions were straightforward logic or general knowledge posers, but they also included things such as trying to guess which of three song clips involve the singer being sat on by the pianist, and which of three noises is that of a man walking in snow (the other two being a donkey chewing something).

The £250 prize fund (which would be about six grand at 2016 prices - a decent amount for a regular quiz) was split between the senders of the correct entries, and the puzzles (or at least, some of them) were hard enough to keep the number of winners down. A couple of times, one listener won the entire £250, and at least once, nobody sent in a full set of correct answers, and the prize was divided between the entrants who got 11 out of 12. The September 1943 puzzles must have been a bit on the easy side as the prize fund was divided between 175 winners!


In a bit of a coup for the programme, the January 1942 edition featured Bing Crosby — recorded during a break from filming Holiday Inn — as a guest problem-setter; at the time, he may have been the biggest star in the Allied sphere. Other well-known names who appeared at various points in the programme's run included John Gielgud, Anna Neagle, Sid Field, Tommy Handley (who was a semi-regular), Bebe Daniels, Arthur Askey and Vivien Leigh.


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