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Last minute revision for Jim
Last minute revision for Jim

Jim's Test the Nation

Jim Hawkins' training regime was intense for a special RaW edition of Test the Nation on BBC1. Jim was part of the Radio Presenters' team as they took on some friendly opposition in the studio and the viewers at home.

Armed with a half-eaten sandwich, a computer and a dictionary, Mid-Morning presenter Jim Hawkins made sure he knew when to put 'i' before 'e' before he was subjected to the inquisition that was 'Test the Nation' on BBC1.

The Ballroom Dancers team
The opposition: the Ballroom Dancers team.

Up against the Radio Presenters was, among others, a team of ballroom dancers. Meanwhile, viewers at home also took part, hoping to outdo the studio teams.

As part of the BBC's current RaW campaign, this edition of Test the Nation, presented by Anne Robinson and Phillip Schofield, took in all aspects of the English language with questions relating to grammar, comprehension and new words.

As it turned out, you would have had to be eagle-eyed to spot Jim on the back row, but he managed to bring home the silver - well, a warm glow of success at any rate - the Radio Presenters team got top marks.

Here's what Jim had to say:

Had a top time.  Arrived at the studios about 4pm, place teeming with ballroom dancers in full outfits and makeup, pink-clad receptionists, surgeons in scrubs and greengrocers in... green. 

Jim's colleagues: Janine Machin and Eno Eruotor.
Jim's colleagues: Janine Machin and Eno Eruotor.

We had a pre-show briefing - `friendly rivalry, no swearing, sound like you're having a good time' - then into the studio for a rehearsal and warm-up.  Philip Schofield lovely bloke, radiates charisma; Anne Robinson tiny, bird-like.

Show flew by; couldn't believe an hour and twenty minutes had passed when we had the break for the news. 

I thought I was doing well, but I struggled with comprehension questions - shocked that I couldn't answer simple questions about what I'd just heard, when what I do for a living is ask questions about what people have just said!

Got quite excited during answers/results segment; thought I'd done pretty well.  Thrilled that the Radio Presenters led from the beginning; we were getting very excited, as you might have seen. 

The team went crazy when we learned we'd won.  Top-scoring team member got 65 out of 70, I was fairly close behind with 62.  Winner in the studio was a Palestinian member of the Surgeons team!

And the rest of the results...

The Radio Presenters team managed an average score of 53 out of 70, but the scores were fairly close - the Receptionists finishing last in the studio got 41.

Nationally, men and women averaged equal scores of 43 out of 70.

Scores went almost exactly in reverse age-order - the 55-69 age group scored best, 16-19s still have a lot to learn.

Geographically, there was very little difference in average scores - Edinburgh, Leicester and Southampton sharing top place with 44, but the seven areas at the bottom of the list can't be too disappointed at their 42.

People taking the test were asked, 'As a child, what did you most want to be?'  The potential Rocket scientists turned out to be the brainiest, but the would-be pop stars, super heroes and... TV producers must have had their minds on other things during English lessons.

Have a look at the Test the Nation web pages - you can still still take the test on line. See how you measure up.
Test the Nation >
last updated: 13/10/05
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